Cartoon: A Pickering offering from the early 70s when Whitlam tried it
For the most divisive government in living memory, Gillard’s crowd has done a great job in uniting the media. Talk of press control will do it every time. It is amazing to see the Labor shills from Fairfax lining up beside News Ltd to campaign against the six media control bills being rushed through parliament.
With the benefit of newspeak, Finkelstein’s ‘super regulator’ has now become the more innocuous sounding ‘Public Interest Media Advocate’ or PIMA, as the position has become known. It is the same animal, with the same powers to suppress dissent, but with a nicer sounding name.
While the term public interest has many great connotations of good to it along with images of rainbows and unicorns; it has to be remembered that in the eyes of government, ‘public interest’ has a remarkable tendency to coincide with the interests of the ruling class.
Cartoonists have produced some classics.
Nicholson has come up with a couple of beauties about the effect of media control on his ilk.
Bill Leak offers up a more Soviet style concept of the future under PIMA
The Herald Sun pointed out that the ultimate media regulator, is the public with its ability to vote for even handedness with its dollar:
The world's most famous newspaper - The Times - took years to recover from campaigning throughout the 1930s for appeasement with Germany and Adolf Hitler.
When perhaps hundreds of potential political opponents, including the Fuhrer's best mate, Nazi leader Ernst Rohm, were executed on Hitler's orders, The Times insisted that "Herr Hitler, whatever one may think of his methods, is genuinely trying to transform revolutionary fervour in to moderate and constructive effort and to impose a high standard of public service on National Socialist officials."
That was 1934. Ouch.
The Times was selling 204,400 copies a day then. The News Chronicle, a bitter critic of appeasement, and calling for Britain to re-arm for the battle it knew lay ahead, was selling 1,320,000 copies each day.
As always, the audience was in the driver's seat.
It was legendary editor C.P. Scott who coined the phrase "comment is free, but facts are sacred", and newspaper editors have tried to live by it ever since, knowing how keenly each is observed by their readers.