The 7 Network has responded to my allegations that Today Tonight broadcast two segments that were really Targeted Socio-Eeconomic Vilification. (That is a fancy way of saying that the two segments were all about welfare bashing.) Part of my response to Channel 7 is that the Today Tonight segments were also blatant PROPAGANDA aimed at drawing attention away from Centrelink frauds and politicians who rort but are not charged because the Federal Police keep refusing to investigate. The following blog is aimed at preventing the 7 Network from trying to wriggle out of being held accountable by falsely claiming that the two segments were just public “information”, a favourite trick of ourrip off politicians as the opening comments clearly reveal..
Report by The Australian – 16th October 2007:- Budget papers had revealed that in FY 2005-06, the Howard Government had spent a staggering $121 million just on advertising Work Choices.
“The working Australians who have been ripped off by these laws are also the taxpayers who have been ripped off by these ads,’’ deputy leader Julia Gillard said.
Ms Gillard yesterday also defended a $12 million advertising campaign on the carbon tax that started last night. “People have been hungry for information, so we are advertising and providing information so people can understand what putting a price on carbon means for them and their families,” she said. But Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the advertising was an abuse of taxpayer funds to rescue the government’s desperate position. “If the Labor party wants to advertise, the Labor Party should find the money,” he said.
(Source: My MPs are with me on this tax. The Advertiser. Monday, July 18th 2011, Page 9. )
The grossly hypocritical views expressed by both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott in the above quotes are two text book examples of “If I do it, it is Information but if you do it, it is political propaganda”. Somewhere in this disgustingly blatant, hypocritical abuse of taxpayers money, political propaganda is morphed into “information”. This raises the issue of Propaganda and its critical role in highlighting the reasons why the 7 Network and Centrelink overstepped the mark with the May 16th and June 2nd, 2011 welfare bashing Today Tonight current affairs segments.
Wiki defines Propaganda as:
“…a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience…”
More comprehensive is the description by Richard Alan Nelson: “Propaganda is neutrally defined as a systematic form of purposeful persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specified target audiences for ideological, political or commercial purposes through the controlled transmission of one-sided messages (which may or may not be factual) via mass and direct media channels.”
Condensed from the above statement, a very simple definition of Propaganda is that it is:
- A deceitful form of communication that selectively presents facts.
- Includes lying by omission, i.e. the truth but definitely not the whole truth.
- The deliberate use of biased or “loaded” messages.
- It aims to deliberately bias the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself.
- It is a systematic form of purposeful persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specified target audiences for ideological, political, commercial, or personal purposes.
- It uses the controlled transmission of one-sided messages (which may or may not be factual) via mass and direct media channels such as newspapers, television and radio.
NOTE: Propaganda is most effective were the target audience is totally ignorance of the truth.
Any forensic examination of the two welfare bashing segments would identify most of these characteristics. For examples the vilification messages were “loaded” by deliberately introducing misleading and irrelevant facts such as 800,000 reports of fraud and then promptly focussing upon fraud by welfare recipients in the May 16th segment. That a systemic form of persuasion was being used was highlighted by the use of similar tactics in the June 2nd segment where the build up of disability pensioners to almost a million people was promptly followed by a switch to, you guessed it, welfare rorting. In the May 16th segment there was no mention that of the 800,000 fraud reports, the vast majority did not involve welfare recipients, i.e. the audience was deceived by the deliberate omission of facts.
There was also no mention of the fact that the vast majority of the reports that did involve welfare recipients were false, were often made for malicious or other unknown purposes and were such a major problem that Centrelink, the Federal Police, and the National Audit Office had been forced to set up a task force in order to investigate ways to identify true reports and to eliminate and/or discourage false reporting.
What viewers did see was Centrelink’s general manager, Hank Jongen, trumpeting his “We will get you” mantra but there no mention of either Mr. Jongen’s performance bonuses, a personal financial motive for cracking down on welfare rorters, nor was there any details of the level of fraud perpetrated by Centrelink staff against welfare recipients, e.g. the deliberate concealment of the 6 week rule; a form of fraud that is financially beneficial to Centrelink and is therefore extremely beneficial in helping senior Centrelink receive an annual productivity bonus.
There was certainly no mention of the fact that Mr. Jongen is the general manager of a government organisation that, from its launch in 1997, has successfully hidden from both Parliament and the public, the cumulative death toll caused by breaching activity.
I believe that these sort of tactics by Today Tonight are what is commonly known as lying by omission. It is highly probable that if Today Tonight producers had revealed the Centrelink management triggered death toll, which may be far larger than the 9/11 death toll, it would have tended to ‘distract’ the targeted audience, regular Today Tonight viewers, from the relatively ‘petty larceny’ by a minute percentage of welfare recipients.
The use of the term ‘petty larceny’ is not inappropriate for Today Tonight producers were fully aware that the Australian Federal Police had refused to investigate the rorting of $4.64 million by federal MPs that was reported to Federal Parliament by the Auditor-General when he tabled Report #3 in September 2009. I am sure that the reasons cited by the Federal Police for not investigating this alleged rorting of $4.64 million by 144 MPs would have also been a major distraction from the issue of welfare rorting. Three of the reasons why the Federal Police flatly refused to investigate, or even discuss, this alleged rorting activity which allegedly involved 56% of all federal MPs were:
- The (political) “gravity/sensitivity” of the case.
- They had to abide by “government protocols”, i.e. the alleged rorters set out the terms of any investigation!
- They were apparently ‘too busy’, perhaps due to too many meetings with Centrelink and the National Audit Office trying to sort out all of the 800,000 mostly false fraud reports highlighted by Today Tonight?
What would motivate the 7 Network to vilify welfare recipients?
The $121 million propaganda spend-up by John Howard on Work Choices and the current (July 2011) $12 million propaganda spend-up by Julia Gillard are but two examples of the massive tsunami of tax payer funds that regularly flows into the coffers of Australia’s mass media advertising networks. As the nation’s second largest commercial television network, the 7 Network and its major corporate shareholders have a huge, commercially compelling, multi-million dollar a year motive to protect federal politicians from their own greed and ideological stupidity.
In 2004, after going to court to have a media suppression order lifted, the 7 network exposed Trish Draper’s actions in falsely claiming a young gentleman as her spouse when making a taxpayer funded ‘fact-finding’ trip to Europe in 2000. This created a political furore, just months out from the 2004 federal election. In mid flight, the 7 Network suddenly dropped the issue and then, upon receiving documentary evidence that the Federal Police had refused to investigate the issue of Ms. Draper’s actions, John Howard’s concealment of her actions, and Breaching Quotas triggered fatalities, because of the (extreme political) “gravity/sensitivity” of these issues, Today Tonight producers did nothing other than repeatedly ignore the evidence of the Federal Police’s outrageously political decision.
Vilifying welfare recipients was a convenient way of protecting the 7 Network’s political clientele by deflecting the public’s attention away from a raft of far more sensitive issues, e.g. fraud problems within Centrelink and the Job Network, the secret death toll caused breaching legislation that was supported for decades by both the Coalition and the ALP, as well as the problem of “Entitlement Funds” rorting of millions of dollars by federal politicians.
Ron Medlicott Christian welfare justice advocate <><