Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s nuclear lobby targets young people, using Facebook and Instagram

Mining lobby pushes young people to embrace nuclear power ,  Financial Review, Aaron Patrick, 7 Aug 20,The mining industry has been wrestling for years with how to change one of the most entrenched rules in energy policy: a moratorium on nuclear power.Now, based on insights from a market researcher known for its political insights, the Minerals Council of Australia has begun a campaign to win over a group that could lead Australia to a nuclear industry: young people.

On Sunday, a week ago, 17 different ads started appearing on Facebook and Instagram promoting nuclear as safe, reliable and good for the environment.

Produced by the Mineral Council’s own staff, the ads are based on polling by JWS Research, which estimates support for nuclear power is 40 per cent, some 29 per cent of people are neutral or unsure, and women and people aged 18 to 34 are the least informed about nuclear power. Some aren’t even sure there is a connection between nuclear power and uranium, of which Australia is one of the world’s bigger producers.

After conducting focus groups and an online survey last year, JWS Research told the Minerals Council that support could rise to 55 per cent, or even higher, by providing more information to cou nter the reputational damage of the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents.

“There is an obvious opportunity to educate Australians about nuclear power’s credentials,” JWS said in a report for the lobby group. “Low-level concerns about the cost of nuclear could be countered and its reliability and zero-emissions credentials should be promoted.”

The ad campaign isn’t a slick, big-budget production. Six ads, each about 1½ minutes long, contain statistics and information in graphical form set to music. “What are we afraid of,” says nuclear energy is the safest source of baseload electricity based on output, and no one died of radiation poisoning in the Fukushima meltdown in Japan in 2011.

Eleven other ads feature interviews about one minute long with experts and advocates discussing nuclear waste, medicine and reactor design at a nuclear conference in Sydney…….

In December, a parliamentary committee urged the government to legalise modern nuclear reactors, and in May Energy Minister Angus Taylor included nuclear among energy sources the government will study for investment.

August 8, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

The Australian government continues its war on the national broadcaster, the ABC

The war on the ABC and its options for survival Independent Australia, Independent Australia

By Lee Duffield | 1 August 2020   Dr Lee Duffield continues his examination of the current state of the ABC and its future under a Liberal government.

OFFICIAL AUSTRALIAN state policy since 2014 on its public broadcaster, the ABC, has been to throttle it through withdrawing its budget by stages while abusing it with propaganda through Liberal-linked commercial media — News Corp newspapers, 2GB radio network and Sky News pay television. There is also a subplot that involves, while the ABC survives, pressing it to deliver positive messaging for the government of the day.

It is a changed scene since broadcasting regulations providing oversight or program guidelines were dropped from the 1980s, the same as with the former Federal Communications Commission standards in America. The present-day barrage of extravagant opinion-making on commercial media is one result — different to the ABC, which being publicly-owned has to retain standards of accountability and fairness.

ABC broadcasters know they have formidable public support. Audience research over the decades shows that high proportions of the population from all walks of life use the service, depend on it, like it and respect it. It is sometimes conditional support; they do not like everything, but it gives the ABC, despite the six years of official abuse, breathing space to fall back on prepared positions as it has done through crises past.

………. the continuing pattern of the ABC. It provides service on many fronts, often service the commercials will never give, provided by broadcasters consulting their professional values, like the journalists guided by received news values — new and interesting, important and informative with no snide agendas.


So why this hatred of it? The answer is that a political and financial ideology which preoccupies certain people is obstructing the rest of us just getting a good range of services from the ABC — value for money, Australian culture first.

On one hand, the government of the day believes in privatising economic life to the direct benefit of wealthier constituents so it foregoes revenue – as with the scheme to cut company taxes – and will sell off public assets where it can. Some might watch and listen to the ABC, but that clearly gets outweighed by loyalty to party, money and power, so selling off is on the books.

Secondly, government trades favours with corporate backers, in the case of media indulging the demands of commercial broadcast interests for market protection, by pushing down the ABC — “people’s choice” not coming into it.

The relationship is being demonstrated by the trend for conservative ministers to make declarations or announcements through 2GB or Sky, where they can get the easiest, most matey, often fawning form of interview. The ABC is much less favoured, as it is independent and still does critical interviews; they look for the new information, hold the speaker to account, don’t run it on-and-on.

