Sydney-based New York Times reporter Damien Cave found yet another thing to blame on the conservative press and in particular, Australian-born newspaper mogul Rupert Murdoch: “Murdoch Manipulates Debate on Australia’s Fires.”
Thursday's edition featured Cave getting his standard Murdoch-demonizing opinions into the Times news pages. (The story is more accurately labeled "news analysis" online, but in print it's portrayed as a straight news piece.)
Deep in the burning forests south of Sydney this week, volunteer firefighters were clearing a track through the woods, hoping to hold back a nearby blaze, when one of them shouted over the crunching of bulldozers.
“Don’t take photos of any trees coming down,” he said. “The greenies will get a hold of it, and it’ll all be over.”
The idea that “greenies” or environmentalists would oppose measures to prevent fires from ravaging homes and lives is simply false. But the comment reflects a narrative that’s been promoted for months by conservative Australian media outlets, especially the influential newspapers and television stations owned by Rupert Murdoch.
It’s all part of what critics see as a relentless effort led by the powerful media outlet to do what it has also done in the United States and Britain -- shift blame to the left, protect conservative leaders and divert attention from climate change.
Yet, for many critics, the Murdoch approach suddenly looks dangerous. They are increasingly connecting News Corp to the spread of misinformation and the government’s lackluster response to the fires....
The New York Times would of course never try to influence public debate on issues.
Cave was worried Australians weren’t towing the Green Party line and instead relying on their own awful experiences.
But there are signs that the Murdoch message is making headway -- at least in terms of what people make a priority....in Bairnsdale, Tina Moon, whose farm was devastated by the fires, said she was mostly furious about the government’s failure to clear the land around her property.
“I don’t think it’s climate change,” she said.
On Monday, the Times’ target was conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison: “‘You Left the Country to Burn’: Australia’s Leader Dodges a Nation’s Fury.”
With thousands fleeing eastern towns this weekend as fires swept from the hills to the coast, the inescapable realities of a warming world were colliding with the calculated politics of inaction....And he has signaled no change in his policies even as 24 people have died, hundreds of homes have been destroyed, and more than 12 million acres have burned....
Mr. Morrison may be able to weather the political storms...he is fresh off a surprise electoral victory in which he was buoyed by support in Queensland, a coal-mining center.
Definitely a “surprise” to Cave, who sputtered after Morrison’s May victory:
The polls said this would be Australia’s climate change election, when voters confronted harsh reality and elected leaders who would tackle the problem....Australians shrugged off the warming seas killing the Great Barrier Reef and the extreme drought punishing farmers.