JOHN MENADUE. It is no surprise that News Corp is even less and less trusted.

American owned News Corp Australia is the least trusted media company in the country and is a cellar-dweller in the Reputation Index of Australian companies.  Its behaviour in this election will ensure that it is even less trusted.

Murdoch rewards generously employees who are tame and loyal. But how can self-respecting journalists, and particularly senior journalists, continue to take his coin? 

The Reputation Institute of Australia conducts an annual ranking of Australian corporations. The Institute tracks community attitudes towards large and well-known companies. The tracking is based on surveys of 10,000 Australians.

In its 2019 rankings, the top six companies were Air New Zealand, Qantas, JB Hi-Fi, Toyota, Mazda and Aldi. The bottom ranked six companies were Westpac, Telstra, CBA, News Corp (Australia) and AMP.

It is no surprise to see News Corp ranked alongside our extremely poorly-performing financial institutions.

In comparisons with other media, the poor performance of News Corp is just as bad. After the 2016 election, Essential Media asked respondents ‘How much trust did you have in the way the following media reported and commented on the federal election campaign’. They responded – ABC TV (65%), SBS TV (61%), ABC Radio (54%), Sydney Morning Herald (45%), The Age (42%), The Australian (37%), The Courier Mail (37%), The Daily Telegraph (35%) and The Herald Sun (35%). News Corp is invariably a cellar dweller in public trust.

And we’re unlikely to see trust in the Murdoch media improve as a result of the 2019 election. Its various publications are running true to form. How can professional journalists keep working for this company? It comes as no surprise to learn that the Liberal Party in Warringah is distributing unwanted copies of The Daily Telegraph to voters.

The Murdoch media in Australia is effectively the media arm of the Liberal Party. And FoxNews in the US is the effective media  arm of the Trump White House.

In the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, a long-standing survey of media, Australian media among 28 countries was ranked as the second last at 31%, just above Turkey at 30%.  What a dismal record.

Alan Kohler, in his InvestSmart lat weekend described the debased News Corp this way “Labor is well ahead in this election, not that you’d know that from the biased media engaged in pumping up the Coalition, while the rest of the media is trying to be fair.  And by biased, I mean Murdoch. If you just read the News Corp papers you would think that the ALP has no hope and the Liberal Party is a shoe-in (apart from the polls they publish of course). … I am just saying that you shouldn’t think for a moment that Scott Morrison and the Coalition are actually going to win.”

Media Watch this week has correctly pointed to the beat-up by The Australian of the discredited Fisher modelling on climate change. This modelling has been rejected by almost every serious economist in the climate change field.

Giles Parkinson in ReviewEconomy has asked why the Murdoch media, and particularly the Daily Telegraph, give continual credence to Angus Taylor’s scare campaigns, one after the other, beginning with wind turbines.

It is no surprise that with 70% of Australian metropolitan media controlled by an American citizen that we have not only a corruption of domestic public life but  also  foreign interference in our public life on an enormous scale. We are deluged by ‘news’, entertainment and propaganda from the US. It puts Chinese interventions in Australia in the shade.

Australian attitudes are shaped by the incessant avalanche of media stories and propaganda from the US. The American presidential election is over 18 months away, but we have unending stories about prospects for candidates in the Democratic primary.

We can have no adult or robust relations in our own region when our views are crimped by an endless deluge of media out of the US.

The Murdoch media is not a truth-telling organisation.  It has become the propaganda vehicle for the extreme right in the US, the UK and Australia. And it wants to destroy the ABC

The few remaining mainstream media with any claim to integrity, like the ABC, have become victims of a preoccupation with ‘balance’.  For example, with the planet in peril, they give equal attention to the climate sceptics, at the expense of  overwhelming scientific evidence .  With the lurch to  extremism on the right by the Murdoch media, our other mainstream media need to reconsider whether ‘balance’ is appropriate given the relentless attack on truth by the Murdoch media.

The lack of trust in our media and particularly the Murdoch media, is also eroding our trust in democracy and our public processes. The only possible counter to the abuse of power by the Murdoch media is political intervention. Not surprisingly the Murdoch media see this threat and spend a great deal of its time and energy rubbishing politicians and political life.  Our politicians have a lot to answer for, but the Murdoch media has made a substantial contribution to the lack of trust in politicians in the community.

Roy Morgan polling attributes an unusually contention political environment to a ‘very polarising media environment’.  In this situation it is not surprising that the ANU’s Australian Election Study found that satisfaction with our democracy is at its lowest ebb since the Whitlam dismissal of 1975.  That lack of trust back in 1975 is not surprising as Murdoch was a major player in the dismissal. I was there and saw it at first hand. That lack of trust from 1975 was not just due to Murdoch.  We found that we could not trust a governor general and high court judges.

Rupert Murdoch had such a promising beginning. But he has done more to undermine our democracy than any other person in my life time.  He is at it again in the current election,

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John Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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