Murdoch press steps-up anti-Labor bias

By Leith van Onselen

If I remember one thing from this election campaign, which let’s face it hasn’t been particularly interesting, it will be the biased coverage from the Murdoch tabloids.

When the campaign began, Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph produced the below front page revealing in no uncertain terms its political bias:

ScreenHunter_23 Aug. 08 09.18


Just when you thought the situation couldn’t get much worse, the Daily Telegraph followed-up on Sunday with the below front-page letting readers know why Tony Abbott is their man:

ScreenHunter_27 Sep. 02 14.40

Perhaps I shouldn’t be too surprised by the Murdoch Press’ antics. In the lead-up to the last US Presidential Election, the Murdoch-owned New York Post published the below cover declaring Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, as “The only choice” for President:

ScreenHunter_29 Sep. 02 14.43

So much for independent media in Australia.

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  1. Just as the printing press broke the power of the Monarch/Church to monopolise and control information in medieval Europe, so may the internet break the power of the politicians/media barons to so today.

    Some of the early pamphleteers might have seemed crazy, but amongst the cacophony were the ideas that led to the world we know today.

    Tha Panglossian Conservatives will go on insisting that we live is the best of all possible worlds, and that the present institutions of government must go on for ever, and ever, and ever, and ever – and ever – without change. Presumably until the sun grows cold and oceans freeze over. These are the solipsistically narrow-minded people who believe that “the end of history” occurred just as they reached adulthood.

    But the modern world is . . . well . . . modern! It has changed in the past and it will change in the future. We hope for the better.

    We are the foot soldiers. The battle starts here!

    • innocent bystander

      Yep. Just takes longer than one thinks/hopes.
      I remember accompanying a friend to a wedding about 15 years ago where I ended up on a table of people with strong political beliefs (some members and ex members of state parliament – their ilk irrelevant I think). Being a driver and having some responsibilities on the day I was careful with my imbibing, not the others. Being of the opposite political spectrum things got quite fun, as they do when one is sober and others aren’t. I remember telling them in the future there would be no need for them – the internet could handle the staging of referenda, policy ideas and even legislation. Then the proletariat could vote via the internet. I was quite IT literate at the time and I was quite convincing, even if I do say so myself.

  2. But it’s not or ever was meant to be “indpendent”. Our media is largely a collection of publicly owned companies with majority shareholdings. They report news and offer Opinion.

    Have you seen the editorials of the SMH and The Age? They too are calling for the same change. Are they showing bias too? Could it be they are expressing the obvious mood of the majority of their readers and what history shows us all – that a change of Govt now is good for the Nation?

    This silly hysteria about Murdoch ignores the abysmal state of our Govt for the last 6 years. It attributes far too much power to Murdoch especially in this day and age where sources of information and commentary vary so widely.

    This Govt must go because it’s record has shown it to be UNWORTHY. That’s it, pure and simple. Murdoch is not able to change the Govts record. Was everyone so paranoid about Murdoch in 2007 when he supported Rudd? How about some commonsense.

    • Who in their right mind reads that garbage anymore? Might be ok for fish and chips but that’s about it.

      • That’s exactly my point. Murdoch can print whatever he wants. His papers, The Age and SMH etc- they are only telling people what they already know. And who cannot find easy alternative info sources these days. His influence is over inflated, just as he likes it.

        (With apologies to mig 😉 )

    • The chardonnay socialists want to pin all the blame on Murdoch. Maybe they could take a look at themselves for once.

      1. Ridiculous levels of PC
      2. House prices rises of about 20% after Rudd got a lot of the gen y vote for housing affordability
      3. Big Australia
      4. Declaring that people on $100k are “rich”, and therefore should be taxed more

      And lots more folks.

      Murdoch failed with his Romney support, so they are overstating the influence.

      I’ll care about Murdoch’s bias when I stop seeing 5 million questions about refugees on Q&A per year.

      • “4. Declaring that people on $100k are “rich”, and therefore should be taxed more”

        I assume that these “chardonnay socialists” you mention are likely to be earning over $100k? If so, what’s wrong with them arguing that they should be paying more tax?

      • Well if they want to fine, but can it be optional?

        I have a problem with it because $100k is blatantly not rich anymore.

      • “I assume that these “chardonnay socialists” you mention are likely to be earning over $100k? If so, what’s wrong with them arguing that they should be paying more tax?”

