The Australian today mounts its high horse in its main editorial to defend its own coverage of this week’s terror raids, arguing that
the way different sections of the media have responded to the
challenges of “the rise of Islamist terror” has revealed “deep fissures
in philosophy”:

Our approach at The Australian has
throughout been a traditional journalistic one. We believe our first
responsibility is to our readers, who have a right to know absolutely
everything we can find out for them about the terror threat and
Australia’s response to it. Obviously, there are other responsibilities
that can moderate this, including national security and respect for the
legal rights of individuals, including their right to a fair trial. But
the right of our readers to the best of our reporting and analysis, as
unfiltered by other considerations as possible, has always been

This traditional approach, when it comes to national
security issues, involves a lot of unglamorous legwork, such as the
cultivation of contacts, including among the major security and
law-enforcement agencies. In advance of Tuesday morning’s raids, it was
this kind of legwork that allowed our reporters to project, as early as
last Friday, the general shape of the unfolding operation by federal
and state police. After the raid, it was the same approach that made it
possible for us to provide comprehensive background on the suspects who
have been detained, and their views. We believe that ever since 9/11,
our philosophy and approach have put us a step – at least – in front of
our competitors on the terror beat.

editorial goes on to attack what it calls “anti-news moralising, by
anti-news journalists” who, it proclaims, “have implied that our
information comes not from our journalistic yakka, but courtesy of
their eternal nemesis, John Howard.” And concludes:

The responsibility to afford those who have been
charged with terror-related crimes a fair trial belongs with the
courts, not with journalists. Perhaps the fact that many of the latter
come from backgrounds as lawyers and activists has muddied the issue
for them. A 2001 study by the Law Foundation of NSW found juries are
highly impervious to publicity surrounding a trial and fully understand
the instruction by a judge that they should consider only the evidence.
And experience in the US, where virtually anything goes in the
reporting and commentary on major trials, confirms this. When
journalists think of themselves as censors, rather than conduits, they
mimic the very institutions that journalism should be keeping honest.
What the public needs from the media, more than ever in the age of
terror, is fewer ethical gatekeepers and more reporters.

Which is all
quite noble and democratic, if not somewhat pompous. But clearly the
concept of “ethical gatekeepers” has a different meaning in other parts
of the News Limited media empire. For at around the same time as that
editorial was being written, in the same building, under the same loyal
ownership and direction, another piece of terror raid journalism was
being dispatched to the printing presses.

It was this column by Paul Kent in the Daily Telegraph
– “These grubs need to meet a size 11 boot” – which adopts a much more
typical style of “traditional” journalism from the Murdoch organisation:

What a complete pack of low-life, second-rate
grubs. In Melbourne, 20-year-old Abdulla Merhi is revealed as a man
willing to become Australia’s first suicide bomber, despite expecting
his first child.

The grub.

When Merhi was ordered to stand in court, as is the custom in this country, he said, “We stand only to God.”

The grub.

crews were outside houses in Sydney’s west when a young Muslim man took
offence at the filming and, well, what else would you do in such

He did what any grub would do, he attacked. Say it again: Grub.

Muslim woman Joumana Elomar was on the news, tapping two boys on the
head and saying that if Australia did not change its racist attitudes
then those boys would grow up wanting to be terrorists too, and who
could blame them.

No point for sexist sensitivities: She’s a grub.

Then, when police approached Omar Baladjam, in western Sydney, what did he do? He fired his pistol.

Another grub.

in Melbourne, a cameraman was set upon by five tough guys, each with a
heart the size of a half-sucked Hundred And Thousand, outside court.

Unsurprisingly, it happened according to what seems standard practice, which is it took five of them.

All grubs.

Frankly, we are tired of it.

Tired of people coming here and refusing to respect the culture we live by.

And on it goes. And on. And on.

“Our approach at The Australian has throughout been a
traditional journalistic one,” says the Murdoch paper of record. And
the approach everywhere else in Newsdom is just as traditional.