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Tag Archives: Daily Telegraph

You can’t fight an ideological war by shutting physical borders

As news came out yesterday evening that a Syrian refugee passport was found next to one of the terrorists in the Paris attacks on Friday, predictably the media pounced, and all the right wing refugee-demonisers came out in force. Our very own stop-the-boats-fetishest, Tony Abbott, spoke with his media team – the Daily Terrorgraph, sorry Daily Telegraph – who today published an article with the following headline:

“Former PM Tony Abbott warned IS terrorists are hiding in a flood of refugees”
(Daily Telegraph – November 15, 2015)

And Abbott wasn’t the only one. US Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz came out on his personal blog yesterday saying:

We need to immediately declare a halt to any plans to bring refugees that may have been infiltrated by ISIS to the United States.” Ted Cruz – November 14, 2015

Never mind that the French government has yet to validate that the terrorist was the actual owner of the Syrian passport. Never mind that at least one of the other terrorists was a French national, and that his father and brother have been arrested. Never mind that the perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo attacks earlier this year were both born in France. And even more importantly – never mind that the terrorists perpetrating these attacks are the same people that refugees are fleeing from because they too, have been victims of these terrorist groups.

Clearly none of these actual facts matter to the likes of Abbott and Cruz. According to their logic, this attack could have been prevented if only Europe had stopped the boats, had forced tens of thousands of refugees to stay and face almost certain death at home or risk starvation in the already overcrowded refugee camps along the borders of their home countries.

The idiocy of this proclamation is astounding. It reflects the fact that many of our political leaders – and those in the media – have yet to grasp the fact that this is an ideological war being fought in an age where there are no borders around information, no borders around ideologies.

Prior to the advent of new communications technologies last century, governments could – at least in theory – stop information flows across borders since information had to be physically carried across by a person (whether as a book, document or a an idea in someone’s head). But in this century, people don’t have to connect in a physical space – they can connect in cyber space. Ideologies can cross any border they like with no passport, no visa, no stops.

NoFloodwatersMayCrossHere Suggesting that having stronger physical borders will have any impact on the battle against these horrific terror attacks, is the equivalent of suggesting that you could stop flood waters from overflowing by putting up a sign instructing them not to.

The reality is that we are living in a different time – a time where there are no borders around ideologies. Strategies that focus on defeating terrorists groups with traditional warfare strategies alone are doomed to fail as they don’t take into account that at its core, the war against these groups is not a physical battle, it’s an ideological one. And ideological battles are not won and lost on battlefields or at borders, they are won and lost in people’s hearts and minds.

This article was originally published on ProgressiveConversation.

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Introducing the new “ABC free” AUSTRALIA … now with extra ignorance, selfishness and cruelty

(Or why we need the ABC)

abc

Since the coalition’s Murdoch lead victory in last September’s federal election there has been a palpable shift in our national narrative. The images of a sun burnt country forged by convict sweat and hard working immigrants is fading fast, and in its wake a new story is being fashion.

It is a tale of well intentioned, hard working corporations, (who really just want to keep us all employed), being squeezed by draconian regulations and pushed offshore by rampant, out of control wages. It’s the chronicle of a government being driven into the red, not by cutting taxes for the wealthy and turning a blind eye to the corporate “offshoring” of profits (read “legal” tax evasion), but by those lazy unemployed/disabled bludgers on welfare, and their “anti business” environmentalist buddies. It’s the saga of nation overrun by so called “illegals” intent on subverting our immigration laws for the sole purpose of suckling endlessly on OUR government teat, (Ironically most of whom are coming here LEGALLY as refugees).

These new LNP/Murdoch sanctioned mantras are repeated so often, and with such earnest conviction it seems people are finding it pretty damn hard not to buy into it. There are even those in the Labor party who seem quite happy to have joined the chorus.

I hear it everywhere I go, everyday Aussies out there parroting the coalition’s vitriolic hatred for anything even vaguely related to the unions, the unemployed, the environment, asylum seekers, disability pensioners, ABC lefties, foreign aid, etc.

So why all the negative jawboning?

Well, if you read the papers Australia has, up until our recent electoral liberation, been a nation under siege by left wing “special interests”! Because of this evil leftist scourge we have been forced to endure such indignities as the 2nd highest standard of living in the world (after Norway), the planets largest houses, one of the worlds best/most affordable health care systems, quality education, disposable incomes such that we can afford to be the be the worlds leading per capita emitters of of CO2, and the dubious privilege of ranking 69th in our per capita refugee intake (49th in overall terms).

australia__s_contribution_to_the_asylum_seekers_by_wordswithmeaning-d56owrr

When you lay it out like that it’s easy to see why we have all been so unhappy, we have been really suffering! Clearly something had to be done.

But seriously, something has happened to us. If you listen to the rhetoric, it would seem we are no longer a nation that strives for the fair go, but rather one that values our own perceived self interest above all other concerns.

I scratch my head and wonder, how did this happen? When did Australia become a place that embraces the social and political agendas of the most ignorant, selfish and cruel among us?

It wasn’t that long ago that Australian public opinion was DEEPLY CONCERNED with the environmental legacy we are leaving for our children. As recently as last year people seemed happy to talk about the scandal that is corporate tax evasion. There was even a time, in living memory, when refugees that came here by boat were welcomed with a broad smile and a hand up.

So what happened? How did the social and moral imperative get banished from our national narrative? Did it happen by accident, or by design? And if by design, then by who’s hand?

And then there’s the bigger questions. Exactly who’s interests are served by these apparent changes in our attitudes? And is anyone standing against the tide?

The sculpting of public opinion has a long history and there are many tools, such as fear and scapegoating, that have been used to great effect through out the ages. “Group think”, for example is an extraordinarily powerful weapon, (after all who wants to run outside the herd, everyone knows how dangerous that is). The truth however has never been a necessary component when seeking to sway the prevailing sentiments of the masses.

William James, the father of modern Psychology notably once quipped “There’s nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will not believe it”. This rather glib observation was most infamously put into practice by the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, (a man on whom the power of the press was most certainly not lost), who used the simple “lie, repeat, lie, repeat, lie, repeat” principle to whip up the greatest genocidal frenzy in history.

More recently Goebbel’s philosophical musing “Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play” has been turned on it’s head by the irrepressible Rupert Murdoch, our prodigal puppeteer d’jour, who, like some gruesomely wizened “whack a mole” has popped up here again to lead his relentless political cheer squad for which ever side will acquiesce to do his bidding. It would appear that, in spite of his meddling hand being beaten down in UK and much of the USA now being hip to the fact that “FOX NEWS” is an oxymoron, if you hand the old boy a monopoly he’ll show you he’s still got it.

murdoch-puppet_1940215i

One rather startling revelation that came out of the UK’s recent Levinson enquiry into press standards , was was that Murdoch had actively lobbied former UK prime minister John Major to change the Torries policy on the EU, lest he engage in willfully biased coverage in order to “hand the election” to Blair’s New Labor (a party/man seemingly more willing to do his bidding). Major refused to allow Murdoch to dictate policy and was duly slammed by the Murdoch press, who came out swinging hard for Blair.

