7 Dec 2015

"ideology run rampant" - an ex-Murdoch employee regarding a Murdoch paper

I'll get to what the ex-employee says in a minute. First a preamble:

It should come as news to no-one to say that the Murdoch press is heavily partisan.

It is actually meant not to serve an ideology or side of politics so much as the corporate aims of Murdoch himself, but for many years now these aims run largely parallel to the aims of the hard Right.

It is clear to me at least that the worldview of Murdoch himself grows increasingly detached from any ebb and flow of ideas or test of facts, and is now no more than the unapologetic thought bubbles of a narrow personality, utterly self-fortified . These snap-fired and ill-considered attitudes of his - as they manifest over Twitter - are likely never challenged in any intellectual or moral sense by whatever army of sycophants and minions he keeps close.

He reminds me of the honour-bereft leper manipulating events in the film Braveheart.
The man himself is just a man and not a monster. He's not a neo-Nazi or anything, but the damage he has done is immense.

Nor are all divisions of his empire of the same tone of partisanship. It's not unknown for a Murdoch publication to present a perfectly sensible editorial. But the totality of it, the weight of where a focus comes to rest or a headline is crafted... is to a brittle and angry little core of hysteria with a deep-seated hatred of anything artistic, culturally sensitive or unconnected to profit.

Before someone counters that the organisation is huge and Murdoch does not control everything... I will prelude the below by pointing out he does pick a type of ideologue for key roles that adhere to his worldview.

In Australia there is only one national newspaper, called simply The Australian, and it is a Murdoch paper. A former employee - of 11 years standing as chief features sub-editor - comments thus:

"...unwavering, often knee-jerk conservative ideology.... It wasn’t always the case. Under the editorship of Paul Kelly and then David Armstrong this extremist tendency, while not unknown, was usually kept in check by a broad pluralism that recognised its readers were best served by a range of views.

Sadly, in the noughties this position gradually gave way to the thundering of the neoconservatives. The paper began to act more like a propaganda sheet for the rightwing of the Liberal party than a broad-based sounding board for big ideas and public policy. This period roughly coincided with Mitchell’s ascendancy as editor-in-chief."

So far this about one newspaper here - but visualise this repeated everywhere the Murdoch shadow falls.

"...the paper’s right-wing bias is overwhelming. The tone is hectoring and unforgiving, making it frustrating to read and tricky to work around as a journalist....

I can’t read the paper anymore. It’s too distressing seeing ideology run rampant because it suits the interests of Rupert Murdoch and his allies.

The influence the Australian and News Corp Australia wield by setting a market-based, small-government agenda is widely understood because it’s so blatant. Less well scrutinised is the impact of groupthink on the profession of journalism within Fortress News. When dissent is marginalised and self-censorship is an unquestioned norm, the newsroom culture becomes self-serving. "

The author of these comments worked there for over a decade.
Much of the rest of his article - here - speaks of positives he felt - but they are ever contextualised within a careerism that would have been necessary for him to make a living.

The term "groupthink" cannot be more ominous in any normal setting than when it is used in reference to a NEWS corporation.


  1. The Australian sounds like Fox News in print. Apparently your right wingers there can all read.

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