Politics Editorial

Murdoch and the big Australian lie

By | | comments |
Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons

Over the last two Mondays, ABC Four Corners aired a two-part investigation into News Corp’s most lucrative global asset, the New York-based Fox News channel.

Called ‘Fox and the Big Lie’ ‒ a reference to the claim made by former U.S. President Donald Trump that he had not lost the 2020 Presidential Election ‒ reporter Sarah Ferguson delved deeply into the role of Rupert Murdoch and his two sons in promulgating this fiction, amongst other topics.

Firstly, Independent Australia applauds the ABC and Four Corners for having the courage to take on the might of the Murdochs, who reign supreme in this nation — and not just over our media. It is notable ‒ and more than a little ironic ‒ that more than 50 separate articles have been published in News Corp’s vast array of publications around Australia damning the ABC for ‘The Big Lie’some before it even went to air. All News Corps’ “big-name” commentators, such as Andrew Bolt and Chris Kenny, leapt to the defence of Rupert Murdoch and scourged the ABC for its “bias” and, according to them, “shoddy journalism”. This, despite Four Corners ignoring the role of the Murdochs in Australia’s highly concentrated media scene, in which they are certainly far more powerful than they could ever hope to be in the United States.

In fact, Australia was only mentioned twice during the entire 90 or so minutes of Ferguson’s entertaining and well-presented exposé, almost at the end. There are two most obvious reasons for this glaring omission. It could have been because the Murdoch saga is so vast and baroque, and entangled and enmeshed in Australia’s post-colonial history ‒ our very own epic Citizen Kane ‒ that it would be close to impossible to properly encapsulate and, moreover, be arguably off-topic from the “Big Lie” theme. More likely, drawing in the Murdochs’ role in Australia was seen by ABC management as politically untenable at present, relentlessly under fire as the public broadcaster is by not only News Corp, but also constantly harassed and picked over by Murdoch’s patrons and cronies in the ruling conservative parties.

In fact, the degree of omission may have been rather artful. Because by ignoring it as the ABC did, it drew attention to the matter, by encouraging discussion on why the topic was omitted. And hence this article... But more on that in a moment.

The only mentions of Australia, indeed, were made in the concluding moments of the second episode, when Murdoch’s unauthorised American biographer Michael Wolff made the following curious statement:

“...what happens in Australia and what happens in the UK is a different universe when it comes to the free press. That's why Rupert Murdoch is in America, not in Australia.”

Rupert Murdoch is not in Australia? Rupert Murdoch may not be Australian anymore and may reside in the United States, but to suggest he is not entwined in every part of this land is beyond problematic. It may be that canny ABC Four Corners executive producer Sally Neighbour included this paradoxical quote simply to highlight this very important issue.

Why the ABC won’t mention the war

Any attempt to mention the war waged by Murdoch against Australia’s freedoms, which has been raging for at least a generation, could be the final nail in the coffin for the public broadcaster.

The punishment would be swift and it would be brutal, perhaps fatal.

The ABC has been decimated by funding cuts since this Coalition Government first appeared in 2013. It has been summarily swooped upon by all the usual right-wing suspects for daring to criticise the Murdoch behemoth’s influence, even in a foreign nation.

For the narrative has long been hijacked, the election system subverted and Australia’s mainstream media landscape so completely controlled and manipulated, not only by Murdoch but also by Nine, that it is now surely unsalvageable without radical change.

And Nine, by taking over the once relatively progressive Fairfax press, has slowly but systematically crept onto the scene, taking any semblance of “balance” out of the equation and cementing Australia’s media duopoly firmly to the right. Run by former Howard Government Treasurer Peter Costello, the Nine corporation throws in an occasional progressive analysis to keep its former readership from realising how far away from that stance it has now fallen.

The war on Labor states

Perhaps nothing illustrates this media bias better than the current pandemic crisis afflicting our nation. New South Wales, led by Liberal Party Premier Gladys Berejiklian, recorded 1,116 COVID cases today (1 September) and a total of 7,734 in the last week, putting untold pressure on the state’s health system. This stress shows no sign of abating.

The Labor states, formerly castigated by media poster-girl Berejiklian as unable to follow her “exemplary” standards in controlling the virus, gave up much-needed vaccines to assist her state’s mishandled and rapidly escalating COVID crisis. Meanwhile, the NSW Premier has lost control of contact tracing, stopped reporting mystery COVID-19 cases, or the time they have been infectious in the community and instead announced easing lockdown restrictions so, importantly, people can go on picnics

The headlines, however, even in the usually less blatantly biased Nine papers, led with Victoria’s 120 cases.

The Murdoch press, as expected, simply continued its regular coverage.

And so, the public broadcaster’s glaring omission from ‘The Big Lie’ program, regarding Murdoch’s pernicious influence in this country, has cleverly highlighted this cancer on the Australian political landscape.

This is something that, apart from in certain select brave parts of the ABC, such as the venerable 60-year-old institution of Four Corners, will seldom, if ever, be called out by Australia’s mainstream media. It is the job of independent media to challenge and call out News Corp’s relentless assault on our democracy.

Of course, this publication, Independent Australia, has been fearless in facing down the bullies at News Corp for over a decade. You can read the hundreds of articles IA has published about the Murdoch cancer over the last 11 years HERE.

This is an abridged version of an editorial originally published in the IA's weekly newsletter. Subscribe now to read the full version online in the IA members-only area.

You can follow founder and publisher Dave Donovan on Twitter @davrosz and managing editor Michelle Pini on Twitter @vmp9. Also, follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus and on Facebook HERE.

Support independent journalism Subscribe to IA.

Related Articles


Recent articles by David Donovan
The spirits of Australia: Land of mystery

Australia is a land of mystery to outsiders and locals alike, due to our strange ...  
EDITORIAL: The spirits of Australia — land of mystery

Australia is a land of mystery to outsiders and locals alike, due to our strange ...  
What comes after Rafah

What will happen after Israeli forces raze Rafah? Founder and director Dave Donovan ...  
Join the conversation
comments powered by Disqus

Support Fearless Journalism

If you got something from this article, please consider making a one-off donation to support fearless journalism.

Single Donation


Support IAIndependent Australia

Subscribe to IA and investigate Australia today.

Close Subscribe Donate