Friday, 3 February 2012

Think-tank flack Ian Hanke comes to Rinehart's aid


"Ian, it's Trevor Bleach. Yes, mate, I know. It's been a while. Yep. Yep. Haha, no worries mate. Listen, just giving you a quick bell to ask if you're good for a column on this clown Hamilton's take on Gina's move on Fairfax. Thought so. Yeah, it looks pretty bad, I know, Ian. But don't worry, just slam the bastard. Don't worry about facts. No. Nah. Nah. Yep, that's it. Make 'em look like stuck-up fuckin' snobs. Which they are, of course, yeah I know. Out of touch with middle Australia. No don't say unAustralian, that's too big a target. And talk about alternative views. Yeah, good one. I like that, "conspiracy", beaut. Fantastic. Yeah, just really nail their asses and talk about the share price. But don't talk about Gina wanting to shift the debate to the right, no. No. No. Let them carry on about that, the punters'll never twig. Just slam 'em. Right. See ya mate."

I imagined a telephone conversation in this vein when this morning I read the dishonest opinion piece published in The Age, by Ian Hanke, director of communications and strategy for the H. R. Nicholls Society. This body was singled out as a right-wing think-tank by op-ed writers from the other side of the political spectrum, and held up as proof that Rinehart associates with people whose views are not, at all, representative of middle Australia. So it's a defensive attack on the Left, Hanke's piece, and it verily drips vitriol.

Hanke knows that most readers are not as knowledgeable about the way the media works in society, as he is. So he first of all sets up a few straw men. "Look," he says to his readers, "the guys on the Left say Rinehart is a 'right-wing ogre' who is going to 'tear down society'."

Well, no, Ian. That's not at all what the Left is saying. What they're saying is that if Rinehart starts to change the editorial position at Fairfax then all of Australia's metropolitan newspapers will be writing from the Right. Rupert Murdoch already owns 70 percent of this sector, and Murdoch demonstrably and aggressively operates on the Right. In fact, Murdoch's ploy - to use his loss-leading newspapers to influence public policy to favour his profitable TV assets - is exactly the one that Rinehart desires to action in her own interests. For the benefit of the Australian mining industry. This is precisely the reason Rinehart has bought such a large stake in Fairfax Media.

People on the Left already complain that the ABC is shifting too far to the Right, because there are people like Gerard Henderson, from right-wing think-tank The Sydney Institute, regularly attacking the ABC with claims that it's not representative of middle Australia, and is too far to the Left. In fact, with Murdoch's editors working ever more assiduously to promote right-wing views, the entire spectrum of Australian media is being dragged to the Right. Outlets like Fairfax and the ABC, which are centrist, appear to be on the Left because of this deliberately distorting effect orchestrated from the Right by editors at Murdoch tabloids and The Australian.

Hanke also drags out the victim card and plays it endlessly. There's the "orthodoxy" of the latte set, the chardonnay-sipping know-alls in Newtown and Glebe. Can't have "alternative views" can we? asks Hanke. So climate change scepticism is the birthright of those on the Right, regardless of the overwhelming consensus among - not the latte set, but - scientists all the world over. It's not just the latte set who think that climate change is man-made, it's 99 percent of the world's scientists. Giving equal weight to the remaining one percent is balanced, representative? Ian, mate, I don't think so.

But you don't care what I think, do you Ian. All you care about is making the majority of Australians doubt whether the truth that's being told about Rinehart is real, or not. Well, it's real.

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