Clinton and the Australian media

By Gerard Jackson
web posted July 5, 1999

Many of our American readers cannot believe that the Australian media is more supportive of Bill Clinton than even the American media. But its true. To my knowledge not a single Australian newspaper, magazine or TV station has deviated from the pro-Clinton line, astonishing as this might seem. It is true that a handful of journalists — and I mean a handful — have been critical but they stand out because they are few in number. Australia has no equivalent of the Washington Times or the American Spectator to counter the country's pro-Clinton forces. Nothing, other than The New Australian. What accounts for this extraordinary state of affairs is that the vast number of journalists associate with Clinton's politics (I'm reluctant to call them values) and no matter what he has done he is preferable to any conservative. The loathing that Australian journalists have for conservative values borders on sheer hatred.

Murdoch's Australian is the country's only national newspaper. Despite his conservative reputation his paper is basically on the Left. Not because he has ordered it to be so but because Australian journalists are overwhelmingly left-wing. Youngsters with conservative views should abandon any hope of a career in the Australian media, not if they want to get on in life. In any case, journalists who sympathise with old-time Stalinists, as is the case on The Australian, are not going to hire new journalists with anti-socialist views. This basically explains why the Australian media is so heavily prejudiced in favour of Clinton. (The Melbourne Age even stated that America would shame itself if it impeached Clinton!) Left-wing journalists literally screen out pro-conservatives; a process that has created a mirror-like situation in which the manner newspapers report certain events closely resemble each other. Scarcely surprising (despite differences in editorial opinion) when journalists view the world through the same ideological prism.

This means that The Australian's reporting — and non-reporting — of Clinton's scandals only differs from those of other newspapers in emphasis. Several examples spring to mind. When Peter Wilson was the newspaper's Washington correspondent his political reports read like Clinton campaign press releases. Wilson never wrote a favourable word about a Republican. He even claimed that America "leads the world in child poverty[!]" On another occasion he accused the Republicans of forcing Clinton to veto the bill that would have ended the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion. His reporting of the Republicans 1996 convention was peppered with distortions, including the ridiculous claim that the Republicans had been transformed "into the US's first major religious party." His attacks on Gingrich were grossly dishonest and betrayed his contempt for genuine journalistic integrity. The Australian rewarded his political prejudices by making him assistant editor of news. Thus, in this writer's opinion, accelerating that paper's intellectual decline.

Cameron Forbes, well-known in Melbourne for his left-wing views, replaced him. Forbes turned out to be every bit as bad as Wilson. (Probably because it would be impossible to be worse.) Whatever Clinton did the Republicans were always worse. Forbes willingly joined the Clinton's anti-Starr witch-hunt, maligning him on several occasions, impugning his motives and accusing him of having "bent and bruised the law". He made sickening insinuations against Kathleen Willey, attacked Linda Tripp, wrote misleading articles on left-wing Democrats, wrote an outrageous attack on Gingrich, belittled Broaddrick's rape allegations, trashed Thomas Jefferson and inferred he was a rapist, called Larry Flynt's description of Congressman Bob Barr as "Attila the Hun" "fair" and implied that Barr was a "racist". And so it has gone on relentlessly. To make sure readers got the message, he started his first new year column with the left-wing charge that America was "sexist and racist".

Stewart Cameron the New York correspondent is no better. According to him the Christian Coalition has blurred the separation of church and state, the Ku Klux Klan is a potent force in the South, "white supremacists" were responsible for burning black churches, and it was Roosevelt who "gave [American] workers the right to form unions to negotiate their working conditions . . . ."

This pair do not stand alone. Other staff members and contributors like Ramona Koval, Sian Powell, Deborah Hope, Rosemary Neill, etc, have also written in support of Clinton, reserving their contempt for his critics while ignoring his victims. Their attitude is largely a true reflection of the views that dominate every city paper in the country. This is why the Forbes and Stewarts never investigated a single Clinton scandal. This is why no Australian paper reported the Arkansas blood scandal. It is also why reports on Chinese espionage read like White House press releases, why the Clinton campaign funding scandals were hardly reported and then dropped and why Broaddrick was ignored but Tripp was abused, being called a "salacious-minded liar" by Brian Toohey of The Australian Financial Review. Surely America's media cannot be worse than this?

More than anything else, it was the Left's abuse of its media power that motivated me into setting up The New Australian in an effort to combat its flow of disinformation and anti-Americanism. It's decision I have never regretted.

Gerard Jackson is the editor in chief of the very fine The New Australian.

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