It does itself have a small co-operative part in this game by giving away slavish credits. Where ministers will only talk with 2GB or Sky, the audio or vision has to be recorded for replay and credited to them by name; they get a free ad on ABC. That goes against the alternative, that often if you take an allowable short excerpt – and copyright laws give fair leeway on this – you say it was “on radio”, or “on commercial television”…….,14161

August 1, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Murdoch press enthusiastic about nuclear propagandist Michael Shellenger

Murdoch press supports ‘reformed climate activist’ Michael Shellenberger,14065  By Steve Bishop | 3 July 2020The mainstream press published an attack on climate science by a supposed environmentalist who is, in fact, a nuclear lobbyist, writes Steve Bishop.

THE AUSTRALIAN misled its readers this week when it carried a major article purporting to be written by a climate activist who was, as it turned out, admitting climate science was bunkum.

Michael Shellenberger, headlined as an environmentalist in the article, is, in fact, a self-advertised nuclear power lobbyist and an advocate for nuclear weapons proliferation.

Other Murdoch newspapers and Australia’s Sky News have also carried Shellenberger’s claim that:

‘On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologise for the climate scare we created over the past 30 years.’

He may once have been an environmentalist, but the fact is he was exposed – not for the first time – for attacking climate science as long ago as 2010 by the Public Interest Research Centre which reported that along with a co-author he had restated:

‘…a plethora of half-truths, misrepresentations and outright fantasies that have lately become almost canonical in the public sphere.’

Shellenberger makes his agenda clear on various websites and elsewhere: the present approach to dealing with climate change is not working, renewable power sources won’t solve the problem and, therefore, the entire world needs to be nuclear powered.

He told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2017 that the widespread adoption of nuclear power across the world would solve the climate change problem:

“…because it basically reduces your carbon emissions to near zero in the power sector.”

The Herald described him not as an environmentalist but as a ‘nuclear power advocate’.

In 2003, he co-founded the Breakthrough Institute which says on its website:

Breakthrough’s energy work has focused heavily on the future of nuclear energy. Along with a growing cohort of scientists, journalists, philanthropists, and environmentalists, we have made the case that addressing climate change will require abundant, cheap, safe, and reliable nuclear energy.’

In 2016, he became the founder and president of an enterprise lobbying for the nuclear industry, giving it the misleading title of Environmental Progress.

He describes its aim:

‘The greatest threat to the climate today comes from the decline of clean energy as a share of electricity globally. EP is working with scientists, conservationists and citizens around the world to defend our largest source of clean energy, nuclear power.’

The website boasts:

‘He has helped save nuclear reactors around the world, from Illinois and New York to South Korea and Taiwan, thereby preventing an increase in air pollution equivalent to adding over 24 million cars to the road.’

In a major article for Forbes magazine in 2018, Shellenberger wrote:

‘Who are we to deny weak nations the nuclear weapons they need for self-defence?’

In another 2018 Forbes article under the cross-heading ‘Why nuclear energy prevents war’, Shellenberger wrote:

‘After over 60 years of national security driving nuclear power into the international system, we can now add “preventing war” to the list of nuclear energy’s superior characteristics.’

Renew Economy reported in 2017 he was:

‘…stridently pro-nuclear, hostile towards renewable energy and hostile towards the environment movement.’

At that time, Shellenberger was in Australia to speak at a major conference – not a climate change summit but the International Mining and Resources Conference – to advance the cause of nuclear power.

This is not the first time The Australian has used this nuclear lobbyist to attack renewable energy and climate science. It featured him three years ago under the headline‘Nuclear “must replace coal, gas”’.

He was in Australia to promote his message that wind and solar have failed, that they are doubling the cost of electricity and that:

“…all existing renewable technologies do is make the electricity system chaotic and provide greenwash for fossil fuels.”

In his article, Shellenberger gives 12 examples of scientific findings which he says are incorrect and which are climate alarmism.

Take just the first: ‘Humans are not causing a “sixth mass extinction”’.

His assertion contradicts the work of more than 1,000 scientists contributing to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) which found ‘1,000,000 species threatened with extinction’ and warned:

“We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

What makes The Australian’s publishing of the article all the more risible is that in reality, it is a puff piece for Shellenberger’s new book, Apocalypse Never and is more or less identical with what he had published on his website on 29 June.

Forbes, which has carried Shellenberger’s articles in the past, withdrew the puff piece.

