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May 19, 2011

News’ revenge: editorial pages rain down on Brown’s crusade

News Limited has struck back against claims by Bob Brown it is misrepresenting the climate change debate, accusing the Greens leader on its editorial pages of cracking under the pressure of increased media scrutiny.

Tom Cowie

Crikey journalist

News Limited has struck back against claims by Bob Brown it is misrepresenting the climate change debate, accusing the Greens leader on its editorial pages of cracking under the pressure of increased media scrutiny.

Senator Brown yesterday criticised the Australian media — in particular News Limited and The Australian — for the way it reports on climate change, labelling News the “hate media” and accusing them of “doing a great disservice to the nation”.

Brown launched the swingeing attack at a press conference in Canberra, after journalists repeatedly pressed him for details about the proposed carbon tax and asylum seekers.

“I think it’s very essential to take that on at the moment because I think the Murdoch media is doing a great disservice to this nation in perhaps the most important debate of the century so far, which is how we tackle climate change,” he told the assembled press pack.

Brown accused some sections of the media of not being balanced because they failed to get “both sides of the story”. Instead, he said, they relied on opinion instead of facts.

“Its not what you would read in other countries around the world and I think that needs taking on,” he said.

In his news report today, James Massola from The Australian said Brown’s onslaught was a “well-worn routine — questioning the questioners” and noted the Senator had been taken on at the press conference by journalists from three other organisations — Fairfax, Channel 10 and The West Australian — not News Limited.

Massola quoted The Australian‘s editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell as saying the paper was “unaware of any complaints from Senator Brown” and would be “happy to talk to him if he has any”:

“I believe we have probably done more to give honest scrutiny to the carbon tax than any other newspaper and, of course, we have long supported a market-based mechanism for dealing with climate change.”

In an editorial published after last year’s federal election, The Australian called for The Greens to be “destroyed at the ballot box”:

“Greens leader Bob Brown has accused The Australian of trying to wreck the alliance between the Greens and Labor. We wear Senator Brown’s criticism with pride. We believe he and his Green colleagues are hypocrites; that they are bad for the nation; and that they should be destroyed at the ballot box.”

Murdoch tabloid stablemates the Herald Sun and The Daily Telegraph both hit back at Brown in their editorials this morning — telling him to harden up and expect more of the same scrutiny…

The Hun said it would cop Brown’s “bizzare attack” if that meant the paper could “get at the truth” of Brown’s plans for a carbon tax: “We are against a carbon tax and we believe it is our job to question just how how much you want to tax Australians.”

Sydney sister paper The Daily Telegraph welcomed Brown to the “real world” and said, until recently, he’d received a “dream run from the media”. That was all about to change, the Tele warned: “Welcome to real politics, Bob. If it’s too hot for you, you can always just quit.”

Andrew Bolt on his blog said Brown’s comments amounted to a media “meltdown” and his “obsession” with attacking News Limited was “unnerving”. The Australian‘s Media diarist Caroline Overington noted that Bob Brown had the nerve to slam the press “in French, no less” (emphasis hers).

On its op-ed pages, The Australian‘s Dennis Shanahan said the broadside was evidence the Green’s leader is under pressure:

“For the first time the Australian Greens’ leader is being treated just as he has always wanted to be, as the leader of a mainstream political party. Unfortunately, it’s not quite turning out as he had hoped.”

Hugh Riminton from Channel Ten asked the Greens grandfather figure at the presser yesterday whether his stinging words amounted to a change in tactics, to which the Senator responded in the affirmative:

“I’m being very much on the front foot here because I think the media, with some very good exceptions, can at times lose track of the fact that it’s part of the process of moving Australia into a much more secure future with a more secure lifestyle, economy and job creation prospects.”

One journalist, Fairfax radio reporter Michael Pachi, repeatedly challenged Brown on his views, asking him why he was “obsessed” with attacking News and the “press you don’t like”.

Brown said his words were “all part of the democratic discourse” and the media should “measure up to your own rules”: “The Murdoch press comes out every day and bags out the Greens, why one rule for you and not one for the others?”

Fairfax Radio hosts rushed to Pachi’s defence yesterday and this morning. 3AW talkback tsar Neil Mitchell branded Brown a “twit” and a “dill” for his remarks and said the attack was “proof … we shouldn’t be in Bob Brown’s hands at all”.

Gary Hardgrave from 4BC called Brown “delusional”, while 2UE host Paul Murray said the Greens leader turns every press conference into an opportunity to slander the media.

In comments possibly unrelated to the press conference, Media Monitors recorded 5AA host Bob Francis calling Brown a “son of a bitch”.

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178 thoughts on “News’ revenge: editorial pages rain down on Brown’s crusade

  1. arty

    I don’t always agree with Bob Brown, but this time…

  2. paddy

    Pure gold Crikey and a thousand thanks to Bob Brown for a masterful performance. 😀

  3. ewaterford

    Love how cheerful he is the whole time. Makes it hard to put that on the news and claim he’s ‘whinging’.

  4. shepherdmarilyn

    Excellent, after Newsltd have been trying to destroy them.

    Just 43 more days and they have the balance of power in the senate and no more Fielding.

  5. macchiato marxist

    On the drum, thom woodroofe called bob brown naive and that he was merely whinging. obviously he and glenn milne deny that news ltd, in particular, the australian, have engaged in a concerted effort to destroy (news ltd editors own words) the greens. to see a guy who can barely grow three whiskers calling a veteran politician and political leader naive is fun to watch.

  6. edumf

    Well done Bob Brown for telling it like it is.

    Rupert’s machiavellian international project for decades now has simply to sell more news, and to counter or oppose viewpoints not in News Limited’s financial interests, usually done in the name of under the guise of ‘ free speech’.
    Governments come and go, but the corporation marches on, from continent to continent, shaping opinion in the ways it chooses.

    The sad thing is that because of the symbiotic propaganda feedback loop that exists between the Murdoch press and the dominant opinions of the Australian populace, where New Limited outweighs in newspaper readership the numbers of all other media in Australia, their polling confirms that Australian public opinion across many issues, now largely reflects the slant which News Limited publications consistently convey. They see it as reflecting public opinion, but New Limited polls provide more of a measure of success as to how well their message is selling.

    No it is not a conspiracy !

    It just that News Limited is the major player in Australian politics now. Has been for decades.

  7. rubiginosa

    “Don’t be so tetchy, just measure up to your own rules…Don’t get too upset, this is just part of the democratic discourse…Fragile, I’d say — very fragile.”

    Skewered them.

  8. michael r james

    Yes, Marilyn, but the weak link lies with Labor. They just seem helpless deer in the headlights of News Ltd. They continue to write Opinion pieces for The Australian! And interviews with Alan Jones. It doesn’t seem to matter how rude they are or how much they distort the facts in “reportage”, Labor remains supine.

    They could introduce legislation that would bring us more into line with other countries, say the USA.
    1. Owners of media must be citizens and the companies must be based in Australia.
    2. Max share of market: probably about 30%

    The Brits complain bitterly about Murdoch where he has “only” 35% of media, but we let him (a non-citizen) have 70%.

    If I was granted a single wish in Australian public affairs this would be it, because it poisons/crippled out entire body politic.

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