5 Mar 2012

The Super Wealthy....If they want to play politics they must take the flack!!...it comes with the turf!

The Wealthy, can they influence the media?
Common sense suggests they probably can. 

Billionaires court media favours; Extacts from

Tim Lester reports.

They can buy the good comment and they can stifle the negative stuff. And this holds them apart from ordinary Australians. The defamation laws suit the rich and famous.

Describe the man in the street as a “boofhead”, no problem..... Describe a billionaire as a boofhead? You are unlikely to see that story in the press.

The Minerals Council spent a $7 million or so in an advertising campaign against the government and its mooted mining tax, isn't this political advertising.

The irony is clear: you can sue for defamation, and win money in a court judgment or a settlement, if you already rich and famous.

If you are poor and unknown, you might dearly love to be defamed and paid a large settlement but you will never afford it.

Other examples..

Iron ore magnate Andrew Forrest has a live writ against The Sydney Morning Herald relating to a story about his company Fortescue's controversial Chinese contracts.

Clive Palmer has not sued the media for defamation but has spent millions suing governments and other parties to support his corporate agendas.

The Football Federation Australia, of which Frank  Lowy is president, recently sued The Age for imputations in a story about Australia's soccer peak body and its bid to host the World Cup.

Gerry Harvey commands huge advertising dollars. The very suggestion that some of this advertising spend might be withheld, or might go elsewhere, is enough for editors to at least exercise caution.

And by caution, we mean particular care which would never be afforded to a commoner.

James Packer is another billionaire to sue for defamation. He sued Fairfax over its coverage of OneTel a few years ago.

Whether true or not, press allegations about powerful corporate interests are often tempered and sometimes eliminated by the spectre of a possible defamation action.

This is an aspect of their power which puts billionaires on another footing altogether compared with other Australians.

Virtually none of the actions mentioned here, nor the press apologies, settlements and so forth which variously accompanied them, could have happened in the US or most other jurisdictions.

Why is it then that once a politician mentions a name of a billionaire the Coalition gets up in arms, as if they are untouchable.

The Coalition appear to be supporting these people above average Australians, these people were elected by us not by billionaires. 

The rich do have a right under the law to prevent their reputations from being damaged. It's the laws, not the billionaires, who need to change.

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