QAV with Alan Kohler

Check out our interview with one of Australia’s most respected finance journalists, Alan Kohler. Alan gave us his thoughts on the economy, unemployment, internet stocks, lying CEOs, and his role with the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation. 

QAV podcast with Alan Kohler

News Corp’s unconstrained anti-Labor bias

Following on from my recent post about needing to control the media in order to have influence over the electoral process:

According to Denis Muller, Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne, via The Conversation:

An audit of metropolitan newspaper front pages by Media Watch showed a heavy anti-Labor bias by News Corp papers, and a roughly equivalent – but less strident – pro-Labor bias by the old Fairfax (now Nine) newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. The New Daily analysed three nights of Sky News coverage – April 30, May 1 and 2 – and found gross anti-Labor bias: 

The New DailyCC BY-ND

News Corp’s unconstrained anti-Labor bias cannot account entirely for Labor’s disastrous showing, but common sense says it accounts for some. For example, the company has a daily newspaper monopoly in Brisbane through The Courier-Mail. It was virulently anti-Labor and Labor did astonishingly badly in Queensland. Coincidence? Possibly, but unlikely.

Note that neither newspaper empire showed a bias towards The Greens or Socialist Alliance. So don’t tell me Fairfax is “left-leaning”. The ALP hasn’t been left since Hawke and Keating. They are pro-corporate, just in a less virulent form. You won’t find Fairfax or the ALP arguing for the dismantling of capitalism.

The conclusion for me is that we either need more media regulation in this country – enforcing neutrality, at least in terms of political reporting and opinion – or we need to replace the old media with new media. But doing the latter has proven difficult over the last 20 years. Very few new media businesses have been able to build a sustainable business model that doesn’t rely on venture capital (which usually means putting rich white guys in control of your business) or advertising (corporate control over your revenue stream).

The only solution I can see for new media is to have user-funded models. Find blogs, podcasts, authors that you like and support them. And yes, I have a vested interest in saying that, but can you see another way forward? How do we stop the old media from determining the result of future elections?

The Original Type

The very neat, legible handwriting of Poggio Bracciolini, Renaissance hunter of ancient manuscripts, became the basis of the first types used in the printing machines in Italy. It was easier to read and faster to write than the Gothic styles which were in vogue in the 14th century. We’re starting a series about Poggio on our Renaissance Times podcast this week.

Poggio’s friend, the Florentine humanist Niccolò de’ Niccoli, developed his own style, based on Poggio’s. It was a neat, sloping, cursive, essentially a rapid version of the same script. It became very popular and early printers adopted it, too. They called it “italic”, because it was Italian. And that is what we still call it today on computers.

Media Is Politics

I’ve been saying it for 20 years. If you want political influence in a democracy, you need to control the media. That’s why I started TPN. That’s why Murdoch is king. Don’t blame the voters. They get their opinions from the media. Don’t blame the politicians. They were chosen by the media to do a particular job. It’s the media. If we want change, we need to control the media. We need to invest in independent media. Not the ABC. Truly independent media. That’s why you don’t want advertising to find your podcasts. That’s why you don’t want VC firms to invest in New Media. That’s why you don’t want Facebook to be the new publishing platform. Those things just subvert the opportunity to wrest control of the future from the rich white psychopaths.

What can you do? You can make the media. Make podcasts. Write blog posts. Write books. Make documentaries. Make comics.


The bits the media leaves out.

In addition to targeting Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange, the US government is now throwing the book (well, actually, the Espionage Act) at Daniel Hale, former National Security Agency intelligence analyst turned whistleblower who leaked information about the US drone assassination program. Of course, I’m sure many of my American “progressive Democrat” friends will probably support this, as they have supported the US government’s attacks against Manning, Assange and Snowden, because, like the leaders of the Democratic party, their primary allegiance is to US imperialism above democracy and transparency.

The interesting thing I’ve been noting about the mainstream media coverage of the Hale charges is that some of them avoid talking about the information contained in his leak. For example, CNN just calls it “classified information”, “dozens of documents”, but go out of their way to mention that in his court appearance he wore “a black T-shirt that exposed tattoos on his forearms”, as if that is somehow relevant information. It’s an obvious attempt to make some kind of aspersions about his character, like he’s a member of the Bandidos or something. The New York Times at least mentions the documents were “about the military’s use of drones.” But they don’t make it clear, as The Intercept does, that the documents “detailed a secret, unaccountable process for targeting and killing people around the world, including U.S. citizens, through drone strikes.” The Guardian mentions drones, but also doesn’t mention killing citizens or civilians. Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo does mention them, by quoting The Intercept’s editor-in-chief, Betsy Reed, so full credit to him and that publication.

So ask yourself – why are some major media outlets, in a country that reveres freedom of the press, leaving out this critical bit of information regarding the Hale leak? In our recent Bullshit Filter series debunking Antivax claims, I pointed out that vetting your news sources is an important part of developing a news heuristic. Who do you trust? I’d suggest not trusting news sources that omit vital and relevant information from important stories.

BTW, the French government is also going after whistleblowers hard too. So much for Macron.

Eleanor Roosevelt – Communist!

On this week’s Cold War podcast – the Red Scare continues. In 1939, Martin Dies Jr claimed that the Justice Department was investigating 2,850 known communists in government and that FDR had ordered a purge of all those named. But it was all a disinformation campaign launched by Hoover. The President hadn’t ordered a purge – but he HAD secretly ordered Hoover to make a list. As it turned out, the list included Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, Mrs. James Roosevelt (FDR’s mother), and other prominent figures close to the President were listed as financial contributors to two or more of the suspect groups. And then one member of the Dies Committee accused Eleanor Roosevelt of being part of the Communist Fifth Column.

TIberius #29 “Going Deep”

On this week’s Tiberius Show: Tacitus seems to think Sejanus was the manipulator of Tiberius and that Sejanus wanted the power for himself. But of course he has things in his way. Drusus, the adult son of Tiberius, who is about 37. And Drusus also had sons of his own. Tiberius Gemellus and his twin brother, Tiberius Germanicus II Gemellus, are about 4 years old. And the real heir to Augustus is Nero Julius Caesar – Germanicus’ eldest son. So something has to be done about them.

The Podfather

James Caffyn

Caught up with James Caffyn and his wife Chelsea last night for dinner. James has been working on this portrait of me, which he calls “The Podfather”, for a few years. Pretty damn good, particularly considering how little he has to work with. By day, James is Australia’s #1 tattoo artist. He originally was painting it to enter into the Archibald, but I’m not sure what his plans are for it now.

Investing with Joe Barberis

Our guest on the QAV podcast today is Tony’s friend Joe Barberis. Joe’s had a high powered corporate career, including stints as the MD of Officeworks and Coles Express, as well as running Shell Australia. Today he’s talking to us about his investment strategies, as well as his thoughts on the future of retail and energy markets in Australia… and corporate psychopaths.