Politics Analysis

Latest evidence for Turnbull thesis good news for battered Americans

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons)

Developments in the U.S. courts concerning the Murdoch media empire have implications well beyond the USA, as Alan Austin reports.

*Also listen to the audio version of this article on Spotify HERE.

RUPERT MURDOCH effectively acknowledged last week that his flagship American media outlet, Fox News, has systematically lied to its vulnerable audience about critical national affairs.

Murdoch agreed to pay voting systems company Dominion a staggering US$787.5 million (A$1.18 billion) to settle defamation action, the biggest payout to a single plaintiff in history.

It had already been established in pre-trial discovery that Fox had acted with actual malice by fabricating countless intentional falsehoods. Many were concocted by guests Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump, Mike Lindell and others. These were then amplified by Fox anchors Maria Bartiromo, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and virtually all the others.

The cost in violent assaults, imprisonments and homicides of Fox deceiving millions of low-intellect Americans is impossible to assess accurately. But we know it has been horrific.

What didn’t happen last week

News Corp did not apologise or admit guilt. It did not show any remorse for lying to its audience or for the resulting damage.

The defamation payout will not destroy News Corp or even Fox News. The Murdoch outfit’s current cash on hand is adequate. So three-quarters of a billion won’t demolish the empire. We do not know how much is covered by insurance. We do know it will be a nifty tax write-off.

The share price stayed at around US$17.50 (A$26.13) all last week, indicating the market had already factored in this loss. Closing price last Friday at $17.44 was 32% below the $25.69 (A$38.36) peak in May 2021, before Fox’s liability for its destructive lies was known.

Significantly, this hasn’t stopped Fox from continuing its mendacity. Nor has it deterred Trump and his entourage from spreading further “the big lie” – which originated at Fox – that the 2020 Presidential Election was stolen.

What else we discovered

Other noteworthy developments last week include:

The Turnbull thesis vindicated

Observers in the USA and beyond in the fields of criminology, health care and law enforcement were dismayed at the surge in physical attacks across America beginning in late 2015. What caused this sudden and dramatic increase in all categories of violence, after decades of steady decline? See mauve chart, below.

(Data source: FBI Crime Data Explorer)

Of the few theories offered only one fits the evidence. The surge in violent crime resulted from the pact between Donald Trump and Fox News to concoct and spread a long list of malicious lies which would generate fear, anger and hatred across the nation. The intended outcomes were greater visibility and more votes for Trump and higher revenues and greater control for News Corp.

The inevitable consequences – dramatic increases in injuries and deaths – were sacrifices they were willing to make.

The unwritten pact gave Trump access to Fox programs at any time. His monologues – usually by phone, usually uninterrupted – sometimes lasted 50 minutes. He frequently called for violent attacks against political enemies.

Among observers to have identified the Trump/Fox News pact as the cause of the surge in killings since 2015, the most prominent is former conservative Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, thus giving him naming rights.

Turnbull told NPR in the USA last August:

Fox News has played, by far, the largest single part in the polarisation of American politics, in the amplification of political hatred. I would challenge anyone, any of your listeners, to nominate which individual alive today has done more to undermine American democracy than Rupert Murdoch.

 

Fox News is not the only source of this madness, but it is by far the single most influential one.

Latest evidence for the Turnbull thesis

At least four recent developments bolster the thesis. First, the ongoing trial of five Proud Boys in Washington on charges including seditious conspiracy confirms Trump’s calls to his followers on 6 January 2021 led directly to violence.

One defence lawyer told the court it was Trump, not the Proud Boys, who “unleashed the mob” that breached the Capitol.

Second, the judge in Trump’s upcoming rape trial affirmed the Turnbull thesis when he made the extraordinary ruling that jury members would remain anonymous.

Judge Lewis Kaplan said “the jury needs the protection” because of “a very strong risk that jurors will fear harassment, unwanted invasions of their privacy and retaliation”.

Third, an analysis published recently by Third Way shows murder rates are higher in pro-Trump states than in others. See grey graph, below.

(Source: thirdway.org)

What the article does not highlight but their graph shows clearly is that the divergence between the red and blue lines increased significantly from 2015 onwards.

Fourth, the World Bank development indicators confirm the surge in violence post-2015 was confined to the USA. It was due to domestic rather than global influences. See white chart, below.

(Data source: World Bank)

Hopeful prospects

Overall, this has been a good month for America and the world. Crime data for 2022 gradually being released shows a decline in violence as the influence of Trump and News Corp recedes. See mauve chart, above.

If the world can finally be rid of both forever, things will be even better.

*This article is also available on audio here:

Alan Austin is an Independent Australia columnist and freelance journalist. You can follow him on Twitter @alanaustin001.

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