National Post asked Forbes why this had happened and was told:

‘Forbes requires its contributors to adhere to strict editorial guidelines. This story did not follow those guidelines and was removed.’

Don’t expect The Australian to follow suit.

(Readers who might want to read about a real climate scientist changing his mind about global warming should read Professor Richard Muller’s story.)

July 6, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Julian Assange’s father in tireless fight to free his son, calls on Scott Morrison to help Australian citizen Julian

Assange’s father calls extradition process ‘disgrace’ July 20, The 80-year-old is organizing public events in Australia despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and hopes to travel to London in August to support Assange during his extradition trial.  

Sydney: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s father, John Shipton, is fighting tirelessly for the release and return of his son, who is facing an extradition trial in London for publishing classified information, a process he described as abuse.

“We maintain that the extradition request is a fraud in the English court… It’s a fraud in the English legal system, it’s a case of abuse of process, it is a disgrace,” Shipton, who travelled from Melbourne to Sydney to campaign for his son’s release, told Efe news in an interview.
The 80-year-old is organizing public events in Australia despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and hopes to travel to London in August to support Assange during his extradition trial which, he says, is being carried out under “dire” circumstances.

In May 2019, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, said, after visiting Assange in the Belmarsh prison along with two medical experts, that he showed “all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma”.

Assange has spent almost a decade in confinement, first under house arrest in a British town and then at the Ecuadorian embassy in London between 2012 until 2019, when Ecuador withdrew his political asylum status.

Shipton has urged the Australian government to mediate with the UK administration for the release of his son, who is wanted in the US on 18 charges of espionage and computer intrusion, for which he could be sentenced to prison for up to 175 years.

“I believe the government can, if it wishes to, assist us in bringing Julian home. I believe that (it) is very simple for the Prime Minister (Scott Morrison) to pick up the phone and ring (his UK counterpart) Boris Johnson and say Julian Assange is an Australian citizen in dire circumstances.

“This will resolve this immediately and that’s easily possible,” he told Efe news during the interview.

July 2, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, media, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Killing Australia’s democracy – first kill the ABC

Latest $84 million cuts rip the heart out of the ABC, and our democracy,    The Conversation, Alexandra Wake, Program Manager, Journalism, RMIT University, Michael Ward, PhD candidate, University of Sydney, 24 June 20

At the height of the coronavirus emergency, and on the back of devastating bushfires, Australia’s much awarded and trusted national broadcaster has again been forced to make major cuts to staff, services and programs. It is doing so to offset the latest $84 million budget shortfall as a result of successive cuts from the Coalition government.
In the latest cuts, wrapped up as part of the national broadcaster’s five-year plan,

  • 250 staff will lose their jobs
  • the major 7:45am news bulletin on local radio has been axed
  • ABC Life has lost staff but somehow expanded to become ABC Local
  • independent screen production has been cut by $5 million
  • ABC News Channel programming is still being reviewed………
  • Clearly the coronavirus pandemic has slashed Australia’s commercial media advertising revenues. But the problems in the media are a result of years of globalisation, platform convergence and audience fragmentation. In such a situation, Australia’s public broadcasters should be part of the solution for ensuring a diverse, vibrant media sector. Instead, it continues to be subject to ongoing budget cuts.

    Moreover, at a time when the public really cannot afford to be getting their news from Facebook or other social media outlets, cutting 250 people who contribute to some of Australia’s most reliable and quality journalism and storytelling – and literally saving lives during the bushfires – appear to be hopelessly shortsighted.

    The latest Digital News Report 2020 clearly showed the ABC is the media outlet Australians trust the most.[table on original shows this]……

  • the end of short wave radio services to the Northern Territory

June 25, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Another Australian wonderful lead – in CLIMATE DENIAL!!!!

The number of climate deniers in Australia is more than double the global average, new survey finds, The Conversation, Caroline Fisher, Co-author of the Digital News Report: Australia 2020, Deputy Director of the News and Media Research Centre, and Assistant Professor of Journalism, University of Canberra, Sora Park, Lead Author of Digital News Report: Australia 2020, Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Arts & Design, University of Canberra, June 16, 2020 Australian news consumers are far more likely to believe climate change is “not at all” serious compared to news users in other countries. That’s according to new research that surveyed 2,131 Australians about their news consumption in relation to climate change.

The Digital News Report: Australia 2020 was conducted by the University of Canberra at the end of the severe bushfire season during January 17 and February 8, 2020.

