David Penberthy

May 23, 2011

Unelected News Ltd editor tells his “constituency” what they believe

David "Doesn't care if you catch him lying to you" Penberthy, editor at News Ltd, tells his reade

David “Doesn’t care if you catch him lying to you” Penberthy, editor at News Ltd, tells his readers what they’re expected to think:

What these people fail to understand, and what Brown doesn’t get, is that newspapers have constituencies in the same way that political parties have constituencies. If you wanted a shorthand definition you could say that Bob Brown’s constituency is the inner city and the regional tree change towns, and the constituency of newspapers and websites such as the one you are reading now is greater suburbia – ie, most of Australia.

As Julia Gillard rightly identified in her speech on the Greens a couple of months back, the Greens do not represent mainstream values. The values which unite people in the suburbs are concepts such as reward for effort, the rule of law, strong national security, lower taxes and support for families.

That’s what’s important to you, readers. And if it isn’t, it’s certainly what’s important to us at News Ltd, and that’s what everything we write is in aid of pushing.

We at News Ltd have a CONSTITUENCY! Who voted for us and our political views by buying the Herald Sun to check what’s going on in the footy. Every purchase of one of our rags is a clear and unequivocal endorsement of our corporate beliefs on the issues on which we repeatedly present one side while pretending we’re reporting the news.

We’re just like a political party, you see – only one that most of the time claims to be an objective reporter on politics, not a shameless partisan promoter of one side of it. (It’d be harder to sell the Herald Sun if we called it “Corporate Right Weekly”, or The Australian if we called it “Rupert’s Views”.)

But – if you were confused because we declined to be explicit about it when we were claiming to provide you with information rather than propaganda – here are our views, for the record. We believe in low taxes for the rich (at the expense of most of you in “greater suburbia”), and middle class welfare, and locking people up without trial if it can be portrayed as “strong national security”, and pretending that we believe in “the rule of law” when we actually mean “the mob we take pains to misinform“. And of course, we believe the Greens need to be “destroyed”.

And that’s how we decide what “news” you need to know about (the stuff that helps our political campaign) and what “news” you don’t. And what details you need to hear about the former, and what details you don’t. It’s us – the corporate media that advocates for low taxes for the rich who own us – versus the only party still daring to stand against it, the Greens.

News is opinion, after all, not objective facts which can be reported neutrally or by describing competing approaches fairly! (Even though we might pretend that’s what we’re doing when we ask you to take what we say at face value.)

And if you don’t agree with our opinion now, give us time – maybe you will, after consuming and believing our one-sided, cynically-presented “news” for long enough.

PS: Maybe Penbo wouldn’t be so hostile to the Greens if his “scrutiny” involved actually reading their policies, rather than making them up.

The Greens stand for the retention or expansion of the welfare state, are hostile towards the police, support liberal drug laws, open borders, higher taxes, gay marriage and adoption.

“Hostile to the police”? “Support open borders”? And… “retention… of the welfare state”? Does he think welfare shouldn’t be “retained”? Is he demanding that Centrelink be demolished?

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39 thoughts on “Unelected News Ltd editor tells his “constituency” what they believe

  1. News Ltd criticises Cate Blanchett over carbon tax ad | Pure Poison

    […] we haven’t even seen yet? Oh, that’s right, the Tele is being prescriptive on behalf of its “constituency” rather than actually reporting the facts. Apparently the outraged community consists of the soon to […]

  2. susan winstanley

    In the Weekend Australian today Chris Kenny (scourge of Hindmarsh Island aboriginal women, adviser to Alex Downer during AWB and Iraq, and failed Liberal Party candidate) eggs up the proposition that News Ltd has a better understanding of the australian electorate, the News Ltd “constituency” as identified by Penberthy earlier this week, than the national broadcaster, the ABC, which of course panders only to a very small “constituency” of inner-city over-educated latte sippers.

    Kenny’s tortured and ultimately nonsensical argument this morning is another episode in the relentless decades-long attack by News Ltd and the Liberal Party on the ABC for being too “Left” and not enough “Right”.

