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Jul 21, 2011

Taking up the Whittaker challenge: examining The Daily Tele's GST coverage

This week, in the latest salvo in The Daily Telegraph's war with the Gillard government, baby-faced editor Paul Whittaker decided to lay down a challenge to the office of communications minister Stephen Conroy.

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This week, in the latest salvo in The Daily Telegraph‘s war with the Gillard government, baby-faced editor Paul Whittaker decided to lay down a challenge to the office of communications minister Stephen Conroy.

Conroy had got the Tele‘s goat by suggesting on ABC radio that the paper was running a deliberate regime change campaign via the trojan horse of the carbon tax.

The Daily Telegraph is interested in distorting the debate, demanding an election campaign, purely intended to try and get rid of the government,” Conroy thundered, adding that “if you’re a Labor voter reading The Daily Telegraph, you should keep reading it for the footy coverage but you shouldn’t take seriously any of its front-page headlines.”

In the wake of Carbon Sunday, the Tele had, of course, gone to war against Gillard, with three front page hatchets in a row.

Whittaker (or an underling) dived straight for the keyboard, accusing the Senator in a swingeing editorial of the “glassiest of political jaws…during a bizarre and intellectually confused assault on The Daily Telegraph.”

The Daily Telegraph is simply doing what it has always done, and done well — holding the government of the day to account.” It suggested Conroy “should examine our archives for previous instances of this stance, which ranges across all political parties.”

Crikey decided to take Whittaker up on the challenge, spending five hours yesterday in the State Library of Victoria’s microfiche archives to find hard historical evidence of the Tele‘s fair and balanced approach.

One example of the Tele‘s even handedness, Whittaker reckoned, was a front page from 2000 directly prior to the GST’s introduction, which had the headline “Tax dread.” Unfortunately, the current period of debate on the carbon tax is hardly analogous. We would have to wait until late June next year — just prior to the tax’s commencement– to make a proper comparison.

The correlating period in the Tele‘s treatment of John Howard’s GST is actually the days around its launch on August 14, 1998 when Col Allen was editor. At that point, the government was desperate for a mandate for Peter Costello’s baby, having specifically ruled it out in the lead-up to the 1996 poll.

A year before the policy launch, in August 1997, the Tele was already laying the groundwork, claiming the GST was now an “urgent reform” following the High Court’s decision that year to ban on state liquor and cigarette taxes. The tax would create “big winners“, despite some “battlers” being worse off, said business scribe Keith Gosman. On August 14, a triumphant Tele dragged out a strapline “Tax Reform At Last“.

Over the next 12 months, the paper would return to the “winners” theme again and again.

Skip to August 4 1998 — just ten days before the nation would be lavished with the details of its new consumption charge. An election was imminent. The Tele, perhaps sniffing the ill wind of popular dissent, pulled out all stops, led by crusading economics reporter David Luff (who would later be employed as John Howard’s press secretary).

Luff was keen to tell readers about his future boss’ “plan to ease household burden” alongside a helpful breakout box detailing “how families will reap benefits”.

The next day, according to Luff, “shopkeepers” were “ringing up support for the GST” and a few days later, according to motoring writer Michael Taylor, the car industry was joining them in the rapture. Luff was back on August 8, informing New South Wales that, according to Howard, “families” would be the big GST winners. During that week, Crikey couldn’t find a single negative yarn about the tax (a few equivocated).

But this was nothing compared to The Sunday Tele‘s front page on August 9 — and an accompanying double page inside spread.

The next day, intrepid Tele reporter Miranda Devine had an excellent scoop, scoring one of those exclusive tete a tetes aboard the PM’s private jet. It was, said the Tele, a “portrait of a man on a mission”.

By midweek, the paper was reporting glowingly that Peter Costello was about to hand out “Cash for mums.”

The denouement though, would come on the Friday following the media lock-up on the Thursday afternoon. How would the Tele frame it, Australia’s most populous state begged to know? Luckily two fat lobsters were on their way to battlers everywhere.

Among the 22 GST stories on that day, just two — a comment piece by Terry McCrann and a story on the cost of living — were mostly negative, with the rest of the extraordinary edition reading like the puffiest of puffs (read the full 14 August whitewash here).

Despite Col Allan’s efforts, it seems the public could see right through the deception. A poll published in the Sydney Morning Herald on October 2 1998 — the day before the election — showed 55% opposed to a GST, with 38% in favour. That number hadn’t moved much since the package’s launch. The Sunday Tele reluctantly reported its own poll numbers confirming the rancour on the Sunday under the headline “Thumbs Down“.