So in spite of the Torries having had a clear lead in the polls up until Major’s “disagreement” with Murdoch, the Torries, (much like Gillard), found the power of a vindictive, inflammatory press mobilised against them simply too great to overcome. Blair was elected and the rest, as they say, is history.

While the Brits were duly outraged, you would think something so blatantly corrupt as seeking to dictate government policy in return for favourable press would raise a dubious brow from someone back here in Aus; but much like the “March in March” (a mysteriously unnoticed gathering of over 100,000 Australia wide) somehow it failed to be deemed newsworthy enough to make any significant impression on the Australian mainstream media.

So… If a media baron is dictating government policy in return for press support, but no one ever hears about it, is the political process actually being subverted? Probably, (but then who has time to worry about such things when we are all so busy hating and punishing refugees).

no to refugees Nauru Detention Centre

Or… If a crowd gathers in the city and no one is there to report it, did it really gather? Maybe it did in the hearts and minds of those who were there, but for anyone else, or in the archives of history?… Well maybe not.

march in march

We have been told a lot of things recently, (much of it negative), about everything from the unions to environmentalists, from asylum seekers to the NBN. And while it’s easy to put a question mark over anything a politician might say in an effort to popularise their chosen policy agenda; I can not help but wonder if a press core that is practically a monopoly, (and known to actively pursue it’s owners personal agendas), is actually telling us the whole truth, or even any small part of it?

Like many others I can’t quite shake the feeling that we’re being fed a grab bag of skilfully crafted misinformation, half truths and innuendo designed to direct our hostility toward the poor and disenfranchised, or anyone out there pushing for a fairer, more sustainable policy agenda.

According to the official story, Australians are apparently (on average) far richer than we were 10 years ago… but for some rather opaque reason we just don’t feel it.
I can’t help but wonder why that is?

Is it because we feel more entitled than we used to? (If we don’t have a car, a mobile phone, a laptop, an ipad, a kindle, a 50″ TV, Foxtel, Quickflix, a yearly overseas holiday, and at least 3 restaurant meals a week we think we are suffering an intolerable injustice?).

Is it that we are constantly being assaulted by the relentless negativity of a 24 hour news cycle, telling us that our unfettered access to “more stuff” is being threatened by the poor and disenfranchised?

Or maybe it’s that the wealth is only going to the top end of town, and no one else is reaping the benefit?

It’s perfectly understandable that when we are feeling squeezed we like to have someone to blame, but it is worth asking ourselves, is our anger being misplaced?

Here we are, literally seething with contempt for refugees, single mothers, greenies, protesters, students, socialists, the disabled, lefties, intellectuals and the all those former bank and manufacturing workers that have now joined the ranks of the unemployed. Meanwhile the gap between the haves and have nots is at an all time high. Our trusty government is busy reducing taxes for the top end of town, Corporate profits are breaking records left and right, (but strangely corporate tax receipts are not, Google, for example, had revenue of over $1 billion in Australia in 2012, and yet paid only $74k tax). CEO’s wages and share options continue to defy gravity, and our banks, whilst being incredulously profitable, are shipping jobs off shore faster than you can say “transaction fee”, and so it goes…

*(brings to mind a joke I heard recently: A banker, a Daily Telegraph reader and a refugee are out to lunch. The waiter puts down a plate with twelve biscuits on it; the banker takes eleven, nudges the Telegraph reader and says “hey watch it mate, that refugee wants your biscuit”)

Everyone knows trickle down economics is bunk, and yet we keep buying into the myth, lauding the lords and kicking the powerless. The cognitive dissonance simply staggering!

So my question is this…Who’s interests does this new hateful narrative really serve? Murdoch and his buddies in the 1%, or those of us in the mortgage belt?

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not wholly blaming Murdoch. We all lobby for our own interests, and why should he be any different. What I am saying however is that a virtual monopoly concentration of Australia’s media in any ones hands is dangerous. We need visible, diverse mainstream media to give a balanced range of views.

We also need some measure of mainstream media presence that is not driven by profit, or dictated to by advertising revenue and share holder values. We need a media that is prepared to objectively challenge the veracity of the story as told to us by Murdoch, (and given the governments proposed changes to section 18c of the racial vilification act this is now more important than ever).

In short, we need our ABC.

[twitter-follow screen_name=’LetitiaMcQuade’ show_count=’yes’]

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Is Murdoch Australia’s Biggest Sleaze Mogul?

I am but 50 pages into the Paul Barry biography Breaking News and the overriding impression one gets from these first few pages is that Rupert Murdoch recognised very early in his pursuit of fame and fortune that sleaze sells.

His publications in other countries are currently under investigation so I will confine my remarks to his Australian publications.

The profitability and popularity of every publication he owns depends on sleaze, be it the intellectual variety of The Australian or the gutter filth of The Daily Telegraph.

He realised early that the opinion he generated via his publications gave him influence in political circles and with it the power to manipulate it for his own benefit. The recall of favours rendered is always implied and never spelt out. It’s safer that way. Age has not wearied him but the times have. The advent of the Internet is but the beginning of the end. The Internet does not convey sleaze (I’m talking newspapers) as well as big boobs on page three of a tabloid. And those of the left should not assume that he supports any ideology other than the one that will give him what he wants in the circumstances. He supported Whitlam’s election and dumped him with an anti Labor campaign three years later. Whitlam was not for kowtowing to any media barren. And he supported Rudd in 2007.

Reuters in the past week reported that the Murdoch Australian newspapers have experienced a 25% advertising revenue decline on top of a 22% dip in sales. Is it any wonder based on the gutter trash it serves up? Have the advertisers decided they no longer want to be associated with sleaze? Is it reflecting on their product as it did during the Alan Jones sexist exposure? Has the reader’s tolerance for smut reached its limit?

So how does a proprietor arrest the decline? One way is to become sleazier, more titillating, more outrageous, and shocking. They can also increase the lying and spying and the omission of truth. In the case of The Australian they could choose to be even more biased. If that’s possible. Take for example Nick Cater’s (journalist for The Australian) reply to Tanya Plibersek on Q&A Monday night: “If you want to make this a war, we can”. Or Murdoch’s trashing of Australian sporting legend, Ian Thorpe’s reputation while at the same time accusing the ABC of being unpatriotic.

Another choice is to over a period of time transpose your paper into an on-line newssheet. The problem there is that you have to charge a fee and as this blog has proved there is an abundance of excellent writers ready to opine about issues for free. News and information is readily available so why should anyone pay?

Yet another choice is to discredit your opposition and seek a monopoly. Murdoch in partnership with the Abbott Government are doing their best to achieve this with their ferocious attacks on the ABC. Given the community support for the public broadcaster this is also doomed to failure.

