Oz Blog News Commentary

How Murdoch editors lie

January 13, 2020 - 11:02 -- Admin

In response to the opprobrium heaped on The
Australian for their constant climate change denialism now that climate change
is blindingly obvious to all but halfwits, one or other of the supposed editors
of this Murdoch rag have tried to justify their behaviour in an editorial in which
they deny their denialism1.

The first paragraph of this drivel is a
series of motherhood statements about how grief, fear and recrimination are
inevitable; how we need to craft an effective response; how we need open debate
and factual reporting; how we need to weigh all sensible options; and how all
this will be “impossible without unfettered, credible journalism digging out
the facts and bringing to light a wide range of informed viewpoints.”1
 All these statements are true, but none
of them relate to the activities of The Australian over the last few decades,
least of all those encapsulated in the last quote. The Australian, and other
organs of NewsCorp, lie constantly to obtain the political outcome they want,
and that is to keep the Coalition government permanently in power. As Kevin
Rudd says, Murdoch media, which includes The Australian, is a cancer on
Australian democracy.2

Much of the opprobrium directed at The
Australian in particular, and the Murdoch media in general, has been driven by
social media, and as far as I have seen, it is mostly via Twitter (including by
me). This has included hashtags like: #ClimateCriminals; #ClimateTrials; and
#BoycottMurdoch. The fact that social media is mentioned in this editorial is a
measure of its exceptional effect on the psyche of the people who work at The
Australian; enough to make the editor or whoever lapse into more denial.

Laughably, the editorial states that: ”The evidence of global warming since the Industrial Revolution is clear”. This admission is just as bogus as Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s
statement that: “There is no dispute in this country about the
issue of climate change, globally, and its effect on global weather patterns,
and that includes how that impacts in Australia. I have to correct the record
here, I have seen a number of people suggest that somehow the government does
not make this connection. The government has always made this connection and
that has never been in dispute”. Despite this u-turn by both Morrison and The
Australian, George Christensen and Craig Kelly don’t seem to have gotten the u-turn
memo. Christensen posted on social media the lie that the cause of the
bushfires was arson, not climate change4. Kelly posted a piece on
Facebook saying ‘listen to the scientists’5, but then posts a link which
ignores all climate science and refers to a climate change denier, Roy Spencer6.

As if to justify their lack of veracity in
dealing with climate change, the editorial talks about bushfires and refers to
two articles, one from September, 2019, by John Ferguson talking about fire
seasons, and the other from last week about the Indian Ocean Dipole. Wow; two

Just as I was thinking of writing this,
journalist (a real one; not from Murdoch’s media) Graham Readfearn, compiled a
Twitter thread listing some of the lies put out by The Australian. They are
very instructive and I list them here:

  • The
    title of the article from mid 2013 by was “Experts warn of a
    coming ice age”. The article was by Graham Lloyd, the ‘environment’ editor of
    The Australian (yes the same one the editorial mentioned), and its subtitle was
    “Emissions debate heats up while experts warn of a coming ice age”. Readfearn considers the title would have been more
    accurate if it was: “One solar physicist in Russia who is a member of a climate
    science denial organisation says we’re heading for global cooling but all the
    other people we spoke to say he’s dead wrong”7.
  • In
    early 2013, The Australian ran a story on its front page with the headline “Sea
    rise ‘not linked to warming’” which was supposedly based on the findings of
    research published in a peer-reviewed journal late last year. The problem with
    the story, written by the newspaper’s environment editor Graham Lloyd (again!)
    was that, as Readfearn showed, the scientific paper published in the
    Journal of Climate made no such claim and came to no such finding. The Australian
    withdrew the article8.
  • In 2014, The
    Australian’s environment editor, Graham Lloyd (who else?) wrote a few stories
    giving vent to climate change denier Jennifer Marohasy, who has been pushing claims that the Bureau of Meteorology
    (BoM) has “corrupted the official temperature record so it more closely accords
    with the theory of anthropogenic global warming”9. Marohasy is one
    of the most verbose deniers from the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), the
    premier climate change denying organisation in Australia, funded by the fossil
    fuel industry, tobacco industry, and people like Gina Rinehart.
  • Early last year, The
    Australian published a rant by geologist Ian Plimer complaining about two of
    the surveys of climate scientists that demonstrate that 97% of climate
    scientists agree that global warming is caused by human activity. It almost
    goes without saying that Plimer’s complaints about both surveys are belied by
    the methodology of the surveys10.
  • In 2015, The
    Australian published an article entitled “Chances of little ice age on rise” by
    environment editor of The Australian, Graham Lloyd (does he know what truth is?)
    which referred to a paper from the top scientific journal Nature which refers
    to the irradiance of the sun decreasing. The study showed that any negative effect that a solar minimum
    might have on temperatures will be massively outstripped by temperature rises
    caused by increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, Lloyd did not mention
  • In 2014, The Australian published a conspiratorial
    piece by the Combover (Maurice Newman) attacking BoM’s high quality temperature data network with an
    example from a weather station that was not part of that network12.
  • In early 2013, The
    Australian published a column from
    UK-based climate science mangler and anti-wind farm activist James Delingpole
    that tries to argue that Australia’s then unprecedented heatwave and hottest
    month on record wasn’t all that hot and that global warming “alarmists” should
    be answering to a court with the power to issue a death sentence (yes,
  • Chris ‘Fido’ Kenny published a piece in The
    Australian in which he said the ABC had shown Al Gore’s documentary “An
    Incovenient Truth” and hadn’t given it the same scrutiny as when it showed the “Great
    Global Warming Swindle”, even though the ABC had never broadcast Gore’s
    documentary! Readfearn opined that “someone should give Kenny a job on a stone
    fruit orchard, such is his ability to pick cherries”14
  • The Australian published a column by the idiotic
    Ian Plimer attacking a group of Australian scientists who had written a letter
    to the owners of coal-fired power stations. He said No evidence is provided for this statement and no
    signatory to this letter has published anything to support this claim. The
    scientists pilloried by Plimer
    were Professor David Karoly, Professor Barry Brook, Dr Karl
    Braganza, Professor Matthew England, Professor Ann Henderson-Sellers, Professor
    Lesley Hughes and Professor Barrie Pittock. Between them, they have published
    over 700 papers providing evidence Plimer says was missing. Plimer, of course,
    has published none15.