Read more: Media ‘impartiality’ on climate change is ethically misguided and downright dangerous

It also found the level of climate change concern varies considerably depending on age, gender, education, place of residence, political orientation and the type of news consumed.

Young people are much more concerned than older generations, women are more concerned than men, and city-dwellers think it’s more serious than news consumers in regional and rural Australia.

15% don’t pay attention to climate change news

More than half (58%) of respondents say they consider climate change to be a very or extremely serious problem, 21% consider it somewhat serious, 10% consider it to be not very and 8% not at all serious.

Out of the 40 countries in the survey, Australia’s 8% of “deniers” is more than double the global average of 3%. We’re beaten only by the US (12%) and Sweden (9%).

While most Australian news consumers think climate change is an extremely or very serious problem (58%), this is still lower than the global average of 69%. Only ten countries in the survey are less concerned than we are.

Strident critics in commercial media

There’s a strong connection between the brands people use and whether they think climate change is serious.

More than one-third (35%) of people who listen to commercial AM radio (such as 2GB, 2UE, 3AW) or watch Sky News consider climate change to be “not at all” or “not very” serious, followed by Fox News consumers (32%)…….

June 18, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, media | Leave a comment

Australian media watchdog found Andrew Bolt breached press standards by vilifying Greta Thunberg

Andrew Bolt breached media standards calling Greta Thunberg ‘deeply disturbed’, watchdog rules, SBS,  The Australian media watchdog has found Andrew Bolt breached press standards by attempting to “diminish the credibility” of Greta Thunberg on the basis of her disability.

BY MAANI TRUU, 5 June 20 A column by News Corp writer Andrew Bolt mocking teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg breached standards by attempting to “diminish the credibility” of her opinions on the basis of her disability, the Australian media watchdog has found.

The column, published online in August last year, referred to the 17-year-old as “freakishly influential”, “deeply disturbed”, and a “strange girl”.

“I have never seen a girl so young, with so many mental disorders, treated by so many adults as a guru,” Bolt wrote.

The Australian Press Council found the article breached General Principle 6 of its standards of practice, which requires media organisations to avoid causing offence, distress, prejudice, or a substantial risk to the health and safety of an individual, unless publishing the story is in the public interest.  …..

“[The column] attempts to diminish the credibility of Ms Thunberg’s opinions on the basis of her disabilities and by pillorying her supporters on the basis of her disabilities,” the watchdog’s findings, published on Thursday, read. …….

June 6, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Today’s News Corp cuts represent an enormous threat to Australian democracy ⁠

Dark day for journalism as Murdoch’s global empire sells democracy down the river   
Today’s News Corp cuts represent an enormous threat to Australian democracy ⁠— and a grim reminder of the power of a single family.

Australian news journalism has never seen a day as black as today — and not just because News Corp has closed 12 of its 17 regional daily newspapers, leaving Australia with just 20 remaining.

Today also demonstrates the grotesque power of
one company — and one family — to decimate a large slice of a country’s
news in a single media release.

A company worth $16.3 billion, run from New York, has wielded a knife through large swathes of Australian democracy….. (subscribers only)

May 29, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Australian media is not doing its job to expose power and corruption

May 26, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

The Liberal coalition government killing the ABC by 1000 cuts – but a possible way exists to save it

With luck the ABC can be saved , Crispin Hull, 8 May 20,    This week’s report on ABC funding should alarm Australians.

The death by a thousand cuts of the ABC and the slow strangulation of Medicare have become woven into in Liberal Party’s DNA since John Howard turned Robert Menzies’ broad church of a liberal-conservative Liberal Party into a purely conservative one by shutting out almost everyone left of the nave.

A different liberal-conservative Liberal Party, on the other hand, would have recognised them as essential Australian institutions to be nurtured and supported. After all, the ABC has been around since 1932 and Medicare (in one form or another) since 1973.

The Liberal Party’s desired outright abolition of both has been impossible because of the two institutions’ ingrained popularity. So the onslaught has to be cunningly dressed up as measures to “improve” Medicare and to voice support for the independence of the ABC and promise “no cuts” while ever trying to bully the ABC; sway its board to the right; and to apply cuts to stifle its voice.

This week’s report by the independent think tank Per Capita says that the ABC has lost $783 million in funding since the Coalition came to power in 2013, starting with $245 million in the 2014 Budget, despite Tony Abbott’s promise before the 2013 election that he would not cut the ABC.

