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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Media wars « Previous | |Next »
February 3, 2004

I do not normally read Philip Adams, that darling of all those right thinking conservatives who take a concerned interest in the world around them. What he normally says is not of much interest.

I confess I did read his Messenger shot in war sideshow article this morning. This is part of the fallout in the media wars. We have wars when Australian commentators write that the "BBC, in its overweening institutional arrogance, killed David Kelly." That punk journalist Tim Blair loves the snap in the standard Murdoch line.

Recycling the scripts of others as their own work seems to be standard practice of Australian journalists and the Howard Government's spin culture.

Someone has to pick Adams up, now that Tim Blair has taken his eye off the ball and let it wander. Tim noticed the article, but his imagination got side track into some strange stuff about war and apologies that only he and his readers inside the culture of contempt can understand.

More recycled lines?

I found a bit in the Adam's text that was of interest because it develops yesterday's deeper issues post:--especially the conflict between the public broadcaster and the free marketeers. On this Adams says:

"The Beeb's critics don't like the way the organisation enjoys comparative freedom from government by having an income stream from licences. They'd prefer to have the organisation on the drip, so that it can be punished for perceived misdemeanours. In much the same way as funding has been employed to bully Australia's public broadcaster. But for others that's not enough. The organisation's competitors are calling for the Beeb to be sent to the scrapyards, for it to be dismembered and/or privatised."

Similar calls get made in Australia re the ABC.

Adams is fairly upbeat about the outcome of the media wars in both the UK and Australia. He says that the dismembering or privatisation of the public broadcasters:

"....won't happen there – and can't happen here – because of a small problem. Overwhelming public support for the principles – and the practice – of public broadcasting. In its analysis, its findings and its recommendations, the Hutton report is inept. Either extraordinarily naive about the way media operates in a democracy or a piece of deliberate malevolence. Either way, a clear majority of the British public isn't buying it and there's a growing backlash."

This is too upbeat in the light of this account by Michael Wolff over at New York Michael says:

"....The historic polarity in British society has been upper class/lower class, Labor/Tory, Thatcher/anti-Thatcher. The polarity was now more precisely BBC/Murdoch. But the themes were the same. The BBC was the Establishment. Murdoch, the rude insurgent. With a certain historical inevitability on his side. Indeed, the success of Murdoch’s multichannel BSkyB—not just a satellite operation but a Murdochian news and entertainment network—was possibly the most significant business development in the UK since Murdoch and Thatcher together broke the unions."

The source of the animus to the BBC (and the ABC) is statism. As Michael says its "a consumer thing. A big-government thing. A fuck-you thing. A tax thing." He adds that it’s a fight for the public heart, control of a big bureaucracy and a fight for opportunities to get a bigger piece of the pie.

And a fight about Murdoch’s piece of the media pie.

In the UK Blair and Murdoch have allied, with the BBC’s battle with Blair being just another proxy battle with Murdoch. However, in Australia, it is not clear that Howard is lining up with Murdoch to give Murdoch a greater slice of the pie through dismembering the ABC (or killing off Fairfax).

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:17 AM | | Comments (2)


You're confused, as usual. While jabbering in semi-English about the evils of Murdoch, you applaud a Murdoch columnist (Adams); and while worrying about the killing of Fairfax, you dismiss a Fairfax columnist (McGuinness).

Oh, and Adams is a darling of conservatives? What the hell?

I find the media wars rather confusing--I admit.

It's good to see that some are clearsight. I admire the clear and distinct ideas.

They say privatise the public broadcaster and take out all the liberal media is all you ever need to know.

So I take my cues from the Thatcherite punks who say they are the pros.

What I find though is their two line story just does not add up.

Guess you know that anyhow. It's what you point out to me.

Does that mean I should stop taking my cues from the punk journalists?

Treat them as a new breed of comedy journalists? None of it is ever meant to be taken seriously.