Progressives become the Murdoch they hate


Fake left political suicide is taking shape. Amusingly, it is for precisely the same reasons that the fake right self-immolated.

It is the siloing of politics and media into dysfunctional vertical markets.

The shape of this political economy was pioneered by Rupert Murdoch and Conservative politics, who read the structural changes of the internet better.

Now, it has been taken on by everybody else in league with Progressive politics, who all claim to hate Rupert Murdoch.


We need to add a little communications theory to understand how this happened.

In 1964, Canadian theorist Marshall McLuhan proposed that the “medium is the message”:

McLuhan uses the term “message” to signify content and character. The content of the medium is a message that can be easily grasped and the character of the medium is another message which can be easily overlooked. McLuhan says “Indeed, it is only too typical that the ‘content’ of any medium blinds us to the character of the medium”. For McLuhan, it was the medium itself that shaped and controlled “the scale and form of human association and action”.


Without putting too fine a point on it, the nature of the communications medium is central to how it shapes an understanding of the world.

For example, when long rhetorical spoken words were the political coign, so were sophisticated and nuanced ideas.

When television became the primary medium, messages shortened, and entertainment became as significant as content. Ideation simplified.

Now we have the internet. The everything, everywhere, all of the time medium that decentralises knowledge so that retreat into the familiar is the only idea that counts.


Murdoch and the fake right read the Internet revolution best. Conservative vertical market newscaster, Fox, was founded in 1996, the year after the float of Netscape.

The newly formed fake right silo fought national culture wars while the old left was still stuck on quaint notions of policy and reason.

The fake right won because their message was the medium.


In slower-moving Australia, Sky News formed a fake right silo with the LNP after the GFC. A decade of LNP rule followed.

Fast forward to today’s political cycle, and we see the development of the first fully-fledged Progressive political economy silo. The Guardian, Crikey, ABC and many minnows have formed allegiances with the ALP and Greens.

Like Murdoch’s fake right before it, the newly formed fake left talks only to itself. Ironically, it also fights culture wars – race and gender mostly – instead of real issues. Only now, it does so on behalf of those repulsed by Murdoch!


The weekend press gave us a stellar example of the problem that this creates for the polity.

Morry Schwart’s Saturday Paper is another card-carrying member of the fake left silo. Schwartz’ wealth is based upon apartment development, so when his paper discusses critical issues about inflation without reference to property and immigration, a bell goes off. 

And why are those prices going up? Because, in the words of another noted economist, Danielle Wood, some Australians persist in “living large”. Wealthier and older Australians – who are to an ever-increasing extent one and the same – continue to spend up big on all manner of non-essential things.


Meanwhile, other, typically younger, Australians are struggling to afford essentials. They are, in the terms of the proverb, the sacrificial chickens, the ones being hurt the most by rising interest rates, although they are not causing the inflation problem.

Wood, the chief executive of the Grattan Institute, who next week takes up a new role as chair of the Productivity Commission, portrayed the essential unfairness of it in great detail in a speech a couple of months back. The intergenerational lens she applied to the data showed very clearly who was getting squeezed, and who was doing the spending the RBA is trying, not very successfully, to curtail.

The article explains how unfair the current inflation and interest rate surge is. And it is.

Yet, somehow, it never mentions the primary cause of it: the Albanese Government’s failures in energy and immigration policy.

  • the failure to curtail energy cartels during the Ukraine War, and
  • the failure to modulate immigration to the needs of the economy post-COVID.

Even worse, the article hinges on the Grattan Institute for commentary. The fake left’s most essential national fig leaf.


Grattan is sponsored by the Origin Foundation and the Scanlon Foundation, both of which are associated with enormous interests in energy and immigration. Not to mention being attached to the University of Melbourne and its international student dependency.

This dizzying array of conflicts is impossible to put into one sentence, presumably why The Saturday Paper discloses none.

The fake left media methodology is on display for all to see:

  • diversify the speaker so that propaganda is protected by victimhood;
  • self-select closed-loop expertise and censor countervailing reasoning;
  • ignore associated corruption.

The Australian political economy is now a fully matured fake. Two Murdoch-style presses in league with chosen political wings pretend to care about Australians’ well-being while both endorse the same corporate avarice underneath.

There is only on difference between them.


Rupert Murdoch’s fake right is easy to fight. A pack of greedy businessmen arguing that their interests merge with those of the public is hardly a slam-dunk argument.

The UnMurdoch fake left is much harder to fight. It pretends to care from inside the public interest policy tent while enabling exactly the same greedy businessmen.

You tell me which is worse.

About the author
David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal. He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.