After sixty-six years in the business, veteran journalist Rodney E. Lever says he knows when the media are trying to rig an election — and that's just what's going on now.
AFTER A LIFETIME as a working newspaperman, one can’t help sniffing the wind when an important election is brewing. In the current one – the roughest and dirtiest that I can recall – it is easy to smell a rat.
My career in newspapers started at 14, when I was first employed on Sydney's Daily Telegraph as an enthusiastic copy boy who once left ink-stained fingers on Frank Packer’s shiny white collar when he was dressing for an important function.
Nevertheless, I rose through the ranks — first as a cadet reporter learning the craft, to eventually become an all-round journalist and with executive status on some of Australia’s best known newspapers.
I know a fair amount about the business 66 years later.
I have, in fact, been in the game eleven years longer than Rupert Murdoch.
In earlier days of journalism, there were no absurd media packs brandishing microphones and crushing in front of TV cameras. That was Rupert Murdoch’s contribution to the industry, copied from America, and is futile in gaining information.
Our reporting was always done one to one, having previously researched everything available about the subject, and using skilful and intelligent questioning to get your story. I have interviewed thousands of people, celebrities including Frank Sinatra, Katharine Hepburn and Bob Hope, and politicians and policemen and criminals and even certain members of the British Royal family.
That’s how I got my stories.
That’s how I know exactly what the odious rats are up to in trying to rig Australia’s forthcoming September election.
The major figure in the background is the same Rupert Murdoch who cannot seem to accept he has become an international pariah who has brought democratic governance on three continents into disrepute and chaos. He is keeping a low profile at the moment, waiting for the outcome of the criminal trials of his senior UK staff. But he is taking a real interest in his Australian empire.
Given his problems waiting for a final government decision on his British acquisitions, and in America, where he is savagely hated by the current administration, Australia may be all he has left to bully.
For me, the first evidence of his involvement in the 2013 Australian election was when the former Fairfax journalist Michelle Grattan, in her new role as Professorial Fellow at the University of Canberra, wrote a commentary for The Conversation that began with the words:
If Kevin Rudd were to wrest the prime ministership back from Julia, this week might be the tipping point.
Then she went on to refer to “government chaos".
The only “chaos” in the present government is the work of Abbott and the LNP Opposition. Every attack on the government is picked up by the Murdoch and Fairfax newspapers and then slavishly repeated by the ABC, which one day might deeply regret its loss of journalistic independence. The Murdoch family's Ten Network, significantly, has just joined the fray with a new weekend political program to balance ABC's Insiders.
Now, with Michelle Grattan’s commentary, sung to the chorus of a heavenly media choir, it seemed, Kevin was coming out of the background to be a contender again, despite all his fervent denials to the contrary.
This is not to say that Kevin doesn’t want to make a comeback. But if he does he is falling into the hands of those who want to destroy the Gillard Labor government.
A change of leadership now would paralyse Labor. That’s exactly what the ham-fisted, whinging, abusive Tony Abbott wants so much that it is eating away his internal organs. His own leadership of the Coalition is hanging by a thread.
Remember 2007? That’s when Kevin Rudd made the annual pilgrimage to New York city to throw himself at the knees of Rupert Murdoch. Later, one of Murdoch’s editors took him to a dark speakeasy to be entertained by semi-naked pole dancers and got him sufficiently tipsy to have little clear memory of the evening.
Remember also that Michelle Grattan’s contribution comes just after she retired from Fairfax, whose largest shareholder is the world’s richest coal miner’s daughter, Gina Rinehart.
Both Rinehart and Murdoch would just love to have Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott in a two-horse race. Abbott is already spruiking for the mining companies. Rudd simply could not win if Labor was divided.
For Murdoch any affection for Kevin is influenced by a built-in fear of women. Raised as the youngest child and pampered and dominated by three older sisters, Murdoch has always been uneasy with women. Oh, he loves them, of course, and charms them, but he prefers them in bed. He has married three and divorced two.
Once, he courted Margaret Thatcher and got all he wanted. Julia Gillard is not Margaret Thatcher.
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