So there I was about to have a colonoscopy. In front of me was the Herald Sun. I read it – a bit of crime on the front, a bit of footy on the back and Andrew Bolt in between.
Waiting to have a colonoscopy is bad enough. Waiting to have a colonoscopy and reading Andrew Bolt approaches a definition of existential horror. His subject? The ABC, or the tyranny thereof.
A few pages on was a column by Rita Panahi. Most articles take off from somewhere. Hers started in midair and, given its speed and trajectory, I have no doubt she will go a long way. Her subject? The ABC and SBS.
People may think the present furore about the ABC is just a passing issue. It’s part of a screaming crescendo that’s been emanating from News Corp for months now. It’s been like watching a mediaeval siege and, right now, the castle wall looks to be on the verge of cracking.
For the past month, The Australian has had article after article attacking the ABC. An Australian editorial claimed the ABC pushes a left/green agenda. And that’s the politics at play here as News Corp would have us see them: the ABC, the greens and the left on one side – the mass of ordinary decent Australians on the other.
That argument is fake. Phoney. Bullshit. Polls show that the mass of ordinary decent Australians have consistently shown regard for the ABC. Without ever bothering to say it, many Australians have believed that it was indeed ”our ABC”.
Well, it may not be for much longer. I fully expect the ABC to be destroyed in all but name within a few years. Who’s going to stand up for it? Malcolm Turnbull, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
Rupert Murdoch is the most successful right-wing radical of his era. He has two fundamental beliefs. One is in free speech, which most people share; the other is in the ideology of free markets, which most people don’t share, particularly since the global financial crisis. His media outlets – and that means most newspapers in Australia – give direct expression to his will.
On October 6 last year, Murdoch tweeted: ”BBC massive taxpayer funded mouthpiece for tiny circulation leftist Guardian.” As with the BBC, Murdoch is ideologically opposed to the very existence of the ABC.
The ABC and the BBC also occupy areas in the media market that Murdoch feels they have no right to and into which he wants to expand.
What you have to give Rupert Murdoch – as he displays on Twitter – is that he is outrageously himself. At Oxford University in the 1950s, he was treated as a colonial and resented it; besides which he knew something about the British they didn’t care to admit about themselves. He knew what a bloody disaster the Gallipoli campaign was, his journalist father having helped expose it.
Like some other left-wing radicals who mutate into right-wing radicals, Murdoch has become Catholic and was miffed to find the Pope does not share his faith in the free market. But Murdoch’s a man who believes his own mythology (he still thinks he’s fighting ”the toffs”). One question history is sure to ask is whether he knew how far some of his employees were prepared to go to please him.
The current basis for the attack on the ABC is its coverage of the asylum-seeker issue. That matter was well dealt with by Paul Barry on Media Watch this week.
Media Watch is an example of something the ABC does well. What is News Corp’s equivalent in terms of public scrutiny of its organisation? The Leveson inquiry?
Martin Flanagan is a senior writer at The Age.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/comment/rupert-murdochs-attack-on-our-abc-like-a-mediaeval-siege-20140207-32746.html#ixzz2sozKlh5q