Forbes magazine published its 2020 global Rich List this week and the Murdoch family was top of the pops amongst the Australians with a valuation of US$14.9 billion (A$23.9 billion).
Forbes reckons there are only 67 families or individuals on the planet who are richer than the Murdochs and their family profile provides a useful daily tracker of wealth based on share price movements.
Even though the Murdoch pile may have declined from the peak Forbes valuation of US$19.4 billion (A$31.1 billion) in March 2019, the family still clearly has plenty of scope to be generous during the COVID-19 crisis.
However, if anything, the opposite seems to be happening. News Corp drove the brutal closure announcement for AAP last month and was quick to terminate printing of 60 suburban and regional titles this week, despite being the strongest and most resilient media company in the Australian market, with the richest proprietorial backers.
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There are some things which haven’t been cut yet. We’re yet to see any reductions to the extravagant public company pay packets of the Murdoch men, which have amounted to a staggering $1.4 billion over the past 20 years.
This is despite numerous US and Australian public company bosses leading the way on pay cuts, with Qantas CEO Alan Joyce even agreeing to work for free across the balance of 2020. The Boeing chairman and CEO have agreed to do the same.
The various Murdoch outlets in Australia have been quick to demand pay freezes for public servants whilst ignoring their own backyard. Campbell Newman used his platform on social media and Sky News to successfully demand Queensland public servants forgo a 2% pay rise on July 1 and The Australian’s economics editor Adam Creighton has recently produced whole columns slamming excessive pay arrangements in the federal public service.
So, if the Murdochs are so ruthlessly financially focused, why are they backing Andrew Bolt’s high-risk and commercially damaging campaign to blindly back George Pell and cover for the paedophile rackets inside the Catholic Church?
Bolt himself admitted it was financially damaging, telling viewers of his program on Sky News on Tuesday night that the likes of Sleeping Giants had successfully scared off advertisers based on his campaign defending Pell:
Worst of all, we had groups like Sleeping Giants approach advertisers on this show to punish us every time I appeared to discuss George Pell.
This has cost us a lot of money to defend George Pell, a lot of skin in the game. But I have to say to you, not once in all this time did one of my bosses come to me and say ‘please be quiet, this is costing us money’… all the way up to Rupert Murdoch, who followed this closely.
Besides Bolt and Gerard Henderson, there are very few media defenders of the Catholic Church and even less of Pell himself.
So why do the Murdochs continue to give Bolt free reign to pursue his two biggest crack-pot campaigns: denying climate change and defending George Pell?
Bolt’s Sky News show last night was hard to watch as he reeled off multiple unseemly allegations that have been levelled against Pell by a variety of complainants over the years, all of which he claimed were baseless.
Bolt even tried to bully his way onto Ray Hadley’s 2GB program yesterday to have an on-air stoush in which he wanted Hadley to apologise for alleging he has “a history of being soft on paedophiles”. Hadley refused and gave him another serve. Bolt called him a “coward” on Sky last night.
It’s easy to attack journalists who criticise Pell, but what on earth would Bolt do if Witness J, the surviving complainant and key witness in the St Patricks Cathedral case that went to the High Court, offered to debate him and Gerard Henderson live in the Sky News studio?
By all accounts, J was a compelling witness before a jury and survived hours of brutal cross-examination by Pell’s QC, Robert Richter.
After that trial, Pell spent 405 days in jail, and there’s nothing stopping J from now going public with his story, which can be a very liberating experience, as other have demonstrated.
Take the example of Amber Harrison who engaged in four years of fruitless and expensive lawfare with the Seven Network after her affair with former CEO Tim Worner and then carved them up comprehensively after dismissing all the lawyers and just going directly public with her story.
When the victims of child abuse speak, it’s very hard to win a PR war defending a hugely powerful man who, at the very least, sat back and did very little to stop it from happening.
Bolt even used his national TV program to attack the mother who tied a child’s bike to the gates of the Catholic monastery in Kew where Pell stayed on Tuesday night. When is he going to show some sympathy to the families whose lives have been destroyed? It wasn’t some ABC journalist who deposited the bike, it was a victim, whose stories of child abuse will continue to be told no matter what the High Court or Andrew Bolt says.