July 8th 2006

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: No quick fix for suffering Aboriginal communities

EDITORIAL: Quarantine subverted by free trade agenda

QUARANTINE: Senate blasts AQIS over citrus canker outbreak

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: WA's Liberal Opposition shoots itself in the foot

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Where did all the culture go? / Don't cry for me, Nigeria / Water on the brain

THE WORLD: Has the United Nations any future?

BIOETHICS: Should lesbians be allowed artificial insemination?

THINKERS: Thoroughly modern Mill - John Stuart Mill

IRAN: Can the West tame Iran's nuclear ambitions?

MEDIA: Propaganda masquerading as news

Something rotten in academia (letter)

Muslims who reject extremism (letter)

Under the influence? (letter)

WONDER WOMAN: The myth of 'having it all', by Virginia Haussegger

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Propaganda masquerading as news

by Bill Muehlenberg

News Weekly, July 8, 2006
Bill Muehlenberg describes the Melbourne Age newspaper's recent coverage of same-sex union legislation as "one giant tsunami of pro-gay propaganda".

Once upon a time, a person could buy a newspaper and be fairly confident that the news covered therein was more or less reliable, factual and impartially presented. That certainly is no longer the case, especially for certain newspapers.

Consider the case of one Australian broadsheet, the Melbourne Age. This paper is right up there with a few other contenders for Australia's most left-wing, politically correct and biased paper in the country. There are many examples of this bias and agenda-pushing. Just one will suffice.

The Age is notoriously pro-homosexual, with almost daily pro-homosexual reporting and opinion. Of course, with many homosexual activists on staff, this is not surprising.

Consider one example of this totally lopsided and prejudiced news coverage and reporting. The Australian Capital Territory decided on May 11 to legalise same-sex unions, which was tantamount to legalising same-sex marriage. This was in spite of the fact that the Federal Government had reaffirmed, through legislation passed by both houses of parliament in August 2004, that marriage in Australia can only be between a man and a woman.

This year, on June 6, the Howard Government signalled its intention to override the ACT legislation - and with good reason. The ACT law was just a sneaky attempt to bring in same-sex marriage, even though the Australian Parliament, and the overwhelming majority of Australians, stated that marriage is a heterosexual affair. (On June 15, the Howard Government motion was passed, and the ACT law was struck down).

Consider how the Age covered this story over the following two weeks. I have clipped every article, opinion piece and letter on the subject from June 7 to June 18. (It was a good thing I monitored only 12 days' worth - there was so much to clip, I was beginning to get sore hands!).

Take, for example, the articles run on the story. Altogether, 16 different "news" articles were written on this topic during this 12-day period. That is well over one a day. Talk about a beat-up. Talk about going overboard on a story. One would have thought there were other news items of merit worth covering during this period.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg. In every one of the articles, there was such an obvious one-sided agenda being pushed that there was little or no difference between these supposed news item and the paper's editorials.

I simply lost count of the number of homosexual and lesbian activists quoted in these pieces. And how many pro-family voices were heard? Not one. Is this news reporting or propaganda?

There was one very short piece on how religious leaders felt about Howard's decision; so a few quick - and token - references were made to those from the other side of the debate, but that was it. Aside from that, these 16 articles were one mass promotion of the homosexual agenda. But it does not end there.

There were also three full opinion pieces on the subject. I guess, in an effort to pretend that there was some balance taking place, one of the three pieces did argue the "no-case" against same-sex marriage. But that is just 33 per cent. When weighed against all the articles, letters and other items in favour of same-sex marriage, it made up barely a fraction of the space devoted to the issue.

In typical Age fashion, the very next day the letters' editor featured not one, but three letters attacking the no-case article, with not one letter supporting it.

Each of these opinion pieces, editorials and articles could in turn be analysed at length. They are great examples of sloppy thinking, poor reasoning, question-begging, special-pleading, red herrings and moral obfuscation. But those evaluations must await another article.

But wait, there's still more. There were no fewer than four major human interest pieces as well (scattered among the 16 news items). These featured homosexual and lesbian couples given free rein to state their case at length.


Of course, no heterosexual was allowed to feature as a personal story. And there were plenty of full-colour photos of happy, smiling, hugging homosexual and lesbian couples. Of course, putting an emotive human face on the story always beats having to deal with the facts and the real heart of the issue. Just paint an emotional story using people who represent your cause, and you do not have to deal with hard things like truth, logic, facts or evidence.

