Comment By Barry Tucker 30 June, 2013
The reasons for the Australian news media’s blatant bias of the past few years are becoming clearer. This is due to the fact that the cats are getting out of the bag following the June 26 coup that restored Kevin Rudd to the Prime Ministership.
The latest revelations come from Kerry-Anne Walsh in her book The Stalking of Julia Gillard (Allen & Unwin), due to be published on Tuesday, 2 July, 2013.
The book may do some damage to Mr Rudd as he attempts to re-establish himself as Prime Minister, with the date of this year’s federal election still uncertain. It was scheduled for 14 September [It was rescheduled to 7 September.].
On ABC’s Insiders this morning, presenter and political journalism veteran Barrie Cassidy said the book dealt with the role of political journalists in the undermining of Julia Gillard and many people will be buying the book for that reason. I will be one of those reading it for that reason.
This TruthinNewsMedia resource centre has been reporting on instances of news media bias for some months. Some bias is apparent, some dubious and some persistent. My job has been to identify it, to expose it and to appeal for a more professional approach by our political journalists, a return to what some see as old-fashioned standards of impartiality. It is possible to inform while maintaining balance and impartiality; I know it because I have done it.
Bias can be hard to identify and is subject to the interests of the beholder. Many people must think if a news media outlet or journalist is not “with you” 100 percent of the time, it or they must be biased. This is not necessarily the case. Sometimes the news media goes with what it’s got, and the balance comes later. Sometimes it is persistently negative and its bias becomes obvious.
During the past three years, at least, we have seen some experienced journalists and their mediums exhibit obvious and persistent bias, sometimes tainting the entire organisation that employs them. News Corp Australia’s newspapers and its Channel 10 network is opposed to the Labor federal government because its policies do not support the business agenda of proprietors and shareholders, media baron Rupert Murdoch and minerals miner Gina Rinehart, especially in relation to carbon pollution. Ms Rinehart also has a shareholder interest in the Fairfax group of newspapers.
The government’s project to build a fast National Broadband Network (NBN), mainly of fibre, with its movie handling capacity, also clashed with Mr Murdoch’s business interests.
Mr Murdoch’s company twice won the contract to operate the Australia Network, which transmits TV across Asia, only to have it snatched away by the federal Labor government and awarded to the ABC. Surely that would be a valid reason for some agitation from his news empire.
Which leaves us with the ABC itself, forever subject to allegations of bias in its handling of political news. During the reign of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard the bias of some ABC staff was of a personal nature, and you will find several stories dealing with that in this resource centre.
After watching events and the reporting of them in various media for some months I came to the conclusion that, with the exception of News Corp Aust and Ch10 (Murdoch media), the bias was not essentially that of a news media outlet but of some of the journalists it employed. This is most obvious in the case of the ABC, which is charged with being impartial, has no particular argument against the Labor government, but has reason to be apprehensive about how it might fare under a federal Liberal National Party (LNP) Coalition government.
It all became much clearer after reading an article in this morning’s National, the website of The Sydney Morning Herald. Ms Kerry-Anne Walsh, in a preview of her new book, writes:
“Gillard allies say Rudd started planning for his return to the prime ministership within days. By the time Gillard announced in February 2011 that her government would introduce a carbon pricing scheme, Rudd and his small team of malcontents were in lock-step with key journalists in Canberra and around the country in a drive to push her out of the prime ministerial chair.”
“Once deposed, Rudd’s toxic ambition appears to have been either to return to the leadership, or to destroy both the government that had dumped him and the woman who had replaced him. In this pursuit he was abetted by political journalists who became pawns in his comeback play, channelling the Chinese whispers of his spruikers and giving credibility and substance to exaggerated claims about the pretender’s level of support within the parliamentary party for a comeback.”
There we have it, if indeed it is true. Now that we have what may be the final clue to the persistent denigration of former Prime Minister Gillard, the next question is: What will the long-suffering voting public do about it?
Update: 8 November, 2013. It was announced today that The Stalking of Julia Gillard will be dramatised in a film to be produced by Richard Keddie. The role of Ms Gillard will be played by Rachel Griffiths.
Keddie said the film will dramatise the former Prime Minister’s “trial by media”.