Hurrah for double standards in corporate world

Jan 22, 2021

Sycophancy from Joe Hockey; double standards in the corporate world; one-sided coverage of the plan to force Google and Facebook to pay for news content; quarantine confusion, again… Mainstream media serves up the usual.

Tamed Estate

Former Liberal Treasurer Joe Hockey turned US ambassador turned US lobbyist was quick out of the blocks to congratulate new President Joe Biden only weeks after insisting electoral fraud had taken place in the 2020 US elections.

There’s plenty of good reason to have litigation,” he said, a  statement that was an effective endorsement of Trump’s attack on democracy.

But with his US-based lobbying work, he no doubt wants to keep his bread buttered.

Then there was the continued one-sided coverage by News Corp and Nine Entertainment of the proposed news bargaining code.

Sir Tim Berners Lee, inventor of the internet, who gave away his intellectual property so we all would benefit, lodged a Senate inquiry submission arguing that the new laws would mean the end of the internet as we know it and would set a dangerous precedent.

It was reported by The Guardian, but beyond that the only coverage seemed to be from media heavyweights The Hindu, Business Insider and NDTV. Elsewhere? Crickets.

We often touch on the politicisation of the media, but equally – if not more – insidious is the corporate influence. To much fanfare from the press Mark McInnes announced he will be stepping down as CEO of Premier Investments:

Buried deep (or, for the most part, not mentioned) was the criticism that Premier Investments had accepted millions in taxpayer handouts, even as the company posted record profits in the second half of the year.

Also buried, if mentioned, was the sexual harassment of Kristy Fraser-Kirk by McInnes 10 years ago. The David Jones publicist has spoken of the “devastating” impact of the harassment. Mr McInnes resigned from David Jones over the allegations, the case was settled out of court, with McInnes maintaining most of the allegations were untrue. He certainly went on to bigger and better things.

Border controls

The Financial Review made my job easy this week. First there was the (once again) conflation of responsibilities, apparently criticising the Victorian government for flying in 1200 tennis players, officials and entourages. This missed the fact that Tennis Australia is footing the bill for the entire exercise, while the responsibility for getting home stranded Australians lies with the federal government, not Victoria.

Further criticism of border closures again allowed the Feds off the hook for having any responsibility for quarantine, even though it is a commonwealth responsibility (Hospital Pass: how Scott Morrison foisted quarantine responsibility on the states – Michael West), lumping it all back on state premiers:

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Double standards?

Soft treatment seemed to be the name of the game or egg beaters hard at work when Karen Maley and the Financial Review stepped in to defend ASIC chair James Shipton, who had stood aside from his role at the corporate regulator after it was revealed taxpayers had coughed up more than $118,000 to pay KPMG for Shipton’s tax advice. ASIC had, in fact, only agreed to pay KPMG $8,000 as part of his recruitment package.

Apparently it even passed the pub test:

Yet, as The Klaxon reports, “the Federal Government is refusing to take the key step in getting to the bottom of the scandal by refusing to actually ‘ask’ the Remuneration Tribunal – the relevant federal body – whether the payments to Shipton were legal.”

Contrast this with the calls for Christine Holgate to quit after giving out $20,000 in watches as a bonus – a bonus approved by the board, following a highly profitable year.

The government is refusing to release the report it commissioned into the affair, with media reports noting that Holgate was cleared of any wrongdoing, with a specific finding she had not breached any rule, policy, procedure or governance requirement – a conclusion not disputed by Communication Minister Paul Fletcher’s office.

The next ripper was an Op-ed in the Financial Review from Sinclair Davidson calling for the privatisation of the ABC.

Omitted was his position as an adjunct fellow the Institute of Public Affairs, the right-wing think tank, one of its key positions being that the ABC should be privatised.

In fact, Davidson himself co-wrote the book End Public Broadcasting: Why we should privatise the ABC and how to do it.

While we’re on the topic of the IPA, it’s interesting to note that of the seven self-styled “research fellows” employed, none has a PhD, the requirement at, well, almost any other institution for being called a research fellow. Including “adjunct” and “senior” fellows brings the ratio of those with a PhD up to a massive 3/15.

But that didn’t stop The Australian writing entire editorials based on two-page briefs of the IPA’s ‘research’.

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In other news….

It seems the Independent. Always newspapers of Nine Entertainment (Fairfax) have hired Liberal Party PR spruiker Parnell Palme McGuiness as a regular columnist, with Opinion articles by her published on January 16, 10, 2; December 27, 19, 13, 5; November 29, 21 and 15.

The Australian Financial Review reckoned ordinary workers won’t mind getting no pay increases for the forseeable future (friendly reminder – Australian billionaires have seen their wealth increase by 50% during 2020).

And News.com.au managed to apportion blame for the US Capitol riot to the Democratic speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi…

But there was some sunshine in the otherwise gloom of the mainstream media. We were treated to an article critical of the federal government from The Australian’s Janet Albrechtsen.

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