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Murdoch Rumbles

Murdoch Rumbles Down Under: “Former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd, points out that in ’19 federal and state elections since 2010, Murdoch has campaigned vigorously for one side of politics, and viciously against the other.’ Former Liberal prime minister Turnbull notes that the Murdoch media is ‘very, very protective’ of the current prime minister and his government. Hanson-Young, as chair of the inquiry, plans to call both Rudd and Turnbull to give evidence, which should be colourful, given the added legal protection it will afford them to elaborate on swingeing critiques they both have already offered. Indeed, it is arguably Rudd and Turnbull – along with recent events in the United States – who created the political space for the inquiry. Rudd set the ball rolling a month ago, when he drafted a petition calling for a royal commission into media ownership and concentration in Australia. ‘Our democracy depends on diverse sources of reliable, accurate and independent news. But media ownership is becoming more concentrated alongside new business models that encourage deliberately polarising and politically manipulated news.” Rudd’s petition went on to canvass a number of areas of concern, including whistleblower protection, official secrecy, unjust searches and prosecution of journalists, and the threats posed by Google and Facebook. But its strongest language related to News Corp, ‘founded by Fox News billionaire Rupert Murdoch.’ News Corp’s “overwhelming” control of the nation’s print media, the petition said, gave it power that was ‘routinely used to attack opponents in business and politics by blending editorial opinion with news reporting. Australians who hold contrary views have felt intimidated into silence. These facts chill free speech and undermine public debate.’ The petition garnered more than half a million signatures – including Turnbull’s – and might have got even more had it not overloaded the parliament’s website. ‘You might call it the Foxification of News Corp. It is literally undiluted, partisan propaganda. They support and cover up for their mates. They bully their enemies.'”

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