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Australia’s Proposed Media Council: Will Sceptics Be Censored?

Australian Climate Madness warns the Finkelstein report could lead to warming sceptics being censored by the proposed new News Media Council. And it is right.

In detaling the alleged sins of the media, Finkelstein strays way beyond his competence in assessing what’s bias in the climate debate, and what is a legiitimate protest against overwhelming and deceitful propaganda and an utterly useless and ruinous tax:

4.33 One of the conclusions reached in the report (a particularly loaded one by by the far-Left Australian Centre for Independent Journalism) was this:

The two biggest News Ltd tabloids—the Herald Sun and the Daily Telegraph—have been so biased in their coverage that it is fair to say they ‘campaigned’ against the policy rather than covered it.

Finkelstein even cites sympathetically Robert Manne, a fervent alarmist with zero qualifications in climate science and little apparent knowledge of the issues in contention:

4.40 For instance, the Inquiry heard from Professor Robert Manne who, earlier in 2011, had written an extensive critique of The Australian newspaper in Quarterly Essay entitled ‘Bad News: Murdoch’s Australian and the Shaping of the Nation’ that examined seven case studies of the newspaper’s coverage of issues. 

4.41 One of his case studies concerned coverage of climate change policy and his findings mirrored those of the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism. Professor Manne’s research found that articles unfavourable to action on climate change outnumbered favourable articles by a ratio of four to one.

4.42 In his response to Professor Manne’s work, Paul Kelly who is The Australian’s editor-­?at-­?large, did not refute Manne’s statistics. Instead, he argued that Manne’s position was based on a ‘rejection of debate’ about the science of climate change:

One reason for the public’s backlash making carbon pricing so unpopular was the precise attitude [Manne] took. While pretending to be rational his rejection of debate was really faith-­based dogmatism and the Australian public didn’t like being told what to think by patronising experts.

Note that Finkelstein makes no comment at all about the far more overwhelming bias of, say, The Age, which reports the climate debate from a pro-warmist perspective so one-sided that even its own staff passed a statement of protest against their editor-in-chief, after he virtually took dictation from a green group, Nor is any mention made of the overwheming warmist bias of the ABC. No, the only bias and alleged campaigning that concerns Finkelstein is that of sceptics.

Worse, he strongly suggests that this “bias” towards the sceptic’s side of the argument is one that needs fixing by his government-backed News Media Council.

Finkelstein raises the climate coverage of The Australian to illustrate this concern:

… in news reporting it is expected by the public, as well as by professional journalists, that the coverage will be fair and accurate.  Nonetheless, there is a widely-held public view that, despite industry-developed codes of practice that state this, the reporting of news is not fair, accurate and balanced.

And after discussing The Australian’s alleged sins – and other media failings such as breaches of privacy – Finkelstein concludes:

Across each of the areas which have been identified, it is relatively easy to identify failings in journalistic standards. One proponent of the status quo of self-regulation suggested that ‘while it is trivially easy to demonstrate inaccuracies or biases or ethical lapses in the press, the proper solution to such failures seems to be working quite well’ . The last assertion will be subject of detailed consideration later. It is sufficient at this juncture to make the following points. The ease of identifications of failings comes from the fact that they are not rare or infrequent. While some might be trivial, many are not. Their persistent recurrence over the years indicates that existing measures to deal with the problem need improvement.

This strongly suggests that Finkelstein believes his proposed News Media Council could be used to stop or limit news organsations from publishing reports casting doubt on global warming theory and useless measures to “stop” global warming.

I cannot see how it can be read any other way. In this aspect alone, Finkelstein’s report is alarming. Even outrageous..

No wonder Australian Climate Madness is worried. After all, Finkelstein proposes that his News Media Council regulate just such blogs as well, and even ones far smaller, with just 40 hits a day.

How frightening that this kind of censorship – or, rather, “improvement” – potentially confronts us.