    Amazingly, according to Kenny, no matter how hard the Howard-appointed ABC Board members like Brunton, Albrechtsen and Windshuttle, and the Howard-appointed CEO Jonathan Shier, and the Howard-appointed Chairman (and climate denier) Maurice Newman, and the right-wing stooges now on staff, have worked for the past decade and more to destroy the “Left” inside the ABC, it is apparently still infested with evil leftie latte-sippers, who are still turning australians away from the true path to neo-conservatism. They must be very strong lattes.

    It is apparent to anyone with half a brain that News Ltd (and its running dogs in the Liberal Party) is not interested in “reforming” the ABC to achieve political “balance”, but in destroying the ABC. The relentless News Ltd criticism of the ABC over the past decades for being too “Left”, when most observers now agree there has been a shift to the Right under Howard-appointed CEO Mark Scott (and with the appointment of Chris Uhlmann, another failed right-wing candidate), is enough to bring poor Aunty ABC to a shuddering halt in the not too distant future, in a perfect storm of fearful confusion and cognitive dissonance.

    With the destruction of the ABC as a confident and independent national broadcaster, the One True Way of Rupert Murdoch, which already saturates our media at 70% ownership, will then be allowed to complete its destiny of owning 100% of australian media, and we will all live happily ever after in the crusty old mind-set of an american billionaire megalomaniac, the ultimate Man Without Qualities. Something to look forward to, out there in the News Ltd “constituency”.

    With the help of Republican legislators, News Corp and Fox News have virtually destroyed public broadcasting in the USA. Just a couple more bastions to fall, like the ABC and the BBC, and the western world will finally be his….

    There has been no editorial from Chris Mitchell in The Australian vowing to “destroy” the ABC (as he has vowed to destroy the Greens), but there might as well have been, because that is the clear intent of The Australian’s daily campaign of abuse against the ABC, exemplified by Chris Kenny’s ridiculous bellow of despair and renting of garments this morning.

    And in case you missed the news according to Limited News, the ABC is making a documentary on David Hicks, which is absolute proof that the ABC is “Left”.

  3. quantize

    Is this the ‘moderate’ Bis?

    hey look there goes the tooth fairy! (Pipboy in a tutu)

  4. Think Big

    bis @ 23

    [Who enjoys being lied to?]

    People in denial who are desperate to avoid facing the truth. Good examples are climate-change deniers and birthers.

  5. jules

    Yeah biz, I’d hope they are, but double binds still have serious effects on people. And there are a few of them, tho the example on the other thread is a great one. Some things are easy to figure out and some aren’t. Some actually require lots of explaining and nuance. Some are counter intuitive.

    Why would I take solace in, or assume that about why most people buy their papers? Its actually the opposite in my opinion. That may be part of the reason, but it isn’t the only one. I don’t believe you actually think that tho. You’re trying to reinforce the prejudices you assume lefties have. Presumably so you can point them out later.

    Elitists and stuff.

    I think doing that reflects similar prejudice and assumption, but its probably worth doing anyway, cos we all have our own prejudices even us lefties.

    The end of the day might be a fine time for unwinding, but there’s nearly always a newspaper at smoko and there’s nearly always someone talking about it.

  6. bis

    Whilst I see the point you’re trying to make, I would suggest the average adult of newspaper reading inclination is a bit more discerning then a puppy. The description you give sound very tabloid but you can probably take solace in the fact that the bulk of the readership only bought it to check the footy scores or form guide.

  7. jules

    Right now the media is almost psychologically abusing people. Like the double bind of putting a headline like “YOU”LL PAY FOR THIS MESS” referring to some action on climate change and 2 pages later “Climate Apocalypse”. (I know that was from another post but its more relevent here.)

    What are people sposed to take from that?

    The uncertainty on a carbon price is because we should have acted 11 years ago, and really should have 3 years ago, but that isn’t mentioned, nor is the papers role in prolonging that uncertainty.

