08 September 2013

Australia—a win for Tony Abbott (and Richard Murdoch)

By all accounts Tony Abbott waged a highly effective campaign in leading his Liberal (conservative) Party to victory in the Australian election on Saturday. And it didn't hurt that he faced a Labour Party splintered by internal bickering.

But the biggest boost of all may very well have been the massive support Abbott's party got from Rupert Murdoch, the media magnate whose newspapers cover 70 per cent of the country's readership, a formidable propaganda machine. Indeed, given that kind of backing, perhaps the only surprise was that the Liberals didn't win the landslide many predicted. On election eve, Abbott referred to Murdoch as a "hometown hero." He certainly did heroic service for the Liberals.

All of this must be deeply disturbing to democrats. Democracy is about political equality, and when one man has the kind of power Murdoch does, democracy is mocked. And that power is not limited to Australia. It is said you can't become prime minister of Great Britain without his blessing, his media empire there is so vast. He even exercises considerable influence in the U.S. with his ownership of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, America's largest newspaper. The power of this one man trivializes the power of ordinary citizens.

Canada has its own Rupert Murdoch of sorts—Pierre Karl Péladeau—the owner of Quebecor Media Inc., a media monster that includes the country's largest newspaper chain.

Democrats may fret about this disproportionate power, but Tony Abbott won't be among them. It has served him well, and he will no doubt bask in the approval of his hometown hero for the next four years.

No comments:

Post a Comment