Friday, November 27, 2009

Mr Murdoch (my boss) says: "We have to give the planet the benefit of the doubt"

Yes. It's me. Again. On Your ABC. This time I'm debating Laura Tingle with Leigh

"Look, Rupert is playing his cards close to his chest. Do you think I'm going to tell you anything of any real value? If so, you would have to be the most naive person I've ever met."

Leigh Sales should have asked Van Onselen what he made of the fact that Malcolm Turnbull had lunch with (his employers) News Limited executives today. That would have provided us with either the usual dishonest answer, or a refreshingly honest answer, to the question of who really runs this country.

It seems that the answer is "Rupert Murdoch".

When is Kevin Rudd next meeting with Rupert Murdoch, and how often does he take instructions from that person's operatives?

Wouldn't it be nice if we ran our own country?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Australia. Climate. This is your democracy.

Peter van Onselen appeared with Annabel Crabb on tonight's [24/11/09] 'Lateline'.

Van Onselen may as well have just said: "Rupert's message to you is that Turnbull is GONE!"

Democracy needs journalism. Corporate journalism operates in the opposite direction. Australia is now a democracy/journalism free zone. Opinionism is not journalism, but nobody cares and nobody is really doing anything to bring these corporate journalists back into the service of genuine democracy.

Weird how the only people who get really shitty about the above statement of fact are "journalists", usually of the Murdoch persuasion, while at the same time doing their masters' bidding.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Why should asking the ABC a simple question be like pulling teeth?

ABC TV's News Bulletins appear to be relying more on Fox Sports

Here's the ABC's latest response to our recent queries:

Thank you for your emails, which have been referred to me for response.

I understand your core question to be this: "Are there any guidelines, or other relevant considerations, governing the appearance of persons employed by commercial media organisations (specifically Rupert Murdoch's) as interviewees on ABC outlets?"

The short answer is no, at least not in the specific terms that you use in your question. All ABC content is covered by the ABC Editorial Policies, which are available in their entirety here - The policies cover the use of specialist commentators in section 5.7 which states (in part): "It is ABC policy to provide a range of views on significant issues over time, ensuring the broadcast and publication online of a diversity of perspectives. To achieve this staff should use a number of different commentators and analysts." Many of the examples you cite in your email are instances of ABC programs using commentators or analysts to help bring a diversity of perspectives to their audiences.

ABC Radio has provided the following information in response to your email:

Regarding interviews with Noel Mengal:

Sitting In is a segment covering new musical releases and the commentator is Noel Mengel is the Chief Music Writer for the Courier Mail.

The segment has proven to work well with the Coast audience and positive feedback has been attributed to Noel's expertise, knowledge and experience in the music field. Noel Mengel has proven to be a credible and unbiased commentator and has provided a consistently balanced and entertaining viewpoint and his employment by News Ltd hasn't proven to influence the segment or compromise editorial independence.

Regarding interview with Richie Yorke:

Ritchie Yorke was a close friend of John Lennon's and he was also the first breakfast announcer on Coast FM, and thus was believed to be an appropriate commentator to discuss the reissue of the Beatles back catalogue with him. Ritchie Yorke is a freelance writer and hasn't been employed by News Limited for approximately two years; he has proven to be a credible and unbiased commentator and is arguably the most experienced commentator in his field.

Regarding interview with Steve Waterson:

Steve Waterson (Editor, Weekend Australian) was interviewed because the magazine was about to publish revelations about the Beatles' split, courtesy of a piece written by British journalist Ray Connelly. Ray Connelly was unavailable for comment.

Regarding interview with Stuart Honeyset:

Freelance journalist Stuart Honeyset was interviewed to detail the account of an interview with Bart Cummings prior to the Melbourne Cup. Bart was not giving any other interviews and Stuart was one of a very select few journalists who had contact with Bart.