According to one well-placed 1990s Telegraph insider, Allan — who would soon be promoted to editor-in-chief of the 7-day operation — was jubilant after the election, bragging that it was his front page on the morning of the poll that saved Howard.

Stephen Conroy was scathing when contacted by Crikey this morning:

“Editor Paul Whittaker on Tuesday invited an examination of The Daily Telegraph’s archives to prove the paper’s claims of being unbiased — and then went on “prove” his point by using a highly selective example of the paper’s coverage of the introduction of the GST. One can only suspect he is today completely horrified to find that a journalist has actually taken up the challenge and exposed his falsehood.”

“…And Mr Whittaker’s claim that The Daily Telegraph’s coverage of the Carbon Tax merely reflects public opinion has also been exposed as highly dubious. If it were a credible reason, why would The Daily Telegraph not have condemned the GST in 1999 when an AC Nielsen poll in May of that year showed 58% of Australians opposed it?”

“Instead, it acted — as it is now with the Carbon Tax — in a biased way in favour of the Coalition.

“So when Mr Whittaker says ‘no observer could claim (The Daily Telegraph) was timid or deferential to the then-Coalition government’ in relation to the GST, he is correct. ‘Completely glowing and biased in favour of’ would be far more accurate.”

Paul Whittaker said he “stood by” the editorial this morning.

“Not sure what archives you’ve looked at, but in the lead-up to the introduction of the GST once the details of it were formulated, we ran numerous stories questioning its impact on families,” Whittaker said, citing the 2000 “Tax dread” splash and another one headlined “Give & Take, Rise in childcare fee devours GST rebate’’.

“I could send you many more examples with more time,” he added.

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58 thoughts on “Taking up the Whittaker challenge: examining The Daily Tele’s GST coverage

  1. Mark Duffett

    A nice piece of work.

    While it wasn’t coming from an incumbent government in that instance, it’d nonetheless be interesting to also compare the coverage of Hewson’ Fightback proposal, which had a GST as its centrepiece.

  2. Trent

    I declare an epic win for Crikey.

    Surely this sort of actual investigative work is what journalism is actually supposed to be about, rather than biased, partisan bullsh-t that the Tele has now been proven to run?

    Bravo.

  3. Meski

    You would have thought he (Whittaker) would have access to all the archives of his papers. Unless Lulz deleted them. 🙂

    At any rate, running a headline like this, with the knowledge that there’s contradictory material in his archives sounds like someone living in a glasshouse throwing stones.

  4. Meski

    @Mark: And a coverage of Keating’s GST proposal, when he supported it.

  5. negativegearmiddleclasswelfarenow.com

    Attention:- Paul Whittaker

    Get yourself a troika – easy as – all you need do is add that pommy gem Lord Mockingbird to the dynamic duo of Lord Bolt and Lord Akerman.

    Remember all those to the left of the great center-right need to be dealt with. Get on with it.

    Yours in negativity.

  6. john2066

    Good pickup. The worthless Murdoch pig-snivellers fell over themselves to tell us the GST would be a miracle, now are sharpening their swords about the dreadful carbon tax. As usual, they are as independent as a vetriloquists dummy.

  7. Tom McLoughlin

    The day the biggest anti war rally in Australian history was held in Sydney in 2003, at between 250-500K, the next day the SDT front pager was something like ’10M protest across the world’.

    My distinct impression was they buried the profound event in Sydney by merging the reportage with countries who were not declared COW – coalition of the willing, and buried the historic nature of that event for Australia and for NSW. In geo politik terms 250K protesters in Sydney were much more equal than 250K say in the middle east many parts of Europe.

    Personally I believe Howard was still angry about the popular spurning of him as a leader and a person as long as 4 years later at APEC in 2007 in Sydney where he hoped for a violent meltdown to vindicate his contrary posture in 2003. But he failed with that as did the spin of the News Ltd media.

    As a matter of irony and grudging balance I note it was a Sunday Telegraph expose in 2007 by … M Devine … on behalf of an accountant personal friend assaulted by police that got the main angle with them, while a free lancing female photographer swiped by a copper also got alot of sympathy. The Devine angle was very counter intuitive given all your evidence above which is her orthodox Ayn Rand style tripe.

