The Media is the Massage
Why is the media so mistrusted? That’s not a question much raised at journalism schools or debated on the ABC’s The Drum. The mistrust is because the left-leaning media dispenses such muck that only fools give it any credibility. Read on and I’ll document that statement– understatement, really — using as case studies the giant global news wholesalers such as Agence France Press (AFP) and Associated Press (AP), and the New York Times, flagship of America’s progressive newspapers.
In Australia reporters are the second-least trusted of 30 occupations, ahead of politicians but behind delivery drivers. That’s according to a Readers Digest poll last year. Among 46 countries, the US media is the least trusted (29 per cent), according to a Reuters Institute poll last year. Australians who trust the media were 43 per cent, which is less than in Poland, Croatia and South Africa. Within the US, last October’s Gallup Poll assessed trust in media at 36 per cent, the second-lowest on record. Only 11 per cent of Republicans – who comprise half the population – trust the media, and only 10 per cent of Americans trust the media’s reporting on COVID.
The normal focus is on mastheads like the New York Times and Washington Post – and here The Australian, Age and Sydney Morning Herald (SMH). But such a narrow focus detracts from the less obvious role of news wholesalers AFP, AP, Reuters and Bloomberg. Without them your morning paper or online bulletin would be half empty.
In days gone by the wire services’ watchword was political and ideological neutrality. Playing such a straight bat made them unremarkable. But now AFP, Reuters and Bloomberg have literally signed the climate pledge and partnered with 460 other media groups at Covering Climate Now (CCN). That “partnership” involves hyping warming and cancelling whatever doesn’t fit the narrative. And AP, in a jaw-dropping breach of journalistic ethics, this month began hiring 20 climate-crazed reporters using an $US8 million gift from five green/Left billionaire philanthropies. From now on we’ll be reading the best AP climate news that can be bought with activists’ money. Here’s a snapshot of the agencies’ reach:
AFP: This world’s oldest news wholesaler (186 years) has 1700 journalists operating in 150 countries. It’s independent but gets about 40% of its funding from French government subsidies.
AP: A 175-year-old New York-based non-profit group of US newspapers and broadcasters, with 3300 workers wholesaling and sharing news with 1300 print and broadcast outlets in 99 countries.
Bloomberg: The Manhattan-based, 40-year-old, privately-owned business conglomerate with 20,000 employees globally. It was co-founded by Michael Bloomberg, who is now now worth $US70 billion. Print and broadcast media are just one leg of its operations, with financial software the mainstay.
Thomson Reuters: 170-year-old London/Canada-based news wholesaler running 3100 reporters and photo-journalists worldwide and reaching 1 billion readers.
Taking AFP specifically, its impartiality statutes include (emphasis added)
♦ Agence France-Presse may under no circumstances take account of influences or considerations liable to compromise the exactitude or the objectivity of the information it provides; it may under no circumstances fall under the control, either de facto or de jure, of any ideological, political or economic grouping;
♦ Agence France-Presse must… provide French and foreign users with exact, impartial and trustworthy information.
By partnering with Covering Climate Now, AFP has trashed those ethics. CCN’s founders view fossil fuel executives as criminals against humanity. They also want to “revoke the social licences” of “deniers” in the same way tobacco companies were shafted last century. CCN pushes absurdities like a billion “climate refugees” by 2050.
I’ll get back shortly to AFP and its malign influence on our local media, including Murdoch flagship The Australian. AFP’s lapse is small beer compared with the grotesquerie of rival AP taking that $US8 million handout from the likes of Rupert’s green/woke spawn, James Murdoch, and his wife, Kathryn.  Young James’ political sympathies can be easily discerned from Open Secrets’ register of his generous donations to Hillary Clinton and Democrat state committees far and wide.
