This is an old joke, young’uns, about the early days of blogging, during which Serious Journalists opined that we needed lots of review over those dastardly writers on the internet, lest they have undisclosed conflicts of interest! THE HORROR.
And on Wednesday (Jan 8), Mr Murdoch’s News Corp, the largest media company in Australia, was found to be part of another wave of misinformation. An independent study found online bots and trolls exaggerating the role of arson in the fires, at the same time that an article in The Australian making similar assertions became the most popular offering on the newspaper’s website.
It’s all part of what critics see as a relentless effort led by the powerful media outlet to do what it has also done in the United States and Britain – shift blame to the left, protect conservative leaders and divert attention from climate change.
“It’s really reckless and extremely harmful,” said Dr Joelle Gergis, an award-winning climate scientist at the Australian National University. “It’s insidious because it grows. Once you plant those seeds of doubt, it stops an important conversation from taking place.”
I swear, I am not deaf to the arguments about Facebook and Google ruining democracy but if both those companies got grounded from the internet tomorrow we’d still be left with the two forces that have done the most damage to small-l liberalism thriving. Fox News and talk radio turned people angry, reactive and afraid, and channeled all that fear and loathing into votes for the GOP and all its works. So long as both those things blare in every suburban podiatrist’s office ain’t nothing gonna ever change.
The linked article above is mostly about climate change and Murdoch’s effect thereupon but overall we are talking about the worldwide policies of austerity and racism that have impoverished millions and moved civilized societies backwards and mostly erased any gains made during the post-WWII era. Yes, old racist white people are buying up what Murdoch is selling in droves but let’s not let Murdoch off the hook for being the supplier.