Picking apart Rupert Murdoch's influence on the Australian bushfire debate

Damien Cave, for the New York Times:

And on Wednesday, Mr. Murdoch’s News Corp, the largest media company in Australia, was found to be part of another wave of misinformation. An independent study found online bots and trolls exaggerating the role of arson in the fires, at the same time that an article in The Australian making similar assertions became the most popular offering on the newspaper’s website.

It’s all part of what critics see as a relentless effort led by the powerful media outlet to do what it has also done in the United States and Britain — shift blame to the left, protect conservative leaders and divert attention from climate change.

“Influencing” is a polite word for it.

Murdoch’s papers have been pushing Australia further away from real, substantial climate action for years. They played a sizeable role in destroying at least two governments, with climate policy forming part of the reason.

Part of the problem is their outsized influence: Murdoch’s News Corp is the biggest media company in Australia. In many cities, they run the only paper in town.

That’s a problem in any country, let alone one that’s already as deeply conservative as Australia.

The second problem: it’s hard to fight against the kind of misinformation News Corp peddles. Ketan Joshi and Jason Wilson have been picking apart their articles on Twitter and their threads are deep, informed, and well referenced. That takes an inordinate amount of time and knowledge to do well.

It’s much easier to make a false claim than it is to debunk it. And we all know which one is going to go further.

© 2019 cory zanoni.