Thursday, December 3

Former PMs unite in Australia in a bid to curb the power of the Murdoch empire | Rupert murdoch


In high office, both men lived and died at the word of the world’s most influential media mogul, Rupert Murdoch. But now two former Australian prime ministers are at the forefront of a campaign to restore the balance of power. It’s a move that Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s respective former Liberal and Labor leaders, hope will continue to undermine all of Murdoch’s international businesses.

The two former prime ministers were once rivals, but will appear as joint star witnesses in an upcoming Australian parliamentary inquiry into Murdoch’s dominance in Australian political debate. Both must argue that News Corp Australia has become the propaganda arm of the right-wing liberal government.

Some have hailed the investigation as the beginning of a global billing call for Murdoch, 89, the Australian-born power broker who has also shaped British politics for the past 40 years, with his right-leaning newspaper. stable. titles, and that until recently promoted and supported the presidency of Donald Trump in the United States through his American television channel, Fox News.

“This could be an uncomfortable moment for Murdoch,” said David Hardaker, the veteran Australian investigative reporter and broadcaster. “We have two former prime ministers working together, and that has not happened before. This is already leading to a Senate investigation that could be somewhat similar to the Leveson investigation. [into the press] in Great Britain.

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Photograph: Glenn Hunt / EPA
Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Composite: AAP / AP

“Rudd wanted a real commission, but that was never going to happen because the government would have to approve it and there is a kind of revolving door between Murdoch’s business and the Australian government at the moment, with media advisers and consultants coming and going. “

For Hardaker, the crucial element is the mobilization of the leaders of the technology industry, who are already prepared to invest in energy and green infrastructure: “That is the place. It is a large power base with a lot of money, but it is blocked by the conservatives and by Murdoch’s denial of climate change, despite his recent seeming acceptance that it really exists. “

This summer, James Murdoch, one of Rupert’s two sons, resigned from the News Corp board citing “disagreements” over editorial content, several months after criticizing the company’s coverage of the Australian bushfires.

“The climate denial campaign is amazing and has done enormous damage to the world, to the global need to address global warming,” Turnbull said in an appearance on ABC that went viral. “I mean, it’s so horribly biased and so propaganda that Rupert’s own son, James, can’t take it.”

Rudd and Turnbull were attacked by the Murdoch press when they were in power, claiming that they were unable to respond due to their near monopoly on print and broadcast platforms. Australia ranked third in the world for media concentration in 2011, behind only the state media of China and Egypt.

Murdoch owns a major newspaper in every state, except for Western Australia. Queensland is dominated by a major Murdoch title, the mail. “This is a one-newspaper state, not just a one-newspaper city,” Rudd said. “And anyone who thinks that is fair in terms of all aspects of politics having a good path has stones in their heads.”

The flagship of the operation is a national newspaper, the Australian, which has moved further to the right in recent years and is hostile to measures to combat the climate crisis. Turnbull says News Corp acts like a political party, working closely with right-wing politicians to influence policies and elections.

Murdoch also owns Sky News Australia, a Fox News-inspired right-wing channel, and a host of local and regional newspapers and websites. Although the company was forced to close dozens of its smaller newspapers this year, it has adopted a digital priority strategy, opening new local news websites and increasing its digital subscription base to 613,300 from 493,200 in 2019.

As a result, some anti-Murdoch commentators are not convinced that the attacks by two great politicians will even make a dent in the overwhelming financial interests of the Murdoch empire in Australia, much less anywhere else.

“In the same way that the Leveson investigation publicly baffled and briefly broke the momentum of News Corp, the Senate investigation will have some passing impact but nothing lasting or substantial,” said acclaimed Australian journalist and writer Dr. Chris Wallace, author. from How to win an election.

Last month, Rudd launched a petition for a royal commission on the need for a strong and diverse media, calling Murdoch “an arrogant cancer in our democracy.” The petition was signed by more than 500,000 people, including Turnbull, who has condemned Murdoch’s printing monopoly.

Wallace believes Rudd and Turnbull are seeking costly revenge for “Murdoch’s blatant media politicking.” “They have nothing to lose now that they are out of active politics, so it’s time to square off. The petition is your tool for the Murdochs to taste their own medicine. There’s a personal motivation in it, of course, but anyone who’s been bullied by a Murdoch media outlet, and that’s a lot of people, is enjoying it tremendously.

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