TRUE OPINION: News Corp – Defenders of Democracy

TRUE OPINION: The Daily Telegraph has positioned itself on the vanguard of democracy, writes Joanna Psaros.

Earlier this month, Daily Telegraph editor Ben English published an op-ed reflecting on being named one of 121 Australians blacklisted from entering Russia. Ita Buttrose, Gina Rinehart, Stan Grant, and in English’s words, “leftist former Auntie reporter” Monica Attard among his unlikely associates, the editor poked fun at the absurdity of the Kremlin’s haphazard selection of prominent Australians.  

And good on him for having a sense of humour about what could be a genuinely scary situation. (Let’s not forget Vladimir Putin has an unfortunate habit of killing journalists.) But as the column continues, Ben English goes on to invoke a rousing defence of democracy entirely straight-faced. And that’s the biggest joke of all.

“We need to take any threats to our precious gift [democratic freedom] with deadly seriousness,” he writes, seriously.

“The fact we can laugh this off and genuinely feel little if no fear about making the list underscores how fortunate we are to live in relative freedom.”

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He’s not wrong.

So why then is Ben heading up a local subsidiary of News Corp? A global misinformation machine former PM Malcolm Turnbull called “a cancer on democracy”?

Now I’m not saying News Corp and its many platforms are contributors to the erosion of democratic institutions and ideals from Washington to Canberra. (Let’s face it, I probably don’t need to.)

I’m just saying that in little over a decade, twenty-four Daily Telegraph articles have been the subject of complaints upheld or upheld in part by the Australian Press Council, who called them “factually incorrect, unbalanced, and misleading.” That an Essential Research poll found that the Telegraph was Australia’s least-trusted major newspaper.

I’m just saying that over the past decade the paper published dozens upon dozens of negative articles about the environmentalist and socially progressive Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore, including one op-ed titled “It’s Time That We Had Less of Moore.” And I’m not having a go at the Daily Tele here because I believe Moore is a saint above criticism. A recent True Crime News Weekly investigation shows she may have legitimate questions to answer. But not the Tele’s.

And finally, that Fox, another of News Corp’s iterations, almost singlehandedly gave Donald Trump the public platform and dubious credibility he needed to become President of the USA – a presidency that was both enabled by and enabling of Russian interference in global democratic processes. Just think, Putin would probably have welcomed Ben English with open arms had he any clue who English was.

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Of course, I kid. But the fact is, the Tele’s hypocrisy on this matter is more than just ironic. We need only read between faintly jingoistic lines like “Democracies have only survived with bloodshed and sacrifice,” and “[We have to] shed any complacency about the rapidly growing threats in our region”. And it’s clear that the paper is once again leveraging the situation in the Ukraine to further its perpetual aim of discrediting detractors and socio-political “enemies.” Or we could just read the paper’s 24 February editorial which vomits them right out.

In an editorial titled “Weak and Divided Western Powers Make Easy Target For Russia,” the Daily Telegraph posits the invasion headed by the “smart as he is ruthless” Putin essentially happened because we’ve all gone soft, Joe Biden is a big ol’ dope, and political correctness has gone mad. I’m barely paraphrasing – the column emphatically calls out “soft leaders,” with “soft support,” “incapable of projecting power abroad.”

You know who else is obsessed with strength and power? Putin.

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Impressively, the piece somehow manages to invoke the stalwart Captain Cook culture wars, asking “How … can we take a stand against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine when according to our own self-hating citizens we are all living on stolen land?”

That’s right – cancel the Uluru Statement of the Heart – for Ukraine!

The Daily Telegraph ends with a quote from one of Western civilisation’s greatest philosophers – Katy Perry. “If you don’t stand for something, [Murdoch’s bank balance] you’ll fall for anything.”

It’s only fitting then that I leave you with a quote from an even greater philosopher, Ms Britney Spears:

Daily Telegraph, “Don’t you know that you’re toxic?”

About Joanna Psaros 15 Articles
Joanna Psaros is a Sydney-based freelance writer with a background in law. She has a master’s degree in law and international development and has written articles on everything from politics to pop culture for publications including Independent Australia, Green Left, and her own feminist blog Girls’ Locker Room Talk.

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