(Image: Tom Red/Private Media)

The government's news media bargaining code was always based on a lie -- one devised and disseminated by News Corp -- that big tech platforms steal content and must be made to pay for it.

It was also based on ignoring an important distinction between the two intended targets of the theft -- Google and Facebook.

Google serves users results, including news items, based on its own crawling of the internet. Media companies could prevent Google from searching their sites with a trivially small adjustment to the code of their websites. The fact that they fail to take this simple step illustrates the truth of the relationship between media companies and the search giant -- the former obtain enormous benefit from it.