| Nine Entertainments Sydney Morning Herald and The Age | MR Online Nine Entertainment’s Sydney Morning Herald and The Age

Australian Media are outright telling us they are feeding us war propaganda about China

Originally published: Caitlin A Johnstone Blog on March 8, 2023 (more by Caitlin A Johnstone Blog)  |

The mass media in Australia have been churning out brazen propaganda pieces to manufacture consent for war with China, and what’s interesting is that they’re basically admitting to doing this deliberately.

Australians are uniquely susceptible to propaganda because we have the most concentrated media ownership in the western world, dominated by a powerful duopoly of Nine Entertainment and the Murdoch-owned News Corp. Both of those media megacorporations have recently put out appalling propaganda pieces about the need for Australians to rapidly prepare to go to war with China in defense of Taiwan, and in both of those instances have straightforwardly told their audiences that there’s an urgent need to effect a psychological change in the way all Australians think about this war.

Nine Entertainment’s Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have been busy flooding the media with testimony from a panel of war machine-funded “experts” who say Australia must hasten to get ready to join the United States in a hot war with China in the next three years. Yesterday’s dual front-page propaganda assault featured imagery of Chinese war planes flying straight at the reader, awash in red and emblazoned with the words “RED ALERT” to help everyone understand how evil and communist China is.

“Today’s Sydney Morning Herald and Age front-page stories on Australia’s supposed war risk with China represents the most egregious and provocative news presentation of any newspaper I have witnessed in over 50 years of active public life,” former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating opined in response to the publications.

“Apart from the outrageous illustrations of jet aircraft being shown leaving a profiled red-coloured map of China, the extent of the bias and news abuse is, I believe, unparalleled in modern Australian journalism,” he added.

In the first installment of their “Red Alert” propaganda series, SMH and The Age share that their empire-funded panelists believe there’s a need to bring about a “psychological shift” in the public’s attitude toward war with China, with one panelist asserting that “the nation’s leaders should trust the public enough to include them in what can be a confronting discussion” about the need to prepare for that war.

In the second “Red Alert” installment, this same message is repeated, saying that “Australia’s vulnerabilities are not only physical, but psychological,” and again repeating the need to get everyone talking and thinking about the possibility of war with China.

“It is a real national taboo to think about the likelihood of a conflict in anything other than the most remotely theoretical perspective,” says Peter Jennings of the war machine-funded propaganda firmAustralian Strategic Policy Institute, countering that “we will sleepwalk into disaster unless we openly discuss unpalatable scenarios.”

Saying that the real threat is “complacency rather than alarmism,” think tanker Lavina Lee urges Australia to confront “the possibility that we might go to war and what would happen either way. We should talk about what the world would look like if we win and what it would look like if we lose.”

Over and over again they are telling us that something must be done to change the way Australians think and talk about a war with China, in articles designed to change the way Australians think and talk about war with China. They are doing the exact thing they say must be done, while explaining why it needs to be done. They are brainwashing us with propaganda while explaining why it is necessary to brainwash us with propaganda.

Last month Murdoch’s Sky News Australia released an astonishingly propagandistic hour-long special titled “China’s aggression could start new world war,” which in its attempts to show “China’s aggression” hilariously flashed a graphic of all the US military operations currently encircling China. The segment features footage of bayonet-wielding Chinese forces overdubbed with ominous cinematic Bad Guy music, and in Sky News’ promotions for the special all the footage from China was tinged red to help viewers understand how evil and communist China is.

Toward the end of the special, Sky News’ empire-backed “experts” tell their audience that Australia needs to double its military spending, and that those in power need to explain to them why this is so important.

“I think it is important that we are having a conversation with the Australian people which makes it clear that we live in a world which is more fragile than we have for a very long period of time,” Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles tells Sky News in the special. “And what that is going to require is a defense posture and a defense force which is in truth gonna cost more than it has in the past. We’re gonna need to increase our defense spending.”

“The Australian government needs to talk to the Australian people about the kinds of threats it faces,” says Mick Ryan, a war machine-funded think tanker who features in both the Sky News special andthe Nine Entertainment series.