    Instead the front page is devoted to an energy company screaming “YOU”LL PAY FOR THIS” like some demented supervillan.

    You don’t even have to buy the paper, just see the headline on the street or on a table at work. Or on one of those headline posters newsagents have.

    So the front page screams at you then says energy prices are going to rise by a fortune cos of this “uncertainty” and ultimately its your fault, and you’ll pay. Nice out for the energy companies when prices are rising anyway due to the massive worldwide demand for energy and their complete failure to take their maintenance responsibilities seriously has meant they’ll need to spend big soon to keep the transmission networks working. (We’re talking about the industry that was directly responsible for the Kilmore East Murrindindi fire complex in case anyone’s forgotten.)

    Then 2 pages later the opposite message.

    I’ve got an idea, get a puppy, and then fuck with its head as its growing up. When you’re training it, constantly say “Come here” then snarl “Go away” at it. Give it conflicting messages constantly. When your puppy turns into an insane dog that has no idea how to behave wonder why.

    The bonus of this is your editorial and opinion content becomes more authoritive and valuable cos its the only thing in your paper that doesn’t present some form of double bind.

  8. SHV

    @Catching Up,

    I think it was Jefferson who quipped: “Never pick a fight with a man who buys his ink by the barrel and his paper by the ton”.

    The point is that the media has the power to be very influential. As bis points out, if they choose to be dishonest about how they abuse that power, that’s up to them. As you point out, there should be some consequence for doing that. Of course one consequence is their plummeting circulation and credibility, but in an effective monopoly (News/ABC) they can afford that because of the market share they control.

    About the only thing we can do as citizens is push for making the foreign ownership of any Australian news media illegal.

  9. bis


    A price I’d be MORE than willing to pay.

    Jeremy, I’d be concerned for your, and any lawyer/activist/partisan’s, well being if you found yourself without nothing to rail against and nothing to debate. The tyranny of a perfect, absolute truth would deprive people like ourselves, from across the spectrum, of a reason to exist.
    I fear it would be like the recent retiree who finds himself robbed of a reason to get out of bed in morning.

  10. bis


    Would that be the world where Andrew Bolt is ‘spot on’ about so many things?

    It would be the world in which no one person is an infallible oracle of The Truth and in which rational people acknowledge the inherent subjectivity of human opinion. In this world I’m sure even Andy gets it right every now and then.

    I honestly would mind having been spared

    Please. You give yourself away with every terrier-like nip on the heels of my posts, no matter how minor: you need someone to argue the toss with, and so do I. You could say our little online symbiosis is almost therapeutic in that it satisfies our need for argument without any real-world consequences.

    Fringe right wingers…

    Seeing as the Coalition, headed by the most conservative Liberal leader in recent memory, garnered more than half the popular vote last federal election, I must say it is hard-work remaining out here on the ‘fringe’.
    I was thinking of joining The Greens in an attempt to make my ‘fringe’ status a whole lot easier to maintain.

  11. Jeremy Sear

    “And besides, if every media outlet was a beacon of God’s honest truth there’d be no reason for a blog like this. Thus, Jeremy and Dave would have to go find another hobby”

    A price I’d be MORE than willing to pay.

  12. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    The values which unite people in the suburbs are concepts such as reward for effort, the rule of law, strong national security, lower taxes and support for families.

    And homophobia, xenophobia, science denialism, islamophobia and only voting for whoever gives them the most cash come election time?

    Or am I a hated elitist for pointing these truths, that News Ltd would prefer you all overlook, out?

  13. quantize

    [But in the world outside your head]

    Would that be the world where Andrew Bolt is ‘spot on’ about so many things?

    [you’d have been robbed of the privilege of knowing me.]

    I honestly would mind having been spared…Fringe right wingers posing as moderates is a bit last decade really…

  14. bis


    Odd, I always though they were responsible for reporting news…not being the lackeys of political parties, corporations and interest groups..

