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The Danger Of Rising Print Media Monopoly In Australia

By Ghali Hassan

11 July, 2007

Nowhere in the world, has one print media played such a dominant role in people’s lives than the Murdoch Press in Australia. Supported by the Government’s policies of serving big business and hunger for power, Australia’s print media has become the most monopolistic in the ‘Western World’. Print media monopoly constitutes great danger to free thought and democracy, a frightening reminder of fascist dictatorships in Europe.

In 1922, Walter Lippmann, a journalist and adviser to former U.S. president Woodrow Wilson, proposed that “friends of democracy” or the elites ? big business, the ‘Liberal’ and the “experts” ? refine and improve what he called, the “manufacture of consent”, a process of propaganda and ideological indoctrination, in order to control and manipulate the “herd of citizens” or the “bewildered herd” through the careful management of the news. In Public Opinion [1], Lippmann wrote: “In order to conduct propaganda there must be some barrier between the public and the event. Access to the real environment must be limited, before anyone can create a pseudo-environment that he thinks wise or desirable”. In other words, the public must be deceived and misinformed in order to provide consent for government policies. Political leaders, particularly those who pretend to breach Western democracy? have used Lippmann’s ideas skilfully to manage the news and “prevent independent access to events”. Mussolini and Hitler accredited their popularity and rise to power to the manipulation of public opinion by pliant and monopolistic press.

In his fascinating article Fascism Then, Fascism Now [2], Canadian lawyer Paul Bigioni wrote that: “Before the rise of fascism, Germany and Italy were, on paper, liberal democracies” with limited press freedom. In Germany, in addition to the persecution of minorities, “Hitler also destroyed organized labour by making strikes illegal. Notwithstanding the socialist terms in which he appealed to the masses, Hitler's labour policy was the dream come true of the industrial cartels that supported him. Nazi’s law gave total control over wages and working conditions to the employer”. The policies of “Neo-liberalism is thus a fertile soil for fascism to grow again into an outright threat to our democracy”, added Bigioni

While Australia is not Germany under Hitler yet, the Howard’s’ (Liberal) Government policies are not different from those of the German National Socialism Government. What happens in Australia today is the “exaltation” of big corporation at the expense of the Australian citizen and democracy.

Howard’s hatred for democracy and hunger for power have eroded Australian democracy and allows him to rule like an elected dictator. He claims to have a “mandate” to impose his neo-liberal policies on Australians. Like many extremist politicians, Howard uses popular language and scare tactic demagoguery by combining fear and racism (against Muslim and Indigenous Australians) to manipulate and lure Australian voters to his side, relying on the Murdoch Press to spread his message.

The Howard’s Government assaults on civil liberties and freedom, persecuting the Muslim community, forbidding organised labour by making strike illegal, outlawing people’s right to protest, disbanding student unions, banning books, censoring the Arts, silencing dissents, intimidating critics, selling public assets and curtailing parliamentary scrutiny are just some of the repressive policies characterise a police state. Howard’s neo-liberal and repressive policies are endorsed and defended in the Murdoch Press, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Indeed, they are Murdoch’s own ideological substitutes; a gift to John Howard.

In November 2005, Murdoch told reporters in the U.S.: “My business ventures in media are not as important to me as spreading my personal political beliefs” in Neo-liberalism. With News Corp in control of Australian press and an array of media outlets in England and the U.S., Murdoch is a global propagandist, a mouthpiece for imperialist propaganda. His media cartel is the propaganda arm for the U.S. Military-Industrial Complex.

Australian politicians, of whatever political stripe, have made it clear that they favoured big business, like Murdoch’s News Corp. They are bent on serving Murdoch’s interests because Murdoch holds the key to the manipulation of public opinion. Murdoch political power is as large as his economic power and politicians are very careful no to ignore his influence. Just after he was “elected” leader of the Opposition Labor Party, Kevin Rudd had to consult with Australia’s media “Mogul” before he started the current election campaign ritual. On 20 April 2007, Mr Rudd paid a visit to Rupert Murdoch in New York to get his blessing.

In Australia, the Murdoch Press controls most of the daily newspapers, and operates almost unchallenged. In addition to The Australian newspaper, Murdoch owns the morning newspaper (tabloid) in every state except Western Australia. In Western Australia ? the cesspool of Australian racism and backwardness ?, the far right and the nation’s leading purveyor of Islamophobia and racist drivel, The West Australian tabloid (owns by Kerry Stokes) complements The Australian there.

The Australian is Australia’s only national newspaper, printed simultaneously in all States. It is the morning bible of the educated elites in government’, business, the “experts” and the universities. “Its average reader being highly educated, in a high socio-economic grouping, interested in arts, culture, finance and industry as well as local and international politics”. Moreover, The Australian claims to be the nation’s “foremost agenda-setting newspaper”.