COMMUNICATIONS Minister Malcolm Turnbull has issued a thinly veiled warning to the ABC to correct and apologise for errors, as senior cabinet figures voiced outrage and backbenchers seethed over the broadcaster’s handling of claims that asylum-seekers were deliberately burnt by defence personnel. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison yesterday demanded the broadcaster apologise for “outrageous slurs” against the navy while Joe Hockey revealed he has been so angry on occasions at ABC coverage he had called managing director Mark Scott to say “this is outrageous”.

One is apt to ask if the same outrage could be extended to the Murdoch Media who threaten our democracy with so much power that they can see people dismissed and governments elected.

And consider this from Crikey.com:

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s revelation that the government is mulling dumping the “two out of three” rule in our media ownership laws is more welcome news for News Corporation — albeit a bit like sending a leaky boat to rescue a drowning man.
Since the election, the government’s initial media policy forays have closely followed the script some of us suggested prior to September 7. In particular, the ABC has been the subject of extraordinary attack editorially — with both Turnbull and Treasurer Joe Hockey inappropriately calling ABC managing director Mark Scott to complain about ABC news content — and reputationally, with the Prime Minister himself engaging in a carefully-structured attack designed to delegitimise the broadcaster.

Turnbull flagged this week that changes to the anti-siphoning laws — which are still betwixt and between following the failure of former Labor communications minister Stephen Conroy’s comprehensive reform package — are under consideration, which opens up potential benefits for News Corp’s half-owned Foxtel — although old hands will know that any changes to anti-siphoning usually harm, not help, pay TV. Turnbull could do worse than run with the guts of Conroy’s package, which introduced an element of common sense into what is in essence a profoundly anti-competitive piece of regulation favouring the free-to-air TV cartel.

Day after day the Murdoch media empire exposes its monopolised gutter filth, acting like a dog on heat seeking to justify its gutter crawling journalism. It isn’t working. Truth could, but mud raking has made Murdoch’s fortune. He knows not decency so he cannot try it.

And the political journalists at these excuses for newspapers would know that they only retain their jobs on the basis that Murdoch is paying them to write merely what he demands them too. They have no choice. In other words they prostitute their professional ethics for money. They also know that the life of their jobs is dependent only on the lifespan of the owner.

But what about self-promotion that might work.

Comment should not be cheap
The Australian
December 04, 2013 12:00AM
REGARDLESS of what he is writing about – the Gallipoli centenary, Labor’s existential turmoil or the policy pratfalls of a new government, as he is today – our editor-at-large, Paul Kelly, brings his penetrating insight and peerless authority.

The Australian is blessed with writers such as Dennis Shanahan on politics, Greg Sheridan on foreign affairs, John Durie on business and Judith Sloan and David Uren on economics, and many others in the top rank, who have lived through the big moments in the nation’s history and are able to provide readers with a sense of perspective, knowledge and balance on the issues of the day. Along with experienced editors, they allow us to cut through the noise and tumult of a frenetic news cycle to explain events.

Yet that can’t be said of all media outlets, especially when seasoned journalists are being traded for ones unable to see beyond the dazzle of the instantaneous fix of Twitter or web-first publishing. These callow reporters and trainee talking heads are setting the pace at Fairfax Media and the ABC, with their “breaking” views and zippy analysis five minutes after something has happened.

We can see the crude results in the way the Abbott government is being portrayed as bad, mad and chaotic by the baby faces in the press gallery and beyond. To date, the low-point of juvenilia was struck by John van Tiggelen, editor of The Monthly, old enough to know better but clueless about Canberra, who wrote about the Abbott government’s “onanistic reverence for John Howard” and described it as “this frat party of Young Liberals who refuse to grow up”.

This twaddle would be harmless if these ill-informed innocents were on the fringes of new media, learning their craft in the minor leagues. Alarmingly, these infantile musings reflect the priorities of their organisations: it’s a reverse-publishing model, which sees the trivialities of Generation Y setting the agenda for once-venerable newspapers, which traditionally served older, educated, middle-income readers in Sydney and Melbourne.

No wonder Fairfax Media editors have lost touch with loyal readers and the respect of the old-hands still in the newsroom. At the ABC, Triple-J alumni have wrested cultural and editorial control in the face of insipid leadership from managing director Mark Scott and his news director, Kate Torney. You wonder if anyone’s really in charge at Pyrmont, Docklands and Ultimo and how long this idiocy can last.

Well it looks like that hasn’t worked. What’s left? That’s the big question.

I have a suggestion. Just close shop and save a lot of money. But I’m sure the board will do that anyway when the stench leaves the boardroom.

 

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Why Labor Lost

Firstly:

The truth of the matter is that my Party is at times its own worst enemy. For the six years Labor has been in power it governed well in spite of the enormous inconvenience of minority governance. This is indisputable when you look closely at its economic record, the legalisation passed and reformist policy from within a minority framework.

Its problems though did not originate from everyday governance. In this sense, it has been no better or worse than any other government.

Rather its problems stemmed from personality conflict and the pursuit of power. Politics by its very nature is confrontational and uneasy with those with ego who pursue power for power’s sake or those who think they have some sort of ownership of righteousness.

Labor had two formidable intellects in Rudd and Gillard. In fact, combined they would total much of the opposition front bench’s intellectual capacity.

It is one thing to replace a leader but a different thing when the leader happens to be the Prime Minister who the voters perceive they have elected.

Hindsight is, of course, a wonderful thing so it is easy to say that Rudd should never have been replaced. That Rudd undermined the 2007 election campaign and continued to undermine Julia Gillard for most of her tenure. He never showed the grace in defeat that Turnbull displayed.

So we had two leaders of sagacious intellect. One a ubiquitous narcissist, who couldn’t listen and who couldn’t delegate. On the other hand, we had a woman of immense policy capacity (and history will judge her that way) but would be hard pressed to sell a Collingwood Guernsey to a rabid supporter.

Minority government has enormous, day to day difficulties without having one’s leadership frequently undermined. And we can speculate about a myriad of other possibilities but it won’t change the fact that ego destroyed any chance Labor had of winning the 2013 election.

This is the main reason why Labor lost. Not because they didn’t govern well. As Tanya Plibersek said 10/10 for governance and 0/10 for behaviour.

But because life is about perceptions, not what is, but what it appears to be. We painted a picture of irrational decision making, of dysfunction and murderous disloyalty. Rightly or wrongly that is the perception. In other words, we committed political suicide.

Secondly:

There are of course other factors that contributed to our downfall.

Despite the growing influence of the Fifth Estate the Main Stream Media still packs an enormous punch. In advertising, the success of one’s spend is measured by the resulting sales. The media can measure its influence in the Polls.

Labor was the victim of the most concerted gutter attack ever insinuated upon an Australian political party, from all sections of the media, although one, in particular, News Corp, has gone well beyond the realm of impartiality.

