Fair coverage? Don’t bet on it

Our Media Glass House teams have often remarked on the ease with which the Murdoch media finds space to advertise products peddled by its related corporate entities.

Some readers may wonder why we keep banging on about it. We will explain more a little later in this column.

In the meantime, just this week we saw a story in some of News Corp Australia’s turdbloids about ex-US President Donald Trump “storming” out of an interview taping session with Piers Morgan. (pictured)

Trump’s version of events is that the story is “fake news” designed to generate free publicity about Morgan’s new program due to premiere soon – or publicity at Trump’s expense if he is correct.

Whatever. All we can say for sure is when it comes to hucksters and fakers, it takes one to know one.

However, our MGH column has in recent weeks and months reported on several instances of News Corp outlets giving time and space to Morgan and his new program by running “news” stories that don’t declare that it will be aired on the subscription TV service Sky News here in Australia which is part of the Murdoch corporate empire.

Of course yet again this week’s story made no mention of the link, but did include a helpful graphic telling readers when the new show would start, so get your wallets out.

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One advertisement for a usually obscure part of the Murdoch empire appeared in the national broadshit The Australian this week.

It was a quarter-page plug from US-based publishing house and News Corp subsidiary, Harper-Collins, for former federal treasurer Joe Hockey’s memoirs about his time as our nation’s ambassador to the United States. (pictured)

Book sales usually rely on authors and publishers securing free media coverage, so our MGH teams wonder if the ad plugging his work was part of a marketing deal secured by Hockey or his representatives.

Certainly he obtained a fair bit of coverage at the time of his book’s release.  There was a news story and feature story by another author, The Oz columnist Troy Bramston, and an extract from the book about Hockey beating ex-President Trump at golf.

Other news stories appeared in The Australian – about Hockey’s claim that he had a deal with Tony Abbott to hand him the prime ministership once the Mad Monk was finished with it.

It was a snippet he hadn’t thought to include in his book when he was writing it and his sales, and credibility, may not have been enhanced once Abbott flatly rejected it and described it as “fake news”.

But at least The Oz ran a review last weekend (pictured) penned by Jack Marx, a journalist, author, and critic.

Mr Marx didn’t exactly give readers of The Oz and potential readers of the book much encouragement to rush out and buy it. His review suggested it was hardly a page-turner.

In fact he wrote it was a book “that at times requires a block and tackle to help turn the pages”.

Marx went on to reference an anecdote about Hockey’s father included in the book and then observed: “Strange, however, that there is no evidence in this book suggesting Joe Hockey’s dad was boring, for, snakes alive, his son inherited it from somewhere.”

So, if there was a coverage-and-advertising deal done with News Crap Australia by Hockey which may or may not have included a free ad for Harper Collins, at least Mr Marx to his credit wasn’t playing ball.

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But back to our original thought about why we keep criticising Murdoch and Co for arrogantly using their market power to promote their own products or services.

If you do wonder why we regularly rant and rave about it, consider these stories appearing in News Crap outlets in the past few days.

The stories tell of a new online betting joint venture News Crap Australia has entered that will launch soon aimed at punters in Australia and New Zealand.

A reasonable person would think that the proliferation of online betting businesses is already a problem now, that the advent of more accessible avenues for gambling is something we can really do without, and that an extra player in the already crowded betting market will only mean more people gambling more often leading to more problem gamblers.

A reasonable person would recognise that online and other forms of industrial-scale gambling businesses are really just a licence to take money out of people’s wallets, pay packets, and household budgets. The house never loses.

A reasonable person would also expect the nation’s media to give an honest assessment of the risks and dangers involved in such businesses, and maybe even start campaigning against the growing problem.

But the story on the new joint venture caried by The Australian included this paragraph.

So what are the odds of any News Corp outlet giving fair and unbiased coverage of the gambling industry and the problems it causes?

Once again, we are very confident you know the answer.

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Is the current SuperVoter promotion by News Crap Australia part of its marketing plan for its new online betting business?

The SuperVoter competition, the subject of (as usual) “news” stories and big ads in News Crap outlets (pictured) is open to subscribers who can enter by guessing correctly the result in every single one of the 151 House of Representatives seats up for grabs on 21 May.

The winner will pocket a whole $2,000 for their trouble. Pretty pissweak prize, we think.

Especially when you think of what News Crap Australia gets in return – a whole list of its existing subscribers identified as being predisposed to online gambling and ripe for targeting with its new betting products.