Only in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, Murdoch has a slightly decreased (non-content) business monopoly. The neo-liberal newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Canberra Times and The Age are just other mainstream newspapers. While occasionally they criticise the Howard’s Government ? as part of their way to deceive the public of their “impartiality” ?, they are spreading pro-Western and anti-Muslims propaganda.

With a complete monopoly on the daily news in Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, the Murdoch Press has the largest (newspaper) circulation and readership in Australia. No matter where in Australia, Australians are raised on the same packaged diet of false nationalism, racism, ignorance and warmongering propaganda sold as real news.

Despite (nearly) total monopoly on Australia’s print media and having of one of the largest media cartels in the world; Murdoch still wants more “shares” of Australia’s media. In 2004, Murdoch urged the Howard’s Government to change the media law in Australia. He told Sydney 2GB radio that: “The ideas of [the media] being too concentrated” were gone.

Murdoch’s large army of racist journalists and columnists, and bigoted thugs is specialising in distorting of facts and reality to the point of completely misrepresenting the situation and the people they pretend to write about. The Murdoch’s propaganda is simply a pre-cooked pack of lies, which makes people helpless, and unable to think for themselves. The news managed in such a way that before it is considered fit to print; it has to pass through several “filters” to be cleansed from truth. The final product allows the government to get its message across to the public (who accept it blindly) and obtains consent for its policies. The language of the Murdoch Press is so corrupted people have lost faith in truth and honesty, and lack the ability to distinguish between falsehood and reality.

If Americans are “brain-washed”, Australians are brain-bleached. With highly managed and censored radio and TV news bulletins, and Internet service lagging behind ?Australia ranked 42nd in the world?, most Australians have little choice and lack access to independent news. They are skilfully indoctrinated, manipulated and reduced to spectators, unable to influence government’s decisions. In fact, Australians are the most authority’s obedient people on the planet. They will accept (without questioning) anything the government imposes upon them. They are politically disengaged.

It is worth noting that Australians showed no concern elected and re-elected the same extremist Government despite its repressive policies and its involvement in the war crimes against the Iraqi people. The irony is that Australians claim to oppose their government’s involvement in the slaughter of Iraqi civilians.

From the illegal invasion and Occupation of Iraq and Israel’s terror against the Palestinian people to the anti-Arabs/anti-Muslims flame of hatred, the Murdoch Press plays a very misleading and dangerous role, manipulating the public and diverting public attention from reality and important issues. In short, the Murdoch Press is devoid of truth and constitutes a danger to free thought and democracy. It is a one-way street pro-Zionist propaganda.

An established cliché of the Murdoch Press is the use of Islamophobia and Arabophobia to promote a fascist ideological agenda. Recently, Andrew Sullivan (The Australian, June 18, 2007), one of Murdoch’s army of racist journalists based in London wrote: “What you see in Gaza, moreover, is what you see anywhere in the Arab world where order is not imposed by overwhelming force or a police state or a monarchy. You see total anarchy and barbarism. You see Iraq”. What is systematically omitted from the Murdoch Press coverage, are the U.S.-Israel sponsored violence, Israel’s forty-year fascist policy and slow genocide of the Palestinians, and the murderous Occupation of Iraq. By omitting the facts, give the impression that the Arabs (Iraqis and Palestinians, included) are responsible for the “total anarchy and barbarism”.

The Murdoch’s propaganda is a compendium of anti-Arabs/anti-Muslims racism designed for Western domestic consumption. It is the leading mouthpiece for Israel’s terror against the Palestinian people, and it is the most warmongering press for the war on Iraq. In fact, Rupert Murdoch ?like George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard ? should be held responsible for complicity in the illegal aggression and war crimes committed against the Iraqi people.

The war of aggression on Iraq “was a propaganda war, a war of perception management, where loaded phrases, such as ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and ‘rogue state’ were hurled like precision weapons at the target audience: us”, wrote American author and media critique Jeffrey St. Clair. By softening the public up, the pro-war Murdoch paved the way for the unprovoked and illegal aggression of Iraq. The truth is the U.S. invaded Iraq and continues to violently and illegitimately occupy Iraq on false pretexts. Despite all the evidence against the Occupation, the Murdoch Press is selling the Occupation as a war against “al-Qaeda” ? the U.S.-created bogeyman.