  8. Mark from Melbourne

    This strikes me as what journalism should be about. Dig for the facts and then present them with hard evidence. Then let the punters decide.

    Now you just need to make sure the story gets to a broader audience than your immediate (and adoring) readers.

  9. john2066

    I wonder if the journalist-monkeys who work for ‘News’ ever try talking when their editor drinks a glass of water – I’ll bet they can’t do it.

  10. Barry 09

    Well done Andrew , they keep putting their foot in mouth on show for all to see. This is why we need a inquiry into media in this country .

  11. drmick

    Reminds me of the political party they are suporting. No facts, plenty of crap and hoping no one has any memories beyond the last time they opened their mouth.
    Watch the telegraph idiot with the channel 9 idiot on tomorrows breakfast show for a mental enema.
    Afterwards, you need to watch 3 episodes of humphrey bear to get your IQ back into a positive figure.

  12. Mark M

    Pardon my ignorance.

    I don’t get it. Why do these papers have such a bias. Do they get something from the libs that the ALP refuse to give them?

  13. David Hand

    I hate to spoil this elitist group hug. Firstly, if you think that Julia’s carbon tax is deeply unpopular with the masses because the Tele has told them so and favourable coverage would change people’s minds, you are defining yourself as a member of the left elite.

    Crikey and it’s acolytes seem to have fallen into a parallel universe where the Vader-like spectre of Rupert Murdoch is driving public opinion and that his demise would end the spell and make Julia polular again.

    Out here in the real world, it’s probable that rather than brainwashing the dumb masses with its editorial line, the Tele understands the mood of its readers and prints stories and opinions that will sell papers. Catchy concept, that.

    The GST was good policy and was widely supported, notwithstanding the political conflict that occurred around its introduction. A price on carbon is also good policy and is also widely supported. The problem is that Julia’s carbon tax is more a socialist tax redistribution with a green tinge rather than real action to reduce carbon pollution.

    Blame the Tele if you want but I believe the great unwashed can recognise a turkey when they see one.

  14. rhwombat

    Mark M: No, the libs are a wholly owned subsidiary of Hackers Inc.

  15. Jean

    Proving that the Daily Telegraph is/are a bunch of pissants?
    What next, Crikey?
    The sky is blue?
    Babies are cute?

  16. David Hand

    Oh no, RHWOMBAT, I’m as biased as the rest of you but I am no Murdocrat.

  17. Brady

    Well done Crikey, I really enjoyed this. It was the Daily Telegraph’s constant bagging of the labour party which, as a young person got me into all this. And by this, I mean looking beyond what was printed, and examining the goals, motivations and vested interests that go into the political/media dynamic. At the time labour was in opposition, and Piers Akerman was writing a daily piece which bashed labour almost 100% of the time (could actually be 100% as I did not see every piece), and never, ever, said anything bad about the Lib’s. I remember thinking …. “Its not actual possible for one side to be always wrong, and the other always right” so I started examining the character of the man who was Piers Akerman. Now many years later, and a little bit wiser, I know him for the absolutely rabid, right wing rat bag that he is (and in the Daily Telegraph’s stables, he is hardly alone in this).

    While covering the GST debate, as the Telegraph’s cherry picked front pages stated, there was the occasional GST bashing. However, if you likewise, accumulated some of the articles from Akerman, I think you would find that it is 100% in favour of the Coalition, regardless of the topic, and regardless of who was in government (so much for the Tele ‘holding the government of the day accountable’ line). I would love to see the numbers on this, and indeed I would also like to see this type of thing done for all reporters, you know, like a shame or honour file, depending on the reporter. So, ever time you read a political article, beside the authors name is a percentage numbers for their previous work, showing how often they compliment/criticize each political party. This would give two insights into the reporter:

    1. Their political bias–if present, and

    2. Their tendencies for positive/negative comments.

    Sort of like the cost per 100g at the supermarket, something that would let the public know just what they are getting.

  18. Mark from Melbourne

    David Hand – I mistakenly thought this was a discussion about good journalism and whether the media should be allowed to have unquestioned run in manipulating their coverage to suit their agenda.

    Mark M – Murdoch & Co. aren’t that fussed about the political leanings of the party they support/oppose. Witness their support of Labour at various times both here and UK. Like all other enterprises/voters they are strictly in it for what it will do for them. Sell more papers by pandering to the crowd. Get less regulatory oversight of the media. Get nice deals on licence fees. Right down to the bottom line of just having some one that owes them a favour.

