May 30, 2011

Murdoch v Murdoch in climate change ad stoush

Murdoch money is being used to buy full page ads supporting climate action as Rupert's Murdoch's paper simultaneously goes to war with the star of those ads.

Andrew Crook — Former <em>Crikey</em> Senior Journalist

Andrew Crook

Former Crikey Senior Journalist

Flick through today's The Australian and the reader is faced with this amusing scenario: Murdoch money is being used to buy full page ads supporting climate action as Rupert Murdoch's paper simultaneously goes to war with the star of those ads. The print arm of the "Say Yes" television campaign sprung to life today with full-page splashes in The Australian. The Oz even ran a front page strip right next to its critical coverage. But a quick investigation shows that the debate is being conducted for the most part well inside the confines of the Murdoch empire. Yesterday actress Cate Blanchett was taken to task in The Sunday Telegraph under the amusing headline "Carbon Cate", with the yarns themselves suggesting the "millionaire Hollywood actress" was a hypocrite for demanding a tax that would impact disproportionately on the poor (the Gillard government has indicated battlers will be compensated). Millionaire Miranda Devine had some of the best lines: "Clearly Carbon Cate has no problem paying her own electricity bills, but for hard-working Australian families already buckling under the burden of soaring power, fuel and food prices, the carbon tax is a disaster," she probed. Devine also noted that (like James Murdoch), Blanchett owns a Prius (although hers is apparently "chauffer-driven"). But while Blanchett and Castle legend Michael Caton have been slammed by News Ltd publications for their participation in the Say Yes campaign, another signatory -- philanthropist Anne Kantor -- seems to have escaped scrutiny. Kantor, of course, is Rupert Murdoch's sister who snagged close to a $US200 million windfall in the 1990s after Rupert bought out his three siblings. According to Ronald Younger's magisterial book on Keith Murdoch published in 2003, between 1991 and 1999 Rupert paid his three sisters a combined sum of $US600 million to buy back their stake in News Limited after the family company skirted close to bankruptcy. Alongside husband Milan Kantor, Anne's been active on the progressive issues front ever since. But here's where it gets even more interesting. The TV and print ads are being partly-funded by the Climate Institute. The Institute was setup with $10 million provided by the Poola Charitable Foundation's Tom Kantor fund in late 2005. Tom Kantor was Anne's son who died suddenly in 2001 at the age of 35. Poola is controlled by Eve Kantor -- Tom's sister -- and husband Mark Wootton, who have been responsible for funding a number of eco-tinged causes including Ecotrust Australia and the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF). The trust also constructed, on a commercial basis, the 60 Leicester Street headquarters of the ACF in Carlton. Wootton is the Climate Institute's chair. In addition to the initial $10 million, the Kantors have plunged a further $4 million into the Institute over the past six years (the commitment is believed to be about to be pared back). And in 2006, BRW estimated the couple's total wealth at $315 million. In 2007 Rupert, on the urging of son James, declared he wanted to give the planet the "benefit of the doubt" and committed to making the company carbon-neutral -- a goal apparently achieved in January this year. Emails from inside News continue to spruik the firm's climate change credentials. Anne Kantor was in transit this morning and couldn't be contacted. But the Climate Institute's John Connor confirmed her strong belief in the goals of the campaign. "This was an extraordinary, partisan attack that failed to get the other side of the story," Connor said of the subsequent News Ltd coverage of Blanchett's involvement, adding that "the full range of views will emerge this week." Meanwhile, questions continue to linger over the nature of yesterday's tabloid yarns by Brenden Hills and former Australian journalist Sam Maiden. Only two dissenting voices were quoted -- the Australian Family Association and renegade Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce. However, a spokesperson for the Australian Council of Social Service informed Crikey this morning that Hills had rung the organisation on Friday afternoon for a comment but didn't include a quote from them in the subsequent story. "I made our position on climate change action clear and why we support action -- he then asked me what we think of the ad by 'a multi-millionaire actress like Cate Blanchett' -- I said this is not something we would usually comment on or enter into, but I couldn’t imagine it would be something that we would have a problem with." For the record, ACOSS are firm backers of people from all walks of life doing their best to agitate for a price on carbon.

