Sensible people trying to make sense of the Herald Sun’s bizarre coverage of Victorian Prime Minister Dan Andrews in recent days might be helped by a few ideas from the founding of News Limited, the company Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation empire has been built and of which the Herald The sun is part.
The main idea is that journalism is not, and never has been, the purpose of News Corporation. Its purpose, its raison d’être, is to provide the means by which three generations of the Murdoch family accumulate wealth and exercise power.
In her masterful history of the Australian press empires, Paper Emperors, Sally Young recounts what she calls the true story of the birth of News Limited.
The myth of the founding of the company is that its first newspaper, the Adelaide News, was the work of two hardy individuals, a “miner” called Gerald Mussen, who was actually an industrial consultant for Broken Hill Associated Smelters, and a former editor. from the Melbourne Herald, JE Davidson.
As Young points out, these two had long worked as contributing propagandists for the Herald and the Weekly Times, of which Keith Murdoch was the managing director, and its associated mining interests in Broken Hill and Port Pirie. The evidence indicates that Mussen and Davidson were funded in starting the newspaper by these interests for the purpose of continuing propaganda.
Keith Murdoch then acquired the journal in his own name and bequeathed it to Rupert.
Propaganda was News’ original sin, and it was never redeemed. Instead, it expanded into beatings, misinformation, misinformation, and conspiracy theories.
Of course, along the way, he’s done a lot of journalism, some of it very high quality. In 1959 the Adelaide News, edited by Rohan Rivett, played a big role to seek judicial review of the Rupert Max Stuart case. Stuart had been sentenced to hang for the rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl, following a trial that caused widespread public concern. His conviction was never finally overturned, but he was released after 14 years in prison.
More recently, Hedley Thomas’ talks on the harm done to Dr. Mohamed Haneef and the shortcomings of the police investigation into the murder of Lynette Dawson, for which her husband Chris was recently convicted, were examples of public interest journalism at its best.
However, this function of doing journalism – the “what” – is to be distinguished from the “why”. Journalism is done in pursuit of the primary purpose of the organization, the empowerment and enrichment of the Murdochs, while serving the public interest from time to time.
Daniel Andrews’ cover has to be seen in this light.
The starting point is that the Murdochs – Lachlan or Rupert or both – clearly prefer a non-Labour government, and the continuation of a Labor administration in Victoria is an offense against their will.
So we saw in the 2018 election campaign a racist fear campaign against the so-called african gangspushed by Peter Dutton, now Leader of the Liberal-National Opposition in the Federal Parliament, and propelled by the Herald Sun.
It backfired spectacularly and Andrews won in a landslide. It just made the offense worse.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Herald Sun has promoted increasingly vocal criticism of Andrews’ lockdowns, particularly by former Liberal Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who later lost his Melbourne seat. in Kooyong during the federal elections in May. More aggravation.
Most recently, on November 4, 22 days before the 2022 Victorian state election, a new offense was committed. Newspoll showed the Liberal Party trailing Labor by 46-54% in terms of bipartisan preference. Landslide territory again.
This succession of rebuffs shows that Murdoch’s media ability to influence election results is weaker than it once was, adding insult to injury.
It’s time to throw some mud in the hope that there will be enough left.
First, the Herald Sun resurrects a nine-year-old car accident involving not Andrews himself but his wife. This publish online a videotaped interview with the cyclist involved in the collision and his father.
The interview is long on innuendo and short on facts. It is insinuated that in an indefinite way, Andrews misused his power to deny justice to the young man and that the justice system failed him.
It is also time to resuscitate a conspiracy theory.
On March 9, 2021, Andrews slipped on outside stairs at a vacation home he and his family had rented on the Mornington Peninsula, injuring his back and ribs.
As a guardian reportedan anonymous post about what allegedly ‘really’ happened first appeared on an encrypted messaging app favored by far-right activists and conspiracy theorists, then moved to a fringe website promoting misinformation about QAnon and the Port Arthur Massacre.
The conspiracy theory claimed that Andrews’ injuries were sustained in grim circumstances.
For reasons better known to herself, the Liberals’ shadow treasurer, Louise Staley, decided that this was a fire worth throwing oil on. So she released a list of 12 questions for Andrews to answer about the incident.
The list was based on so much misinformation and misinformation that Victoria Ambulancewhose crew had taken Andrews to the hospital, and the chief commissioner of police both found it necessary to issue statements setting out the facts.
This had the effect of killing off the conspiracy theory, and when Matthew Guy took over as leader of the Liberal Party a few months later, he demoted Staley to shadow minister for government scrutiny.
Yet on November 6, the Sunday Herald Sun devoted several hundred words to an overhaul of the conspiracy theory. This time it included a photograph of the steps, noting that the house had been repainted since the incident. What could have been covered by a new coat of paint, the reader is implicitly invited to ask himself the question.
News Corporation is embroiled in a conflict of interest, overt and covert influence peddling and propaganda, all to advance the interests of the Murdoch family. The abuse of media power is rooted in its culture.
This doesn’t excuse what the Herald Sun does, but helps explain it.