Labor was drowned in an avalanche of lies, repugnant bile, half-truths and omissions. The media lost its objectivity and news reporting. It became so biased that it no longer pretended to disguise it.

The MSM has forsaken truth, justice and respectability in its pursuit of the protection of privilege. They printed and told lies with such reprehensible consistency that a gullible and politically undiscerning Australian public never really challenged it.

As a famous businessman once said.’’ I spend a lot of money on advertising and I know for certain that half of it works’’ Clive Palmer has won a seat because he had the money to promote himself. He proved the power of persuasion with money.

The Fifth Estate (including me) attempted to counter these nefarious attacks but in my view, we are three years away from reaching full potential.

Having said that I plead some degree of ignorance, and I must say, I am absolutely astounded at how many people participate in social media and the voice it gives them.

However, in three years’ time, its ability to influence the younger generation will have risen exponentially. Added to that will be a declining older generation.

Thirdly:

Tony Abbott successfully adopted an American Republican-style shock and awe approach in his pursuit of power. Mainstream media hailed him the most effective opposition leader in Australian political history.

This was solely based on his parties standing in the polls and said nothing about the manner in which he lied and distorted facts and science to bring about this standing.

Perhaps they should rethink the criteria they use.

On a daily basis and in the parliament he sought to abuse, disrupt proceedings and tell untruths that normal men would not.

His gutter style negativity set a new benchmark for the behaviour of future opposition leaders. Luckily though, he may be the only one of his characterless ilk, and future opposition leaders may be more affable.

However, the consistency of his negativity had an effect on an electorate in a state of comatose. From the time the election date was announced he portrayed himself as a different person. An indifferent public was fooled by this chameleon disguise. He was and still is by his own admission a liar.

David Marr used these words, to sum up, the character of this would be Prime Minister.

“An aggressive populist with a sharp tongue; a political animal with lots of charm; a born protégé with ambitions to lead; a big brain but no intellectual; a bluff guy who proved a more than competent minister; a politician with little idea of what he might do if he ever got to the top; and a man profoundly wary of change.”

“He’s a worker. No doubt about that. But the point of it all is power. Without power, it’s been a waste of time.”

How one appraisers the reasons for Labor’s loss might differ from individual to individual and there will undoubtedly be many thousands of words written on the subject. For me, it can be rather succinctly summed up in a sentence or two.

A political party, union of workers, sporting team or board of directors is only as good as the total sum of its parts. A good leader facilitates, emboldens and inspires the team, but a leader with self-interested ambition can destroy it all.

This is the first in a series. Next week: Labor reform.

 

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Conduct unbecoming?

By now everybody would have seen the widely condemned front page (above) of The Daily Telegraph, but did anybody read the accompanying editorial rubbish?

I was directed to it via the Tele’s Facebook page where they boasted that:

It’s day one of the election campaign. and the Daily Teelgraph (sic) promises the very best, most up to the minute coverage and the hardest hitting opinions. Check out today’s editorial for a taste of what’s to come. http://bit.ly/15vS8er

Here is the editorial – titled Consign Rudd to the bin of history – that their illiterate social media editors encouraged us all to read. I too encourage you to read it, even though it’s a couple of days old now as it gives us an insight from Day 1 of how the Telegraph intends to ‘run’ this campaign:

DAILY TELEGRAPH “OPINION EDITORIAL”: ‘AT last, the power is in the hands of the Australian people to deliver a change of government and to rebuild Australia’s strength and stability.

At last, the opportunity looms to put an end to two terms of political chaos and economic decline.

At last, the time is up for Kevin Rudd and his Labor government.

Announcing the September 7 election date yesterday, Prime Minister Rudd tried to distance himself from Labor’s years of disunity and destruction. He now promises “a new way” and “new politics”. But Australians know that Rudd is absolutely tied to old Labor and its socially divisive and financially ruinous policies.

Kevin Rudd is the leader of a government that confessed just three days ago that its most recent federal budget wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on.

Kevin Rudd is the leader of a government that has somehow turned Australia’s boom times into a massive and ongoing debt.

Kevin Rudd is the leader of a government that punched holes in Australia’s secure borders and cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars by reinvigorating the vile people smuggling trade – one of the few economic sectors that will be unhappy to see an end to Labor’s rule.

Kevin Rudd is the leader of a government that attempted to muzzle the media and to intimidate a free people into docile, compliant silence.

Kevin Rudd is the leader of a government that didn’t keep its word on the carbon tax. A government that didn’t keep its word on delivering a surplus. A government that, in the end, didn’t even keep its word on the 2013 election date. The Prime Minister’s cabinet has already had its say. Fully one-third of the cabinet walked out on Rudd rather than work with him. Several Labor MPs prefer quitting politics entirely to the prospect of serving under Rudd’s leadership.

Now it’s your turn. We agree with the Prime Minister when he says that “the old politics of the past won’t work for Australia’s future”. The problem is, those old politics belong to Kevin Rudd and to history’s rubbish bin.

On September 7, Australia will indeed find a new way – by throwing out a government that has completely lost its way.

In 2007, The Daily Telegraph supported the election of a Labor government led by Kevin Rudd. Our argument then was that the previous Howard government had become weary and unimaginative, and that Rudd represented an opportunity for advancement.

Labor has squandered that opportunity, and is trying now to present itself as the answer to problems of its own creation.

The amount of spin implicit in the Prime Minister’s “new way” rhetoric is beyond anything ever achieved by Shane Warne. It’s a high-rotation insult to an electorate that sees through Labor’s brazen electioneering.

At The Daily Telegraph, we’re not going to cop it. Kevin Rudd and his Labor machine can save their tricks and distractions for the focus groups. We’re not going to play Labor’s game.

At the same time, we will place Coalition policies under exactly the same level of scrutiny. Labor is a known quantity, which is why they’ve lost support. It is up to the Coalition to win those voters.’

Now look at same paper’s published Code of Conduct. We need only be concerned with the sections shown below:

The policy of our publications across all platforms

This policy applies to News Limited and its editorial employees in both print and digital media platforms. It is an update of the News Limited Professional Conduct Policy which applies to editorial employees of News NSW; News Victoria, News Queensland, Davies Bros Limited, Advertiser Newspapers Limited and the regional and suburban newspaper and operations around Australia.

News Limited group publications aim for the highest editorial and ethical standards.

Editorial employees and contributors should be open-minded, be fair and respect the truth.

To this end, all staff need to be familiar with the policy detailed in the following pages, to follow the rules they contain, and to apply their underlying principles.

1. Accuracy

1.1 Facts must be reported impartially, accurately and with integrity.

1.2 Publications should take reasonable steps to ensure reports are accurate, fair and balanced.

1.3 Clear distinction must be made between fact, conjecture, comment and opinion.

1.4 Try always to tell all sides of the story in any kind of dispute. Every effort must be made to contact all relevant parties.