        Where did you divine that from? And in any case, there is nothing stopping them from doing so right away. The ATO will take donations from those who feel they are undertaxed. That doesn’t require a change in taxation law.

      • I’ll care about Murdoch’s bias when I stop seeing 5 million questions about refugees on Q&A per year.
        They were more than offset by pointless questions about leadership.

        Anyway, who said people on $100k were “rich” ? Doing far better than most ? Sure. Shouldn’t be receiving any welfare ? Absolutely. But rich ?

  3. I think we all know that the Murdoch press is one of the greatest threats to freedom in the world today, unfortunately this doesn’t change the fact that Kevin Rudd is by any measure unelectable, unfortunately I expect this terrible little man to dirty australia’s political doorstep for a few more years yet.

    • Greatest threats for freedom? What on earth are you talking about? Only those who read that propaganda could possibly suffer and I personally don’t know anyone who touches the rags (except the hoi polloi and they’re only looking at what the tarts wore for the footy medal ceremony)

  4. Don’t worry, at least the ABC is unbiased!


    If you go by the polls on the ABC website, ALP should have a clear 80% majority, with the other 20% going to the Greens. I might be exagerating – but not much.

      • Thats this time around. Go back to Rudd V1.0 and Gillard. They both got dream runs. Saying the ABC is not biased far to the Left is fanatasy- not worthy of MB.

      • “Did the ABC blatantly endorse either candidate?”

        They don’t have to endorse. Their programming and content says it all, unless you are too dense to miss it. As I have said, I am an ABC fan and it’s appalling how far Green/Left they have gone in their Current Affairs. So much so that they run the risk of being decimated because of it. It’s a travesty.

      • Saying the ABC is not biased far to the Left is fanatasy- not worthy of MB.
        Can we have, say, ten examples of this “bias” ?

      • There is now an anti-ABC cottage industry on the conservative side of politics, whose perception of the broadcaster is stuck in the 1990s. They cannot be reasoned with.

      • I don’t have time to trawl through their website right now, but they recently (last week?) had a poll on the website, asking readers if they throught Labor will win.

        Last I saw the results %70+ of respondents said yes.

        There have also been quite a few articles of the “What steps should Labor be taking to win the election” type.

        If you think ABC does not back Labor you are kidding yourself. They might be now beginning to rip into KRudd, but that is only because he is failing to deliver.

      • dumb_non_economist


        Re the poll, you should consider getting your eyes checked as I doubt even the dumbest of labor supporters believes that they have a snowflakes chance in hell.

  5. ” independent media in Australia.”

    In the cases you cite UE, it IS independent.

    It is independent of Government, which is THE point.

    Taxpayer money is NOT being used to lay on lashings of propaganda in these cases. Unlike the ABC where this is happening daily, with Green/Left agendas getting spirited support daily.

    And lets not forget that it was a radicalised Left Wing Govt that recently tried desperately hard to legislate against Press freedoms in this country. For the obvious reasons, so afraid were they of being held to account.

    Really, UE you are in the media. How could you advocate for media restrictions and not freedom?

    • General Disarray

      Really, UE you are in the media. How could you advocate for media restrictions and not freedom?

      He didn’t argue for media restrictions.

      • I’m sure he can answer for himself. The impression I have is that UE is advocating for Murdoch not to be allowed or to refrain from publishing these front page Opinion pieces. Those are restrictions.

    • GSM the guy running the ABC was appointed by Howard, so I think you’re drawing a long bow by claiming systematic editorial bias on the network.

      The ABC gives a lot of time to the right wing. I am pretty sure the IPA is the most represented interest group on the Drum, as one example. Leigh Sales hit Rudd just as hard as she hit Abbott weeks earlier.

      • You’ve got to understand GSM. If you’re not way out there with the Liberals and US Republican party, you’re a communist.

  6. General Disarray

    It looks like a case of Relevance Deprivation Syndrome (RDS) to me. Unfortunately, as relevance wanes, the patient becomes increasingly shrill and unhinged. Eventually a positive feedback loop forms and the behavioural symptoms associated with RDS results in the patients relevance decline increasing exponentially – the outlook from this point is bleak.

    Eventually the patient succumbs and nobody gives a shit.

  7. Clearly Murdoch’s papers want a change of government and are having a wonderful time ramming home the point as hard as they can as they know they are on the right side of history for this election.

