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Dangerous territory

Dave Lisle, Goonengerry

Your editorial on the novel coronavirus last week; ‘No easy path with this virulent pathogen’, waded into dangerous territory.

While you did well to identify certain hurdles, and pointed to some fun facts, you faltered towards the end while taking a swipe at the Murdoch media empire.

Alluding to our relative success in containing the pandemic thus far, you ask, rhetorically, ‘whether Australia wants to be like America at this time?’ before telling us that Murdoch has ‘much more influence’ in America than here. This is a curious claim that few media scholars would back. Murdoch is a huge fish in the little pond of Australian media; in America he operates in an ocean. In this (American) more diverse landscape, Murdoch’s power is diluted.

In short, I’d be wary of trying to explain the differing corona-outcomes here and in the States with reference to Murdoch influence, although there’s certainly a discussion to be had.

However, when you talk about preferring ‘science over punditry’ and how ‘every bit of misinformation’ seeds doubt and hinders our COVID-19 response, you really stumble. I’d suggest taking a look at your own advertising policies if you want the high moral ground. On 17 June this year, a quarter of your editorial page was devoted to an ad for Vaxxed, the anti-vaccination pseudoscience documentary directed by disgraced former physician Andrew Wakefield.

Ads for the film have been commonplace in the paper for some time now. As James Murdoch quipped in a 2009 lecture about the media: ‘The only reliable, durable and perpetual guarantor of independence is profit.’

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