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The killing of the truth by the Murdoch media

Image by cnbc.com

Image by cnbc.com

Until recently I was in the habit of attending a writer’s forum every Monday. The group was made up of poets, short story writers, journalists, auto biographers and would be novelists. The conveyer of our group was a wise elderly lady who in terms of the written word, knew her stuff.

Primarily I am a creative writer of short stories and poetry. I have read my work at the national gallery and other places. And I have won a few writing competitions. In December if 2011 I was enticed, because of my interest in politics, into the world of the blogger.

Anyway, one day we had a group discussion on the current standard of journalism. We were asked to take a slip of paper with a journalist’s name on it and the newspaper they wrote for, from a box. Bingo, lo and behold, I had the name Bolt perched between thumb and forefinger.

We had to opine on the person we had taken from the box. So I gave my assessment.

“He is a writer of very little journalistic distinction” I said. “He is apt to write for an audience in a style suitable for the intelligence of 13 year olds. His writing is never challenging (not even his use of words) in a literary sense and his sentences usually carry the weight of invective untruth. He writes with little journalist flamboyance. Instead his words are calculated to offend his target and please his cohort of followers. Because truth and journalistic shrill are incompatible he relegates truth to unconscionable practice. In short, he writes with the venom of a snake but with this snake there seems to be no antidote”. I warmed to the task saying, “If a newspaper article is written in a manner to suggest objectivity but subjective words are scattered throughout it together with carefully phrased unsupported statements then dismiss the article as having no cogency”.
“He also writes for a tabloid newspaper, the Herald Sun. It’s a Murdoch publication One of those where the truth goes to die”.
And that was the end of my little rant.

I might add that it is the same style that Tony Abbott employs orally. You simply tell people what it is you think they want to hear. It’s what Abbott meant when after his “climate change is crap” comment he said, “I was speaking to an audience”.

In a democracy the right to free speech is given by the people through the parliament. Therefore, it should be incumbent on people to display decorum, moderation, truth, fact, balance, reason, tolerance, civility and respect for the other point of view.

Note that the Australian Constitution doesn’t guarantee free speech. It only implies it.

Andrew Bolt – one of the pin-up boys of the Murdoch media – has never thought highly of these ideals. He prefers provocative sensationalism.

After all, why should he? He is probably paid loads of money to do just that. Newspapers all over the world are fighting for survival and the Herald Sun is one of many. The Australian loses huge amounts each year but Murdoch props it up because of its political influence. It is the go to newspaper for conservatives. So how do you prop up circulation? You have writers like Bolt writing inflammatory titillating nonsense to a largely disengaged, uninformed audience with journalism that appeals to societies lowest values.

“It is said of pornography (and I am not expert in this field) that in order to maintain the viewer’s interest it needs to progressively become more outlandish – more tantalising – more seductive-more flirtatious-more provocative – more stunning and more enticing. And in their desire to maintain some dominance, that’s exactly what main stream media is doing. It has chosen to prostitute itself in the forlorn hope of remaining relevant “.

Recall Bolt’s not so long ago brush with the law. For me that judgment had little to do with free speech but more to do with the standard of journalism that the Herald Sun is responsible for. Justice Bromberg, wrote that Bolt’s use of language 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”.

During the London riots a few years back, Bolt in one of his pieces used the word ‘aped’ to describe the copycat behaviour of some people. The use of the word was legitimate in that sense until you appreciate that he was talking about black West Indians, and then the word took on a different connotation. That of a racist intent.

In 2002, Magistrate Jelena Popovic was awarded $246,000 damages for defamation after suing Bolt and the publishers of the Herald Sun over a 13 December 2000 column in which he claimed she had:

“Hugged two drug traffickers she let walk free”.

Popovic asserted she had in fact shaken their hands to congratulate them on having completed a rehabilitation program. The jury found that the article was not true, that it was not a faithful and accurate record of judicial proceedings and that it was not a fair comment on a matter of public import. A Court of Appeal later reversed some 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 is his spat with Robert Manne about the Stolen Generation. If you have followed this ongoing argument, you cannot but be impressed with the lucidity of Robert Manne’s writing 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 factual, believable journey full of insight and truth. Mann also some time ago analysed the poisonous influence of Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited in this country, particularly through the extremist editorial policy of The Australian Newspaper, where the truth is distorted and contrary views vilified. Manne followed up with a brilliantly written and researched “Quarterly Essay” concluding that “The Australian” is more a propaganda sheet than a newspaper.