1.5 Do not knowingly withhold or suppress essential facts.

What a joke. Now, if you so desire, read the editorial again. There is not a lot in it that reflects the code of conduct so espoused. To the contrary, it is riddled with impartiality, inaccuracies, and conjecture. All designed, in my opinion, to encourage a vote against the Government. They are of course free to do this, but it would be preferable if the piece was filled with truth and accuracy, unlike the selected sentences from the above editorial, namely:

At last, the opportunity looms to put an end to two terms of political chaos and economic decline.

But Australians know that Rudd is absolutely tied to old Labor and its socially divisive and financially ruinous policies.

Kevin Rudd is the leader of a government that confessed just three days ago that its most recent federal budget wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on.

Kevin Rudd is the leader of a government that didn’t keep its word on the carbon tax. A government that didn’t keep its word on delivering a surplus. A government that, in the end, didn’t even keep its word on the 2013 election date.

At the same time, we will place Coalition policies under exactly the same level of scrutiny. Labor is a known quantity, which is why they’ve lost support. It is up to the Coalition to win those voters.

Let’s look at each of these, starting with At last, the opportunity looms to put an end to two terms of political chaos and economic decline.

What decline? Here are the facts:

Australia is currently experiencing a very fast growth rate of 1.7%. This is the highest growth rate in the OECD and we recently achieved the milestone of 23 million people. That’s 15% growth – or three million people – since early 2004, when we reached 20 million.

Our GDP growth in Australia displayed the full brutality of the carnage being wrought on the world. Many experts and people on the street were convinced that, like the rest of the world, Australia would enter recession.

However, despite all the forecasts, Australia avoided entering recession in 2009. This isn’t to say we didn’t see the impacts. Growth went from above trend, at 3.75% in 2008, to well below, at 1.37% in 2009. Over the last 20 years, trend growth has been an impressive 3.25%.

The next impact was inevitable; with a 10.6% turnaround in revenue growth in the immediate aftermath, government revenue not only completely stalled, it went backwards to the tune of five billion dollars, or 1.5% in 2008. This was followed by a decrease of six billion dollars or 2.1% the following year. These were big falls, especially considering in the last year of John Howard’s pre-GFC government revenue grew by 9.1%.

This period, 2008 and 2009, is where all the damage was done and today’s budget still suffers from it. It was nothing government did. It happened the world over. We were fortunate we avoided recession, our unemployment peaked nowhere near expected and we kept growing.

This didn’t happen by accident. It required government to act to secure bank deposits and implement a world beating stimulus package that filled the hole in demand and kept us insulated from world events. It was a significant package of $52B, but we faced a significant problem and the response by the Australia Government was hailed by the IMF, OECD, World Bank and many economists as being a model response to the crisis.

We continue . . .

But Australians know that Rudd is absolutely tied to old Labor and its socially divisive and financially ruinous policies. And the evidence is where? Where are they socially divisive? How are they financially ruinous? See above: see how well our economy is doing.

Kevin Rudd is the leader of a government that confessed just three days ago that its most recent federal budget wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. Did they really say that, or are those just your words?

Kevin Rudd is the leader of a government that didn’t keep its word on the carbon tax. A government that didn’t keep its word on delivering a surplus. A government that, in the end, didn’t even keep its word on the 2013 election date. But hasn’t your newspaper condemned the ‘çarbon tax’ from the day it was planned? Hasn’t your newspaper fanatically promoted Tony Abbott who has continuously threatened to repeal it? Hasn’t your newspaper been screaming for an early election since Abbott was defeated in 2010?

At the same time, we will place Coalition policies under exactly the same level of scrutiny. Labor is a known quantity, which is why they’ve lost support. It is up to the Coalition to win those voters. Oh, please, are we to believe that? Show us where you have ever applied any scrutiny to the policy-free Coalition. For three years you have been promoting Team Abbott but not once have I ever known of your newspaper to apply the blowtorch.

Why bother with having a Code of Conduct. Just be honest and openly declare your support for the Coalition, and perhaps try telling us why they’ll provide us with a better government. Or don’t you know?

We certainly don’t. Strangely, we rely on newspapers such as yours to provide us with facts that are reported impartially, accurately and with integrity. Otherwise you are wasting our time.

And this was only Day 1 of the campaign!

I’m guessing that your paper is going to lose thousands of readers, but is that important to you? Another guess: No. What appears to be more important is your desire to influence the political landscape of this country. Do you assume that that’s want your readers want?

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Murdoch hates Rudd: a reminder

The Fairfax media and the social media have seized on the ‘rumour’ that Murdoch wants to wipe away Kevin Rudd’s chance of electoral success, in favour of Abbott; a win to Abbott would be a win for Murdoch, financially.

The barrage of frenzied attacks on Rudd from Murdoch’s News Limited media over the last few days gives this rumour some strength.

But this isn’t new. The Murdoch media is well oiled when it comes to attacking Rudd.

Let’s go back to September 2009, courtesy of Mungo MacCallum who wrote the following (reproduced below) in his article Rudd and the Murdoch Press.

“The most powerful man in Australia does not actually live in Australia. This, for many, is just one more reason to fear and loathe him. Much of Australia has never forgiven Rupert Murdoch for putting wealth and power above patriotism and deserting his country of birth to become an American citizen.

Political leaders find it particularly irksome. It was painful enough to be called into the media mogul’s Sydney headquarters, worse still to be invited to his rural estate – ‘Cavan’, near Canberra – to don gumboots and compliment him on his livestock. But to be summoned halfway around the world – to New York or, the ultimate humiliation, to one of his executive bonding retreats at Aspen, Colorado – is almost too much to bear.

Almost … but not quite. Those unwilling to undertake the pilgrimage have only to cast their minds back to 1975 to recall the terrible consequences of offending the Sun King.

The campaign waged by the News Limited press against Gough Whitlam during that year’s election was so brutal and single-minded that a number of Murdoch’s own journalists went on strike in protest. It was also overkill; in the somewhat hysterical atmosphere of the time, Whitlam was going to lose anyway. But the Dirty Digger’s Blitzkrieg undoubtedly made the result more dramatic than it might otherwise have been.

No sane politician, let alone prime minister, is going to invite an encore. For this reason, various Labor strategists are starting to worry about the simmering feud between Kevin Rudd and the Murdoch empire, concerned that there is a risk of eruption into open warfare.

Rudd and his colleagues have never tried to hide their distaste for the News Limited style of journalism, more than once accusing the corporation of deliberately distorting reports to favour Labor’s opponents. They have long since given up on some of News Limited’s columnists; you might as well try to convert Alan Jones. There is a particular contempt for what insiders describe as the Axis of Evil: Andrew Bolt in the Herald Sun, Piers Akerman in the Telegraph and Janet Albrechtsen in the Australian.

