Media Analysis

News Corp reaps financial rewards from Andrew Bolt’s racism

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Sky News presenter Andrew Bolt has received much criticism over his career for racist comments (Screenshot via YouTube - edited)

News Corp is capitalising on the racist commentary spouted by Right-wing presenter Andrew Bolt, whose latest scandal may have gone too far. Dr Victoria Fielding reports.

NEWS CORP HAS a long history of platforming and thus condoning Andrew Bolt’s racism. But, this time, has he gone too far? Will there be enough outrage about his latest racism scandal to end his career? Or will News Corp continue to monetise his hateful, discriminatory profile?

It is not new to see Andrew Bolt being racist. Even so, he still manages to shock. When will enough be enough?

In his column on 13 December, in his characteristic way, Bolt attacked Labor’s Climate Change Minister, Chris Bowen, for, in Bolt’s words, ‘...linking the Government’s disastrous race-based tribalism with its ruinous crusade against oil and gas’ at the COP28 conference in Dubai.

What Bowen actually said was:

“I begin with an acknowledgment that at the heart of action on climate change must be profound respect for those people who have cared for our respective lands for millennia — Indigenous people across the world.”

In response to this statement of acknowledgement and respect, the disrespectful Andrew Bolt called Indigenous Australians ‘primitive’, saying:

‘Don’t Bowen and the Prime Minister himself realise many Australians are sick of this kowtowing to the primitive?’

This disgraceful, racist slur against Indigenous Australians was called out by Chris Bowen, who called on News Corp to sack Bolt.

I agree that News Corp should sack Bolt for being offensively racist. But since Bolt wasn’t fired in 2011 when a Federal Court judge found he breached the Racial Discrimination Act, I find it highly unlikely that he will be fired over this slur.

News Corp has shown time and time again, particularly during its campaign against the Indigenous Voice to Parliament, that Bolt’s racism is not only condoned but is an important stream of revenue. While News Corp is profiting from Bolt’s racism, it’s hardly going to fire him.

The Murdoch Referendum Accountability Project found that Bolt was the most prolific voice talking or writing about the Voice at News Corp, contributing 700 minutes of content and approximately 23,000 words over 13 weeks.

Much of Bolt’s anti-Voice content was racially charged, extreme and directed hate towards the Indigenous community and Indigenous individuals. It included Bolt reviving the accusations about fair-skinned Indigenous people supposedly lying about their ancestry to gain special privileges, which saw him charged with racial discrimination in 2011.

Chris Bowen suggested in his criticism of Bolt that not many Australians pay him any attention. This is a common misconception amongst powerful people like members of the Albanese Government, who assume because Sky News After Dark has relatively low audience numbers, Bolt is not reaching large numbers of people.

This misconception fails to note that Bolt’s columns are syndicated across the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, two of Australia’s most-read newspapers when measured by cross-platform print and online audiences.

It also fails to understand that Sky News videos garner large audiences on YouTube and that amongst this content, Andrew Bolt videos dominate.

Between 17 July and the day of the Voice Referendum on 14 October, Sky News posted 1,110 videos on their YouTube channel about the Voice, which received 19,900,578 views in total. Andrew Bolt was the host who posted the most content about the Voice with 123 videos (12 per cent of the total). Views of Andrew Bolt videos, however, garnered a disproportionate share of Sky News views, receiving 5,993,163 views, which is 30 per cent of the total views of all Sky News videos.

It is worth considering how much revenue Sky News receives from YouTube for these views. Although we do not know the exact amount of advertising revenue YouTube pays for Sky News videos, sources suggest videos receive between US$10 to $30 (AU$14.87 to $44.62) per 1,000 views, with an average of $18 (AU$26.77) per 1,000 views.

Using this average figure, Bolt’s Voice videos – resplendent with racism and hateful, divisive and polarising rhetoric – garnered approximately $160,000 for News Corp. That’s quite the incentive to keep platforming Bolt’s racism.

The most viewed video published by Sky News during the Voice Referendum campaign also gives an insight into how Bolt’s racially charged content goes viral on YouTube. Receiving over 1 million views, the video, ‘The disastrous demise of Lidia Thorpe’, starring Andrew Bolt, Paul Murray and Caroline De Russo, was an overt personal and political attack on First Nations Senator Lidia Thorpe.

Such content is not just platformed and condoned by Sky News.

The Australian also promotes Sky News videos on its online site, as per this page hosting the Thorpe video:

(Source: The Australian)

Andrew Bolt is also not alone in disrespecting Indigenous Australians at News Corp and indeed sets an agenda that emboldens others to be just as offensive. An example of this is Jack the Insider’s column at The Australian which also criticised Chris Bowen’s acknowledgement of First Nations people at COP28, implying it was a slip-up when clearly, Bowen was quite deliberate in his respectful remarks.

When Andrew Bolt’s racism is not only platformed by News Corp but generates the company huge revenue, it is clear this organisation cannot be trusted to uphold community standards and to protect against harm and discrimination.

Andrew Bolt’s racism is not only harmful itself but also does great harm by emboldening and legitimising his hateful ideas by telling his audience this type of racism is acceptable.

It is no accident that News Corp platforms Bolt’s racism. It endorses and monetises it by design. This is yet another reason why Australia’s largest “news” organisation should be investigated through a royal commission to shine a light on the damage the organisation does to Australian society.

Dr Victoria Fielding is an Independent Australia columnist. You can follow her on Threads or Bluesky.

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