Australians have had to put up with the rantings and ravings of populist main stream media for far too long, where extremist views are regularly presented on TV, radio, and particularly via the monopolistic media empire of Rupert Murdoch, the person ultimately responsible for the scandalous phone tapping scandal in Britain, which has earned him worldwide opprobrium.

When a conservative government was elected on September 7 in the year of our Lord 2013, a requiem mass for the death of truth in main stream media and government was held at old Parliament House Canberra. The service was conducted by Archbishop Murdoch and assisted by an Abbott. The eulogy was given by Andrew Bolt and prayers read by Piers Akerman and Alan Jones and numerous other right wing journalists.

Prayers were also offered for the death of the following by the leader of the opposition.

The National Disability Scheme.
A plebiscite for a republic.
The loss of school funding. The environment.
The mining tax.
The NBN.
Thousands of jobs.
Marriage equality.
Equality in education.
Policies unknown but sure to transpire.

Those who believed in the virtue of truth were not welcome. Women were directed toward the kitchen.

Let’s hope the bloggers can pick up the pieces.

For further reading on this subject you should read this.

30 comments

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  1. Lee

    Striving to appeal to the lowest common denominator in society. Aiming high isn’t he? Dolt’s parents must be so proud of him. There was money well spent on his education.

  2. John921Fraser

    <

    With all due respect John Lord I have just wasted 1 minute of my life reading about Bolt.

    I will try harder to avoid making that mistake again.

  3. DanDark

    Rogue Rupie has been on my “shit list” for a while now
    before I get as far, as I can from this country,
    I will do the my best to Bring the little weasel animal down
    Because even when old prick drops dead, he has his clones, his fugly sons
    They are one of the most fugliest families, only money going for them, nothing else at all really

    They were all standing behind the door, when looks were handed out
    And as for the ancestors, all of them were a croc, even Rupies mother was a con
    Used charities to raise her appearance in media, charity for her own cause,
    Just good pr and marketing made these loser family look normal, and owning majority of news outlets.

  4. Vicki

    DD, I usually empathise with your posts but having had Dame Elizabeth as a neighbour for a good many years and never having heard a bad word about her locally (and no, it is not a wealthy area, just ordinary folk who work in factories, offices etc.) I would hope you have some evidence for stating that she used charities for self promotion. What would be the point? She was a reasonably wealthy woman in her own right so why would she need to promote herself. She wasn’t a high profile socialite. She opened her home gardens to the public several times a year to raise money for charity.
    On one occasion I inadvertently wandered into her personal garden completely taken by it. Dame Elizabeth saw me there and came to point out that this part of the property was not open to the public. Instead of telling me to leave she showed me around the gardens pointing out the various features and naming the plants. She explained how she used to plan and garden herself when she was younger but that she was now too old and employed others.
    Dame Elizabeth also allowed her name to be used for the local secondary school that was labouring under a poor reputation – change of name and suddenly there was pride in the school and the community. How many people would have allowed their name to be used so publicly in such circumstances.
    Early on, when we first came to Australia and hence Langwarrin she could be seen out locally and always had a smile and a greeting. I did not realise until years later who she was – just thought she was a neighbour who lived locally.
    I believe Dame Elizabeth also donated land opposite Cruden Farm (the family home) to the local council to be used as an arboretem. There are probably dozens more stories like these.
    DD, did you actually know Dame Elizabeth or had you met her at all? I still think of her as a lovely lady.

  5. DanDark

    Cool you have your opinion that’s fine, and I will have mine, she raised a monster, says it all for me
    Where did he get his empathy, moral compass, decency, well wasn’t from her, because he has none of that, just lots of power and money, Keith had to much power for way to long for a nobody, they are nobody’s, and use money to wield power,
    Monkey see monkey do, and Rupert was taught well how to screw the country, just saying 🙂

  6. Stephen Bowler

    Where do we go for the truth – when all that is read can be turned arond by clever writers

    Who can we trust – whenoliticians lie to the public and even to parliament

    how can we fight this – withput the massive resources of the neo-liberists

    People are feeling powerless – I detect more and more extremist solutions

    I feel fear for us pensioners and even more for the future of my son and his family in particular his children

    There has to be a way to stop this government

    Our Labor party appears to have deserted us for self interest
    S

  7. H13

    Mr Lord has my highest respect for the lucidity and cogency of his writing for AIMN, in this instance putting himself in harms way because there’s no depths of vituperation with their counter-attacks to which the MSM right-wing bloviators will not sink. Malcolm Turnbull recently pointed out to one of these bellicosity-artists: “Alan, the problem with you is you like dishing it out but you don’t like taking it.. ”

    Almost as significant as the direct negative impacts upon consumers of the Murdoch empire’s propaganda is how acutely ABC TV News 24 channel is infected with this tabloid disease and spews predominately opinion centered journalism. Fair enough that “The Drum” and “The Insiders” will more often than not have a majority of the panel from Murdoch media, conservative think-tanks, former LNP politicians etc.. These are clearly designated, probably inexpensive and viewed mostly by politics “tragics”.

