Every political commentator in the land has their own personal opinion, most hide it and at least present a facade of even-handed questioning of politicians from all sides of politics. A week and a bit before the election, Sky News Paul Murray didn’t. In what The Guardian
called an expletive laden anti-Labor tirade
Murray demonstrated his bias in technicolour during the off-camera ‘audience warm up’ prior to a televised interview with the LNP’s Peter Dutton at a suburban Brisbane hotel. Some of Murray’s remarks included
imploring them to vote for the Liberal and National candidates, rather than minor parties, to ensure a Coalition election victory.
During the 10-minute monologue Murray mocked former treasurer Wayne Swan, the president of the ALP, Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, West Australian premier Mark McGowan and Sky News commentator and regular guest Nicholas Reece, deputy lord mayor of Melbourne city council.
Murray laughed at Swan for coming to the defence of Albanese, when he accused the media of “disgusting” gotcha journalism. “And again, what about Wayne Swan the other day, screaming and moaning because of course ‘the press has been mean to Albo, too mean to Albo’, Murray said.
Murray broadcasts on Sky News, a subsidiary of News Corp. His rant is a test of character for the management of Sky News and News Corp as it is now obvious they employ a commentator on politics that has gone on the record with a hatred of one side of politics. He clearly cannot report on the political news or conduct interviews in an unbiased, fair and equitable basis.
Should Sky allow Murray to keep his job, they are demonstrating to all and sundry that they really don’t care that one of their (one assumes) highly paid talking heads has no concept of fairness or balance. If they do, they demonstrate that there is an implied political agenda to everything they do. The implied bias doesn’t just affect Murray, it affects every report that Sky News puts to air, regardless of the talking head.
Ironically, in the same week that Murray mocked various ALP MPs and got away with it, News Corp criticised former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
for insulting a journalist (probably one of theirs) in Melbourne. You can’t have it both ways and be fair or balanced. It’s probably reasonable to suggest that Rudd is not the most balanced identity in Australian politics and he is putting his name to a campaign to initiate a royal commission into the actions of News Corp. But if Sky News allows their staff to criticise their political enemies, it’s probably expected that someone will return fire. If Sky News won’t take action, their parent company, News Corp should. Unfortunately for the reporters that attempt to do a good job at News Corp, there will be allegations of bias that cannot be completely rebutted while Murray and his ilk at News Corp keep their jobs. A former News Corp journalist of 30 years standing gave his opinion in The Guardian
in 2019. While we can’t confirm it, it’s probably reasonable to suggest that Tony Koch’s opinion hasn’t changed since then.
News Corp has a problem, they already have ceased publication of actual newspapers through most regional areas of Australia, steering consumers to the websites spawned by the discontinued newspaper titles. As a lot of News Corp’s regional coverage is web based and written by people in capital cities, the ability to find out about local events is severely limited. A reputation for bias towards a political party won’t result in people with alternative opinions paying a subscription to read ‘local’ news written by people that could be thousands of kilometres away.
Ironically, at the time News Corp is reducing coverage, the ABC is expanding its presence in regional areas. Conservatives, frequently using News Corp publications as their mouthpiece, claim that the ABC is a waste of taxpayer money and should be privatised. At least one organisation is funding people to live in regional areas and report on current events in those regions.
News Corp’s implied bias makes it hard for them as the ALP’s Anthony Albanese is the Prime Minister elect. Why would anyone from the new Government discuss anything openly and honestly with an organisation that doesn’t censure their employee who is clearly is biased against the incoming Government and seems to have an anti-government agenda? The ALP has also committed to restoring some funding to the ABC, so there is an alternative (and publicly funded) alternative to News Corp’s bias with a charter to retain balanced reporting content. The increased funding from the deals with Facebook and Google have already ensured that the ABC can afford to open offices staffed by journalists in smaller regional communities, the same communities that no longer get the newspaper dropped off at the store every morning.
Regardless, expletive laden’ rants are not what those who attended the Sky News sponsored ‘Paul Murray’s Live Pub Test’ interview with Peter Dutton expected to see at the Eatons Hill Hotel on the northern outskirts of Brisbane a week or so ago. Even if News Corp has absolutely no pretence of impartiality and fairness, they have a duty to consider the mental health of their employees.
What do you think?