  19. shaz williams

    Is that the same Col Allen who got Kevin Rudd drunk in New York and took him to a strip club and then helpfully revealed the fact just prior to the 2007 election?

    The same Col Allen who edits the New York News Ltd newspaper being sued for falsely claiming a r*pe victim worked as a prostitute?.

    Considering most News Ltd journalists move around the various News Ltd newsrooms here and in the US & UK, News Ltd shill Tony Abbott better hope there are no skeletons in the closet.

  20. Meski

    @David:

    I hate to spoil this elitist group hug.

    No, I think you enjoy spoiling it.

    Firstly, if you think that Julia’s carbon tax is deeply unpopular with the masses because the Tele has told them so and favourable coverage would change people’s minds, you are defining yourself as a member of the left elite.

    So you say the media has no effect? I’m thinking it has some effect, certainly enough to sway swinging voters…

  21. klewso

    By the way, after that amusing caricature of Swan and Conroy as Laurel and Hardy – for those of us not blessed with access to the Tele – how did those impartial, factual, accurate and balanced scamps there, dress “Murdoch and Son” today, for “presentation to the public”?
    Did they go for “Albert and Harold Steptoe” look? Or go the broader “Colonel Klink and Sergeant Schultz”? Or did they surprise everyone with a different tack?

  22. CML

    Guess you could just change the names from Tele to the Oz, and you would have the same result? At least in the eastern capitals you have The SMH and The Age to read instead. Here in SA we only have Ltd.News! Thank goodness for Crikey and the internet!!!
    Congratulations on your great investigative journalism, Andrew. Wonder what they will have to say about that – probably black will now be white?

  23. Tom Jones

    It is refreshing to have a journalist go to the evidence and present a story based on facts. That of course is not something that Paul Whittaker is so familiar with as whilst he huffed and puffed he didn’t actually have any facts to support his contention. And that is what should be looked at in any review of the print media – whether they can under consumer laws describe their product as a newspaper.

  24. AR

    One expects nothing less than foam-flecked support for Mudorc’s “integrity, fair & accurate coverage etc ad nauseam during this distressing bout of lese majeste of the Sun King from his helots but the MM today was out defending … wait a minute..errr.. sorry, what was I thinking..?

  25. David Hand

    Hey, Mark from Melbourne,
    The media being allowed an unquestioned run in manipulating their coverage to suit their agenda is called freedom of the press.

  26. Zarathrusta

    The other thing to remember is all the promises about all those state based taxes that were going to be abolished and replaced by the GST.

    Among them was stamp duty.

    People are still paying massive stamp duty on properties and many others of these taxes as well.

    Perhaps Crikey could so some work investigating how much people are being defrauded by their state governments, and lobby the Federal Government to withhold at least $1 in GST payments to the states for every $1 of these supposedly abolished taxes that they still collect.

  27. william magnusson

    paul keating told us all that when he wasnt going to let murdoch have all the papers as well as a TV network that spelt the end for labor ..of cause howard relaxed the cross ownership laws and the rest is history

  28. Konrad Buczynski

    As an exercise in proving a theory this is an embarrassingly statistically invalid sample. As a pragmatic observation one might observe that the GST was a major positive improvement for the country,whereas the carbon dioxide tax is universally regarded as an act of major economic vandalism.

  29. fredex

    The contrast between the two reactions, then and now is stark.

    Good article Andrew, very informative.
    Well done.

  30. Jenny

    More of this, please Crikey more, more, more…..

  31. freecountry

    The only problem with this story is, carbon tax is nothing like GST. More’s the pity–if carbon tax were designed more like the GST, it would cut more emissions with less cost, negligible pain, and no political need to compensate anybody. That’s what GST does, it raises more revenue for less cost, and less pain, than the taxes it replaced. What shouldn’t the Telegraph have supported it? They would probably have said the same thing if Paul Keating’s earlier plan for a GST had got off the ground.

  32. Peter Ormonde

    An excellent investment of five hours …. the Tele’s “proud history” writ huge.

  33. calyptorhynchus

    David Hand

    “The problem is that Julia’s carbon tax is more a socialist tax redistribution with a green tinge rather than real action to reduce carbon pollution.”

    David

    I’m poor, I’m coming to get your money, Julia is letting me. Don’t sleep, keep constant watch, I could sneak up at any minute, be afraid, be very afraid.

    ps I’m not even white.

