Thursday 20 September 2018

Murdoch press has history of trying to dictate votes - now it's backing abortion

Rupert Murdoch’s British and American newspapers have long sought to influence public opinion
Rupert Murdoch’s British and American newspapers have long sought to influence public opinion
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Rupert Murdoch is arguably the world's most powerful media mogul. Mr Murdoch owns newspapers and television stations in Australia, Britain, America and, of course, here in Ireland. He understands the power and influence of the media.

He knows more than any powerful newspaper boss that politicians and lobby groups listen when his media organisations speak. He watched approvingly when 'The Sun' in Britain ended 12 years of support for the Labour Party under Tony Blair to back David Cameron and the Tory Party in 2009.

Before that, in 1992, the same newspaper published its famous "It was 'The Sun' wot won it" front-page story after its backing of Tory leader John Major saw him surprisingly defeat general election favourite, Labour leader Neil Kinnock.

Before the election it published a front page on which it said: "If Kinnock wins today, will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights?"

Similarly, during the summer of 2016, 'The Sun', under the headline "BeLEAVE in Britain", called on the British public to vote for Brexit and leave the EU.

"We must set ourselves free from dictatorial Brussels," Murdoch's newspaper wrote.

"Staying in will be worse for immigration, worse for jobs, worse for wages and worse for our way of life," it added. We will have to see how that works out for our British neighbours and, indeed, for us here.

'The Sunday Times' - both British and, notably, Irish editions - published editorials calling for Brexit. The daily 'The Times' of London called for Britain to remain.

In America, 'The New York Post', which is also from Murdoch's stable, backed controversial businessman Donald Trump for the Republican nomination ahead of the US presidential election. However, the newspaper had buyer's remorse when he actually won the nomination and didn't endorse him against Hillary Clinton.

But Murdoch's Fox News is unashamed in its support of Trump.

Closer to home, the recently established 'The Times' Ireland edition says it is in favour of abortion and Repeal of the Eighth Amendment. Questions have also been raised about pro-abortion content the publication has sponsored on Facebook. The newspaper is no indie start-up. It is an operation centrally funded by Murdoch's News Corporation.

It has hired a roster of journalists thanks to the billionaire's financial might. The newspaper has the right to publish what it sees fit, as all publications should.

However, in this country, newspapers traditionally do not stridently instruct voters on how to cast their ballots on sensitive issues such as abortion, as they might in Britain, or use their influence to push them in one direction.

'The Irish Times' warned its journalists about public comments on abortion for fear it would call into question the newspaper's impartiality.

The Irish Independent has stated it will not be endorsing a side in the referendum and will facilitate fair and balanced debate.

Irish Independent

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