It’s unsurprising that The Book Show would occasionally speak to literary critics. This daily program covers an enormous range and quantity of literature and speaks to many authors and other commentators in the course of this coverage. The October program listing shows some of the diversity of topics presented and voices featured -

It’s also unsurprising that News Ltd journalists will appear on Insiders since each episode of this program includes a panel of journalists from various Australian media organisations. The program’s website explains: “Each week the program brings together the experience and insights of leading political commentators and other contributors representing a wide range of opinions.” The program’s regular commentators are listed on its website here -

For more information about ABC editorial standards and how these apply in practice, I encourage you to visit the link provided above -

Yours sincerely,

Head, Audience and Consumer Affairs

So, to summarize. The response to the question: "Why do so many Murdoch properties appear on the ABC?" is:

"because they just do, OK?".

Why not ask them yourself? You might do better than we did!

Please let us know how you go.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Oops! ... I did it again

"All aboard"
"Britney, before you go, there's something I want you to have"
"Oh, it's beautiful, but wait a minute, isn't this? ..."
"Yeah, yes, it is"
"But I thought the old lady dropped it into the ocean in the end"
"Well, baby, I went down and got it for you"
"Oh, you shouldn't have"

'Oops! ... I did it again', Britney Spears [2000]

Remember "Murdoch's Law"?

When a politician quotes a Murdoch newspaper or Murdoch himself, they lose the argument.
Well it seems our politicians can't help themselves.

From yesterday's House of Representatives hansard:

Asylum Seekers

Mr TURNBULL (2.00 pm)—My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to his repeated denials that any special deal has been offered to the asylum seekers that were aboard the Oceanic Viking, and I ask the Prime Minister whether he has seen Dennis Shanahan’s column in the Australian today which states:

… they have wrung a special deal from the Rudd government.

Or the column of Greg Sheridan, who writes that the Prime Minister must stop:

… telling the most outrageous lies about Australian foreign policy.

Or the column by Paul Kelly, who writes that the Prime Minister:

… seems to think almost any line can be spun and will be believed, even when it is nonsense.

Will the Prime Minister finally stop treating the Australian public like mugs and admit he has used a special deal to entice the asylum seekers from the Oceanic

Mr RUDD—We know when logic has departed, hyperbole arrives. This is a question based upon the observations of a range of journalists for whom we may have individual respect, yet some corporate doubt, but I leave that for those in the gallery to contemplate. I simply say what I have said before: the good thing about our country is freedom of speech. Part of that freedom of speech is having a robust debate, including newspapers like the Australian. The editor of the Australian says he edits a right-wing newspaper. Good on him; he does, and it is part and parcel of the robust debate in this country. I welcome the contributions of all of those individuals. It is part and parcel of the vitality of Australia’s democracy. And we may agree or we may disagree, but every organisation, every media outlet, including that whose editor describes it as a rightwing newspaper—or someone told me a centre-rightwing newspaper; I am told that makes a difference— should be entitled in our great democracy to have their say. ...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

'GetUp!' Does It Again

Several times this year, we've pointed out to 'GetUp!' that it is unacceptable for them to place their advertisements (using the donations of supporters) in News Ltd. publications.

Well they're doing it again - seems like they're doing it every couple of weeks these days:

As MPs make their way back to Parliament next week, confront them with a huge newspaper ad countering the polluter lobby's fear-mongering and showing that cutting emissions creates jobs.

Parliament decides our fate on climate change this fortnight so make sure they see your call for investment in renewable energy to create clean-energy jobs.

Can you contribute $30, $50, $100 or more to put this ad in The Australian for every MP to see next week?

The journals of choice of the "polluter lobby" are Murdoch's. By paying to advertise your view in News Ltd. publications, you are giving credibility to their totally discredited writing and editorial views and therefore complicit in pushing the deny and delay line.

Think very carefully about why you would give cash to Murdoch to run this ad. As we've said before, there are plenty of other, better, more honest ways that money could be spent to send this message.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Murdoch's bovver boys sent to give Adler a touch up

"... It's not always true that time heals all wounds
There are wounds that you don't wanna heal
the memories of something really good

something truly real,
that you never found again

And though they talked for just a little time

Before she said she had to go

He saw the meeting as a tiny sign

That told him all he had to know ..."