Julie Pace, AP senior vice-president and executive editor, explains the alliance with CCN: “This far-reaching initiative will transform how we cover the climate story.” The converse would involve the Institute of Public Affairs and Pauline Hanson giving $A11 million to The Australianto hire 20 conservative journalists to report on The Greens’s electoral campaigning. Obviously, AP’s bought-and-paid-for climate team won’t be writing anything critical about warmist dogma or dodgy people manipulating temperature data at the IPCC or NASA.
AP explained candidly that, among other motives, it needed the money:
The announcement illustrates how philanthropy has swiftly become an important new funding source for journalism — at the AP and elsewhere — at a time when the industry’s financial outlook has been otherwise bleak.
Concern about conflict of interest is out the window, as AP admits without blushing
For many years, journalists and philanthropists were more wary of each other. News organizations were concerned about maintaining independence and, until the past two decades, financially secure enough not to need help
AP hails other newspapers and mastheads for also accepting foundations’ tainted money for their journalism.
Here’s some detail about AP’s five generous donors
Hewlett Foundation: Assets $US13 billion. Awarded the Climate Works lobby a massive $US460 million in 2008, and an ongoing stream of further grants. Opposes fossil fuels and coal and gas developments.
Rockefeller Foundation: Founded in 1913 by the oil barons (of all people). Assets at least $US4 billion. Many worthwhile medical and education projects, but its track record also includes a wartime study that infected hundreds of Guatemalans with syphilis and, before that, the funding of a German eugenics laboratory frequented by Dr Josef Mengele en route to his human experimenting at Auschwitz.
Quadrivium: About $US20 million in assets. Co-founder and president Kathryn Murdoch, wife of co-founder James Murdoch. Her net worth is said to be $US2 billion. She also works for Hillary Clinton’s Clinton Climate Initiative. Quadrivium’s viewpoint:
Climate change threatens the security and stability of our country and our world. We recognize that communications around this threat have been politicized and we are working with organizations that are capable of reaching a majority of the public, regardless of country or political tribe. We are helping to expand the successful Climate Matters program which uses meteorologists as trusted messengers of the links between extreme weather and climate change.
Walton Family Foundation: Assets of about $US7b. Climate activists on agriculture and water resources.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute: Assets $US29b. Supports and mentors medical researchers and scientists. Not much obvious climate preoccupation but its research emphasises the controversial alleged link between warming and the spread of malaria.
New York-based climate communicator Marc Morano juxtaposes AP’s acceptance of the $US8 million with the Code of Ethics of the US Society of Professional Journalists, and writes:
SPJ Code of Ethics: “Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; do not pay for access to news.”
Reality Check: The AP will NOT ‘be wary of sources offering information for favors or money,’ but instead, it will be seeking even money from additional donors for a job well done promoting climate hysteria.
SPJ: “Deny favored treatment to advertisers, donors or any other special interests, and resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage.”
Reality Check: Instead of ‘denying favored treatment’ to ‘donors,’ the AP will be dishing out ‘favored treatment’ not only to its current funders of the news but to any other potential donors who could help expand their ‘climate’ reporting.
SPJ: “Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.”
Reality Check: The AP will now be subservient and timid ‘about holding those with power accountable’, especially those who gave them untold millions to promote climate propaganda
The $US8 million to AP would also batter down Australia’s MEAA (journalists) Code of Ethics
5/ Disclose conflicts of interest that affect, or could be seen to affect, the accuracy, fairness or independence of your journalism.
6/ Do not allow advertising or other commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence.
7/ Do your utmost to ensure disclosure of any direct or indirect paymentmade for … stories.
I trust that all AP climate stories recycled by the Australian media will include a footnote: “This reporting funded or influenced by money from green/Left foundations”.