    Far more disturbing is the egregiousness opinion-mongering embedded in ABC News 24’s bulletins (especially when “presenters” interview a parade of their own “correspondents” with set-up questions) and total-waste-of-space infotainment like the ABC Breakfast show which self-promotes as “quality news and analysis”. Its hosts, Virginia Trioli and Michael Rowland, have never encountered a current news item which they can’t trivialise with their flippant, supercilious banter. Last month their producers handed Ms Trioli two text messages expressing strong objections to their incessant opinion-mongering (“News. Not Views”, one texter pleaded), but the two smug celebrities couldn’t contain their mirth at such an absurd suggestion.

    All of which leads me to repeat Mr Lord’s salient and sobering thought: “Let’s hope the bloggers can pick up the pieces.”

  8. DanDark

    H13 yes the abc is just a mouth piece for the libs,
    Murdoch is like an octopus, tentacles slowly squeezing the life out of unbiased media in this country
    Like a slow fungus growing over the media, it’s killing them though, and they don’t even realise, they are dying a slow death 😉

  9. Ian

    Oh dear, John, call yourself a writer, and you’re still having difficulty distinguishing between “society’s” and “societies”.

  10. DanDark

    Oh dear Ian, you are a tool, spelt tool
    You are a wanker, spelt wanker
    Now go back and crawl in your cave 🙂

  11. Dan Rowden

    It’s a bit hard to take seriously the idea of any discussion of the “current standard of journalism” that includes someone like Andrew Bolt. That’s only a tiny step away from including Alan Jones. Bolt may have a qualification in journalism but what he does is not journalism. It is social commentary. His inclusion in such a discussion is really an insult to journalists everywhere.

    I also thoughy the comparison between Robert Manne’s writing ability and Bolt’s was utterly fatuous. Bolt is a B-Grade journalist. Manne is a Professor of Politics who has penned multiple books. What comparison could be meaningful? For what he does, Bolt’s writing style and quality is perfectly acceptable. It’s the conceptual content that sucks.

  12. Bespectaled Observer

    Can we arrange for Bolt and Gresta changes places please? Some sort of prisoner swap?

  13. Don Winther

    You mentioned main stream media prostituting itself and it bought me back to a thought I had the other day about Australia.

    I understand and accept prostitution but I can’t understand or accept my country being treated like this.

  14. Totaram

    Dan Rowden: Like Tim Wilson, our “freedom commissioner”, I don’t think Bolt actually has any “qualifications”, either as a journalist or as anything else. These are people who are “good” at churning out propaganda (in the literal meaning of the word). I also admit you don’t really need any qualification to be a good journalist, although it would probably help.

  15. Trevor

    “But,But” i thought we voted the Adults in!!!!!!!!!

    During my Indigenous studies at Murdoch i decided to explore the mainstream press for the years 1890-1905 and be buggered if i didnt find the headlines and lead articles interchangeable with todays regarding the “other” of Australian Societies.

    Guess i can say the more things change the more it stays the same.

    abbotts chickens home roosting in the Tas forests, high court for Scott the menace, and more.

    Export Abbott not Refugees

  16. S

    They say a fish rots from the head down, that is exactly what is happening with this government,
    The msm won’t report on this terrible budget and question time is a shambles ,what is the point of turning up when the opposition is gagged on every question,
    Why doesn’t the opposition stage a mass walkout until Bishop is gone, something has gotto give

  17. Kaye Makovec

    And precisely why people who are capable of original thought. well me in particular 🙂 has avoided buying all MSM newspapers for over 35 years, stopped listening to the radio in case I came across any of the disgusting so called shock jocks and don’t even watch Channel 10 as I have heard they are there too.
    And any and every time I see jones on TV I immediately change channels to avoid puking.
    Same with Abbott and Co now. Can’t bear to watch Question Time and am even avoiding the News on TV.
    Never in my life have I wanted so many lying disgusting mouths to connect with my fist.

  18. paul walter

    This thread becomes more interesting now, with the verdict on Coulson, Brooks etc, now in.

