The vengeful thread in the national newspaper

Bad News: Murdoch’s Australian and the Shaping of the Nation (Quarterly Essay 43)

by Robert Manne

Black Inc., $19.95 pb, 141 pp, 9781863955447

Were I Editor in Chief of The Australian for a day, the first thing I would do is can the ‘Cut and Paste’ section on the Letters page. Its schoolyard bullying of the fools and knaves idiotic enough to oppose the paper’s line – usual suspects include Fairfax journalists, the ABC, Greens politicians, Tim Flannery, and Robert Manne – lies at the heart of what stops TheAustralian from being a great newspaper. A favourite game is quoting a commentator saying discordant things at different times. As an argument, this is right up there with great moments in adolescent wit like, ‘You said Chanelle was a slag last week, and now you are going out with her!’

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Published in November 2011 no. 336
Robert Phiddian

Robert Phiddian

Robert Phiddian teaches literature at Flinders University and is specially interested in political satire, parody, and humour. He researches political satire, including current Australian political cartoons, with Haydon Manning. He is Chair of the Adelaide Festival of Ideas, and has a particular interest in the quality of public language and in writers festivals. He is also Director of the Australasian Consortium of Humanities Research Centres.

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