When Mark Latham called Albrechtsen “a skanky ho who would die in a ditch for the Liberal Party”, he was accused of bad taste, but he was actually just summarising the general sentiment of the Labor Party. And Dennis Shanahan – working within the press gallery itself – became a standing joke at the close of the Howard era, thanks to his heroic attempts to read hope for the coalition into a long series of disastrous opinion polls.

But all this is par for the course, what Rudd himself might call the “normal argy-bargy of politics”. In recent times, though, the to-and-fro has become more particular and more serious. Rudd has been able to brush off many of the attacks against his ministers and the policies of his government, but when the concerted forces of the Murdoch press moved against his integrity it hit him where it hurts, both politically and personally.

Rudd is jealously protective of his image as a sincere prime minister.

The Opposition, of course – with the help of its cheerleaders in the media – has tried to portray him as a shallow, malleable politician, lacking both principle and conviction: all spin and no substance. But it is clear that the public does not see him that way. Indeed, a recent letter-writer to the Sydney Morning Herald explained Rudd’s longstanding ascendancy in the polls with one word: Integrity.

So when News Limited threw its considerable resources behind what became known as the ‘Utegate affair’, Rudd cracked. The accusation that he had given special favours to the car-dealer John Grant in return for – of all things – a beaten-up truck, was simply unacceptable and, when the email on which the charge was based was proved to be a forgery, he hit back.

Asked during a press conference for his reaction by Matthew Franklin, who had helped to drive the story in the Australian, Rudd responded in terms rather more measured than he had been using in private:

I think, what a number of people have said to me, Matthew, around the place is where have we kind of got to, when you have major papers like the Daily Telegraph, the Courier-Mail and the Adelaide Advertiser running on their front page that the prime minister of the country is corrupt, and then secondly the editors it seems not having sighted any original document in terms of this email, and thirdly, it turns out that, that email is a forgery, I would have thought a few people would want to know how all that happened, what sort of journalistic checks were put in place for that to be the case, or is it simply being sort of airbrushed from history?

 

I think the other thing which sort of comes up is, I mean, the usual accusations when political leaders respond to factually inaccurate reporting in the media, in this case in those papers that I referred to, is to accuse the political leaders in question of having some sort of glass jaw. It may simply be that what people want is just some basic answers as to how that might have happened, that’s a pretty basic thing.

 

The other thing I saw the chief executive of your own news organisation do yesterday was, in responding to this, indicate that somehow the deputy prime minister was raising these matters because she’d felt set upon by your newspaper over the coverage of the Building the Education Revolution stuff. Well, all’s fair in love and war, I mean, you guys will take whatever editorial position you want on the Building the Education Revolution and that’s been the case.

Rudd described this treatment of Gillard as “journalistic retaliation”. In other words, it had gone beyond Utegate: Rudd now saw it as a concerted campaign.

The Australian immediately struck back: one of its less scrupulous hit men, Glenn Milne, devoted an entire column to vilifying Rudd. And the paper’s dedicated sneer column, ‘Cut and Paste’ (which seems to exist purely for the purpose of trivialising or denigrating views to the left of the soup spoon), redoubled its attacks on Rudd and his defenders.

One of the constant accusations was that Rudd did indeed have a glass jaw: he could dish it out but he couldn’t take it. It is true that, since becoming the leader of the Labor Party, he and his staff have seemed both clumsy and overreactive in their dealings with the media. One explanation may be Rudd’s background in the Queensland arena, where the journalists (“the chooks”, as Joh Bjelke-Petersen once called them) are rather less aggressive than the Canberra press gallery.

The current stoush between the PM’s office and what is arguably the most forceful and influential constituent of the fourth estate is not a good sign. Rudd began, as quoted above, by referring specifically to three of the Murdoch tabloids, but later widened his attack to include “the Murdoch press” generally, perhaps implying that the campaign was being led by the man himself.

This is unlikely: these days Murdoch regards his Australian operations as pretty much on the fringe and allows his editors the kind of independence that their predecessors only dreamed of. An obvious example of this, is Murdoch’s support of the use of short-term stimulus packages to combat the global financial crisis, while his Australian economics writers (Michael Stutchbury in the Australian, in particular) have been highly critical.

Also, Murdoch declares himself a true believer in climate change, but the Australian has become a haven for sceptics and deniers. The anti-Rudd push, if it is coordinated at all, is almost certainly locally driven.

This may not give Rudd much immediate solace, but at least he is unlikely to suffer the kind of vendetta that was the fate of Gough Whitlam. Murdoch may well have disapproved of many aspects of the Labor government of 1972–75, but the ferocity of his onslaught was driven at least partly by a desire for payback.

The Murdoch papers had campaigned vigorously for Labor in 1972; indeed, their bashings of the incumbent prime minister, the hapless Billy McMahon, were almost as ruthless as their monstering of Whitlam three years later. And shortly after Whitlam took office, Murdoch appeared on the doorstep, claiming his reward: he wanted to be appointed to the plum diplomatic post of high commissioner to London, with the proviso that he be allowed to continue all his business operations – including running his media empire – from the official residence on the Strand.

Whitlam, outraged by the demand, refused point-blank and shortly thereafter cancelled a coal mining project that Murdoch had underway in Western Australia, on the grounds of “national interest”. The rest is history.

Kevin Rudd may find it inconvenient to have to make the trek to the United States to pay his respects, but he has reason to be thankful that Rupert Murdoch now pursues his insatiable ambitions from somewhere a long way away.”

Author’s comment:

Did Mungo provide a crystal ball for his readers to gaze into the future: September 2013. Unwittingly, it appears he has. Conversely, he has given us some history to reflect upon. History, that over the next month, will be repeated . . . with venom. We won’t need much reminding that Rupert Murdoch does indeed hate Kevin Rudd. Just keep an eye on his Australian media over the next few weeks if you have any doubt.

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Someone has well and truly lost the plot

That fine custodian of moral virtue, Piers Ackerman, is mostly known for his frothing-at-the-mouth appearances on ABC Insiders most Sunday mornings and as a journalist for The Australian and a couple of other magnificent Murdoch journals. The Australian, we are reminded, is the masthead of Murdoch’s media empire in our country. It espouses to be the pinnacle of decency in the Australian media landscape. I found this summary of its wonderfulness:

The Australian is this country’s leading news brand. The editorial values focus on leading and shaping public opinion on the issues that affect Australia, its residents and the Australian business environment. Led by a team of highly credible and experienced journalists, editorial themes cover economic, political and social issues.

Unparalleled national and international news and business sections are supplemented by indepth business to business sections such as; Australian IT (the largest newspaper IT section in the world), Higher Education, Media, Aviation, Thoroughbreds. As well, lifestyle, arts and sports sections balance the read for our independent thinking and influential readership.

