Rupert Murdoch got a dressing down by his 102-year-old mum this week when she went to a rival newspaper chain to undermine the pro-coal campaign taken up by his Australian publications.
Dame Elisabeth Murdoch and several other “eminent Australians” sent a letter to the editor of the The Age, a Fairfax publication, calling on political leaders to “build a better, cleaner, and more sustainable future, for the sake of our children and our grandchildren.”
Mother Murdoch’s letter was prompted by a proposed carbon tax for industries Down Under, which has been viciously opposed by her son’s newspapers.
Murdoch’s Herald Sun in Melbourne has warned its readers that the tax would cause an increase in the price of Mars Bars and McDonald’s. The Australian in Sydney quoted a report in a front page story, saying the tax would force the closure of eight coal mines.
Murdoch himself has acknowledged the existence of a climate change problem, but his publications including, The Wall Street Journal, continue to pooh-pooh the concept as liberal hokum.
In a 2007 speech to News Corp., Murdoch told his employees, “Climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats. We may not agree on the extent, but we certainly can't afford the risk of inaction.”
Of course, the rival newspaper was primarily interested in hyping Dame Elisabeth's defection, giving it front page play. The article noted that she got pulled into the carbon tax fracas by her grandson, Michael Kantor, the art director of a Melbourne theater.
"She was very keen and she would have taken a more active stance, but she's 102," Kantor told The Age.