More cuts in staff and programming will come before the end of this financial year. They follow seven years of program and staff slashing, critically a 50 per cent cut in the hours of scripted Australian drama.

The Per Capita report concludes that real funding per year since 1985-86 is down 30 per cent or $370 million. Per head of population, the ABC’s funding has been halved in that time. The cuts have come despite the ABC having to provide extra services to keep up with the digital age.

Very likely the Government will cut more as it seeks to claw back from the Covid-19 crisis, even though the ABC – especially the excellent Dr Norman Swan – did so much to inform Australians about the pandemic, as it always does in times of crisis.

What can be done? The ABC itself is down to the bone, though perhaps it could cut out all sport which the commercials to well enough. It is doubtful a Coalition Government would ever increase real funding for the ABC. Perhaps the best we can hope for is that Labor makes some suggestions that the Coalition feels obliged to match or that they become reality with a Labor Government (whenever that might be). ……..

funding solution used in Britain, New Zealand, and only Western Australia among the Australian states to fund culture which could help fund the ABC – a lottery. The Federal Government should set up its own national lottery to boost ABC funding……..

The BBC is well-funded and broadcasters throughout the world line up to pay for its product. The result is a lot of soft-power dividend for Britain. Australia, too, would get a lot of benefit from properly funding the ABC, not least a better-informed community.

Silly me. It’s that last bit the Coalition detests more than anything.

May 9, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) continues attacks on ABC 

Surprise! Surprise! IPA continues attacks on ABC  
Latest news from ABC Friends , Margaret Reynolds, President ABC Friends National, 28 February 2020   
 The Institute of Public Affairs has (IPA) commissioned a survey by global firm Dynata to continue its campaign against the ABC and public broadcasting in Australia.

Yes, this is the same IPA which tries to influence the Liberal Party to privatise the ABC!

Guess the results: less than a third of Australians agreed that the ABC was out of touch with ordinary Australians.

So, all you extraordinary Australians who value the ABC may like to phone, text, write or visit the IPA to record why you value the essential services the ABC provides.

Phone: (03) 9600 4744

Next time the IPA commissions a survey they may like to consider a poll on how many Australians value the IPAs contribution to Australian public policy debate!

May 2, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Australia goes backwards in latest world press freedom index

April 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

Government’s latest pressure on the ABC is slammed by Paul Keating

‘Ideological contempt’: Keating slams pressure to sell ABC offices, The Age, By Jennifer Duke and Fergus Hunter, March 3, 2020 Former prime minister Paul Keating has slammed the government for encouraging the ABC to canvass a sale of its inner-city offices, saying it shows “ideological contempt” and is an attempt to “fracture” the public broadcaster.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher wrote to ABC managing director David Anderson on Monday recommending the broadcaster consider reviewing its capital city property portfolio, which includes offices in Sydney’s Ultimo and Melbourne’s Southbank. Mr Fletcher did not refer to specific property assets in the letter, but government sources who declined to be identified said the Ultimo office in particular was under-used.

Mr Keating said the pressure on the ABC to explore these sales represented “nothing other than an attempt by the Liberal and National parties to fracture the ABC at its foundations, in settlement of its ideological contempt for the organisation”.

“For the first time in its long history, the Ultimo, Sydney and Southbank, Melbourne premises delivered to the ABC a consolidation of workplaces which facilitated cross-platform and cross-divisional facilitation of a kind that was impossible in the old fragmented locational structure,” he said in a statement.

The ABC is grappling with a funding freeze projected to shave up to $84 million off its annual budget and is set to present a five-year strategic plan for the broadcaster later this month. ……

Mr Anderson said the broadcaster’s costs had risen while it was also confronting the funding freeze. The unprecedented bushfire season saw the ABC’s emergency broadcast requirements surge, adding about $3 million on top of expected spending.

“We estimate that it’s going to cost us an extra $5 million per annum from next financial year where we are going to have to build up our ability to respond [to] this being the new normal,” he said……

March 5, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, politics | Leave a comment

Cosy little cocktail party for Liberal and Labor MPs, with coal industry bigwigs

Climate campaigners condemn ‘insidious’ cocktail party for MPs and coal industry
Parliament House event represents an effort to undermine climate action, environmental group 350 Australia says,
Guardian, Christopher Knaus @knauscWed 4 Mar 2020 Environmental campaigners say a cocktail night involving the fossil fuel industry and federal politicians represents an “insidious” lobbying effort to undermine climate action.

