Social media counters Murdoch papers
By Rob Taylor in Sydney
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is battling not only jaded voters in a bitter election race, but the rancor of Rupert Murdoch, whose newspapers have depicted Rudd as a fictional bumbling Nazi colonel to a thief stealing the nation’s savings.
The Australian-born Murdoch’s crusade to oust Rudd in the Sept 7 general election has given rise to a heated social media campaign inside a campaign, as Twitter, Facebook and other digital platforms become the weapons used by some to try to outflank Murdoch’s “old media”.
As the campaign kicked off last week, Murdoch’s best-selling DailyTelegraph tabloid urged readers to “Kick This Mob Out” over apicture of Rudd at Parliament House.
In another front page from Murdoch’s News Corp stable, Rudd andDeputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese were shown as the haplessNazi officers from the 1960s Hogan’s Heroes television show, whileanother greeted a high-profile recruit to Rudd and Labor’s center-leftcause with the headline “Send in the Clown”.
In the finely poised western Sydney seat of Parramatta, Julie Owens,a member of Parliament for Rudd’s Labor party, says the influence ofthe Murdoch press is hurting, with the billionaire’s papers havingadopted an even more confrontational stance than in past years.
“People aren’t as aware of what we have done, and they can’t judge us as a government,”Owens said. “They can only judge us as a reality TV show – who is evil, who is bad, who is harddone by – and that’s what the news has become.”
Exactly what Murdoch’s motivations are have been much debated.
Many people think Murdoch is using his 70 percent grip on big-city newspaper sales to protect the dominance of his prized cable TV investments from emerging digital media threats, chiefly a publicly funded $34 billion super broadband network championed by Rudd.
Murdoch lent credence to that theory, taking to Twitter to criticize “Oz politics!” and questionhow the cross-continent broadband – which the conservative opposition wants to scale back incost and scope – could be paid for in Australia’s AAA-rated but slowing economy.
“News Corp hates the government’s National Broadband Network. The company has formed a view that it poses a threat to the business model of by far its most important asset in Australia,the Foxtel cable TV monopoly,” wrote columnist Paul Sheehan for the rival Fairfax newspaper group. Read more in China Daily.
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