Rupert Murdoch’s daily broadsheet, The Australian, had been a beacon of sanity against the billion-dollar ABC, the SMH and Age, Malcolm Turnbull-created Guardian Australia, university-and-tax- funded The Conversation and Murdoch’s online leftists at news.com.au. Within The Australian there have been obvious pushes by woke elements towards a green-Leftism, until now without much success. The Australian continues to run commentaries by the unfashionable climate analyst Bjorn Lomborg, by long-term Labor apparatchik Graham Richardson and all politics in between. The good work of its environment reporter Graham Lloyd airs material that both fits and doesn’t fit the warmist agenda. But The Australian is coming to resemble a cold-store apple – healthy on the outside but starting to rot within. The rot’s coming from propaganda and drivel in its AFP feed from “global coordinator for climate change”, Marlowe Hood, who has laughably self-titled himself “Senior Editor, Future of the Planet”. He tells us he was “born at 314 ppm (when CO2 was 314 parts per million) and is now a “herald of the Anthropocene.” Ta-da!
The Australian has run more than 20 Hood pieces, nearly all falsely dubbed by its sub-editors as “Breaking News”. They have headlines like “Acceleration of global warming ‘code red’ for humanity“and “Climate cataclysms set stage for key UN science report.”
Marlowe Hood has done nicely from his climate shrieking. Last year he applied for and won 100,000 Euros ($A160,000 ) cash from green/Left Spanish foundation BBVA. Blurbing the prize, BBVA extolled Hood as “one of the foremost environmental journalists and communicators of his generation”. Qualified in Chinese (that’s it, but), Hood praised to BBVA the “largely unheralded but quietly influential” climate reporting by agencies like AFP. Agencies, he kids himself, are not just news-breakers but “impartial arbiters that set the tone and steer the global narrative.”
His submission for the 100,000 Euros says he was at an Oxford conference in 2009 on (supposed) impacts of a (supposed) 4degC warming. “And suddenly the reality of global warming and the human misery it will trail in its wake hit me in the gut and left me gasping for air,” he hyperventilated. In preacher mode, he told BBVA how “Humanity is standing at the crossroads [of a “sixth mass extinction”, no less] and doesn’t have long to decide which path we will be taking.”
In a soliloquy of self-delusion, he asked himself if his journalism is “the best way to wield influence, since an agency’s job is to deliver news, not opinion.” He yearns “to explicitly denounce what I know to be harmful or wrong, and to champion what I think is the right course of action” but manages (he says) to restrain himself. He boasts how his activism earns him under-the-table scoops from the UN-based catastrophe spruikers:
These stories are not only directly accessible to tens of millions of people through AFP’s media clients, they are also read by other journalists who take their cue from top level agency reporting.
As for his teaching duties to 100 young journos a year,
He asks what he describes as the question for anyone interested in environmental communication: ‘How do you scare people enough to take it seriously, and at the same time show them that there are solutions and hope, so they don’t just throw their hands up in despair? It’s all about striking that balance.’
I nearly choked over Hood’s latest “news” piece in The Australian, Feb 14. The propaganda, almost beyond satire, is illustrated with a nameless city cocooned in lush green parks and dappled skies lit by the sun’s rays. But the artists change it to a hellscape of broiling heat, fires and parched cracked earth thanks to the evil of carbon dioxide emissions. The Australian‘s sub-editors have grabbed the illustration from the range of Goebbels-standard propaganda pics on offer at Shutterstock including dying polar bears on ice floes, drought-stricken deathscapes and wind turbines glowing in heavenly pastel landscapes.
Hood’s story, based on leaks from his alarmist pals, says the IPCC is going to release another “harrowing” Summary for Policymakers on February 28, more of the doom that UN people have claimed is just around the corner, every few years since 1990. Hood parades a litany of fake facts:
Species extinction, ecosystem collapse, mosquito-borne disease, deadly heat, water shortages, and reduced crop yields are already measurably worse due to global heating.
Just in the past year, the world has seen a cascade of unprecedented floods, heatwaves and bushfires across four continents.
All these impacts will accelerate in the coming decades even if the carbon pollution driving climate change is rapidly brought to heel, the IPCC report is likely to warn.
