‘News Corp is a climate criminal of the highest order’: Protestors lie in Holt Street to demand advertiser boycott

Those walking past News Corp’s Sydney offices on Friday afternoon were greeted with a strange sight: three to four hundred people laying in the street, agitating for advertisers to boycott what organiser Brad Pedersen called “a climate criminal of the highest order”.

It wasn’t the “usual lying you see on Holt St [the location of News Corp’s Surry Hills HQ]” according to deputy lord mayor Jess Scully, who spoke at the protest alongside the likes of Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi.

Protestors stuck a piece of paper onto the building so a sign read “News Corp Australia lies”. Photo: Robert Coluccio

Pedersen referred to News Corp paper The Australian as a “deranged, intellectual insult”, and condemned the power and scale of the media company in a blistering speech.

“I don’t care what anybody’s politics is, left or right, nobody should have that much power over our information. That is not how a democracy should function,” he said.

“No wonder politicians from Sydney to Perth, they fear Murdoch, they cower to him. Very few politicians have the courage of the ones here today. Because all politicians know if they don’t do what Rupert [Murdoch] wants, then News Corp will hunt them down, trash their reputations, destroy them.”

Those politicians included former Greens parliamentarian and founding board member of Get Up, Cate Faehrmann, along with Scully and Faruqi. They were joined as speakers by former ABC journalist John Highfield, investigative journalist Wendy Bacon, and Extinction Rebellion’s Larissa Payne.

“News Corp is the enemy of truth, News Corp is the enemy of democracy, News Corp is the enemy of the people and our planet,” Pedersen said.

“Murdoch recently said News Corp has no climate change deniers. A gigantic lie. News Corp is a climate criminal of the highest order. For decades, News Corp has led a coordinated global campaign to lie and confuse the public about climate science. For decades, Murdoch has been burning the truth with his lies, and consequently, now our beautiful country is on fire, Murdoch is the arsonist of truth, Murdoch is a global misinformation vandal.

“And in the midst of this climate emergency, News Corp tried to blame environmentalists for the fires across Australia. That is not just a lie, and sick and perverted, that was downright evil. So I stand with Greta Thunberg and I say to say Rupert Murdoch: How dare you?”

Protestors ‘saluting’ the News Corp offices. Photo: Robert Coluccio

The proposed advertiser boycott mirrors that mounted against Alan Jones last year, which Nine admitted had a financial effect on Macquarie Media. Mad Fucking Witches, the group that drove the Jones boycott, is also spearheading this one, joined by Facebook group ‘War on Murdoch‘, which is asking for people to cancel Foxtel and other News Corp subscriptions, organise flash mobs at News Corp offices, and write to politicians demanding a Royal Commission into Australia’s media ownership.

A News Corp spokesperson told Mumbrella: “News Corp does not deny climate change or the gravity of its threat. We respect our critics’ right to peaceful protest and we champion freedom of speech, but we disagree with their views.”

‘It’s okay to lie here.’ Photo: Robert Coluccio

It also did not agree with the views of its former employee, Emily Townsend, whose leaked reply-all email decried “misinformation” and said: “I find it unconscionable to continue working for this company, knowing I am contributing to the spread of climate change denial and lies.” News Corp deleted the email from employees’ inboxes.

“We respect Ms Townsend’s right to hold her views but we do not agree with them,” executive chair Michael Miller responded.

News Corp elaborated on its disagreement when The Australian published a pointed editorial claiming The Guardian and The New York Times “wilfully and ineptly misrepresented” the masthead’s coverage as climate change denial.

However, internal condemnation hasn’t ended with Townsend. Rupert Murdoch’s youngest son, James, a News Corp board member, unusually broke ranks and criticised the company’s climate change coverage.

“Kathryn [James Murdoch’s wife] and James’ views on climate are well established and their frustration with some of the News Corp and Fox coverage of the topic is also well known,” a spokesperson told The Daily Beast.

As for the local protests, the next action is already planned. While Pedersen said the details are confidential, he asserted it would “raise the stakes”.

“I can’t tell you right now what we planning, except to say we’re coming back here. It will a peaceful and humorous, but we will raise the stakes,” Pedersen said in his speech.

“We will do whatever is necessary to alert the world of this evil. And I will ask you all to be part of that civil action.”


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