Dismantle the lie-making machine

February 20, 2020
Lie-in on January 31 outside News Corp's offices in Sydney. Photo: Bec Lake

What is the most positive action Australians could take to make the nation better? Dismantle Rupert Murdoch’s stranglehold on the media.

News Corp dominates newspaper outlets in all state capitals and owns the sole national daily and more than 100 suburban newspapers. Then there’s Foxtel, Sky News and more.

This sort of concentration is an affront to fundamental democratic principles. Nobody should have that much power over information, particularly as News Corp systematically misinforms and promotes hatred.

News Corp’s target audience are folks who trust its media personalities who, in turn, are masters at manipulation: good becomes evil; truth becomes a lie; and right becomes wrong.

Murdoch’s business model is based on corrupting democracy for corporate benefit. For decades, Murdoch has been bullying governments, trading his propaganda services in exchange for government favours to expand his empire.

After stepping away from government, former PM Kevin Rudd described Murdoch as the “greatest cancer on Australian democracy”.

News Corp has been at the forefront in undermining principles of the Enlightenment — a free and diverse media, rational debate and respect for science. On many critical issues News Corp has consistently proved to be the enemy of truth.

For instance, Murdoch recently proclaimed that “News Corp has no climate change deniers”. This is a lie. News Corp is the planet’s leading arsonist of truth.

Murdoch claims he does not direct his editors. So how did all 175 metropolitan newspapers across the globe shared his view in 2003 that invading Iraq was a good idea — despite widespread opposition?

Promoting the invasion of Iraq and Murdoch’s climate denialism have a common thread: fossil fuels.

Murdoch and News Corp executives need to be dragged into Senate committees and interrogated under oath about their “arrangements” with the fossil fuel barons. That is how democracy should function.

Murdoch’s influence in the US is large. Fox News is an Orwellian scam that manipulates millions of US citizens into voting against their own interests. For decades, Fox has systematically and deliberately sought to divide US citizens and promote right-wing reactionary politics. US President Donald Trump never would have emerged without Fox preparing the way by promoting racism, paranoia, irrationality and hatred.

As News Corp was born here, we have a duty to expose and dismantle it.

A global movement is now calling for a boycott of all News Corp products. In Australia, we are pushing for a royal commission into the ownership and operation of the media. We want a free and diverse media and we need a coordinated campaign of protests aimed at News Corp.

Some argue we should register our concern through the electoral cycle. But News Corp has such entrenched power that conventional paths are ineffectual. We need peaceful mass civil disobedience along the lines of the great achievements of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi and Black civil rights activist Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

I am not arguing to limit the rights of Murdoch, or anybody else, to publish. But News Corp must be pressured to disclose who is funding its lies and how much they are paying. Surely its readers have a right to know?

Centuries ago, Irish philosopher Edmund Burke warned us: “All it takes for evil to succeed is for enough good men and women to do nothing.” We need to dismantle Murdoch’s empire of lies, not just for ourselves, but for the entire planet.

[Brad Pedersen initiated a “lie-in” protest outside Murdoch News Corp’s offices in Sydney in January and is organising a March on Murdoch on March 13]

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