The pro-coal Liberal MP Craig Kelly and Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon hosted a cocktail event at Parliament House to discuss carbon capture and storage with industry leaders on Wednesday night.

An invite seen by the Guardian was sent out by Kelly and Fitzgibbon, who chair the parliamentary friends of resources, together with representatives of Santos and the carbon capture body CO2CRC. The event is described as a “cocktail event to mark the inaugural meeting of the CO2CRC Carbon Capture and Storage Policy Forum”.

That forum features companies such as BHP, Chevron, Coal21, ENI, Exxon, the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, JPower, Shell and Woodside.

The invite says the forum aims to “work with governments, industry and other stakeholders” to create “suitable policy settings and a regulatory framework to accelerate the development and deployment of CCS technology in Australia”…..

Environment group 350 Australia says the event shows the need to “crack down on the undue influence of lobby groups on our democracy”.

The 350 Australia chief executive, Lucy Manne, said the event was an “insidious effort by the fossil fuel lobby to undermine action on the climate crisis”.

Manne said carbon capture and storage had proven a “pipe dream of the coal and gas lobby” and diverted millions away from proven renewables…..

“It’s outrageous that instead of working out how to rapidly transition to the renewable energy future the vast majority of Australians and businesses want, our elected representatives will tonight be sipping cocktails with the coal lobby and discussing how to extend the life of dirty coal-burning power stations.”

Such lobbying is generally hidden from the public unless revealed by the media. The Fitzgibbon-Kelly cocktail event was reported in News Corp papers.

It does not appear in any of the transparency measures governing lobbying. Federal ministers are also not required to disclose who they have met with, unlike in states like Queensland and New South Wales. ……

March 5, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, media, politics | Leave a comment

THE AUSTRALIAN newspaper joins in right-wing media reactions and conspiracy theories surrounding coronavirus

  • The Australian, a national newspaper part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., published an anti-trans article on February 9 that compared coronavirus to a “global epidemic” of transgender teens. The outlet has a history of anti-trans reporting and spreading misinformation about trans youth.

A guide to right-wing media reactions and conspiracy theories surrounding coronavirus, MEDIA MATTERS BY KAYLA GOGARTY & COURTNEY HAGLE  RESEARCH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM NOOR AL-SIBAIALEX KAPLANNIKKI MCCANN RAMIREZ & MADELINE PELTZ 02/28/20

  • As the lethal outbreak of coronavirus continues to spread around the world and the U.S. government warns that it will almost certainly also spread within the United States, right-wing media outlets and online accounts are spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories which could have deadly consequences.

    The strain of novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that was first detected in the city of Wuhan, China. It swiftly spread and has now been detected in 53 countries, including the United States. So far, the outbreak has led to nearly 3,000 deaths and more than 82,000 cases worldwide, according to The New York Times.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes the disease behind the current outbreak as part of “a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.” The CDC adds that “rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people.” Earlier patients in the COVID-19 outbreak appeared to have a link to seafood and animal products, but the virus has since been shown to spread person-to-person.

    On January 30, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern,” and on January 31, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency in the United States.

    As the impact of coronavirus continued to be reported, concerns began to arise that it was driving xenophobic attacks toward people of Asian descent. In New York City, a man assaulted a woman wearing a face mask while calling her a “diseased b****.” On a Los Angeles subway, one man declared that “every disease has ever came from China.” In another incident, a Costco worker in Washington state told an 8-year-old child to “get away” because she believed he may be “from China.” Across the country, there has been an uptick in physical and verbal attacks toward Asian Americans.

    In addition to xenophobic sentiments, conspiracy theories and agenda-driven narratives began to arise on the internet and throughout right-wing media, adding more panic and confusion to an already chaotic situation. These conspiracy theories include claims that the Chinese government created coronavirus at a lab in Wuhan; that the United States is using the virus to attack and undermine China from within; and that coronavirus was previously created and patented by former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates.

    The virus has also triggered anti-Semitic sentiments, medical and scientific disinformation, and fearmongering from the religious right about the end of the world. In the United States, President Donald Trump and his allies in right-wing media have also absurdly argued that Democrats and the media are politicizing coronavirus for their own gain to make him look bad and cause panic in the stock market, which has plunged in reaction to the potential pandemic. Continue reading

March 2, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment