Kiwi Polemicist

July 4, 2009

• The arrogance of News Ltd regarding bloggers

The comments button is at the bottom right of this post.

Stuff is reporting some execrable comments from the chief executive of News Ltd (a major international owner of newspapers and part of the Murdoch empire), John Hartigan:

In a speech to the National Press Club yesterday [by Hartigan]


His most scathing attack was reserved for bloggers, who, he said, lacked resources and access to key decision-makers.

“In return for their free content, we pretty much get what we’ve paid for – something of such limited intellectual value as to be barely discernible from massive ignorance,” he said.

He said blogs often gave a platform for “radical sweeping statements unsubstantiated with evidence”.

If you want to see an example of “something of such limited intellectual value as to be barely discernible from massive ignorance” from a newspaper see my post Junk Journalism: PCs injure 78,000.

If you want to see an example of “radical sweeping statements unsubstantiated with evidence” from a newspaper see my post Swine flu: NZ Herald says it’s mutating but it’s not.

Lack of access to key decision makers isn’t a bad thing. Journalists who have access to politicians have a vested interest in pitching soft questions and printing what the politicians like because that ensures ongoing access to those politicians and therefore an ongoing meal ticket for the journalist. That’s why newspapers spout state propaganda. Bloggers are generally not beholden to politicians and therefore are free to state an opinion without penalty.

Some bloggers do fit Hartigan’s description, but his statements reek of establishment arrogance, i.e. “Only journalists are fit to deliver the news”. My guess is that he’s left wing (like most main stream media), views the media as an instrument of the state, and abhors free speech. Even if I’m wrong about that, he’s grossly arrogant and fails to see how much tripe is published by the mainstream media.

His comments are pure nappy filler and should be treated accordingly.

What do you think about Hartigan’s comments?




  1. Hartigan is most definitely NOT left wing, nor for that matter is any visible part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited, which, not coincidentally, also owns the famously right-wing biased Fox News network. In the UK New Limited’s papers The Sun and The Times are also notoriously right-wing. The Australian is generally regarded the most right wing major newspaper on the other side of the Tasman and was widely known for pushing the Howard government line while the nation’s other papers took a more neutral stance.

    However, Hartigan, Fox and News Limited do, as you rightly point out, abhor free speech (that’s not a left-right issue, it’s a libertarian – authoritarian issue).

    As someone who spent 30-odd years in the media, I actually think the whole left-wing media bias theme is something of a red herring, but we’ll leave that for another time.

    In the meantime it’s worth taking a look at how The Australian reported Hartigan’s speech. See

    Comment by billbennettnz — July 8, 2009 @ 8:08 am

    • Bill: you may be correct, but a lot depends on your definition of “right” and “left”. Most people think that the present National government is right wing, but they’re further left than the ’84 Labour government and IMHO National’s left hand is holding Marx’s right hand. Even ACT has plenty of policies that are authoritarian and socialist (although they are the least evil of the parties presently in parliament).

      The primary difference between right and left is the degree of socialism that they desire, therefore both are the enemy of those who desire freedom and justice.

      Hans-Hermann Hoppe has another angle on this:

      This seemingly unstoppable drift toward statism is illustrated by the fate of the so-called Chicago School: Milton Friedman, his predecessors, and his followers. In the 1930s and 1940s, the Chicago School was still considered left-fringe, and justly so, considering that Friedman, for instance, advocated a central bank and paper money instead of a gold standard. He wholeheartedly endorsed the principle of the welfare state with his proposal of a guaranteed minimum income (negative income tax,) on which he could not set a limit. He advocated a progressive income tax to achieve his explicitly egalitarian goals (and he personally helped implement the withholding tax.) Friedman endorsed the idea that the State could impose taxes to fund the production of all goods that had a positive neighborhood effect or which he thought would have such an effect. This implies, of course, that there is almost nothing that the State can not tax-fund!

      In addition, Friedman and his followers were proponents of the shallowest of all shallow philosophies: ethical and epistemological relativism. There is no such thing as ultimate moral truths and all of our factual, empirical knowledge is at best only hypothetically true. Yet they never doubted that there must be a state, and that the state must be democratic.

      Today, half a century later, the Chicago-Friedman school, without having essentially changed any of its positions, is regarded as right-wing and free market. Indeed, the school defines the borderline of respectable opinion on the political right, which only extremists cross. Such is the magnitude of the change in public opinion which public employees have brought about.


      Authoritarianism is totalitarianism by another name and people of the authoritarian persuasion are a public menace.

      Comment by Kiwi Polemicist — July 8, 2009 @ 11:22 am

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