JOHN MENADUE. White man’s media

Dec 3, 2016

The Australian media behave as if Australia is a large island parked off London or New York. Our media is remarkably derivative as a result of media systems laid down over a century ago. It is very unresponsive to the needs of Australia in the 21st Century in relations with our own region. Our media remains North-Atlantic centric.

 Fanning fear of China 

Brian Toohey in his review of James Curran’s book ‘Fighting with America’ spoke of the way that the ABC 7.30 Program fanned fear of China. He said

“The ABC’s 7.30 program last week gave an example of what is called ‘quest for global dominance – a donation of $10,000 to Launceston’s Scotch Oakburn College to teach Chinese culture. The principal said this gave China no influence over what’s taught. Nevertheless the $10,000 may be part of China’s attempt to exercise ‘soft power’ – something many countries do. But 7.30 didn’t support its assertion – repeated by host Leigh Sales – that China seeks ‘global dominance’!”

Paul Kelly in The Australian and ‘collective amnesia’. 

In his new book, ‘Fighting with America, James Curran examines the 65 years of ANZUS. The promo for the book says “given the strategic changes that have occurred in Asia, Curran argues that saying ‘no’ to the US may become more necessary.” The book gives numerous examples of how Australian governments have disagreed with US administration. But in his review , Paul Kelly mentions none of these disagreements. In his book, Curran warns about our “collective amnesia” about past disagreements with the US. Paul Kelly’s review suggests that he is very much part of our collective amnesia. 

Four Corners – Afghanistan through British eyes. 

Early in November I watched the Four Corners ‘documentary’ on the journey of Zubair Massoud from Kabul to Kunduz . Zubair Massoud is the obviously cosseted but publicity seeking nephew of the legendry and murdered ‘Lion of Afghanistan’ Ahmad Shaw Massouf who led the resistance to the Russians and then the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Nephew Zubair Massoud clearly has a strong family legacy. Well away from his dangerous homeland he had just graduated from the National Defence Academy of India.

We were told in the Four Corners promo that we would witness ‘a heart stopping journey on one of the most dangerous roads in the world through the heart of Taliban territory’

On this well filmed journey from Kabul to Kunduz narrated by Jamie Doran, we had a lot of travelogue and public relations, but not much real Taliban threat along the way.. There were some rifle shots from the hills, a black ISIS flag in the distance and some practice target shooting by Zubair Massoud.

In this area there are no obvious ‘frontlines’ and people cross from one warring side to another. The usual way to do this is to pay off the Taliban, often through the provincial government.

Nothing is what it seems and it looked too good to be true that Zubair Massoud and his British TV front man Doran got through without a scratch but a lot of publicity.

After the Afghan flag was placed in the town square in Kunduz, the key actors Zubair and Doran left Kunduz a military plane.

The Taliban threat was a useful back drop for a PR exercise.. The whole thing was not really credible. The white men involved did not seem to know much about Afghanistan. I think we were conned.

Do our media know the difference between the South China Sea and the Sibutu Channel.

Ignorant of our own geography and dependent upon news feeds from the US , our media has ignored the threats to our trade through the Sibutu Channel which is east of Borneo and west of the Philippines(Sulu Archipelago). The Channel is 29 km wide and a real choke-point. It is used by shipping in transit between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea. This Channel allows transit of most of our trade to North Asia. It is in Filipino waters.. Does our media know this?

In this blog, ,former Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, Mack Williams ‘The real shipping choke point for Australia –the Sibutu Channel’ commented ‘Neither the Australian Government nor the Australian media have informed us about the critical nature of the Sibutu Channel.’

On 21 October 2016, The Korea Herald reported from Manila that “Suspected Islamist militarists kidnapped the captain and a Filipino crew member on a South Korean cargo ship in the Southern Philippines. … The ship, a heavy load carrier called Dong Bank Giant was en route to South Korea from Australia when it was attacked.” Another report on the same day from Asia Pacific News said “The attack occurred just off the southern entry of the Sibutu Passage.

It seems remarkable that the ship that was attacked and carrying Australian iron ore has not been mentioned in the Australian media.. Following the US media, we keep focused on Chinese activities in the South China Sea when the greater potential threat to our trade is in the Sibutu Channel.

China and the Australian Finance Review

As a conservative financial journal the AFR seems remarkably close to the Communist Party of China.

The AFR runs regular four or eight page spreads from the China Daily, the biggest newspaper group in China and the official paper of the Chinese Communist Party. The AFR claimed in its spread of November 18, 2016, that “this supplement, prepared by China Daily, People’s Republic of China did not involve the news or editorial departments of the Australian Financial Review”. Nowhere does it say in the eight-page spread that this was an advertisement. Surely it is unusual for a paper like the AFR to be running a supplement from the official organ of the Chinese Communist Party.

During the recent controversy over the ‘independence’ of the Australian China Relations Institute at UTS, the Op Ed sections of the AFR gave free publicity to dubious stories being peddled by ACRI about the China Australia Free Trade Agreement .

The AFR conducts a relentless campaign against Australian trade unions but is content to take advertising revenue from the Communist Party of China!

I propose to post periodically articles on  ‘White Man’s Media’.  I would be interested to receive short pieces from readers on the omissions, mistakes and bias of our media, particularly its absence of interest or expertise in our own region. 

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