The Australian’s extraordinary attack on rival newspapers (“Fairfax shows how not to run a serious newspaper”, 16/6) is itself a demonstration of how not to write an editorial. The Age’s Michael Gordon in no way suggested, as The Australian claims, that newspapers should omit genuine stories on ideological grounds. He cited The Australian’s front-page story, which uncritically gave great weight to the coal-industry’s predictable opposition to the carbon price, as an example of the obvious fact that the Murdoch press has been running interference on the tax. To call this “blatant disregard for…journalism’s code of ethics”, even speaking of “the dark heart of Fairfax”, is sheer melodrama.
They have similarly criticised Fairfax for not making enough of Dr Larissa Behrendt’s off-colour tweet, while themselves virtually ignoring the Bolt racial defamation case for which she is actually noteworthy (except to call it a “threat to free speech”); they have given disproportionate coverage to refugee boat-arrivals, presumably because they are considered damaging to Labor, and so on. It’s all about emphasis.
While it is true that Fairfax has a mildly progressive leaning, The Australian’s commentariat is heavily weighted with ex-Liberal staffers and right-wing think-tankers – and it shows, both in emphasis and analysis. They are in no position to preach neutrality.