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John Passant

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March 2016



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



The article on the Paul Sheehan affair the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and the Canberra Time have so far refused to publish

At 8.46 am on Tuesday 1 March I sent the article below to the opinion editors at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Canberra Times. It is about the Paul Sheehan affair and his repetition of lies from Louise about a rape in Sydney she blamed on Middle Eastern men. It was untrue.

I got an automated response from the SMH and the Age saying they received lots of submissions and if they hadn’t got back to me in a few days consider it rejected. (My words.)

Sixty hours later and not one of the opinion editors has got back to me about what I thought was an OK article highlighting the liberal racism of the Fairfax newspapers.
Here is what I sent them. It is an edited down version of an earlier article on my blog.

I just can’t for the life of me figure out why they won’t publish it, can you?


By now most readers will know the story. On Tuesday 24 February in the Sydney Morning Herald and online via The Age and The Canberra Times long time conservative Fairfax columnist Paul Sheehan wrote an incredible story of police neglect and a Middle Eastern culture of rape.

It turns out it was too incredible. The alleged victim, ‘Louise’, had made the rape story up. There was no rape; there was no Middle Eastern rape culture; there was no rape epidemic. A quick google would have revealed her story as a fabrication, given for example she had regaled Reclaim White Australia rallies with similar lies.

The offensive article now starts with an apology that isn’t. On Wednesday Sheehan too apologised, not to Muslim men for his brown men rape white women scare campaign, but to the Police for calling into question their professionalism.

The damage has been done. The edited story remains on the Sydney Morning Herald and other Fairfax media websites, as do the apologies that aren’t. The shit will stick.

Sheehan remains untouched and the edited article remains a travesty.

Australia’s mainstream media is a bit like Australia’s politics. It gives the impression of difference but in reality the two major newspaper outlets – News and Fairfax – disagree only on the detail. They agree on the overriding message and practice of neoliberalism and austerity. They agree too on creating a distraction from austerity. For Fairfax disguised and now not so disguised Islamophobia and liberal racism are good ways to do that.

Murdoch’s News media in Australia is like the Liberals. The loss making Australian newspaper is the key outlet for Rupert’s reactionary views about what needs to be done to fix the economy and to prop up and justify the conservatives and their world views. The Fairfax broadsheet stable is like the Labor Party, full of reassuring liberal and left of centre columnists who give cover for neoliberalism and racism.

Mainstream media doesn’t engage with its readership on the issues that impact on them, like low wages, job insecurity and other economic matters. And when it does engage it does so in ways that are top down, reflecting a bosses’ view of the world.

Surveys show voters well to the left of politicians on most issues. It is the same with newspapers, which are after all part of the ideological machine of capitalism. They are well to the right of their readers.

Of course Fairfax has left wing columnists. They perform a vital function for Fairfax media. They give a left face to an essentially neoliberal newspaper, much as left members of the Parliamentary Labor Party give a left face to the neoliberal Labor Party.

This is not to doubt their sincerity. It is just to try and understand their objective role.

To my mind Fairfax media has made a conscious decision to shift to the right, or rather become more open about it. This looks like it is an attempt to win some of Murdoch’s readers in the perhaps forlorn hope of winning a bigger market share of a shrinking market. It is a strategy similar to Labor’s. You beat your competitors by becoming them. It hasn’t worked for Labor and it won’t work for Fairfax.

Sheehan’s article and his kid glove treatment since then suggest that engorging racists is now part of the modus operandi of the Fairfax media.

Fairfax could employ a socialist columnist. After all the rise of Bernie Sanders in the US and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK suggest there is a big audience for socialist ideas in one form or another among ordinary people, and that audience exists too in Australia.

Fairfax’s ideological blinkers mean they cannot do this. Even if they did it would merely add to the veneer of difference when their main game is austerity and hoodwinking workers with ‘nudge nudge wink wink’ and more obvious racism and Islamophobia.

Any reclaiming of the Fairfax papers for their readership ultimately must depend on the workers at Fairfax itself. Over to the unions and workers there.

We on the left can best contribute to the defeat of people like Sheehan and their agenda by building the anti-racist and anti-Islamophobic movements and defend refugees. Let Them Stay shows just a glimpse of what we can do and win.

John Passant is, among other things, a freelance writer. This is an edited version of an article that first appeared on his blog, En Passant.


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