Rupert Murdoch (Image: AP/Josh Reynolds)

Crikey always goes out of its way to recognise people who have gone above and beyond in making the world just a little worse — and why should we limit our awards in this area to the end of the year?

With that in mind, welcome to our new weekly item: Clown of the Week.

It probably feels a little unimaginative to pick Rupert Murdoch for our first candidate. “Murdoch poisons the public debate!” and in other news there’s a worldwide epidemic of oxygen-addiction.

But even by his standards, Murdoch and his empire have managed to have a direct hand in a remarkable number of stories that sum up this week.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial and get Crikey straight to your inbox

By submitting this form you are agreeing to Crikey's Terms and Conditions.

There was Murdoch himself, brazenly ignoring questions and suppressing debate at yesterday’s News Corp AGM, an insight into how he does his business. But we also got an insight into how his empire operates in this country.

First up, the transparently partisan approach to state lockdowns. The Australian’s sober and restrained tone on South Australia’s strict lockdowns (under a Liberal government) stands in stark contrast to Victoria’s similar decisions (under a Labor government).

Next up we, again, saw News Corp trying to exercise its influence on who leads the major parties in this country — this time, apparently having decided that Anthony Albanese’s time as Labor leader is up.

And finally we gained another insight into the circular way The Australian does business against its enemies.

Having ignored it as long as it could, the Oz turned its attention to Kevin Rudd’s record-breaking petition, with a remarkable “investigation” that revealed that about 1000 names on the petition are potentially fakes (and it’s worth restating that half a million names remain unchallenged). This, according to the Oz, amounts to “foreign influence in the workings of the Senate”.

The investigation relies on a claim from a right-wing blogger that he bought fake signatures for the petition, saying he was inspired by Sky News’ complaints that Parliamentary petitions were too easy to hack.

Thus, the circle is complete.

Do you have a nomination for next week’s Crikey Clown of the Week? Let us know.