When the ABC was giving a platform for someone in the Crikey stable, no-one batted an eyelid. But now that Alan Kohler and Crikey’s Eric Beecher have sold out some barely profitable business websites to News Corp for $30M there is rage pouring out of the lefty media machine about the whole thing.
Our own view is that Kohler/Beecher’s BusinessSpectator/Eureka Report business was worth much less than $30M, practically nothing. It was an expensive way of recruiting some long-in-the-tooth editorial talent, at a time when the company is contemplating letting many go. Kohler may well have been worth hiring but a $30M sign-on fee does seem a bit rich.
The fact is that Alan Kohler is an insightful, interesting business commentator. And boning him from the ABC purely because he also writes for a reasonably ordinary, now News Corp owned website is absurd and reflects legacy anti-Murdoch hysteria from the far Left who are determined to hate Rupe and the company he built. These are the same folk who bleat about diversity and new voices in the media. What they really mean is they want to silence the voices they don’t like. They have extended their unpleasantness to now include guilt by association.
We think the BusinessSpectator site is not much more than a plagiarism scam, that News Corp ought not have bought it, and ought not have paid $30M for a barely profitable business with limited growth prospects, populated by some vaguely notable old print commentators, and certainly Kohler/Beecher’s past criticism of News Corp does seem a little hypocritical in the circumstances (especially from Beecher whose piety is nauseating) but going the full McCarthy on him says more about his critics than it does about him.
The main critic – Ben Eltham – isn’t so intemperate usually. We link to a lot of interesting stories from VEXNEWS and for the enlightenment of our Twitter and Facebook friends, and find that Eltham is one of very few “experimental and fringe arts festivals” directors worth reading. He will no doubt be flattered.
The fact Eltham had to disclose a conflict of interest, in that he receives cash from Eric Beecher for writing for Crikey, and that Beecher personally made many millions from the sale, and that it was published on the ABC’s own site, and then rehashed on a Fairfax site (without disclosing that Fairfax was an underbidder for Kohler/Beecher’s business) is itself rather revealing: Australia is a small town. Eltham also writes for a sorta Crikey competitor New Matilda. Eltham’s entitled to his madly anti-Murdoch view but we’re just as entitled to think guilt by association is not in keeping with the trendy lefty principles Eltham professes at dinner parties or to his PhD supervisor.
Eltham argues that Kohler can’t be independent while working for Rupert Murdoch billionaire-controlled News Corp. But could be independent while working as part of the nag Eric Beecher millionaire-controlled Crikey stable. And Fairfax was OK too. It’s simply not an intellectually honest or fair argument.
Kohler does a good job on ABC News and should be retained on merit.