If you own a newspaper, do you have the right to dictate editorial direction? The answer is yes and no. Let’s look first at the situation where it is morally correct to direct editorial content.
The owner is responsible for ensuring legal and ethical standards are met. At the extreme, it is perfectly reasonable to suppress the identity of minors involved in petty crime such as shop lifting. It is perfectly reasonable to suppress claims against people when the claim is totally unsubstantiated and probably, in legal terms, vexatious.
On the other end of the spectrum – where it is clearly not morally acceptable – is where the direction is to further the interests of the publication, or publisher. The most obvious recent example was the phone hacking scandal in the UK. The Murdoch press tried to suppress the story until it exploded in their face.
So what is happening in Australia with the Murdoch press. If you read “The Australian” for example, you rarely see anything positive about the ALP. Every story is cast in a way that makes it anti-Labor. A poll that shows a leap in Labor support focuses on a minor shift in a subgroup to the Liberals, or drop in support for the Greens. The state daily papers have inflammatory and radical headlines. Has Alan Jones taken over as Editor? Reading the Fairfax press seems to describe a parallel universe. Clearly Murdoch wants to get rid of Labor. Why?
If you listen to some commentators the reason is the NBN. It is a threat to Foxtel, but is that the whole story? Maybe we should try and think like Rupert Murdoch for a moment. What sort of government does he want?
Rupert Murdoch has shown a total disdain for governments and government regulation. They are an impediment to him shaping the world in the way he wants it to be. He believes in a conservative, business dominated world. You only have to go back to the days of Margaret Thatcher who helped Murdoch break the unions in the Wapping dispute to see what he wants. Murdoch wants to see another Thatcher run Australia. In his mind, someone who supports business 100% is the only viable leader. Does he see Tony Abbott as another Margaret Thatcher? Probably not quite, but certainly more so than Rudd.
The two parties have a traditional approach in their balance between what is good for individuals and what is good for business. Labor is probably 60% individuals and 40% business traditionally. Liberal is probably 40:60 the other way traditionally. Murdoch sees the Abbot version 30:70 pro-business. Is Abbott that pro-business. Look at some facts.
Labor’s approach to the environment is to tax polluters. Liberals is to pay business to reduce their emissions. Abbott wants to target key pollution sources, and pay business to upgrade to less polluting equipment. In other words, take individual tax dollars and give them to business to improve efficiency. Pro-business? Of course. Abbott wants to cut company tax. In a convoluted way it may make business more competitive and increase jobs, but the immediate benefit is more dollars retained by companies. Pro-business? Of course.
There are many more examples, but the most worrying is not telling us where the money will come from. I resent being told that a potential government will hand out goodies but not how it will pay for them. It is treating the general public like children. Just trust us? Sounds like Campbell Newman. Once in power, you cut services to individuals and increase expenditure on business beneficial activities.
So think again why we are seeing such anti Labor comments in the Murdoch press. Rudd and Labor do not fit with the image of a government as seen by Rupert Murdoch. He pines for the days of Margaret Thatcher. Tony Abbott is his best option in Australia 2013.
Your choice. Vote for Tony Abbott who is endorsed by Rupert Murdoch or vote for Kevin Rudd who is vilified by Rupert Murdoch. How do your values align with those of Rupert?