The Australian brand is globally recognised as a leader in media innovation. The brand has evolved into a multi-platform offering for both its consumers and its advertisers by taking full advantage of the many techonologies available in the marketplace. From a refreshed, smart broadsheet layout to full gloss executive lifestyle magazines. From an up-to-date by the minute guide to news around the world via The Australian website to the fully interactive iPad application, online and iPad editions are refreshed throughout the day.

The Australian newspaper is published Monday to Friday.

A word from our Editor-in-Chief

The Australian was born in July 1964 as a bold venture in national journalism, vowing to provide “the impartial information and the independent thinking that are essential to the further advance of our country”.

Today, it retains that sense of adventure, covering the affairs of an island continent, with reporters across the country and foreign bureaus throughout the region and around the world. It is read by Australians from Broome to Burnie to Cooktown, and is published at six print sites around the country.

As the national broadsheet, our core areas are federal politics, international affairs, business, sport, the arts, technology and education. To do our job, we must stand above other sources of news and information.

We strive to be first with the big national stories. We aim for factual reporting and penetrating analysis. We seek to take our readers beyond the “spin” of the political, business and sport press release machinery.

Chris Mitchell

Keep this piece of propaganda in the back of your mind: to provide “the impartial information and the independent thinking that are essential to the further advance of our country”.

Two newspapers in The Australian’s stable are The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, where Piers Ackerman is given the freedom to provide “the impartial information and the independent thinking that are essential to the further advance of our country”. They promote Piers as being:

… one of The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph’s best-read columnists since 1993. One of the nation’s most respected journalists he has worked in New York, London, Washington and Los Angeles.

Well someone has well and truly lost the plot.

Here is Ackerman’s latest piece from The Australian, “Piers Akerman hits back at his critics following the ABC Insiders program”. I have highlighted those sections that do not to provide “the impartial information and the independent thinking that are essential to the further advance of our country”.

The chattering classes whipped themselves into a lather Sunday afternoon claiming that I raised questions about First Bloke Tim Mathieson’s sexuality on the ABC Insiders program that morning.

Rubbish. The ABC’s producers had conservative Perth shock jock Howard Sattler’s repugnant interview with Prime Minister Julia Gillard listed as an item for Insider host Barrie Cassidy’s discussion to open up the question of whether she had been exposed to sexism during her career.

Do the sneering Left and the Twitterati really believe that it is possible to discuss the Sattler interview without touching on its subject matter?

What seems to have enraged the Left-wing blogosphere is that I said the Parliamentary press gallery had been asking the same sort of questions when Gillard and Mathieson’s relationship first came to light as Sattler had raised last week.

That seems to have infuriated my fellow panellists, former Fairfax journalist Lenore Taylor, now writing for some Leftwing online site and my News Limited colleague Malcolm Farr, who with Cassidy denied ever hearing such a thing.

I have never made any suggestions Mathieson’s sexuality. I don’t deal in tawdry topics.

Mathieson is in fact a very good friend with one of my long-standing mates and over the past several years we have been scheduled to meet for a weekend lunch, with or without his Significant Other, but diary conflicts have prevented such a felicitous engagement.

Yet there is no greater rumour mill in the nation than the federal press gallery – which in recent weeks has been relentlessly asking (I shan’t say what because I don’t engage in rumour mongering).

As I said the Sattler interview was unacceptable, that should have signalled my view clearly.

Quite frankly, I can’t understand why the Left gets itself so wound up about sexuality and gender issues when it publicly preaches these matters are irrelevant.

That’s my position and always has been. What people do in private is up to them.

What angers me more than the phony outrage of the aged feminists and class-and-gender war warriors is that the Sattler interview was deemed worthy of comment when there are so many more pressing national issues.

Not least the fact that the Australian navy and customs ships are too busy ferrying illegal people smuggler boats to Christmas Island to pick up the drowned bodies of those who were unsuccessful in making Labor’s lethal voyage.

Or the fact that the Prince-in-waiting Kevin Rudd is equally to blame for Labor’s blow-out Budgets, waste and failed policies as Gillard, the woman most ALP MPs hope he rolls.

Outrage from the Left – don’t make me laugh. Campbell Newman and his immediate family were subjected to a barrage of falsehoods concocted by Labor during the recent election and some of those who endorsed the rubbish have now found refuge in the Prime Minister’s office, just as the phony race riot of Australia Day 2012 was concocted there.

As I said at the end of the show, addressing Gillard (who wasn’t watching), I intended no offense.

I meant it. Just as I now say I will never be intimidated by the baying of Labor’s politically correct lickspittles who were ever so silent when this government was trying to muzzle the news media during its current term.

I repeat, I don’t draw up Insiders’ agenda, the ABC did because a conservative shock jock had made a fool of himself and been sacked.

They ignored the offensive nature of the charge in their attempt to further gore their quarry.

Many of you will find nothing wrong with that. He is simply sharing his opinions, even though they don’t provide “the impartial information and the independent thinking that are essential to the further advance of our country”. I think, more than anything, he’s letting us know that he doesn’t like the Left or any class or group likely to fall into the Left category.

But he doesn’t leave it alone. His article was reproduced on The Telegraph under ‘Sexuality rubbish a tawdry affair’ where readers were offered the opportunity to debate the article with Piers himself. There one can see first hand that Ackerman has no intention of providing “the impartial information and the independent thinking that are essential to the further advance of our country”. I produce some examples below:

In response to:

Piers,
I believe your wife is a female…correct? Well, does that make her a lesbian? THINK !!….that’s if your narrow-minded, blinkered, one-eyed, right-wing extremist attitudes allow you to.

Ackerman wrote:

THIS must be the stupidest comment ever submitted, Chris. This is the sort of logic that brought the destruction of border protection, the installation of pink batts, the Budget surplus we never had and Gonski, you must be channeling the brains trust of the ALP.

I agree with Ackerman that it was a stupid comment, but don’t you just love how he turns it into some Labor bashing?

Someone wrote:

Did you ask Tony why his sister is gay? Did you ask Alan Jones whether he is gay? Are you gay? Never seen you with a woman and has never been discussed. Don’t care what you do or Alan Jones and rest of you so called commentators. When did journalists become commentators? Your a journalist. Come out to the country sometime and look at real people with real issues. and yes there are gays in the country maybe you will fit in. Wasn’t that personal maybe that’s what the PM thought?

Ackerman, quick to blame the Lefties responded with:

Being a homosexual or a heterosexual has never been a big deal with me, Bathurst, but it seems to excite the Lefties no end. I have always been interested in the issues the ABC would prefer not to deal with – such as Labor’s failure.

Ackerman, so far, hasn’t answered many comments but when he does the majority of them are used as a vehicle to provide “the impartial information and the independent thinking that are essential to the further advance of our country”, which in his opinion is to demean anyone on the Left that breathes. Here are more of his rants:

And as for your pathetic smear, go and get your shilling from the ALP, they run the only smear operation I am aware of.