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19 thoughts on “Murdoch v Murdoch in climate change ad stoush

  1. Mark from Melbourne

    I wonder how many $’s News Corp earns running ads with celebrity endorsement or involvement. Does their stance extend to them as well and will they be refusing to accept all ads and $’s for say ads by celebrities buffed within in an inch of their lives promoting fatty foods. Or celebrity sport people spruiking junk food.

    Or is News a touch hypocritical as well?

  2. Venise Alstergren

    After reading the article in today’s Crikey written by Dick Smith, then reading Andrew Crook’s post, I’m forced to conclude Rupert Murdoch is either a pathetic old man unable to control his fanatical right-wing hirelings-Andrew Bolt, Piers Ackerman, Janet Albrichtson, Divine Miranda, etc who write all those outrageous opinion pieces blasting the Climate Change issue into bull-dust. Or he is a mega-ruthless tycoon who wishes to have it all ways. He wishes to be seen to be doing the right thing-paying for newspaper ads supporting Climate Change but wants to have the money made by these scabrous scribes rolling in, doubtless to pay for the ads?

    Any which way, it is difficult to see what Rupert Murdoch is up to. Perhaps having his support might nullify any cause no matter how just.

  3. klewso

    “This way” the sceptics can attack “the media” (while editors can point to their “dedication”).
    Meanwhile back in “the important pages” (of “truth”) those sceptics are still being nurtured, cultivated and fertilised, for the party to later reap their votes, when they’re ripe enough, come harvest/election time : “the long game”.

  4. david

    Mark, Venise, Klewso, your 3 contributions say it all. There is no doubt now the Murdoch papers are the official Opposition in this country. The LNP are mere pawns, who do News Ltd bidding. Democracy is close to death in this country.

  5. Peter Wall

    I don’t know…all the attacks on Overland, (Whom I don’t know or frankly care much about), the facile artilcle on the ABC on the weekend, and now the Cate story…….
    I decided to pull the plug on my Australian subscription last week so I called them to see if I could get something similar to my SMH app for the iPad before I did. No one knew. Really… no one knew. It took 35 minutes to find that out.
    If it wasn’t for the media Section on Mondays I’be be gone.
    Such a shame.


  6. Malcolm Street

    Mark – what sh*ts me is that same commentators apparently had no problems with Gina Rheinhart (sp?) and Twiggy Forest, not multi-millionaires but BILLIONAIRES and among Australia’s ten richest people screaming blue murder about the mining tax. And would they be complaining if she’d appeared in an ANTI-carbon tax ad?

    Venise – look at it globally, and the way Fox News pushes every reactionary position under the sun in the US and has the Republican party by the b*lls. Or look at the way the b*stard used a progressive US TV network (Current TV?) on his Italian Sky News to pressure Berlusconi (sp?), and when Silvio allowed Murdoch more entry into the Italian market dropped said network. Or look at the News of the World scandal and attempts to corner the satellite TV market in the UK.

    Murdoch is into untrammeled power. The man is a menace.

  7. Brady

    Murdoch allowing his papers to ‘go green’ and then using this as some type of environmental credentials is like the US government saying that “our nuclear weapons are environmentally friendly because they are now propelled by solar powered” Pleeese.

    As it is, and always has been, the only goal of the Lib’s,/Murdoch/right wing (basically the same entity) is concentration of wealth. Want to know how to convince the climate change skeptics?? Very Very easy. Show them a way in which environmental ethics can make them huge profits, and I kid you not, global C02 emissions would be down to zero within a month.

  8. Barbara Boyle

    Peter Wall I second your comment about the pathetic offering”Whose ABC?” in the Australian over the weekend. I patiently read to the end, hoping for one tiny redeeming feature. But no. And then I thought about the beef that JOURNALISTS are running the ABC agenda. O-o-o-oh-h-h-h-h-h, so THAT’S it.
    The Australian’s informed opinion writers, increasingly are becoming mre risible by the week.

  9. klewso

    David, they’re all part of the same “organisation” – some in parliament, working on legislation, others staying in, on their hill, helping compose the suitability of that legislation, man “the PR machine” and keep the home fires burning – the LNP is the “Limited News Party”.

  10. klewso

    “Whips” are the notional/figurehead/strawmen part (they’re the ones actually allowed physically, on the floor) – it’s the “media arm” with their PR muscle, keeping the party in line, doing “the Right(s) thing”.

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