    But let’s not confuse cause and effect.

    The ALP blew themselves up.

    On the bright side, It is a wonderful opportunity for the ALP to get to work and fix its structure and operational model and prepare for what is likely to be very challenging times for the incoming government.

    Abbott will be forced to embrace or dodge some very tough decisions. Plenty of opportunities for a smart, focused opposition.

    The ALP should get to work to regain the Hawke-Keating legacy the so-called Howard battlers (tradies and small business operators and their employees) that the unions ignore and the bleeding heart left of the party deride as ‘bogans’.

    Drive a wedge between the LNP’s conservative base that loves the status quo and the small business sector (the owners and the employees) who want a chance to compete and disrupt the ways of the oligopolists.

    Fighting for competitive markets is a very progressive thing to do.

    No surprise that the fly in the ointment may be the unions as they find working with ‘oligopolists’ consistent with their standard operating practices of deals and smooth administrative arrangements for collecting unions dues and ‘working collaboratively’.

  8. IMHO what you are missing, UE, is that the tabloid press tend to operate somewhat in the same vein as a shaving mirror. They reflect, on a magnified scale, the mood of the electorate in the city in which they mainly circulate. The mood towards Labor at the moment is poisonous in Sydney. Hence the somewhat ‘over the top’ expressions of editorial opinion. Their support for Rudd in 2007 was more muted because the electorate did not feel so strongly about the issues. There was a mood abroad that the Howard government was tired and it might be time for a change. Rudd portrayed himself as a fiscal conservative and therefore a safe alternative.

    This time round Labor’s name is mud in NSW. The electorate’s anger has not been dissipated by the booting out of State Labor, partly because the ongoing in-fighting at federal level has revealed that the same problems infect the ALP at that level as well. On top of the leadership brawls there is the ongoing apparent unwillingness to exercise fiscal discipline, combined with endless promises of a surplus that never materialized.

    You might think it is the media’s job to exercise leadership in analysis of political issues. Their real job is to sell eyeballs, and mostly they do that by reflecting the prejudices of the day. Murdoch wants to make money (except with The Australian, which he may see as having something of a leadership role) and his tabloids are good at it.

    • dumb_non_economist


      How does the poisonous mood in Sydney translate to a poisonous mood in every Murdoch newspaper in the country and the manner in which it is conveyed?

      • It doesn’t. But the rest of the electorate is hardly enamoured with Rudd at the moment, either. That’s a lot of the reason why the rest of the Murdoch press has come down on the side of Abbott, but not as virulently as the Daily Telegraph.

        That is, apart from their own very reasonable assessment of the relative merits of the two aspirants for the top job.

  9. That Murdoch uses his media outlets and employees around the world to further his business interests is old news. That anyone would assume any “news” reported by such outlets as objective or reliable is baffling. A more interesting question is “What’s in this one for Rupert?

    Rupert’s wish list (Courtesy of IPA)

    1. Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
    2. Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
    3.Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’
    4.Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law
    5.End local content requirements for Australian television stations
    6.Eliminate media ownership restrictions
    7.Cease funding the Australia Network
    8.Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
    9.Privatise SBS
    10.Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built

    My wish list.

    1.That Australian broadcast licences not be issued to companies whose chairman or CEO has overseen the repeated and proven corruption of public officials by their employees.

    • Rupert Murdoch is one of the IPA’s largest funders. They are an associated entity of the Liberal Party, and have all the integrity and credibility of a crack whore.

  10. So UE they are only slightly more biased towards the Libs are than you are to labor.

    Again pot meet kettle!

  11. FFS This current govt has created its own demise via its own deceitful spin in virtually every area, it would argue that night is in fact day.

  12. Seriously there are newspapers & news outlets & then there are the voters! Anyone can be biased for whatever reason but we now have the people who really don’t care. All that is now going to happen will not be influenced by the media. The voters are over this Guvmint & probably are going to kick their bums. But in the end it’s cause they were not very good & very self indulgent. Don’t blame the media, they partly reflect society mood. If the alp didn’t pick it right & the supposed Torynuffs did then well so be it. Alp have had a pretty good run at things but basically stuffed up so get out the way & let the next lot have a go. It’s the cycle of life! We can grizzle all we want but the alp in this cycle are toxic & their own worst enemy. They will have to take what they get. Say what you want but it’s hard to explain what the alp has done in last 6 years