The use of al-Qaeda as a bogeyman is designed not only to fuel the war on Islam and to keep the public in state of fear but also to manipulate public opinion and justified the illegitimate Occupation of Iraq. The aim is to cover-up the deliberate destruction of Iraq, the indiscriminate mass murder of over a million innocent Iraqi civilians and the looting of Iraq’s oil wealth by planting false stories and spreading U.S. propaganda.

The most conspicuous propaganda agent of the Murdoch Press is Greg Sheridan of The Australian. Sheridan is known for his hatred of Muslims and Islam. He made his name defending Suharto’s murderous regime in Indonesia, the U.S. murderous invasion and Occupation of Iraq, and more importantly Israel’s terror against the Palestinian people.

On Iraq Sheridan wrote recently: “Iraqis want us to stay” (The Australian, May 24, 2007). Who are these “Iraqis”? Of course, it is a deliberate lie planted to deceive the Australian public. What is ignored by Sheridan are the will of the overwhelming majority (92 % in 2006) of Iraqis who want an end to this murderous Occupation and the Occupation is the prime source of the ongoing violence against the Iraqi people. Millions of Iraqis are fleeing their homes and country because of the murderous Occupation. We know that the Iraqi people have legitimate right resisting the Occupation and the destruction of their country.

Absent from Sheridan’s propaganda are the murderous and indiscriminate assaults on towns and villages throughout Iraq where tens of thousands of innocent civilians were murdered in cold blood. It is revealed recently that 300 to 500 Iraqis are killed every day since the invasion. Further, the U.S. has turned Iraq into a cluster of large Concentration Camps, were millions of Iraqi men, women and children are imprisoned, tortured and denied basic human rights by U.S. forces and their collaborators.

For his hostile attitude towards Muslims and Islam, and for his defence of Zionism and Israel’s terror, Sheridan was recently awarded the annual Jerusalem Prize by the State Zionist Council of NSW. “The prize is awarded to someone who fosters and supports the state of Israel and its ideologies, the concept of the Jewish homeland and the Jewish community, particularly in Australia”, said Frank Levy, president of the State Zionist Council of the Sate of NSW.

Meanwhile, when in Australia, the pro-Zionist Murdoch plays the card of religious hatred and fear. He recently accused Muslim Australians for being “disloyal” to Australia, ignoring that in 1985 he renounced his Australian citizen and became a “loyal” U.S. citizen in order to further his media business. Of course, Murdoch is intellectually and morally a fraud; an Islamophobe and an affront to free and civilised society. His anti-Muslims campaign is part of the anti-Muslims plague that is spreading throughout the ‘Western World’.

Muslim Australians are crucified because of who they are, Muslims, mostly Arabs and often outspoken against racism and Western-perpetuated violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. A study by Dr Alia Imtoual of Flinders University of South Australia found that: “Out of 179 articles [in The Australian and The Advertiser] collected during the period of 1 June to 31 July 2003, 153 [articles] portrayed Muslim men as violent (usually as terrorists)”, in deliberate efforts to incite anti-Muslims religious hatred. The study noted that: “Some of these representations [of Muslim and Islam] were the most offensive and blatant examples of racism and negativity to be found in either newspaper”. The Murdoch Press depiction of Muslims and Arabs as dangerous and out to harm Anglo Australians has become a habit reminiscent of Nazi’s hatred for European minorities.

Because of this ongoing and persistent racism and misrepresentation of Muslims and Islam in the Australian media ? encouraged by the Government’s anti-Muslims campaign ?, violent assaults and discrimination against Muslim Australians have risen dramatically. Racism against Muslim Australian has become institutionalised and widespread. Unemployment among Muslim Australians, particularly among Muslim youth, is very high. More than 30 per cent compared to 5 per cent the official national total. Muslim professionals are often employed in jobs that require lower or no qualifications. Furthermore, Muslim Australians, both female and male, have reported police harassment and victimisation, discrimination in the workplace, and in both obtaining and retaining a job.

Lippmann’s “manufacture of consent” has undergone great improvement and refinement. It has become one of the most destructive weapons of mass destruction. Its use to manipulate, indoctrinate and control public minds has served to entrench power and promote government policies that advance the interests of big business, the elites and their capitalist system.

The Howard’s Government policies of serving the interests of big business has led to the rise of print media monopoly dominated by the big Murdoch Press at the expense of the Australian citizen and democracy. The only way to defeat this rising danger of big print media monopoly and protect democracy and free thought is by encouraging and sustaining independent and free press. Free press is part of a free society and one of the pivotal ingredients of democracy.

Ghali Hassan is an independent writer living in Australia.


[1] Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion. New York: Free Press, (1997, revised edition). Available online.

[2] Paul Bigioni, Fascism Then, Fascism Now. Toronto Star, November 28, 2005. Available on

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