  34. Mark Duffett

    (thus spake) zarathrusta, you can blame the continued existence of state taxes like stamp duty at least partly on Meg Lees. From memory (and it’s a while ago now), the GST on food would have paid for their abolition.

  35. Neil Walker

    It’s not even really about the carbon tax or the GST. It’s about News Limited newspapers lying (or should that be allegedly lying…?) again and hoping nobody checks the facts.

    Brilliant. Love it.

  36. David Hand

    Meski-
    You’ve got me. I do love it.
    Yeah, I accept your point that media coverage influences public opinion. I have overstated the point I was making. This item, pointing out that Whittaker is full of sh*t is a good one.

    What worries me in the current debate however is the idea that because the Tele has a right wing political bias, some sort of intervention is required to regulate. That our prime minister herself has engaged in this speculation diminishes her.

    And you get a sense that Crikey seems to be looking for a scapegoat for Julia and the Green tax’s unpopularity and Murdoch is the most palatable explanation. The more likely reason is that the public have decided that this tax is a dud tax as far as climate change is concerned.

  37. Arty

    I grew up in a hilly-billy village through which ran the main railway line from Sydney which was about four hours away from the “Big Smoke”. At about 9 o’clock I would walk to the railway line and wait for the “paper train” from Sydney. As it came through I and some others would shout “paper” in the expectation that travellers who had bought their paper in Sydney four hours ago would be finished with them. Almost always they had and almost always it was the Daily Tele..

    Then carried the Tele home and in the early evening by kerosene lamp, it was my role to read the front page of the Tele to my parents. After which Mum would tear it into quarters and push them onto the six inch nail in the out-door dunny wall. The Sydney Morning Herald was doubly unsuitable as it was too hard to tear it into right sized sheets, and it was too big for me to hold in my pre-school hands.

    Slowly we got electricity, water, sewerage and even telephones and the Tele started to lose its pre-eminent position. Worse for the Tele I found “The Australian” which described a country outside NSW, then Time Magazine which described the world. We even discovered toilet paper rolls.

    Maybe I changed, but the Daily Tele didn’t.

    But I have to thank the Tele for all the impromptu certificates I won at eisteddfods.

  38. Lifesajoke

    My comment submiited to the terror….

    “Care to respond to CRIKEY’s expose on just how balanced your coverage is…? I think you’ll find you have been well and truly exposed as both the Liberal’s and Murdoch’s mouth piece. This type of “defence” by you is simply laughable… and the fact that some of your readers buy it is scary! Of course you wont print this will you?”

    lets see if they do!

  39. fredex

    Unfortunately for the right wing proponents of ‘freedom of the press’ they have the issue and their arguments upside down and back to front and inside out.

    The issue is that the present situation is that we [note that little inoffensive pronoun] do not have freedom of the press.

    Someone else, a very restricted elite privileged minority, have control of the press.
    That is what already exists.

    If we truly want freedom of the press the current situation, where the minority are exercising control and censorship, in the case of Murdoch in an extreme and blatant manner, has to be changed.

    It is those people calling for change who are the true proponents of a free press.

    It is those who do not want change who are advocating continued censorship and authoritarian control by a non-elected elite who have no responsibility to the public.

  40. Peter Ormonde

    David Hand,

    The central problem is that the Telegraph and arguably the OZ have essentially ceased to be newspapers in any accepted sense in this country… they actively subvert and slant their reportage. They are running an agenda. They are making the news.
    Traditionally in this country – unlike England – editorial opinion is reflected in and largely restricted to – a paper’s leader column, not on hysterical front page screamers. The Telegraph that has degenerated into agitprop.
    And yes, having been an enthusiastic follower of the Press Council’s lack of influence and inability to make serious decisions on such matters, some sort of intervention to act as a brake on the influence of proprietors and unprofessional campaigning editors seems necessary.
    Or we could just let such creatures be consumed by the fires of technological change and let the thing die a natural death. It should not be mourned.

  41. fredex

    Loon Pond

    Its a blog written by ‘Dorothy Parker’.
    Today it looks at how the Murdoch media, and others, have responded to Mal ‘Rainman’ Turnbull’s latest salvo aimed at Tony Abbott using the climate change issue as ammo, plus a bit on who, according to Murdochian sources, is saying what about the NBN.

    Tends [?] to support the theme of this Crikey article.

    Worth checking out, I didn’t include a link for fear of moderation but I reckon the two opening words above should get you there.
    Worth a look.