“It needs a more compelling narrative to convince the Australian people that they need to spend more on defense,” Ryan adds.

A “more compelling narrative”. There it is, in black and white.

Again, they’re saying there’s a desperate need to explain to Australians why they need to make sacrifices to prepare for war with China, while explaining to Australians that they need to make sacrifices to prepare for war with China. They are openly telling us that we need to be propagandized for our own good, while filling our heads with propaganda.

They’re not just filling our minds with war propaganda, they are openly telling us that war propaganda is good for us.

The aforementioned second installment of Nine Entertainment’s “Red Alert” propaganda series is titled “The first 72 hours: How an attack on Taiwan could rapidly reach Australia,” and this one features the image of a lone Australian soldier bravely standing against a sky that has been consumed by the red Chinese flag.

This latest propaganda piece says that in the event of a hot war with China, our nation may be struck with intercontinental ballistic missiles, we may find ourselves cut off from the world while the fuel supplies we rely on dry up in a matter of weeks, and we may find our infrastructure rendered useless by massive Chinese cyberattacks. The empire-funded “experts” acknowledge that this will not be because China is just randomly hostile to Australia, but because we are a US military and intelligence asset who will support the US empire in its war:

But why would China use its limited resources to attack Australia instead of focusing solely on seizing Taiwan? Because of the strategically crucial role Australia is expected to play for the United States in the conflict.

“Our geography means we are a southern base for the Americans for what comes next,” Ryan says. “That’s how they’re seeing us. They want our geography. They want us to build bases for several hundred thousand Americans in due course like in World War II.”

Interestingly, the article contains a rare acknowledgement in the mainstream press that the presence of the American surveillance base Pine Gap makes Australia a legitimate target for ICBMs:

“Distance is no longer equivalent to safety from our strategic perspective,” [Peter Jennings] says. In the first three days of a war, he says Beijing would be tempted to target Australian military bases with a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile attack to minimise our usefulness in the conflict.

“If China seriously wants to go after Taiwan in a military sense, the only way they can really contemplate quick success is to pre-emptively attack those assets that might be a threat to them. That means Pine Gap goes,” he says, referring to the top secret US-Australian base in the Northern Territory that the US uses to detect nuclear missile launches.

(Fun fact: the US and the UK staged a coup in Australia in the seventies because the prime minister was threatening to close down Pine Gap.)

At no time is it ever suggested that the fact that going to war with China could cost Australia its shipping lanes and infrastructure and even get us nuked means we should probably reconsider this grand plan of going to war with China. At no time is it ever suggested that riding Washington’s bloodsoaked coattails into World War Three against our primary trading partner might not be a good idea. At no time is it ever suggested that de-escalation, diplomacy and detente might be a better approach than rapidly increasing militarism and brinkmanship.

And at no time is it ever suggested that we should reconsider our role as a US military/intelligence asset, despite the open admission that this is exactly what is endangering us. We’re not being told to prepare for war with China because China is going to attack us, we’re being told to prepare for war with China because our masters in DC are planning to drag us into one. We’re not being told to prepare for war to defend ourselves, we’re being told to prepare for war because our rulers plan to attack China.

We see this in the way Australia is assembling its war machinery, buying up air-to-ground missilesthat cannot possibly be used defensively because their sole purpose is for taking out an enemy nation’s air defenses. We see it in the way Australia is buying up sea mines, which as journalist Peter Cronau has noted is less suitable for protecting our 34,000 km of coastline than for blockading the shipping lanes of an enemy nation you wish to lay siege to. We see it in the fact that China’s military budget remains steady at around one and-a-half percent of its GDP, while the US spends 3.4 percent and Australia is being persuaded to double our share from two to four percent.

We’re not being prepared for a war to defend ourselves, we’re being prepared for a war of aggression to secure US unipolar hegemony — one that has been in the works for many years. We must resist this, and we must resist the tsunami of mass media propaganda that is designed to manufacture our consent for it.

Monthly Review does not necessarily adhere to all of the views conveyed in articles republished at MR Online. Our goal is to share a variety of left perspectives that we think our readers will find interesting or useful. —Eds.