The sad, sad state of the Australian fourth estate

This one has probably slipped under the radar of most, but La Stupenda (Regina Rinehart) has been making a move on the Fairfax Press empire. Publisher of the flagship newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Brisbane Times and The Financial ReviewLet’s be clear: Fairfax is a solidly pro-capitalist, anti-China, right-of-centre outfit, that prides itself on manufacturing the boundaries of acceptable cultural and political debate by choosing its writers carefully. They are supposed to represent the ‘full spectrum’ but of course do nothing of the sort.

But now they look positively progressive. Apart from the main competition being the highly reputable Murdoch outfit, Rinehart is also their implacable opponent. She is the heir of a mining empire, the richest woman in the world, advocating positions that include climate change denial, removal of all taxes for miners (even though they mine stuff that is owned collectively by all Australians) and a special zone in the north of Australia free of government regulation where cheap Asian labour can be employed in the mines. She regards the Fairfax papers as havens for communists. So she has bought up shares (up to 18.7 % and now down to 15%) and is demanding seats on the board. The board has refused, citing a laughable charter of ‘editorial independence’. Sadly, these well-heeled apologists for the ruling class are now held up as some sort of champions of journalistic integrity, freedom of speech and all that crap. Actually, it’s a pretty astute move.

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