May 16, 2005

The Battle For Australia's Soul

I had a bad dream last night. I think it was a flashback to a job interview I had at News Ltd about 20 years ago, when I briefly entertained the idea of becoming a journalist (I gave it up after a whisky-sodden Reuters editor told me I was too good a writer for the job).

A spotty-faced Janet Albrechtsen, wearing cheap lipstick and black lingerie, was doing a lesbian-style pole dance with Pauline Hanson and Amanda Vanstone in the middle of the News Ltd foyer in Surrey Hills, while over the office speakers Rupert Murdoch's disembodied and soul-less CEO voice was whispering repeatedly "Welcome to the Dark Side... Welcome to the Dark Side.. Welcome to the Dark Side.."

Next thing you know I am in the interview room. It's pitch dark and my arms are shackled to the wooden chair. A faceless News Ltd editor is leaning over me and shining a bright light in my face:

"The invasion of Iraq was legal, fair and justified, wasn't it?" he hisses.

"No!" I cry.

"9/11 changed everything. We must all support the War On Terror. Those who are not with us are with the terrorists."

"No! No!"

"Those prisoners in Gitmo deserved what they got. Your government knows what's best for you. We've gotta support the Bush Doctrine agenda. Nothing you do or say is going to change it anyway. Two plus two is five... Guards! Take him away to Uzbequistan!!!"

I woke up in a cold sweat. Out in the garden, a cat in heat was making wierd gurgling noises...

It was 5:00 am. I got up, made myself a coffee and logged on to my PC to check out the latest happenings in the raging online controversy about Arthur Chrenkoff's bogus blog.

Under pressure, Tim Dunlop at Road To Surfdom had decided to edit my comments and removed contact details for Chrenkoff's employer, Liberal Senator Brett Mason:
As should be pretty clear, I don't think AC should be sacked... I do, however, think his employment is relevant given the political nature of what he does. Media Watch has already noted who he works for, and the info recorded in ghandi's comment is easily and publicly available.

People can call for AC's sacking, though, again, it's not a position I support. On balance, though, I think there is maybe a case to remove the contact details, so that's what I've done.
What a lame, half-ass response, Tim.

But ain't that just the way it always goes with these warbloggers? Liberals and middle-of-the-road observers, overwhelmed with a stream of hysterical invective and sensationalized lies, far too often decide they had better give the warbloggers/neocons/neonazis the benefit of the doubt. So instead of getting headlines screaming BUSH LIED! we get reports that Saddam MAY have WMDs still hidden somewhere, or MAY have been planning to get them someday, or MAY have... blah blah blah.

For example, Tim posts a link to some Chrenkoff propaganda eye candy published in the New York Times. Now why is the NYT publishing this crap? Because they have got hundreds of readers and shareholders and politicians telling them that they are way too biased against Bush & Co and they had better do something to maintain the "balance" if they don't want to expose themself to further criticism and - inevitably - some unspecified form of retribution from Bush's powerful friends.

This is what it must have been like in pre-war Germany when anyone dared voice criticism of the Fuhrer's plans for racial purification and global domination. It's a Washington sickness that has spead across the globe. And thanks to Rupert Murdoch, Australia is in the thick of it.

You want an example of over-the-top hysteria? The Murchoch-owned The Australian editors decided this Chrenkoff affair is so very important that they dedicated a weekend editorial to the issue. Here it is in full:
VIEWERS of ABC television's Media Watch program last week must have felt that The Australian's columnist Janet Albrechtsen had done something really wrong. For the "soft left" journalism of Media Watch, her real crime was to contest the media focus on the bad news out of Iraq. But, rather than substance, Media Watch searched for a chink to smear Albrechtsen. It came in an Albrechtsen quote: "When something positive does happen it either gets filtered through the anti-war eyes of the media or is all but ignored. And that's what the terrorists are counting on. They must detest The Wall Street Journal. Each fortnight the paper's website (www.wsj.com) includes a round-up of good news from Iraq ..." Gotcha, suggested Media Watch's Liz Jackson. Media Watch couldn't find the good news round-up on wsj.com. That was until it linked to a "spin-off site", a "sister site" or a "Dow Jones" website OpinionJournal.com. There, the round-up of Iraq good news was the work of a Brisbane blogger, not a WSJ journalist. His blog was not edited, nor paid for. Albrechtsen had falsely given it the credibility of The WSJ.

Not. The Opinion Journal editor James Taranto points out that Opinion Journal is in fact a WSJ website. It's the website of the paper's highly influential editorial page. Both he and its assistant editor work for the WSJ print edition as well. They pay the Iraq good news contributor a modest fee and edit his work. Taranto would have told Media Watch this if they'd have rung. Albrechtsen was correct to say The WSJ's website carries the Iraq good news round-up. Her "honest, and very small error" was to refer to the wrong WSJ website. "Since the goal was to make another journalist's honest mistake look like a deliberate misrepresentation, one cannot credit Media Watch with acting in good faith," Taranto says. The Australian looks forward to Media Watch's correction on Monday night.
Pressure, pressure... There will be a lot of eyes on Media Watch tonight. Let's hope they have the balls (or whatever the female equivalent is) to stand up for The Truth. That's what they are being paid for, right?

And here's the thing. The people at Media Watch know exactly what Janet Albrechtsen's agenda is, as do we all. And we all know what Arthur Chrenkoff is doing with his Good News series. Of course it is pure propaganda. Look, for example: here's some guy in Toledo quoting Chrenkoff as an expert to make his own pro-war spiel sound more professional:
"The Sunni involvement in the new government … is a nightmare scenario for (the insurgents) - it means the loss of their only constituency," said the Australian web logger Arthur Chrenkoff, on whose blog I found the al Sharq al Awsat story.
Sickeningly incestuous crap, isn't it? And remember, Arthur not only does not get paid (much), he also does not do commentary (much).

The big question, really, is not whether these people are biased but why? What does Chrenkoff get out of supporting the Bush lie machine? What does Albrechtsen get? What does Rupert Murdoch get?

Well, Murdoch gets relaxed media ownership laws (for starters). Albrechtsen gets by-lines, sicko celebrity status and kudos from the well-attached. And Chrenkoff is on a nice little earner, not to mention comfortably employed by a Liberal Senator who swore on oath that PM John Howard is NOT a "Lying Rodent" (who's got yer ass, eh, Johnny?).

Personally, I am still waiting for the Australian's apologies for helping John Howard mislead the public about Children Overboard, the invasion of Iraq and assorted and associated lies. That's the real scandal.

As TVnewslies dares to ask the editors of the NY Times:
On the front page of every issue of your publication you proclaim that we will find "All the News That's Fit to Print." Unfortunately you have not lived up to that proclamation for quite some time...
UPDATE: Well done, MediaWatch, for not backing down on this. Tim Dunlop picks up the threads of a dying story, complaining all the while that journos don't take bloggers seriously enough. Well, no wonder. Meanwhile, taxpayer-funded Arthur Chrenkoff would rather talk about Star Wars.

2 comments:

formerteacher said...

I was curious to see what had happened to my post. I see that you have deleted all your comments. Unhappy with them?

gandhi said...

formerteacher,

I haven't deleted any comments (and if I had, it would show up as "comment deleted by author" as per the blogspot model).

Please feel free to try, try again.

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