Interesting, Andrea. The first woman in parliament was elected by conservatives. The first female office bearer was conservative. Elected and appointed on merit. People aren’t afraid of women. They don’t like Quota Queens though and they distrust Labor losers like Gillard, Kirner, Bligh and Lawrence. With good cause.

Carol – if Anne Summers is not an aged feminist, I am a carrot. I would have thought that applying age as a descriptor might have excused her peculiarly bilious form of feminism. If you suggest not, I guess mit is just pure nastiness on her part.

Mark, why wouldn’t everyone feel entitled to feel superior to those on the Left when the evidence of the Left’s disastrous policies and philosophies is abundantly evident.

So The Australian vows to provide “the impartial information and the independent thinking that are essential to the further advance of our country”. Yet they put Piers Ackerman to work on the farm. Goodness me, someone has well and truly lost the plot then.

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In whose opinion?

An old friend, Nick, recently said that what was once news has now been replaced with a journalist’s view on the world. The journalist’s opinion is no longer secondary; today their opinions are the news.

Having spent many years in the USA and retaining an interest in their politics and their media, he commented that what he is starting to see creep into our media and presentation is this impression that the opinion of journalists is not only something nice to have for politicians, but is somehow more important to the public than the politicians and policies themselves. “Where have I seen that before?” he asked. Yes, FOX News, that world-renowned bastion of journalistic integrity known for it’s fair & balanced review of subjects. Where it is more important to know what a journalist (or more correctly, an “opinion entertainer“) thinks about a subject than it is to know about the subject itself. When that occurs, you start getting people carrying placards to political rallies, not about the policies they object to or want to see enacted, but bearing the name of journalists and thanking the heavens for their opinion.

His best guess is that it occurred when investigative journalism became too expensive compared to paying peanuts for the opinions of journalists, who then began to believe their own rubbish, and whose sense of their own importance grew to an unreasonable level not at all commensurate with their actual talent.

He summed it up:

You’d be excused for thinking today – going by a number of newspaper front pages, headlines and political commentary – that Australia had descended into Mad Magazine hell.

He cited, as an example, Julia Gillard. Rather than being hailed for her expert negotiating tactics and creating one of the most diverse governments in Australian history, we get instead from much of our media the type of reporting and imagery you’d expect from a bunch of attention-seeking, spotty misogynists, beer swilling and word wanking themselves into a fury in some American frat house … or a bunch of smart-arse UK toffs scoffing their ivory towered arses off by way of tabloid drivel. Again, his words.

The idea that Julia Gillard has become more than just a paragraph in the history books, Nick added, has really annoyed and frustrated plenty in our self-serving Fourth Estate … where public interest has fallen to the wayside as sensationalism, gossip and snarling have become the main courses served to the readers/viewers throughout the day.

He had often suspected that the MSM (mainstream media) in this country – much like the USA – have asserted as much influence as possible on Joe Citizen to have Joe vote for the party of their choice. They do this by ‘front paging’ the issues which support their cause. They don’t tell Joe who to vote for, but instead, what to base his/her vote on.

To test out Nick’s hypothesis I took a look at the musings of The Daily Telegraph’s much adored journalist, Piers Akerman. Musings is an appropriate word, however, I think “opinionated rubbish” would be more ideal. Here is a journalist who clearly is unable to write any article without lacing it with unsubstantiated opinion. He fits the bill of what Nick said earlier and which I’ll repeat again: “Where it is more important to know what a journalist (or more correctly, an “opinion entertainer“) thinks about a subject than it is to know about the subject itself“.

I started with Akerman’s “I watched a political show so comical it was a tragedy”. So was his journalism, a comical tragedy, that is. In his opinion, for example, the splashing across the front pages of our newspapers of the drug scandal rocking the major football codes was orchestrated by the Federal Government. Without any embarrassment he sloppily writes:

While real characters appeared in the Obeid Family and Julia’s Disintegrating Party, stars of the new sports-based show have yet to be revealed.

Writers for the Dopiest Sports must name some key players if the series is to build on initial ratings.

Few viewers could resist a show which began with the boast of “the blackest day in Aussie sport”, but without some substance to support the claims, interest could fall rapidly.

Scriptwriters include the Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the Therapeutic Goods Administration. The focus is on the AFL and NRL but main cast members remain shadowy.

As compelling as these programs are, there is the suggestion that the sports show has been rushed to air as a spoiler to woo viewers from the very successful Canberra saga.

Note his conclusion that “there is a suggestion …” without any indication of who might have suggested it. Note too, his earlier comment in the quote that “… without some substance to support the claims, interest could fall rapidly”. He wants substance, yet provides none himself. He is nothing more than a gossip columnist.

The next article I looked at was simply the same baseless opinion with the words re-arranged. Plus he was able to create some imaginary Labor figures to add some grand delusion to his opinion entertainment:

A number of senior Labor figures have compared the Gillard government’s performance over the past week with the dying days of the Whitlam government in 1975, marred by distrust.

Did he name those Labor figures? No. If they existed they could only be chased down for some facts, and facts conflict with opinions. But good old Piers, those Labor figures keep running to him. More appeared here:

Around the nation Labor politicians are shaking their heads and offering their critique of Julia Gillard’s decision to nominate an election date 226 days away.

Many are paraphrasing the catchphrase devastatingly used by slapstick comics Laurel and Hardy: “Well, here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into!”

I’d like to hear who those Labor politicians are and how many and who are paraphrasing the old comics. Again, those facts might get in the way of Akerman’s opinions. After all, he is the news. His opinions are greater than any worthwhile news event, any policy, or any politician.

Where there are no imaginary politicians on call to add credibility to an opinion piece one can rely on an un-named ‘distinguished eye surgeon’ to add support:

But Gillard’s new eyewear is straight out of central casting via focus group testing.

A distinguished eye surgeon told me that the new glasses were designed to mask Gillard’s heavy eyelids and give her the appearance or sense of a presbyopic school headmistress/grandparent and convey a knowledge/security/comfort/safety to the most primitive part of the brain stem.

That is, they were designed to create an image totally at odds with the Australian experience of her leadership and the nation’s knowledge of her character.

Goodness. I might phone a friend as well. Or I might bother half of the distinguished eye surgeons in the country and hopefully they won’t respond like a modelling agency. Akerman was ever so lucky to stumble across one who speaks his language. Or simply, shares his opinion.

Piers Akerman’s opinions are highly sought after. We see him on ABC Insiders most Sunday morning offering us nothing worthwhile. Just opinions. He well represents the mainstream media in this country. Like Nick said, a journalist’s opinion are no longer secondary in the news these days. Their opinions have replaced the news.

But there is hope and it comes from Akerman himself. He asks his readers this:

Please send all further examples of media stupidity to this site so they, too, can be entered in the judging to be held on the Saturday of the election or as soon as possible thereafter.

Perhaps he should read his own articles. There he will find a goldmine of data.

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