Owning The Press–and Democracy

Aug 9, 2012
Essential Research

Jennifer Hewett, may I introduce to you a man by the name of A.J. Liebling. While Hewett may live in the world of the Fantasy Review, Liebling lived in the real world of media, where power and democracy often clashed.

Liebling, a long-time American journalist, observed quite correctly that, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

Which doesn’t seem to occur to Hewett, or she simply wants to conveniently smudge the truth. Today, she’s acting as the willing mouthpiece for The Empty Suit, leader of the Coalition, who is bent out of shape by the government’s inclination to make some modest attempts to preserve a modicum of freedom of speech. Hewett, on behalf of The Empty Suit, attacks Wayne Swan:

Add to that Abbott’s attack on government bullying for claiming Gina Rinehart is a “danger to democracy’’ over her refusal to endorse Fairfax Media’s existing editorial charter. Case closed apparently. It’s surely in the public interest to have greater controls on media “bias’’, on institutionalising the ability to demand corrections and on who gets to own media outlets to pursue their own agendas. Hear, hear, Wayne. [emphasis added]

Wait just a minute. Who is the burden on exactly? Wayne Swan and the government? Or Gina Rinehart? Recall, as we discussed a number of times, even Malcom Turnbull was on the side of the position that Rinehart had to sign the editorial independence charter:

Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull also said the board’s reluctance to give Mrs Rinehart board seats was understandable ”without a commitment to supporting editorial independence . . . If Fairfax, for example, were seen to be a mouthpiece of Gina Rinehart and a ‘spokes vehicle’ for the mining industry that would undermine its business model dramatically.”

Rinehart cannot even agree to a basic requirement to adhere to a code that has been broadly accepted, the questions should be aimed at her motivations, not Wayne Swan’s motivations. But, in the world of the Fantasy Review, reality plays a very small role.


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