'Louise', Human League [1984]

Today the Federal Government rejected the Productivity Commission's recommendations to change current laws to allow for cheaper overseas books into the Australian market.

The former head of the ACCC, Professor Alan Fels, and CEO of Melbourne University Press, Louise Adler, debated the issue at the National Press Club.

As we've noted previously, Murdoch's folks tend to only turn up at the National Press Club when a Murdoch barrow needs pushing. Today's 'debate' was preceded by the government's announcement against the side Murdoch was backing - the big players. So these two got the job of having a shot at Adler (they failed miserably).

Anyway, Professor Fels made a point of holding up a copy of Dan Brown's latest book ("The Holy Crap Batman", or something) and saying that the poor suffering clowns who read that stuff are forced to pay $49.95 but in the UK and USA only pay about $27AUS. So it was one of those double-take moments when a few hours later at the local Coles supermarket the same hardback book was abundantly available at $24.48!!

Of course, we had no trouble resisting the non-existent urge to buy such a bargain.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hypocrisy and Loathing

Comment from "Dewgong" at Crikey's "Pure Poison":
"Even Bolt {This text removed because Andrew Bolt has asked our publisher to limit personal criticism of him}"
Why is this so infuriating? Of course it is civil to limit criticism to the argument rather than the person. The problem is that Andrew Bolt (Kim 'Il' Carr, Al Gore is fat, Chairman Rudd etc..) is a glass-jawed hypocrite.

What makes it worse is that the moderator makes it clear that the demand came not directly from the craven coward/bully Bolt to them but by going over their heads to the top, presumably Eric Beecher no less.


Maybe "Crikey!" should consider their readers before worrying about Murdoch serfs' precious feelings.

Massive Conflict Of Interest?

John Rolfe. A man who draws a wage from the 'Daily Telegraph' (as seen on Channel Seven's 'Today Tonight' - 10/11/09)

Murdoch makes millions from sweetheart deals with the two giants of Australia's grocery duopoly.

Wayne Swan operated "Wayne Swan's Pricewatch" site for ages, then abruptly shut it down just before the ALP won government in 2007.

The ALP promised to keep the duopoly "honest" with a tax-payer funded "price-watch" site which was to be run by "Choice". That enterpise was shut down before it even got going, allegedly due to lobby pressure on the government by the duopoly.

Now Murdoch's man is going to run the campaign to watch prices and the public are going to do all the hard work, for free?

Okay, sure. That should work a treat, shouldn't it? A cynic would say that this is one of the most mind-numbingly obvious examples of a steaming coil of crap you could imagine. But cynics are so, whats the word, cynical.

Trust Murdoch. Rudd and his team of robots do!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Advertising your campaign in the Murdoch press sends no message to our leaders

We support Amnesty's current campaign, but do not understand why they are going to use the donations of supporters to place an advertisement in the 'Daily Telegraph':

... Risking everything, they flee in the hope of reaching safety. And then, often only kilometres from freedom, their chance for a new life dissolves into despair.

We saw this again last week, when a Sri Lankan boat sank drowning 11 men, including two young boys. As Australians, we pride ourselves on being reasonable, compassionate and fair. But the only way our Government will begin to see asylum seekers as a moral responsibility, not a political inconvenience - is if the public show they care about the human tragedy behind the headlines.

That’s why we’re ready to run a powerful ad in some of our most popular newspapers to shift the refugee debate back towards real Australian values. All we need is 750 people to chip in $30 to run our full-page ad in this week's West Australian and Daily Telegraph. Can you be one of these people and help put an end to the politics of fear? ...

The Murdoch press does not speak truth to power, it spreads propaganda, lies and spin.

As we've said before, activist groups could focus on any other medium (such as billboards, independent publications - even APN or Fairfax press - at least they are Australian owned and have a shred of credibility) and reach more people.

News Ltd. is a company that has done inestimable wilful damage to democracy, journalism, reconciliation and the environment in Australia and throughout the world.

The ever-intensifying nature of their beatups and moral panics illustrate the contempt they have for Australian citizens and matters of national decency.

The Murdoch press should be paying Amnesty for lending them credibility they do not deserve, and you should consider carefully where your donation may end up.

