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News Corporation has no-one to blame but itself

By Alan Austin - posted Monday, 18 March 2013


After Rupert Murdoch's chickens came home to roost spectacularly in the UK, his emus are scuttling about in Australia.

The entire Australian organisation is attacking the federal Government over proposed legislation to strengthen media self-regulation.

Entirely predictable. News Limited is the main perpetrator of media abuses in Australia. And hence the strongest proof the current self-regulation system is useless. Naturally it will squeal when called to account.

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Intriguingly, we are seeing precisely the same tactics deployed against the Minister for Communications Senator Conroy and his proposed rule changes as gave rise to the need for them in the first place.

News Corporation in the UK now admits to having hacked the phones of a murdered schoolgirl, and of countless public figures, and of deceased servicemen and their families. All this they denied for years with point blank lies.

They have been found to have fabricated damaging stories about their enemies and suppressed stories damaging to their friends. They have been caught using criminal means to obtain information, including pay-offs to police. These they also lied about for years.

Several British editors and executives have now been sacked, others jailed or charged, and a newspaper shut down in shame.

In the USA, Murdoch's Fox News is notorious for distortions, omissions and fabrications in political reporting. Outlets there bow to the whims of Rupert Murdoch regarding content. But the man himself is unaccountable.

Downunder, Justice Bromberg found Australia's most widely read columnist Andrew Bolt guilty of multiple fabrications in Melbourne's Herald Sun. The Federal Court judge found Bolt had no evidence for more than 19 damaging distortions in his racially-motivated attacks against vulnerable Aboriginal people.

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This was not a first for Bolt. For years he has waged campaigns against Aborigines and others based on falsehoods. He has been admonished by academics regarding his persistent refusal to write accurately about climate. He was found guilty of "very, very serious libel" in 2002.

Just a year earlier, Justice Stephen Kaye in the Victorian Supreme Court slammed Murdoch executives for lying to the court. In the matter of Bruce Guthrie's wrongful dismissal the judge said he "had reservations about a number of features" of the evidence of News Limited's then chief executive John Hartigan. "In my view Hartigan was an unreliable witness ..."

Kaye was even more scathing of Herald and Weekly Times chief Peter Blunden. "The explanations given by Mr Blunden in evidence," the judge said, "do not survive scrutiny".

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About the Author

Alan Austin is an Australian freelance journalist currently based in NÓmes in the South of France. His special interests are overseas development, Indigenous affairs and the interface between the religious communities and secular government. As a freelance writer, Alan has worked for many media outlets over the years and been published in most Australian newspapers. He worked for eight years with ABC Radio and Televisionís religious broadcasts unit and seven years with World Vision. His most recent part-time appointment was with the Uniting Church magazine Crosslight.

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