Politics Analysis

Murdoch media in overdrive creating cost-of-living problem for Albanese

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(Cartoon by Mark David | @MDavidCartoons)

News Corp has shifted its ever-present Labor smear campaign towards the cost-of-living crisis, attributing any and all fault possible to the Prime Minister and Labor, writes Dr Victoria Fielding.

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

MURDOCH MEDIA exists to undermine progressive politicians and causes, and promote its Right-wing mates. News Corp creates content that looks like news coverage about the Albanese Government but is in actuality a political campaign under the façade of journalism.

In the same way as News Corp’s Stage 3 tax cuts coverage consisted of an anti-Albanese Government campaign, over the past year Murdoch campaigners have been busily trying to use “news stories” to convince their audience that not only is Albanese failing to address the cost-of-living crisis, but that he’s also “out of touch” with Australians suffering financial strain.

Albanese is very difficult to frame as "out of touch" because of his down-to-earth demeanour and approach, though that of course hardly stops News Corp from trying. Indeed, it makes it work even harder to try to paint Albanese as something he is not.

Unlike his predecessor Morrison, when Albanese was elected Prime Minister, he did not move into the luxury waterside Kirribilli House and instead moved to The Lodge in Canberra. He still has his home in Marrickville where he is the Member for Grayndler and is still seen around the local area regularly.

This is why News Corp’s attempts to make Albanese look deaf to the effects of high inflation and rising interest rates stand out as not only farcical but politically motivated.

One example of this campaign is a ridiculous piece on news.com.au highlighting supposed "anger" at Albanese posting a photo of himself buying a $9 pork roll for lunch in Marrickville.

As is typically the way when News Corp is attacking a Labor government, the article uses the alibi of highlighting angry social media posts, thereby implying it is just reporting so-called "anger" — when truthfully, it is trying to direct anger at Albanese.

Even the Daily Mail couldn’t find a way to use the pork roll lunch against Albanese. It reported that he has been 'slammed for not doing enough to tackle the cost-of-living crisis', but juxtaposed this criticism against the support he has in his local seat where he 'still regularly eats at his favourite local spot', including 'the unassuming Marrickville Pork Roll bakery'.

The “out of touch” tag has also been tied to the cost-of-living crisis when News Corp dutifully used its campaign platform to promote Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s accusation that Albanese had “lost the plot on the cost-of-living”, criticising him for travelling too much.

This is coincidentally during the same period when News Corp was also platforming Dutton's criticism of Albanese for not travelling to Israel during his trip to the United States. As usual, Albanese is damned by the Liberal-Murdoch machine if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

After complaining for weeks that Albanese was not doing enough about the cost-of-living crisis, News Corp's campaign again shrugged off its own and the Liberal Opposition’s hypocrisy. This was seen in reports that Albanese was “out of touch” on the cost-of-living crisis for convening a meeting of Labor MPs in Canberra to – you guessed it – tackle the cost-of-living crisis. It would be funny if it weren’t so serious.

Last week, News Corp’s anti-Albanese campaign stooped to even more ridiculous lows when Albanese shared the happy news on Twitter/X that he had proposed to his girlfriend, Jodie Haydon, on Valentine's Day.

A quick scroll through the replies shows high-profile and ordinary Twitter users congratulating Albanese and Haydon on their engagement. A tiny number were critical of Albanese in relation to the Israel-Palestinian war — criticism Albanese and all Labor MPs receive whenever they post on social media.

Amongst this minority, an even smaller number chose to attack Albanese in relation to his engagement news, including an account called @WindsorBeaverwho replied: 'It’s great that I can’t afford to live but my tax dollars paid for that ring', followed by a middle finger emoji.

User @WindsorBeaver is clearly not a fan of Albanese, obsessively criticising him about his engagement, calling him the 'beigest c*nt ever', criticising the video announcing the news, telling him to sack his social media team, calling the ring design a cliché and showing sympathy for his first wife. This account even used the engagement announcement to criticise his handling of the Gaza conflict, describing it as 'beige'.

The tweet by @WindsorBeaver criticising Albanese’s engagement and the cost of the ring was used in News Corp’s usual manipulative style, displayed as evidence of the Prime Minister being 'sledged over proposal amid cost-of-living crisis'. The article misrepresented the scale of negative replies, reporting 'pundits online' were critical of the engagement news.

The unnamed authors evidenced the "sledging" by cherry-picking the negative replies of four users, of which two referred to the cost-of-living crisis. This implied these were indicative of all the replies when the vast majority of the 3,600 responses online were positive — which were shown in a few examples used at the end of the article.

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The fact that News Corp produced an entire news piece out of a handful of negative replies to the Prime Minister’s engagement announcement, demonstrates how desperately the Murdoch media scratches around looking for some way to keep its anti-Albanese and "out-of-touch-on-cost-of-living" campaign alive.

These articles are, of course, not news. They are propaganda dressed up as news. When News Corp manipulates information to paint Albanese as “out of touch”, it is not reporting important, newsworthy facts to the public. These reports are part of a campaign working to turn voters against the Prime Minister and the Labor governments.

In this, News Corp is using its power not only to undermine a government it opposes but also to mislead its audiences and undermine Australian democracy.

*This article is also available on audio here:

Dr Victoria Fielding is an Independent Australia columnist. You can follow Victoria on Twitter @DrVicFielding.

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