‘Freedom’ is getting a real workout in the Australian media nowadays. It’s a peculiarly American view of freedom, though – the Platonic, chiseled-into-granite view of the word. Hands instinctively go on hearts at its very mention.
Take the taste test and it is revealed as the Rupert/IPA flavour of freedom. In other words, it’s supposed stark and uncompromising nobility is in stark contrast to its ideological contingency. How else do you explain the shifting views of Murdoch’s loyal footservants?
In a heated discussion on Twitter with ABC Lateline host Emma Alberici last May, during the then Labor government’s ill-fated attempt to introduce stronger self-regulation for media, The Australian’s Chris Kenny argued for the absolutist, American view of press freedom and slandered the scrupulously independent Alberici as a Labor apologist.
“A journalist publicly advocating a government’s attempt to regulate media standards – things I thought I would never see,” Kenny hashtagged. Any attempt to improve accountability in the print media, including self-regulation, was “anathema to freedom”, he added.
Fast forward six months and Kenny is now in bed with the state, arguing for the national interest above the public interest in respect of the ABC and Guardian scoop about Australian spying on Indonesia’s president and his wife. The claims emerged from leaked intelligence released by US whistleblower Edward Snowden.