Andrew Bolt today disclaimed the sum total of his connections with Gina Rinehart that are any of our business:
DISCLAIMER: Rinehart is a shareholder of Network Ten, which runs my Bolt Report, and this paper is part of the Murdoch empire, a Fairfax competitor.
Clearly that’s all there is, so we can now enjoy his completely independent and non-self-interested article today on the subject of how good it would be if all Australian newspapers were owned and micromanaged by right-wing billionaires. Check out his powerful arguments:
1. If lefties want there to be any non-conservative newspapers, why don’t they become billionaires and buy them?
There is, of course, a very easy way for Labor’s allies to stop Rinehart from taking control of the Fairfax newspapers, which include The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald…
…it is for GetUp’s alleged 605,000 members to GetUp off their couches, GetUp a job and GetUp just $800 each to buy Fairfax themselves.
EXACTLY. Why not? That’s why nobody should ever give a shit about conditions for the poor. If they can’t be bothered becoming rich enough to buy their own newspapers, it’s their own lookout.
Surely the battleground of ideas should always be reduced to whoever can pay the most for a megaphone to drown out everyone else. It’s only common sense. (Trademark Cory Bernardi.)
The point is, the media have to be owned by someone, and that someone should be the richest person available, and they should have complete freedom to force journalists to say whatever is in their owner’s best interests. And any media organisation not run to campaign relentlessly for the interests of the hard right is by definition “leftist”. (Anyone trying to be objective must be a “leftist”.)
2. There are some terrifying imaginary things we can pretend are happening.
Have you ever seen so many people reach for new laws to stifle a free media and to impose a Left-preaching government behemoth instead?
Well, actually, yes, I have. I see no Australians whatsoever reaching for new laws to impose a Left-preaching government behemoth all the time. Throughout my whole life, and every bit of Australian history I’ve ever read about, in fact.
Which is pretty woeful. I mean zero people doing something is a pretty easy target to beat, and yet the campaign for new laws imposing a Left-preaching government behemoth still hasn’t managed it.
3. Gina’s in it for an investment so why would she promote her vastly more profitable other business interests at the expense of Fairfax?
Dream on. No sane proprietor would give up their right to save their investment from editors making bad calls. Just as no sane proprietor would turn the Fairfax papers into propaganda sheets for their business interests.
Of course no sane proprietor would do such a thing. I mean, Rupert only keeps the notoriously unprofitable The Australian running for reasons completely unrelated to his other business interests. Who could suggest otherwise?
ELSEWHERE: Stephen Mayne, writing in Wednesday’s Crikey daily email, points out that other Fairfax shareholders might want to be wary of how Gina would treat them if she found herself in control:
Having seen how Gina Rinehart treats her kids, does any self-interested Fairfax Media investor seriously fancy being a minority shareholder in a complex beast controlled by Australia’s most litigious Rich Lister?
How would shareholders feel if she suddenly declared there would be no dividend payments or capital returns until 2068? That’s what she did to her own oppressed children at Hancock Prospecting.
And remember her infamous hostility to journalists and journalism:
If Rinehart wants to meddle with editorial, she’s only reconfirming her unsuitability, which was already pretty obvious with that litigation against Seven West Media attempting to have journalist Steve Pennells reveal his sources.
Then you have her demonstrable failure to support the concept of free and open courts with all those endless attempts to suppress the brazen oppression of her own children.
Should shareholders really feel confident that what she’ll do to Fairfax will be in the interests of the other shareholders of Fairfax, rather than herself in other capacities?
Maybe Corbett should offer a board seat to eldest son John Hancock, as he’s a shareholder too in the companies that are stalking Fairfax. Given that Hancock Prospecting is already carrying some debt and is about to embark on a multibillion dollar coal and iron ore investment program, it really is quite reckless of Gina to spray almost $500 million on two debt-laden media companies.
She hasn’t consulted with three of her adult children, the oppressed Hancock Prospecting minority shareholders, about this disastrous diminution of their respective entitlements. Similarly, if granted control of Fairfax, Gina probably wouldn’t consult with Fairfax minority shareholders, existing directors, editors or anyone else about her calamitous plans to shift the company’s traditional progressive voice to the political Right.
Such a move would probably send Fairfax to the wall.
And remember her buy-in to Channel Ten, the shareprice of which is now a third of what it was when she bought her ten percent stake?
For all of these reasons, if the mining heiress isn’t prepared to make a full bid to all Fairfax shareholders, there is no way the board should invite her inside the tent. After all, as a director of Ten Network Holdings she actively competes with Fairfax for scarce advertising dollars.
Meanwhile, I received an email this morning from Cory Bernardi’s “conservative action network” demanding right-wingers write to the Fairfax board in defence of Gina.
Pretty neatly confirming that this is all about boosting far-right politics, and not about saving media diversity or “free speech”.
Most hilariously, it was written by David Flint, the former campaigner for the monarchy in Australia, railing against “inner-city elites”. (It’s worth watching just for the incredibly working-class accent he manages when saying the phrase.)