Media Analysis

Murdoch-led media's relentless stranglehold won’t deter fearless truth-tellers — like IA

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(Image by Dan Jensen)

With the entire Fourth Estate controlled by so few, Michelle Pini and Dave Donovan examine the media's role in setting the default position on some of the top stories of 2023.

As another challenging year comes to a close, one of the truisms that keep IA steadfast in exposing injustice has remained constant: Australia’s legacy media organisations – with a few notable exceptions – are co-opted by powerful minority interests.

Their unwavering combined commitment to skew facts, deliberately misinform and lie outright to affect the preferred outcomes of their masters is unlike that seen in any other democratic nation.

THE 'TOXIC' LABOR PREMIERS

Last year, the country turned almost entirely red after Labor won the Federal Election and every state and territory contest, bar Tasmania. This happened despite the overwhelmingly favourable media coverage provided to the conservative parties around the country.

So this was more than a kneejerk reaction to the Morrison Government’s abysmal term, it was indicative of a polity tired of being herded into submission by the media barons. It was a sign that Australians were rejecting the mainstream media's established narrative. 

Nowhere was this more evident than in the state of Victoria, where the tenaciously unflappable Dan Andrews turned up to front daily media abuse that could only be described as unhinged and obsessive. Not only did the Andrews Government survive the constant barrage of often regurgitated fantastical accusations, it was twice returned with an increased majority each time.

Western Australia, led by Mark McGowan, annihilated the Liberal Opposition in that state such that it required life support, with only two seats left to its name.

In Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk, an unmarried female Labor leader managed to reign for an unheard-of three terms, despite interminable harassment, in what is regarded as the most conservative state. In fact, despite relentless media criticism by the almost monopolistic Newscorp media landscape in that state, Labor has held government for 30 of the last 34 years.

When each of these Labor leaders announced their retirement this year, however, the media cabal suddenly put their extraordinary success down to leading their respective states through the pandemic. And their retirement, after years of mainstream media attacks, was claimed to be evidence of their election defeat fears. This banal explanation not only contradicts the previously established media narrative that everyone should vote against them because of their "dictatorial" pandemic leadership but completely ignores their outstanding electoral records.

While in New South Wales, the media ignored the writing on the wall as yet another evangelical Liberal Party man, Dominic Perrotet, who had replaced the female Premier hailed by the media circus as the woman who “saved Australia”, Gladys Berejiklian, was also knocked off his perch to usher in a Labor Leader, Chris Minns. No mention was made of the part the ICAC investigation – which found Berejiklian to be corrupt or of Perrotet's involvement in said corruption – may have played in the election outcome.

THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE ALLEGED RAPIST

Many of us have watched, transfixed, by the dirty little secrets being exposed in the defamation trial of the century.

Bruce Lehrmann, former Liberal Party staffer, is suing Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson for defamation over a broadcast concerning his previous criminal trial for the alleged rape in Parliament House of Brittany Higgins.

Lehrmann denied the charges but the trial was aborted due to jury misconduct and an additional trial did not proceed due to concerns for Brittany Higgins’ mental health.

Nonetheless, during the subsequent defamation trial, we witnessed alleged victims suffering severe mental trauma such that they could not even give evidence; and no, we’re not talking about the complainant in the rape case.

But that wasn’t the most bizarre thing that happened during this particular Lehrmann trial. In perhaps the most gobsmacking twist of events, at the same time we have all been watching the defamation case of his own making live from the Federal Court, some of Lehrmann’s gun legal team, comprising four barristers and an unspecified number of assistants, were required to dash off to yet another criminal trial involving Lehrmann.

In the other trial – occurring at the same time but in Queensland – Lehrmann is charged with two counts of rape involving a different woman in Toowoomba.

You just couldn’t make this stuff up.

Meanwhile, Lehrmann, who is purportedly unemployed, has engaged the services of this legal entourage for three trials plus a couple of legal stoushes that settled out of court. At least he does not have to worry about a roof over his head for at least 12 months, since Channel Seven, the network on which he chose to broadcast his woes, is footing the $2500 per week bill for a luxury rental in Sydney's Northern Beaches for an entire year. 

Apart from Network Ten, of course, the predominant media position concerning this case is that there are many question marks over the alleged rape victim, and while there are many traumatised injured parties from the fallout of Lehrmann's rape trial, they mostly hail from within the previous Liberal Government and include the alleged rapist.

DON'T MENTION THE WAR 

But it’s not only in Australian politics where the Fourth Estate presents a stultifyingly uniform view.

It has taken an almost universally pro-Israeli position in the ongoing – let’s be generous – humanitarian catastrophe in Palestinian Gaza.

Let us make the position of Independent Australia extremely clear. We condemn the atrocities of Hamas. We also condemn the atrocities of Israel in response. The simple fact is the bloodshed meted out by Israel against innocent civilians dwarfs that perpetrated by Hamas.

IA is profoundly opposed to discrimination of any kind. Despite how much the Israeli State would like to portray anyone who opposed its actions in Palestine as anti-Semitic, however, the reality is many Jewish people around the world, even in Israel, also deplore the brutality of the IDF targeting innocent civilians in occupied Gaza. 

Among those slaughtered in Gaza are 100 United Nations aid workers — the highest number killed in any conflict in its history. Sixty-eight journalists have also been added to the list of those killed indiscriminately. 

The bloodbath there has been almost unprecedented. Almost, but far from never seen, because we all must remember the past genocides of many different peoples, all around the world, including in this nation the original Tasmanians.

IA calls for the killing of all innocents to stop. Now. Whatever race or colour they may be, or to whichsoever creed they may subscribe. Because we are all flesh and blood. We all bleed and suffer and mourn. All of us will die, but let that be in our own time, in the fulsomeness of our days. The media in Australia has, by and large, not been just. It has only shown one side of this story. And for whatever reason – perhaps cravenly – has shadowed out the other.

But at IA we will not be silenced out of equivocation, or fear — no matter how powerful any one side may be.

This editorial is usually only available to subscribers. You can subscribe to IA for as little as $5 a month or $50 a year to receive editorials directly in your inbox, plus a host of extras. 

You can follow managing editor Michelle Pini on Twitter @vmp9 and IA founder and director Dave Donovan @davrosz. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus and Facebook HERE.

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