Is “global heating” really making “reduced crop yields measurably worse”?. In fact there’s been slight global cooling in the past five years, as measured officially by satellites and from the surface. On February 2, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation estimated last year’s world cereal production at yet another record of 2793 million tonnes, with a graph showing the rising trend from 2012. Yields for virtually every major crop have been on that rising trend during 60 years’ worth of global warming. Closer to home, Australia has just had its coolest year since 2012, according to the Meteorology Bureau, and in 60 years Australian cereal yields have more than doubled.
Hood drives his truck through AFP’s guidelines for proper sourcing within its news articles. His piece in The Australian includes the bland, “experts and advocates say”. But AFP Protocols stress:
Analysts should be clearly identified, along with the organization for whom they work and their area of expertise… Anonymous analysts lack credibility and must not be quoted…AFP is a global news agency and we should seek out analysts who offer conflicting points of view and not be content with analysts who follow a particular narrative.
Hood’s “news” piece looks even more stupid considering the IPCC summary he’s blurbing is not finalised and its authors are continuously changing the draft. Moreover, Hood is just another mouthpiece for the orchestrated campaign by activist scientists and lobbyists to hype the impending Summary. Verify this by looking at other tame journalists’ output, like AP’s science writer Seth Borenstein’s version headed: “Scientists and governments meet to finalise UN report on ‘nightmare’ impacts of global warming“. Borenstein is at least more frank in sourcing his garbage to an activist group, writing:
The IPCC’s horrifying evidence of escalating climate impacts is set to show a nightmare painted in the dry language of science,” Teresa Anderson, who heads climate justice issues at ActionAid International, said in a statement.
If you think the agencies’ output is on the nose, you’ll gag at the stench from once-eminent mastheads like the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, LA Times and Chicago Tribune. The NYT took $US100,000 a month from the Communist Party of China, via the CCP’s “China Daily” mouthpiece, for the decade to early 2020 to run pages of advertorials like “China Watch: Diaoyu Islands Belong to China.”
The NYT, the progressives’ “paper of record”, takes pride in its archives stretching back to the 1850s pre-Civil War. But when caught out getting paid for CCP material, it furtively deleted those 200-plus pseudo-news pieces from its archives. The slimy deals with the CCP were exposed only when Republicans in Congress forced China Daily to properly disclose its US influence-peddling since 2016.
To continue reading the rest of the gruesome details click here
Tony (tongue firmly placed in cheek). Can’t you write anything pleasant to read? Last time it was the horrors of universities, before that the unpleasantness of schools. Now the perfidy of much of our international news suppliers. All gloom and doom, just the thing to start my week. Fortunately it focussed on (to me) far away Australia) but deep in my hind brain I know that it does affect me. But not a word of solace, nothing to console. But then (tongue extracted) I realise that your article was published in Quadrant, so there must be other lights somewhere.
You’ve ruined the start of my week, but do continue the good work. Alan
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“far away Australia”
In the UK my newspaper is moving sometimes towards its readers, but often inconsistently. Let me exemplify on the topic of a different “climate”.
The ToL editor was on BBC R4 Media Show last week proudly proclaiming that they were picking up more women subscriptions with its approach to women’s rights in particular via one journo Janice Turner. Now such a view is belied by the predominant “No comments allowed” on a particular nation’s sub-section articles. (In fact our female journo Gillian Bowditch had her Sunday column changed to such before 7am last week).
It’s standard now that comments are moderated (effectively) away on some stories. The rate of receipt of the pre-approval email is less than 10% some days. Now I can understand if you go down market and rely on click-bait there will be some bonkers comments but ….
Who was it coined the term ‘Fake News? ‘
Used to read The Australian. 😦
“AP” to be rebranded: “Associated Propaganda”
In one of his video interviews, Michael Shellenberger noted that in books like 1984 and Brave New World that governments were doing the censoring, but now days it’s the journalist who are calling for censorship.
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Tony, I always try to shy away from anything remotely resembling conspiracy theorising, but I was concerned to read what you had to say about the CCP’s funding of the NYT. Coming on top of the news about alleged (indirect) CCP funding of up to £0.5M to a Labour MP (Barry Gardiner) in the UK, it’s more than a little worrying.