Racism and all its ugliness: Murdoch’s and Bolt’s part in it
I first wrote about the literary work of Andrew Bolt in 2013. The convenor of a writing group I had joined asked us to give our opinions of his penmanship.
I cannot remember precisely what I verbalised then, but it would not have been pleasant. It might have gone something like this; Andrew Bolt neither challenges the mind nor his argument with a word or sentence. It’s obvious he writes for money.
I think I recall what our elderly convenor said, which went something like this:
“Read the work of popular columnist and leader of the conservative right writers Andrew Bolt. You will find that he is a writer of mediocre talent with a grammatical style attractive to the intellect of 13-year-olds.”
And this is true, and might I say it goes for most conservative writers in the press trying to radiate a right-wing agenda. It is they who promote a fair share of racial intolerance in our country,
In 2014 former Labor minister and intellect Craig Emmerson accused Bolt on (his then) programme The Bolt Report of satisfying his own benchmark for being racist in comments he made about Indigenous people.
“… you are a racist,” Emerson said, “because of your comments about Indigenous people. By your own criterion, and that’s what you did. You identified a group of people and went for them.”
Emerson’s remark relates to the legal case in which Bolt was found to have breached racial discrimination laws in articles that “implied light-skinned Indigenous people identified themselves as Aboriginal for personal gain.”
A few years ago Bolt wanted the law (section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act) changed so that he would be free in his column to abuse and defame. When the legislation was turfed because of its unpopularity, the then Prime Minister Tony Abbott felt obliged to phone this journalist of such little integrity and apologise.
People who still support Bolt and his questionable racism need to ask just why it is that he is fixated on the subjects of race, Muslims and climate change, but the answer is simple: Murdoch has built his news empire on smut and controversy.
In his book Hack Attack: How the truth caught up with Rupert Murdoch, Nick Davies said of the Murdoch media empire that:
“It is more specifically about the corrosive tabloid culture he has spawned over the years based on sex, sleaze and blackmail that has sustained his empire and made him a market leader. There is nothing that a Murdoch journalist cannot or does not do to keep his master’s media behemoth rolling.”
The formula has made him extremely wealthy. And there is no doubt that Bolt is paid extraordinary amounts of money to proliferate the Herald Sun’s pages and Sky News with this sort of gutter journalism.
Kaye Lee, in an excellent piece for The AIMN in 2018 titled Andrew Bolt is a threat to our social cohesion, quotes Bolt when she wrote:
“Immigration is becoming colonisation, turning this country from a home into a hotel. There is no ‘us’ any more, as a tidal wave of immigrants sweeps away what’s left of our national identity. Another 240,000 foreigners joined us last year alone, not just crowding our cities but changing our culture.”
And let us not forget what Justice Bromberg said about Bolt’s use of language in the racial discrimination case:
“His style and structure is highly suggestive and designed to excite. His style was not careful, precise or exact’ and the language not moderate or temperate but often strong and emphatic.
“There is a liberal use of sarcasm and mockery … language of that kind has a heightened capacity to convey implications beyond the literal meaning of the words utilised. It is Language, which invites the reader to not only read the lines, but to also read between the lines.”
Many words have been used to describe what Andrew Bolt does. Some describe him as a journalist – others a commentator. For me, he is a specialist “scandalist”. I believe Tony Abbott once declared him Australia’s premier intellect. Wow, that’s amazing.
A scandal – for the sake of this piece, means:
“… a publicised incident that brings about disgrace or offends the moral sensibilities of society: Damage to reputation or character caused by public disclosure of immoral or grossly improper behaviour; Talk damaging to one’s personality; malicious gossip.”
Bolt is a person who specialises in all of the above. Scandals are developed for whatever reason, or you can make them up.
And what of Bolt’s attacks on Adam Goodes? In this review from ABC News Breakfast, the author points out that an integral part of Goode’s documentary in question is the Bolt account of what took place.
“Another part of Goodes’s exit story explored by the documentary is a 2013 incident in which a 13-year-old girl called him an “ape” during a game against Collingwood at the MCG. Goodes pointed to the girl after she made a comment and was escorted from the grounds.
In his press conference the next morning, about 17 times, he said ‘It’s not her fault, please don’t go after her.
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire supported Goodes in the wake of the taunt, but only days later, McGuire apologised after suggesting the dual-Brownlow medallist promote the musical King Kong.”
Newspapers worldwide are fighting for survival. Locally, the Murdoch newspapers are speculated to be among them. One could easily assume that his flagship newspaper, The Australian is propped up by Murdoch because of its political influence. It is, after all, the go-to newspaper for conservatives. So how do you prop up circulation? You have writers like Bolt write inflammatory titillating nonsense to a largely disengaged, uninformed audience with journalism that appeals to society’s lowest values.
He is probably paid loads of money to do just that.
In 2002, Magistrate Jelena Popovic was awarded $246,000 damages for defamation after suing Bolt and the publishers of the Herald Sun over a December 13, 2000, column in which he claimed she had “Hugged two drug traffickers she let walk free.”
Popovic asserted she had only:
“… shaken their hands to congratulate them on completing a rehabilitation program. The jury found that what Bolt wrote was untrue, unfair and inaccurate.
The Court of Appeal later reversed the $25,000 punitive damages, though it upheld the defamation finding, describing Bolt’s conduct as “at worst, dishonest and misleading and at best, grossly careless.”
Then there was his spat with Robert Manne about the Stolen Generation. (If you had followed that ongoing argument you could not but have been impressed with the clarity of Robert Manne’s writings compared with Andrew Bolt’s simple meanderings.)
It is astonishing. You have to be impressed by Manne’s research. The way he takes you on a believable journey full of insight and truth. Manne also, some time ago, analysed the poisonous influence of Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited in this country, mainly through the extremist editorial policy of The Australian, where the truth is distorted and contrary views vilified.
Manne followed up with a brilliantly written and researched Quarterly Essay about – among other things – the Stolen Generation, concluding that The Australian is more a propaganda sheet than a newspaper.
Australians have had to put up with the ranting and ravings of populist mainstream media for far too long, where extremist views are regularly presented on TV, radio, and mainly via the monopolistic media empire of Rupert Murdoch.
Remember, Murdoch was ultimately responsible for the despicable phone tapping scandal in Britain, which earned him worldwide humiliation.
This new Australian racism began many years ago when opinion speakers began demonising those who are different. It continues today. From Philip Ruddock’s description of asylum seekers as illegals to Alan Jones’s involvement in the Cronulla riots, the thousands of pieces written by racist journalists, and the hundreds of tabloid pages depicting difference as subhuman.
I end where I started with my observation of that gregarious dark-skinned boy playing joyfully in fellowship with his light-skinned mates. That each was different in colour; one to the other didn’t enter the unblemished purity of their companionship. And I prayed silently; it never would.
My thought for the day
Why do we, as a supposedly enlightened society, need to enshrine in legislation the right to hate each other? That isn’t enlightenment at all.
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