While Readfearn has been targeting The Australian longer than me, I have
had cause to demonstrate the lies included in several of The Australian’s stories
over the last year. Some are by are a few of the same suspects identified by
Graham Readfearn. These include:

  • Last week, David Ross
    and Imogen Reid published an article in The Australian in which they lied about
    the number of arsonists who had been arrested lighting bushfires16.
  • In
    December 2019, Chris ‘Fido’ Kenny stated in The Australian that “Rational
    arguments, hard facts and intelligent debate have been cast aside in favour of
    woke whingeing. In this information age, ill-informed emotionalism dominates
    public debate. This is rich coming from a climate change denier who has
    jettisoned any pretence at rational arguments based on the evidence accumulated
    by scientists over the last 100 years or more17.
  • In November 2019, Ian
    Plimer published in the Australian, a diatribe against climate change which had
    two of the weirdest statements I have ever seen in any denialism drivel. He said: “There are no carbon emissions. If there
    were, we could not see because most carbon is black”, and “reef material is
    calcium carbonate, which contains 44 per cent carbon dioxide. Reefs need carbon
    dioxide; it’s their basic food.” Both are so ludicrous as to be suspected as
    coming from someone who is not the full shilling18.
  • In November 2019, Greg
    Brown and Olivia Caisley acted as stenographers for Barnaby Joyce’s lie about
    the Greens being responsible for a decrease in the number of hazard-reduction
  • In September 2019,
    Geoff Chambers, in the Australian stated that electric vehicles generate more carbon
    dioxide pollution that internal combustion-engined cars. This is only true if
    all the electricity used by electric vehicles is from coal-fired power stations20.
  • In May 2019, Terry
    McCrann, who usually writes on business for The Australian, published a piece in
    which he conflated burning biomass and burning fossil fuel21.
  • In March 2019, Maurice
    ‘Combover’ Newman opined in The Australian that the children striking for climate
    were pawns in a plot to undermine capitalism, which in turn is a plot to
    undermine ‘the west’, and that these children have little concern for the
    damaging consequences of rising dependence on renewable energy22.

These are just the tip
of the iceberg of lies spread by The Australian. Like Readfearn, Ketan Joshi
has compiled a long list of others, with editorials alone consistently lying
about climate science, having headlines such as: “Climate science far from
settled”, “Climate science should be read, not believed as faith”, “Climate
change hysteria a folly”, “Stuck on a ship of (cold) fools”, “Fear and warming
on the climate campaign trail”, “Climate change science highlights uncertainties”,
“Warming to the facts on climate”, and “Wallowing in gloom and doom”23.

On top of all these bizarre anti-science lies in The Australian, it is
clear that their staff are starting to realise that this sort of behaviour
cannot continue, with the now publicly available resignation letter from Emily
Townsend24  and the resignation
or retirement of numerous quality journalists and cartoonists (David Speers, Malcolm Farr, Jon Kudelka, Dennis
Atkins, Rick Morton, Anthony Klan, Scott Murdoch, Stephen Fitzpatrick and Ben
Butler), not just from The Australian but also from other Murdoch outlets
demonstrating this disquiet25.

Unless there is a shakeup at NewsCorp, and it would have to be a very
serious shakeup, then this kind of constant lying will continue. Given that the
editorial under discussion is so replete with more lies, mostly the denial of
their denialism, I wouldn’t hold out much hope of such a shakeup occurring. The
only recourse for those of us who want a future for our children and our
children’s children is to boycott all Murdoch media. Murdoch media interests
include: The Australian, the online news site, the Daily Telegraph (Sydney), the Herald Sun (Melbourne), the
Courier Mail, Brisbane News (both Brisbane), the Advertiser (Adelaide), the
Sunday Times (Perth), the Mercury, Sunday Tasmanian (both Hobart), Northern
Territory News and Sunday Territorian (both Darwin). The company also owns
numerous smaller suburban and regional newspapers. It also owns Sky News and
Foxtel26. All of these need to be put out of business. Why? Because
their denialism, coupled with that of the federal Coalition and similar deniers
in Australia and around the world, both in politics and the media, will leave
us with a planet, large parts of which will be uninhabitable, and in which many
ecosystems will be at best greatly reduced or will have collapsed completely,
and with it, the communities and nations which depend on them for survival.
This denialism is a crime against humanity which will may make those
perpetrated by the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot pale into
insignificance by comparison. Those who have indulged in this denialism need to
face justice.


  1. Anonymous.
    2020. Cool heads needed to craft
    response to bushfire crisis. The Australian, January 11.