The New York Times ‘How Rupert Murdoch’s empire of influence remade the world’.

Apr 5, 2019

On Wednesday 3 April 2019, The New York Times published a 20,000 word article about the influence o the Murdoch family, (Rupert, James and Lachlan) and the developing divisions within it. See link below to the New York Times article.

See below, extracts from this New York Times article concerning recent activities of News Corp in Australia.

‘Trump’s Aussie mates’

Even as James was pursuing his bid to take full control of Sky in Britain, the company’s Australian division — Lachlan’s domain — was closing a much smaller but still significant deal for the family to take full control of a different Sky subsidiary: Sky News Australia, which it jointly owned with two Australian media companies. It was the country’s only 24-hour cable news channel and an unexploited opportunity for influence on another continent.

The Murdochs’ newspaper holdings accounted for some 60 percent of the Australian print market, and included the country’s sole national general-interest paper, The Australian. As the face of this continental newspaper empire, Lachlan wielded an enormous amount of political power in the country. Over the previous decade, Murdoch papers helped push out two different prime ministers, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. When Gillard’s treasurer, Wayne Swan, was worried that the Murdoch attacks were hurting the national economy, he sought out Lachlan to make an appeal, Swan told us. Lachlan built alliances, too, drawing close to Tony Abbott, a member of Parliament whose right-wing politics and confrontational style had earned him frequent comparisons to Newt Gingrich. When Abbott served as prime minister, from 2013 to 2015, he would discuss legislation with the Murdochs’ editors — and occasionally the Murdochs themselves — before introducing it, the former editor of The Australian, Chris Mitchell, wrote in his memoir.

Now Murdoch’s Australian empire was expanding into cable news. The country’s dominant broadcaster was the Australian Broadcast Corporation, a publicly financed institution modeled after the BBC. Its reporting was similarly straight and sober. Sky News Australia — which also airs in New Zealand — was, notionally, a competitor, but its audience was small, even by Australian standards. Still, the network offered Lachlan his own opportunity for redemption: After his split with his father, he presided over the implosion of the Australian TV network Ten. His failed efforts to save it included giving a reality-TV dance show to his wife and signing off on a weekly show for a controversial right-wing firebrand, Andrew Bolt. A columnist at the Murdoch-owned Herald Sun, Bolt had impressed Lachlan years earlier at a company retreat in Pebble Beach, Calif., when he aggressively questioned Al Gore after Gore presented his slide show on climate change. When Bolt was awarded his show on Ten, he was facing charges for violating the country’s Racial Discrimination Act by writing that light-skinned Aborigines were claiming indigenous status for personal gain. (Bolt was found guilty, and the publisher was forced to print a lengthy statement acknowledging the offense.)

With the acquisition of Sky News Australia, Lachlan would have a second chance. The Murdochs won full control of the network in December 2016, while James’s Sky deal in Britain was still pending. Sky News Australia’s programming had historically been politically balanced. But as the Murdochs’ takeover approached, the network began increasing the amount of right-wing commentary it broadcast during prime time.

Not long before the deal closed, Lachlan’s old Ten host Andrew Bolt was brought in to do a nightly political program. Immediately after the purchase, Sky signed up as a host and commentator Caroline Marcus, a columnist for The Daily Telegraph of Sydney who had supported a ban on burkinis in France and lamented what she described as reverse discrimination against whites in cultural debates. Ross Cameron — a former member of the Australian Parliament prone to anti-gay slurs who later spoke at an event hosted by a far-right organization that describes itself as Australia’s leading anti-Islamic group — co-hosted a program called “The Outsiders.” He and his fellow hosts described themselves as“Trump’s Aussie mates” and half-joked that their show would provide “absolutely no balance whatsoever.” After one host, Mark Latham, was fired for making a series of offensive comments, including a homophobic remark about a high school student who participated in a video for International Women’s Day, he ran successfully for state office as a member of One Nation, the country’s far-right anti-immigrant party. Soon after Lachlan took over, an old political ally, Tony Abbott’s former chief of staff, Peta Credlin, became a prime-time host on Sky. Still closely allied with Abbott, she used her platform to argue that Australia should slow down its efforts to combat climate change, take a stricter line on immigration and resist the liberal drift of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a bitter Abbott rival.

Known as Sky After Dark, the opinion-heavy, almost-uniformly right-wing lineup was an entirely new phenomenon in Australian TV. Its nighttime ratings spiked as the network quickly became required viewing for the country’s political class.

See also

Thousands of miles away, another consequence of the global ethnonationalist fervor that the Murdoch empire had amplified and mainstreamed was playing out in New Zealand, where an Australian white nationalist, Brenton Tarrant, stood accused of killing 50 worshipers at two Christchurch mosques on March 14. There was no direct connection between Tarrant and Sky Australia, but critics of the network quickly drew attention to its consistently anti-Muslim rhetoric. In an online comment, unearthed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Tarrant had described Trump’s election as “one of the most important events in modern history.” He was also a fan of the white nationalist Blair Cottrell, whose appearance on Sky Australia over the summer caused American Express to pull its ads from the network. Following the massacre, a young Muslim employee of Sky News in Australia quit in protest. “Over the past few years, I was playing a role — no matter how small — in a network whose tone I knew would help legitimize radical views present in the fringes of our society,” she wrote in a post on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s website.

See also link to P & I article JOHN MENADUE. News Corp – a rogue organisation.


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