  42. jeebus

    Good work Crikey, these are the kinds of smoking guns that show News Corporation to be nothing more than a political propaganda organ. The Liberals support it because they think News Corp is working for them, but one day they will come to realise how indentured they are to the News King.

  43. Meski

    @David: When did we have a popular tax? Tell you what I’d regard as popular: optional tax returns.

    And no, government’s should not intervene. But neither should they meekly acquiesce to consolidation of media, and they should perhaps wind back previous consolidations (tricky thing to do) Ok, perhaps allow new players, and prevent ‘old’ media from participating.

  44. David Hand

    Fredex,
    Your rationale is a good example of how important press freedoms are and why attempts to restrict public discourse must be resisted. Calling people who advocate the gagging of the Murdoch press as “true proponents of a free press” is a classic piece of doublespeak in the tradition of 1984. It’s the way Mugabe runs the “free press” in Zimbabwe.

    I put to you that the organ where you and I are exchanging views is a good example of the free press at work. It has established itself as a respected independent source of news and commentary. It has developed a green left bias in recent years, a political bias that I do not share, hence my occasional entry into these discussion threads.

    It is important to have a wide range of political and news discourse. Trying to gag someone, even a major player like News Ltd, simply because of their bias, smacks of totalitarianism, something never far from the surface on the extreme left.

    Julia’s deep unpopularity is causing a lot of angst among her supporters. The possibility that it’s because her policies are rubbsh, her execution amateur, her principles shallow and mainstream Australia sees through her is a bit hard to face and so a scapegoat is needed. Murdoch fills the slot very well at the moment.

  45. Meski

    @Arty: Toilet rolls are redundant if you have ‘The Australian’

  46. Jeremy Apps

    Nice work, Crikey. One of a number of reasons why I will happily continue to part with hard earned in support of real journalism that calls people on their bullsh*t.

  47. Arty

    MESKI, The contents of both the Tele and the Oz are particularly suitable as toilet paper substitutes, but the paper itself is too cheap and and nasty for my delicate corpus.

  48. Son of foro

    “The more likely reason is that the public have decided that this tax is a dud tax as far as climate change is concerned.”

    That may well be the case but it’s not the whole story. Witness the outrage at the flood levy, when people were openly stating their objections based on lies. That is, many people were manipulated into being angry without knowing the facts about who would be paying how much. There were many examples of that.

    The same is happening now with the carbon tax, with many people expressing views that are patently incorrect. Australians are being lied to on a daily basis by the Murdoch press and some believe figures around government policy that simply are not true. It may well be a dud tax but the coverage of it is equally dud.

    (For the record, I don’t support an inquiry into the media, I just wish these papers would raise their standards and report accurate facts so Australians can make informed decisions.)

  49. fredex

    David Hand

    It is good to see that you are in favour of having a “wide range of political and news discourse”.
    Why then do you support the narrow ownership of over 70% of Australia’s print media by essentially one family?
    The situation you claim to deplore is exactly that which we have.
    Here, now in Australia.

    The ability to exchange views here is a good example of something like a free press at work.
    The ability of the Murdoch media to so totally do the opposite is why the present situation demands change.
    This entire discussion is based on the illustration by Andrew Crook that under Murdoch we have a restriction and an imbalance of information and opinion.
    The very phenomena you claim to deplore yet simultaneously managed to ignore.
    You are writing in support, or so you claim, of freedom of access of the many to the media in a thread in which it gas been shown the the exact opposite is practised by the dominant media organization in this nation.
    Cognative dissonance rules.

  50. cud chewer

    I’m not entirely sure that pointing out the blatant bias in the Telegraph is the same as arguing for “action” to be taken “against” it. Wayne Swan is correct when saying that it has a right to print what it wants. But it doesn’t have a right to be accepted as fair and balanced.

    Now the point I’m making is about these paper’s honesty to their readers. Its one thing to say “I am a propaganda rag, read me if you like your point of view affirmed”. Its another to be a paper pretending to be the people’s friend (or in the Australian’s case riding on its former reputation as the paper of record).

    Pretending to the reader’s friend, and at the same time poisoning their minds, is plainly dishonest. Its one thing to buy something knowing its bias. Its another to be had. (As in, you’ve been had, you turkey).

    Or put it another way, if readers buying the Telegraph were fully aware of the fact that it is deliberately misleading, falsifying and otherwise directing their will to its will, not so many of them would buy it. And that’s the kind of free society we need. One where the Daily Telegraph has a niche – a small one.