Friday, November 6, 2009

PM sets an example for the nation

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, wife Therese Rein and pets Abby and Jasper featured in the Spring 2009 edition of 'Tawl Tails' - the Animal Welfare League of Qld. magazine

We've mentioned previously that monomedia pollution can be put to good use, so it's good to see the PM setting an example:

Q: Since arriving at The Lodge, Jasper and Abby have attracted the media's attention several times - did you expect your pets would be under such scrutiny?

A: No - but Jasper and Abby often discuss it.

Q: What, to you, is the most outlandish or surprising reaction you have had so far - I understand at one stage there were questions as to whether lawn restoration would be required to cater for Abby's toilet needs?

A: Abby was understandably embarrassed when there was widespread speculation about who was going to clean up her poo, but we reminded her that today's papers would be lining Jasper's litter tray tomorrow.

Riddle Me This...

The ABC has asked us for specific examples in response to our recent questions:

Thank you for your email.

Can you please identify the specific instances you would like a response to in an email to me.

Thank you for your patience.

Here's our response to their response to our response:

As well as an answer to the overall general policy question, some specific examples follow:

ABC Coast FM (91.7), approx. 8pm 5/11/09 News Ltd.'s Noel Mengel

ABC Coast FM (91.7), Trevor Jackson approx.5pm 30/10/09 News Ltd.'s Stuart Honeyset

ABC Radio National 'Book Show' approx 8/10/09 News Ltd.'s Geordie Williamson

ABC Coast FM (91.7), afternoon 25/9/09 News Ltd.'s Steve Waterson about an article by News Ltd.'s Ray Connelly in 'Weekend Australian' magazine

ABC Coast FM (91.7), Trevor Jackson approx. 9/9/09 News Ltd.'s Richie Yorke

ABC Coast FM (91.7) Briony Petch approx. 31/8/09 News Ltd.'s Noel Mengel.

ABC TV "Insiders" all the time, News Ltd.'s Glenn Milne and Andrew Bolt and many others.

There are many, many other specific examples but if I could start with these in the context of my previous question I would appreciate the ABC's response.

Again, thank you for addressing these questions so promptly,

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

ABC answers a question with a question

Here is the ABC's response to our recent question:

Thank you for your email. We would be happy to respond, however, we do require correspondents provide their full name.

Further, if you would like a substantive response, we require that you provide specific examples to support your concerns, including the date of broadcast or publishing.

And here's our response to their response:

... Yes, I would like a substantive response. I did provide, by reference to the "Crikey" comments, one specific example. There are numerous other specific examples at: but, to make it easier perhaps I could re-phrase the question and concern.

"Are there any guidelines, or other relevant considerations, governing the appearance of persons employed by commercial media organisations (specifically Rupert Murdoch's) as interviewees on ABC outlets?"

My particular concern is the high volume of Murdoch staff being given airtime on the ABC.

Thank you for responding and thanks in anticipation of your further response,

Sunday, November 1, 2009

"Murdoch is a big bad bastard": Keating

Tony Blair's advisor, Alistair Campbell, wrote that former Prime Minister Paul Keating gave Blair some advice about dealing with Murdoch:Blockquote
“On Murdoch, he told TB: ‘He’s a big bad bastard, and the only way you can deal with him is to make sure he thinks you can be a big bad bastard too. You can do deals with him, without ever saying a deal is done. But the only thing he cares about is his business and the only language he respects is strength’.”
Paul Keating is quoted in the Fairfax press today [2/11/09]:
''News Corporation is not only now specialising in tabloidism of the worst variety, but in Britain of course a number of their journalists have been charged for phonetapping other journalists and individuals in public life,'' he said.

''Against that background its chief executive chairs the Right To Know campaign. So on the one hand Mr Hartigan poses as the guardian of ethics and morals in newspapers. On the other hand he has his ratpack off the leash running around at night denying people their privacy and forcing lenses into their faces.''

How refreshing it would be if current politicians had the balls to criticise Murdoch's slimey ways, fat chance - he owns them all!