Finkelstein left of the proverbial fish fork
David Kemp sums up the problem with the Gillard government’s approach to media control and the proposed News Media Council in a most elegant and precise manner.
There are really only two choices. One is accountability to the people, the other is accountability to government. There is a semi-fascist in-between option: accountability to the media industry. Only one of these options is compatible with democracy.
This makes obvious the inherent conflict of interest in the government’s proposition even before analysing Finkelstein’s own half-cocked research.
There is no such thing as an independent government agency, free of conflicting interests, so long as government chooses who will be the members of the agency, and dismisses and funds them (as it must). Government is not impartial. It is a huge concentration of partisan power and self- interest. That is why we need democracy and its essential condition, freedom of speech, to keep government in check.
It has been revealed that one piece of research Finkelstein relied on his report on media bias and unfairness of reporting was by a very unreliable activist source. In any case, that piece of research begs the very question about the importance of the media’s role in challenging policiy assumptions of not just that of Gillard government, but any government, .
If any doubt still remains in the liberal left mind, it should be troubled by the indignation of Paul Kelly.
This report is a watershed in Australia’s political history. The anger of the Gillard government towards media criticism has resulted in a blueprint for enforced media regulation never before seen in Australia.
Finkelstein’s arrogance is supreme: he asserts that he can devise a statutory system that does not infringe press freedom and he claims his model “will right wrongs perpetrated by the media” and make the media “accountable to their audiences”. It is astonishing stuff.
All I can do is express my gratitude to News Limited, the only really strong bulwark in Australia standing against the ABC, the Fairfax Fairfax press and the Labor/Green alliance government, all of which are so clearly to the left of your proverbial fish fork.