  51. A D

    i am surprised a journ had 5 hours to spend investigating a story. that’s real old fashioned. well done.

  52. interesting

    It is about time mainstream journalism in this country was taken to task. They have a serial problem of choosing the horse they are backing then whipping it all the way to the post. All the while forgetting the altruistic notion of a fair and balanced coverage.
    This is seen not only in the political sphere but also those businesses that curry favour with elements of the media and then get the benefit of a media wide PR mouthpiece for their views.

  53. TheTruthHurts

    The real difference of course is that Howard won a mandate for the GST, Gillard has not won a mandate for her Carbon Tax(in fact she won a mandate on her promise NOT to introduce a Carbon Tax).

    The media, nor the public will let Gillard slip and slide her way around this issue.

    She MUST get a mandate from the Australian people. Whether there is by another election, a plebiscite or similar is up to Gillard… but until then she is a illegitimate Prime Minister with an illegitimate Tax.

  54. DingoBabyEat

    David Hand:

    it’s all very well to drum up free press rhetoric while shining your logic through the false prism of totalitarian regimes. – Stalinist governments trying to stymie the voice of the little Aussie Battler. Nice try though.

    Of course, you know quite well that the average opinion on the carbon tax is not predicated on the belief that a better policy framework exists …Methinks the Hand Shandys were flowing aplenty when you wrote this:

    “A price on carbon is also good policy and is also widely supported”

    Yours is the kind of smug, self delight indicative of those who realise they can play both sides of the argument – wedging your opponent as the elitist lefty, while you trumpet the sentiments of the average Joe. How humbling… BULL S##T

    Obviously the notion of a fair and unbiased press is an illusion the Telegraph wants to cling to. They’re not quite as proud of their agendas and manipulations as you think they deserve to be; Otherwise Whittaker wouldn’t have bothered with his challenge.

    This article clearly took on that challenge and proved Whittaker to be fraudulent in his assertions of unbiased reporting.

    And what’s your response? You cynically excuse right wing nonsense as the necessary evil of a free press whilst spending most of your efforts moaning about left wing bias.

    You get a pat on the back for being clever. Not much more.

  55. Peter Ormonde

    Truthie… you’re back …

    How is Gillard an “illegitimate prime minister”?

    What an interesting notion. This is what Abbpott and his dwindling number of backers in the coalition party room are spreading too .

    To quote one of your intellectual influences – please explain.

  56. Adam

    David Hand,

    [The more likely reason is that the public have decided that this tax is a dud tax as far as climate change is concerned.]

    What you failed to mention was the public had already decided the GST was a “dud tax” which didn’t exactly stop The Daily Telegraph writing fawning headlines about it did it?

    They’ve been caught with their pants down.

  57. John64

    @David Hand: Nail, head, you hit it. Observe, quoth Adam:

    What you failed to mention was the public had already decided the GST was a “dud tax” which didn’t exactly stop The Daily Telegraph writing fawning headlines about it did it?

    … and link to one of Crikey’s own articles Great myths in Australian politics: GST almost cost Howard ’98 election:

    “The first poll after the GST package (August 14-16) had the coalition ahead 44-39! It was the first time the coalition had been ahead since May”

    The GST was politically popular. The Carbon Tax is not. Thus the Tele reports accordingly.

  58. fredex

    John64
    From the comment above:
    ““The first poll after the GST package (August 14-16) had the coalition ahead 44-39! It was the first time the coalition had been ahead since May”

    The GST was politically popular.”

    That’s interesting.
    I wonder what the Tele [and the other Murdoch media] had as its headlines during the week that the Newspoll covered?

    From the article above:

    August 9 – “We All Win”

    August 10 – Miranda’s liitle ‘scoop’ above

    August 12 – “Cash For Mums”

    August 14 – $40 Tax Cut”

    Then the Newspoll you cite.

    Then. …..
    Newspoll 28-30 August
    ALP 40 – up 1 point to finish at 40.1 in the election a month later
    COALition 40 – down 4 points to finish at 39.5 at the election a month later.

    Interestingly both were at 39% the Newspoll before the GST was announced, so the change over that 6-7 weeks was ….minimal but ever so slightly in favour of the ALP.
    Despite the Tele campaign.

    Looks like the Tele propaganda campaign gave the COALition a temporary and welcome kick along, which then faded.

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