    Ostensibly, yes. But in the world outside your head, Quantize, media organizations require funding to stay afloat and the people who staff them are fallible, imperfect and prone to prejudice. Though, I admire your idealism.
    And besides, if every media outlet was a beacon of God’s honest truth there’d be no reason for a blog like this. Thus, Jeremy and Dave would have to go find another hobby, and you’d have been robbed of the privilege of knowing me.

  15. Dan Gulberry

    [Shorter Penbo: “Until the policy details are released, we are free to make up things as we see fit.”]
    And when they are released, we’ll still make up stuff anyway.

  16. quantize

    [Such is life: one man’s journalism is another’s propaganda.]

    Imagine all the things you can excuse with that line of ‘logic’

  17. bis

    Think Big

    So what does it say about one particular target audience that they enjoy being deceived and lied to? You are correct for once – that is shocking.

    Who enjoys being lied to? I would suggest that whoever you are referring to do not feel they’re being deceived, rightly or wrongly, due to their own natural prejudices. I gather you disagree, rightly or wrongly, due to your own natural prejudices. Such is life: one man’s journalism is another’s propaganda.

  18. Catching up

    What I finding amazing over the last week there is a suggestion, that it is not prudent for politicians to challenge the media.
    Does anyone believe that Mr. Brown, the Greens, and Labor for that matter will be treated any better for shutting up and take what the media dishes out.
    Can some one tell what puts the media above everything else in society? Where did they get the right to be a law unto themselves?
    Where is the outcry that any organization can threaten our democracy by threatening to get even with those who dare to disagree with them?
    If the media take unto themselves the right to support one side in politics, and put in place a government that suits them, they must be held accountable. In other words, if they insist on playing politics, not just reporting politics, they must be open to questioning and scrutiny, as all other parties in politics are. Which question should we be asking?
    What will it cost us or what is the price our descendants will pay.
    Keep in mind, we have a choice, they do not.

  19. quantize

    [A shocking piece of insight.]

    Something we certainly can’t accuse you of ever having Bis…or standards, judging by that post.

    [Newspapers have target audiences and pander to the prejudices thereof? ]

    Odd, I always though they were responsible for reporting news…not being the lackeys of political parties, corporations and interest groups..

  20. Think Big

    [Newspapers have target audiences and pander to the prejudices thereof? A shocking piece of insight.]

    So what does it say about one particular target audience that they enjoy being deceived and lied to? You are correct for once – that is shocking.

  21. confessions

    Yes, the constituency thing was the stand out from the 2UE reporter’s hectoring of Bob Brown last week. News should be factual, and not framed to suit any political or idealogical agenda. Opinion OTOH is another matter.

  22. quantize

    Penberthy really distinguished himself in his time as editor of The Tele.

    His arrogant, witless boof-headed responses to Media Watch’s perfectly reasonable questions about his paper’s apparent lack of either editorial or journalistic standards distinguished him as one of Australia’s true right wing dunces.

    He is still shoveling the smelliest of right wing sh*t, just online now. Classy guy…really.

  23. rubiginosa

    It is revealing that News Ltd have constituencies. As unelected political players, they require at least as much scrutiny as politicians.

  24. jules

    poll: 95% of the people believe Homer Simpson is guilty. Of
    course, this is just a television poll which is not legally
    binding, unless proposition 304 passes. And we all pray it will.

  25. Mobius Ecko

    Aren’t a considerable number of Ltd. News papers given away to boost the circulation figure? I believe Crikey was tracking this for a bit.

    If this is the case, is Penberthy saying his little democratic empire is based on votes (newspapers distributed) that are given away and many of which are never taken up to be read?

    Then as pointed out he should also remove those of his constituency that only vote in his democracy by reading the sports pages or racing guides along with those who don’t read any articles on politics or related to politics.

    Wonder how many votes will be left in Penbo’s constituency after that?

  26. Daniel

    David Penberthy is possibly the worst columnist working in Australia today. At least Bolt has a certain flair for writing.

  27. Sammy Jankis

    From the article:

    We now have the (unexpected) promise of a carbon tax and are still some weeks from being provided by the PM with details of how it will work. If the Government believes the media is being hysterical or inaccurate in estimating the costs of the carbon tax it should hurry up and release those details.