    For my part Coulson is below grub level and deserved the conviction, as for Brooks, how she wiggled out of it, I don’t know..just far enough to be at arms distance, although if you followed the trial you’d wonder at that..

    I suppose all that’s left is to philosophise a little; at “the system” all protagonists including the jury members are products of, and whether the jury realised that letting Brooks off in effect validated the Morlock Empire and its defacto cannibalism; that humanity in fact does exist for capital, rather than the other way round.

  19. Cherrylle Allan

    Mr Lord said everything that i myself have exactly the same thoughts. I must add to think a Govt can bend the laws of the constitution so Bolt could not be responsible for his writing about Aborigines on welfare is a utter disgrace. To actually realise Murdock is in charge, not only in Australia but practically the world is a problem of dynamic proportions; and capitalism rears its ugly head, regards

  20. corvus boreus

    As I watch the current government erode our economy, fracture our society and undermine my employment whilst slashing the welfare safety net, I desperately look for a positive.
    ON the upside, I do have a new found right to express bigotry, to cause hurt by spouting prejudice.
    This was enacted by our attorney general to benefit a lying poison dwarf(Bolt), at the bidding of a bunch of anti-democratic, pampered lobbyists(IPA), representing a greedy, corrupting, deceiving, cradle-snatching prune(Murdoch).
    As my livelihood and rights get buggered and felched, I thank these rich, white, privileged pieces of maggot infested putrescence for their efforts on behalf of my right to whinge malicious bullshit about why people different from me fundamentally suck.

  21. Jonesy

    Andrew Bolt has a massive chip on his shoulder.His sullenness and shock and awe reaction to Malcolm Turnbull’s vitriolic hit back at him for his stupid comments regarding his meeting with Clive Palmer spoke volumes.
    Again’ this all goes back to when Andrew went on stage dressed in a Tutu and the whole school laughed at him.He’s never been the same since.Andrew; please come back? The Theatre needs you dear boy.

  22. corvus boreus

    Jonesy,
    As a prop in “Macbeth”.
    (gestures to the dolt)”It is a tale told by an idiot, all sound and fury, signifying nothing”.

  23. Paul Raymond Scahill

    I must admit that some of the vitriol directed towards the ABC,s chuckleheads, The Drum, Insiders with Barry, et al is so sticky it reiterates exactly my feelings. I do not want to change a thing. Corvus Boreus, S, and all the rest are just so “spot on” even the calling of Murdocks children “fuglies” was apt. It goes without saying that the entire “Parliament” is not worth a crumpet, ant the sooner the B.S. artists are replaced the better. GOOD RIDDANCE to the lot. My fist is also cocked and ready for Tones and the rest of them

  24. robert lawson

    Anyone siding with this Gov’t is abiding the rout of our Country .This is the most dangerous gang of thug Fascists since Hitler .We wont be able to have a debate if they get their way as it will be classed as protest . That includes you ordinary L.N.P. VOTERS Because when you realise you have lost your rights to democracy .too bad . Everything has been planned to weaken the working force of Australia . We will practically be slaves of the Super rich .Greed is the drive behind it all.

  25. Terry2

    Andrew Bolt, like Alan Jones, Gerard Henderson and some others have tripped over a pot of gold with the current government and its right wing agenda, straight out of the IPA song book.

    All of a sudden they are luminaries within the conservative firmament. Hendo must be over the moon to see that his modest Sydney Institute has suddenly become a platform for Abbott government ministers to indulge themselves and their acolytes. All of a sudden Gerry and his wife Anne are getting invites to appear on the ABC (The Drum and Q&A) to provide the ‘balance’ that is evidently so much in demand.

    Jones has known for a long time that there is money to be made out of right-wing ranting and it hasn’t taken Bolt long to turn a pedestrian career in journalism into a river of gold at News,Ten and 2GB.

    I remember when John Howard – a man who now seems like a Lefty moderate – called upon the ABC to introduce a right wing Philip Adams : would we be shouted down to now call for more balance in the privately owned media ? I think so, in this new paradigm It seems to be high fashion to adopt the garb of our naked emperor.

  26. Yones

    Yes, I agree with a lot of the views here and find myself dismissive of Bolt, Jones , Murdoch press etc. But , what you wrote about pornography isn’t correct.

  27. Bob in Ngunnawal country

    John Singleton clearly said that he and Gina Rhinehart paid Bolt to write the stuff he does. That reference was to a campaign, maybe the mining super profits tax.
    So writing “He is probably paid loads of money to do just that” is wrong. Bolt IS PAID …

    Hmmmph

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