One lesbian couple got to tell their story not once, but twice (June 9, 14). Both times the couple's story was adorned with large colour photos. They got to speak at length of how terrible it was that their relationship could not be recognised as a marriage. It featured all the emotive rhetoric about their love being denied, and so on. After wading though article after article like this, I really began to believe that I was reading articles from the homosexual press. The Age pieces were absolutely identical to anything found there.

Moreover, a Saturday Age Insight section featured a front-page story (which spilled over onto page 2), with numerous photos and large splashes of colour, complete with a rainbow. Paragraph after paragraph of quotes from homosexuals were featured therein. Again, not one pro-family voice. Not one dissenting position, except for a few references to Prime Minister Howard or Attorney-General Ruddock.

Shedding tears

There was of course the mandatory large editorial, shedding tears over this being a "matter of human rights". In it, the editorial writers said, among other things, that the Howard Government had chosen to "politicise the issue".

Sorry, but it was the homosexual lobby that long ago decided to make a political issue of this. The Howard Government has simply responded to this attempt at social engineering by stating what most Australians know to be true: marriage is not whatever you make it to be. It is something that for millennia has meant one thing, and we are not about to let a group of noisy activists redefine it out of existence.

Oh yes, one last thing. The Age also ran a cartoon on the subject, by Leunig. It was a masterful example of propaganda at its best. Using colour, photos and text, it effectively implied that heterosexuals were torturers, murderers and militants, and it is time we let peaceful homosexuals have rights to marriage and children.

Thus this was one giant tsunami of pro-gay propaganda. Like a tidal wave, every day the reader was inundated with one pro-homosexual assault after another. This simply was one of the most blatant and disgusting cases of media bias and agenda-pushing that I have encountered in the mainstream press. Somehow, however, I do not expect that ABC's Media Watch will cover the story.

To get this scandal into some sort of perspective, just consider a slightly different contentious social issue and the way it might be treated by the Age. For example, consider the subject of young people and tobacco use. What if the Age ran 16 articles on this issue in 12 days, and had dozens of spokespersons from the tobacco industry giving their side of the story, but without one opposing voice? Would the reader think this to be news coverage or indoctrination?

What if the paper offered lengthy human-interest stories (complete with large photos of smiling people), featuring those who absolutely loved their tobacco, who found it quite beneficial and enjoyable, and complained about those who sought to discriminate against them by denying them their right to smoke? Then throw in a few opinion pieces, editorials and cartoons, and you would have a good case for the Government to step in and seek to shut down this propaganda vehicle.

But the Age bias doesn't end here. Consider also the letters pages. During this June 7-18 period, an amazing 30 letters were published on this subject. Yet only five of those 30 were opposed to same-sex marriage. Now, what do those numbers tell us? There are really only four possibilities:

One, these numbers tell us that a full 83 per cent of Australians (or at least Melbournians) are supposedly in favour of same-sex marriage. I tend to doubt that. Numerous polls and surveys have all shown that the majority of Australians are opposed to special rights for homosexuals.

Two, the Age letters' editor is as biased as the rest of the paper's staff. A good and fair letters' editor will weigh up the letters he receives, and print a representative few of each. Are we really to believe that 83 per cent of the letters he received were in favour of same-sex marriage? Most unlikely.

Three, for argument's sake, let's concede point two. Maybe he did receive that many pro-gay letters, and that few letters in opposition. What might that tell us? Again, it probably does not tell us what the general public really thinks about the issue. It probably just tells us that a handful of homosexual activists and their supporters are much more active and dedicated to their cause than are others. After all, they do have a lot more time on their hands. Most heterosexual family members are busy just being family, and do not have time for political lobby work. But childless homosexuals, who have higher than average income, have the time and wherewithal to bombard their favorite media outlets with their propaganda.

Four, it may well be that many opposed to the homosexual onslaught are just fed up with the bias of the Age and have given up on it. They have written countless letters to the Age, only to see few if any printed. Many conservatives have simply given up writing to the Age, knowing that it is almost a lost cause, a wasted effort.

Manipulation and distortion

All in all, this is one shameful example of the complete manipulation and distortion of a news item to serve ideological ends. The media in general, and the Age in particular, are over-represented by homosexuals and/or those sympathetic to the homosexual cause.

Thus, a paper like the Age may never be able to present a balanced, objective and disinterested account of this issue. It is pushing an agenda, while pretending to be engaged in news-reporting. But propaganda is still propaganda, and the Age should be ashamed of the way it is using its power to push an agenda with which most people are quite uncomfortable.

  • Bill Muehlenberg.

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