Rupert Murdoch's attack on 'our ABC' like a mediaeval siege
February 08, 2014
'Rupert Murdoch is the most successful right-wing radical of his era.'
So there I was about to have a colonoscopy. In front of me was the Herald Sun. I read it - a bit of crime on the front, a bit of footy on the back and Andrew Bolt in between.
Waiting to have a colonoscopy is bad enough. Waiting to have a
colonoscopy and reading Andrew Bolt approaches a definition of
existential horror. His subject? The ABC, or the tyranny thereof.
A few pages on was a column by Rita Panahi. Most articles
take off from somewhere. Hers started in midair and, given its speed and
trajectory, I have no doubt she will go a long way. Her subject? The
ABC and SBS.
People may think the present furore about the ABC is just a
passing issue. It's part of a screaming crescendo that's been emanating
from News Corp for months now. It's been like watching a mediaeval siege
and, right now, the castle wall looks to be on the verge of cracking.
For the past month, The Australian has had article after article attacking the ABC. An Australian
editorial claimed the ABC pushes a left/green agenda. And that's the
politics at play here as News Corp would have us see them: the ABC, the
greens and the left on one side - the mass of ordinary decent
Australians on the other.
That argument is fake. Phoney. Bullshit. Polls show that the
mass of ordinary decent Australians have consistently shown regard for
the ABC. Without ever bothering to say it, many Australians have
believed that it was indeed ''our ABC''.
Well, it may not be for much longer. I fully expect the ABC
to be destroyed in all but name within a few years. Who's going to stand
up for it? Malcolm Turnbull, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
Rupert Murdoch is the most successful right-wing radical of
his era. He has two fundamental beliefs. One is in free speech, which
most people share; the other is in the ideology of free markets, which
most people don't share, particularly since the global financial crisis.
His media outlets - and that means most newspapers in Australia - give
direct expression to his will.
On October 6 last year, Murdoch tweeted: ''BBC massive taxpayer funded mouthpiece for tiny circulation leftist Guardian.'' As with the BBC, Murdoch is ideologically opposed to the very existence of the ABC.
The ABC and the BBC also occupy areas in the media market
that Murdoch feels they have no right to and into which he wants to
What you have to give Rupert Murdoch - as he displays on
Twitter - is that he is outrageously himself. At Oxford University in
the 1950s, he was treated as a colonial and resented it; besides which
he knew something about the British they didn't care to admit about
themselves. He knew what a bloody disaster the Gallipoli campaign was,
his journalist father having helped expose it.
Like some other left-wing radicals who mutate into right-wing
radicals, Murdoch has become Catholic and was miffed to find the Pope
does not share his faith in the free market. But Murdoch's a man who
believes his own mythology (he still thinks he's fighting ''the
toffs''). One question history is sure to ask is whether he knew how far
some of his employees were prepared to go to please him.
The current basis for the attack on the ABC is its coverage
of the asylum-seeker issue. That matter was well dealt with by Paul
Barry on Media Watch this week.
Media Watch is an example of something the ABC does
well. What is News Corp's equivalent in terms of public scrutiny of its
organisation? The Leveson inquiry?
Martin Flanagan is a senior writer at The Age