Looking the wrong way

Paul Kelly is rightly protective of our secular polity (“Islam should accept a secular state”, The Australian, 19/9), and no doubt there are some small Muslim groups that would like to change it. But they are few in number and have no chance of success. Meanwhile, there are already Christian political groups that hold parliamentary power and have influence in major parties. Kelly’s vigilance may be topical, but he is looking the wrong way.

Galileo

By casting climate change deniers as Galileo (Editorial, 1/8), The Australian turns history on its head. Galileo followed the same scientific method as today’s scientists, and was similarly confronted by vested interests which would suppress the truth rather than face the changes it would bring. Then, it was the Church, today it is the fossil fuel industry. The editorial gives a sly wink to astroturf denial organisations like the so-called “Galileo Movement”, and does a grave injustice to the scientist whose name they have hijacked.

What, no class war?

Had I false teeth, they would have popped out in surprise when I read The Australian’s editorial praising Labor’s scheme to broaden tax-funded dental treatment and means-test it, without a single mention of “CLASS WAR!” (“A dental sweetener with a bite” 30/8). Also gobsmacking were some other opinion pieces which, if not exactly full of praise for the government, were at least fainter in their damnation than usual. Has the paper been secretly taken over by the left-wing inner-city bleeding-hearts it has been warning us about?

Whatever the cause, it’s a welcome relief from the years of monotonous bludgeoning The Australian has been giving the government with whatever blunt object comes to hand, and it is to be hoped that a new phase of fair and balanced journalism is to come.

P.S. Chris Mitchell must have been off sick that day – the next it was business as usual.

 

Terse

The Australian’s editorial (“Prime Minister finally confronts AWU questions”, 24/8) states that the PM “has continued to conflate serious reporting of these events with a malicious online smear campaign against her. She has also attacked The Australian.” Even a cursory glance at many of the hundreds of blog comments published daily on The Australian’s website demonstrates that she has good reason to do so.

The Australian’s apology to the PM (23/8) for publishing potentially defamatory material was not only terse and ungracious but also insincere, as it published and then retracted the exact same allegations five years ago. That is not an “error”, it is something that needs an explanation.

Luv and hate

No, Doug Hurst (Letters, 24/8), The Australian did not earn the tag “hate media” for “regular reporting of facts without regard for…leftist sensitivities” but for relentless right-wing campaigning without regard for balance or, as we have seen recently, truthfulness. Like any accurate nickname, it has stuck, unlike the copycat epithet “luvvies”, which lacks both wit and sting.

Equatorial Guinea

To diminish Julian Assange’s fear of being extradited, The Australian’s editorial informs us that “Sweden is not Equatorial Guinea” (18/8). Indeed; as far as I know Equatorial Guinea has never participated in “extraordinary rendition” – the extra-judicial U.S. kidnapping and sometimes torture of suspects – as Sweden has on several occasions. As it is now clear that both the U.S. and Australian governments have been lying about intentions to prosecute Assange, his reluctance to walk into a trap hardly justifies the label of cowardice.

Finkelstein

The global press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders has downgraded Australia’s annual press freedom ranking to 30th, mainly due to the Finkelstein inquiry. However, last year’s ranking of 18th was already poor due to extreme ownership concentration. We should distinguish carefully between regulation of content, which reduces press freedom, and regulation of monopolies, which increases it.

A conservative fable

The Australian’s editorial (“Real-world problems hit by posturing of digital age”, 11/8) reiterates a story conservatives have been telling since Reagan, namely that there exists a “political class” composed of “progressive intellectuals” whose greatest sin, apart from being educated and living in the city, is their lack of connection to “the mainstream”, where that is defined as conservative. This “class” somehow controls the media and the education system, and about half the time, tricks the “mainstream” into voting for it. Despite having won battles with conservatives from the abolition of slavery through to gender equality, they are on “the wrong side of history”.

If this theory were plausible, it would have been easy to present some demographic evidence to support it. However there is none, because it is no more than a fable. There is no intellectual elite except in the sense that some people are smart. There is no mainstream except in the sense that people from all walks of life hold different views on different issues, some of which could be described as progressive, some conservative. The real elites, as always, have actual money and power; for example, the owners of global media empires.

The Australian would do well to take the advice it has frequently offered Wayne Swan, and refrain from trying to incite phoney class wars.