Comment by Barry Tucker 25 April, 2013
The entrepreneur and adventurer Dick Smith, one of Australia’s most recognisable figures, has released a letter in which he makes a scathing attack on the editorial bias of the Murdoch news media.
He directed the bulk of his anger at Kim Williams AM, CEO and managing director of News Limited.
Mr Smith accuses Mr Williams of hypocrisy in his recent campaign for Press freedom. That was in relation to the four news media regulation Bills that the federal government so spectacularly failed to get passed.
The letter says, in part:
“I hold the quaint belief it is incumbent on media owners to ensure their papers and broadcasting channels behave responsibly and in the public interest and show leadership on important issues that affect us. And while calling governments to account, they should not so intimidate politicians and public officials that they interfere with the process of rational debate and good policy. Your organisation has clearly failed this test.
“I do not need to remind you of the corrupt and criminal activities of many of your proprietor’s employees and their associates in the UK. What is never mentioned is that this has come about as a result of the unwritten ‘Rupert Murdoch agenda’ that if your people don’t achieve ever increasing circulation and profit growth they will lose their jobs.
“I must make it clear that I do not blame your journalists; I have found most to be professional and fair-minded. It is obvious that they ‘self-censor’ what they write knowing that if they ever reveal views that are in conflict with your proprietor, then their careers will be brief. This is at complete odds with your claims of ensuring free speech and being concerned about threats to democracy.”
More than once in his letter, Mr Smith refers to the fear that Australian politicians have of the Murdoch news media. If he is right, we are being governed by a gutless bunch of politicians who are responsible for the Murdoch news media, and the ABC, running amok and deciding who can govern this country and who can’t.
Rupert Murdoch posted the above Tweet on 20 May, 2013. He does not acknowldge the role of his Australian news media outlets in constantly denigrating the federal Labor government in the minds of the Australian electorate. One of the polls he refers to, Newspoll, is 45% owned by his Australian operation, News Limited.
The people — if they are aware of news media bias — cannot fight it by themselves, apart from lodging complaints or writing blogs on social media, where the public access is limited.
It’s my feeling that if politicians had the guts that Mr Smith displays they could take on the Murdoch media and, with the people’s support, break the stranglehold it has on objective news reporting and opinion in this country. Mr Smith points out that the Murdoch empire’s interests are self-serving and clash with Australia’s long-term interests.
His letter was reproduced on the Australian Independent Media Network website. You can read the magazine Mr Smith refers to in his letter. Much of it is a catalogue of Dick Smith’s Aussie Grown Foods.
Mr Smith was named Australian of the Year in 1986 and was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1999. To list some of his achievements does not do him credit. For the full list, see Wikipedia entry.
Update, 8 June, 2013
At least one Australian politician has had the courage to make Parliament aware of Rupert Murdoch’s agenda. In the Adjournment debate on 6 June, 2013, John Murphy (Lab, Reid) said:
“Make no mistake: Mr Murdoch’s political and business agenda are one and the same. If it is good for Mr Murdoch’s business, he will support it. If it is bad, he will knock it down and destroy it. If citizenship gets in the way of business expediency, he will trade it in for another. If a newspaper and its staff get caught up in a phone-hacking scandal, do not expect Mr Murdoch to accept personal responsibility. He will blame the journalists, blame the editors, blame everyone else and then shut the newspaper down.”