    Shorter Penbo: “Until the policy details are released, we are free to make up things as we see fit.”

  28. SHV

    It’s even better than that, Hegemoniac.

    Their constituency is 45 million (based on very reliable unfudged figures).

  29. shepherdmarilyn

    I don’t know, the Newsltd. lot have spread like the pox. Bole has his own program on 10 and on Meet the Press yesterday Graham Thom from Amnesty calmly described the laws for asylum seekers and that moron Steve Lewis basically called him a liar and Paul B. started called asylum seekers “illegal immigrants’ when he knows it is not true.

    It seems that 10 think if you say one works for the Australian and one for Newsltd. we won’t notice that they are both Murdoch hacks.

  30. bis

    Newspapers have target audiences and pander to the prejudices thereof? A shocking piece of insight.

  31. susan winstanley

    Penberthy has well and truly belled the cat with this loaded dog of a column.

  32. lindsayb

    And apparently Rupert tells David what to think

    I wonder if Wendy tells Rupert what to think.

  33. CML

    Bravo! – Great article. I nearly choked on my weetbix Sunday morning when I read Penberthy’s article in Adelaide’s Sunday Mail. Constituency, what constituency? Who voted for Ltd. News, I thought. At least someone did vote for the Greens, and they do have some claim to a constituency, even if Penberthy doesn’t agree with their policies.

    High time the feds did something about the media laws in this country. It is outrageous that we are fed a diet of right-wing propaganda day after day in Ltd. News media, without an alternative in most states. Just hope Media Watch picks up on the gaping holes in the offending opinion piece, but I won’t hold my breath. Your ABC has become the ventriloquists doll for that lot!

  34. returnedman

    Has Penberthy ever bothered to come across here to Crikey to defend himself?

    Or does he believe he NEEDS no defense?!?

  35. John Reidy

    Very strange – you could say that companies like News Ltd do have a constituency – but that would be the shareholders surely.

  36. Eric Sykes

    “Is he demanding that Centrelink be demolished?” Probably, it would make sense given most of the other stuff he sprews out.

    We need a new national newspaper of record..(yes I know new media is important but)..oh ok….we need a new national newspaper of record with a web site as well. An actual national newspape that sits next to to Oz in every newsagent across the country. Web by itself doesn’t quite cut it…

    Hugely expensive y’say? Not possible y’say? Waste of time? Well maybe, but imagine the flame war if it started, imagine the hate from Rupert, he might not even give a toss about the Greens anymore….cause it would hurt him where his heart is…..$s.

    (Yes, yes, I know, but allow an old bloke his dreams ok?)

  37. Deziner

    lower taxes and support for families.

    How the hell do these fruitcakes think we are to fund this support for families, if not with taxes? The Liberals and their media have a lot to answer for when they’ve got people convinced that they can have it all and not pay taxes. Not to mention that if, as he seems to want, we eliminate welfare, then there goes that family support. Or is “support for families” (who can in the vast majority of cases do quite well if they’d just give up their pre-children lifestyle) in the form of lump-sum payments and tax-breaks somehow not qualify as welfare?

  38. David LD

    Some of the comments on that Punch article are powerfully stupid.

    Thank you for writing this piece at is almost perfectly verbalises my opinion in a much more elegant way than I could hope to capture.

    (Goddamn baby boomers…)

  39. hegemoniac

    So… Penbo’s constituency fluctuates? i.e. it’s higher on weekends? awesome, hold the next election on a Tuesday.

    It’s interesting how much conservatives here import ideas from the States. I mean, outer suburbia (real aussies) v inner city. Red state vs Blue state, anyone? It’s divisive, wrong and just plain disgusting tactics.

    also, I agree, totally wrong on Greens policy.

    The Greens stand for the retention or expansion of the police state, are gay towards the welfare of adoption, support hostile drug laws, gay borders, gayer taxes and are hostile towards liberals marrying.

    that’s more like it.

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