subscribe btndonate btn

Tuesday, 11 August 2020 01:45

The Covid Reich and the Epic Fail of the Australian Media

Written by

At a time of epic fails by political leaders, oppositions, bureaucracies, and, alas, churches, we need an epic fail by our media like a hole in the head.  Yet that is what we have now.  Amid all the Covid disasters, our media have lost the plot.  They are not doing their core jobs of speaking truth to power and calling out stupidity, and we are all the poorer for it.


Thirty-six people have died from influenza in Australia in 2020.  None since April.  Not one.  430 people had died from the flu over a similar period in 2019, nearly twice as many as have died at this point from (or with, or following) Covid.  A very mild flu season?  Why has no one died from the flu since April?

As the ABC has noted:

In total, from January to the end of June 2019, more than 132,000 people were diagnosed with the flu.

This year, almost 21,000 people were diagnosed during the same period.

At the time of writing, there have been 20,698 Covid “cases”.  That is, known infections, most of which have been without any symptoms whatsoever.  Fewer than the very low number flu cases this year.  Fewer than a sixth of the flu cases reported last year.  At 278 Covid deaths, and despite the Victoprian disaster, we are still shy of last year’s flu death count by around 150.

There are a number of potential explanations for the significant drop in flu infections.  Guess which one the “experts” go for?  Yes, you guessed it.  Lockdowns, border closures and social distancing.  Perhaps masks as well.  God help us if anyone jumps from this conclusion to another – let’s lockdown the world every winter, to reduce flu!  This is despite the considerable evidence available that lockdowns and related measures have had very little impact on the spread of Covid across different countries.

A very convenient explanation for the ABC’s rabid health conformism and Covid mania.  And perpetuating myths.

Here are some alternate theories about low flu counts in 2020 – fewer people are presenting themselves to doctors and hospitals with flu symptoms because the hospitals are all but shut down and have been discouraging people from rocking up; most of those who might have been expected to die from the flu have died from Covid instead, being from a common cohort for both; there are fewer tests for normal flu being provided; flu cases are simply counted as Covid cases, and flu deaths as Covid deaths.  This is speculation on my part, but the question is worth asking, and worth answering.  We do know that many more people than normal had flu vaccines this year, which (of course) may or may not be effective against getting the flu.  Or it may be simply a “good” flu season.

At least the ABC was asking the question, even if it was simply an opportunity to get on-side “experts” to blather on about the wonders of lockdowns.  The far bigger question, of course, naturally untouched by the ABC in this report, is – why all the fuss about Covid cases (fewer than the flu this year) and Covid deaths (far fewer than flu deaths last year) and so little fuss ever about the flu?

The comparison between Covid and “normal” flu, and the gaping contrast between government and  societal reactions to Covid on the one hand and normal flu on the other, are but two examples of a set of questions that remains largely unasked, and certainly unanswered, by the establishment media.  Like all the other inconvenient questions that flow from the greatest policy disaster of all of our lifetimes.

Such unexamined questions as this remain lost in the overall Covid-related madness that is 2020.  But the Covid versus flu issue is potentially a question of considerable consequence, depending on the answer.  Why has this matter not been more widely reported, let alone analysed, by the now health obsessed Australian media?  There are many other questions like this – unanswered.  Not even asked.

The manifest failure of the Australian media to report, understand, query and analyse the whole Covid fiasco is both a mystery and a disgrace.  At best, Australian journalists have been asleep at the wheel.  At worst, the media are now simply part of the formal apparatus of the new ruling class, conforming to the elite’s values, ideologies and beliefs.  Either way, the outcome for democracy is dire.

As the hysteria that is fomented by governments which bungled the big decision – to lockdown or not – continues most conveniently for those governments, one head of government in particular is being politically crucified for bungling the smaller decisions.  For implementing a disastrous policy poorly.  Such a crucifixion is, on the one hand, justified and, on the other, entirely beside the point. 

Certainly, the Victorian Government is target rich, and Andrews’ performance during the Covid outbreak has, indeed, been beyond woeful.  Just look at the quarantine “mates rates” affair, literally a screw-up.  Or the hypocrisy of cheering on the protests of Black Lives Matter brigade while castigating innocent fishermen for simply sitting on a quiet wharf.  Or the viciousness of VicPol, characteristic but still inexcusable.  Or the towers fiasco.  Or failing to attend properly to care homes where most of the deaths continue to occur.  The list of second-order policy failures is long and impressive.  And naturally inviting of political attack and media focus.

Yet focusing on Daniel Andrews’ many bungles, nuclear scale blame shifting and cover-ups creates a massive and very unfortunate distraction from attending to the first order question of our time – why have governments of all stripes (here and overseas) and electoral circumstances both created then bowed before popular hysteria about a relatively mild, though infectious, disease, and, in the process, abandoned reason, proportionality, common sense and policy smarts in their wilful efforts to deny individuals their rights, personal freedom, wealth, participation in civic life and economic prospects?

And why have the establishment media and most of its working journalists simply given these bizarre and inept policies a pass?

In truth, Andrews’ pivot to totalitarianism is no different in kind to that of all of his peers around Australia.  It is merely of greater severity (with curfews, compulsory masks, massive fines, and so on), a matter of degree, despite the Andrews Government’s manifest viciousness and his personal tendency to be a control freak.  And despite the bungles.  Who is to say that other state leaders would not have imposed all the same elements of lockdown as Andrews had their states experienced the spike that occurred in Victoria?

The Victorian swamp during its darkest days offers an example of several things: the ramped-up second tilt towards turbo-charged Covid fascism, implementation errors on a grand scale, missing the obvious in its efforts to stem the spread of the virus – like simply looking after the elderly in aged care homes – and massively overreacting to a spike in “cases” while death counts still remain very, very low by international standards, and confined to the demographics that everyone now knows about. 

The widely published British historian Guy de la Bedoyere, coiner of the term “Covid Reich” that seems so apposite to our current predicament, sums up the Victorian scene thus:

In the Australian state of Victoria we can see the way the totalitarian state degenerates. The Victorian state premier Daniel Andrews and his administration have already imposed a second lockdown due to the emergence of a few hundred new cases. Andrews thereby advertised that the first lockdown had not worked, completely undermining the concept of the lockdown measures. The new lockdown has, by all accounts, had a far more dramatic psychological impact leading to real gloom and despair as well as the prospect of much deeper recession. But the new cases have proved almost impossible to arrest.

By now, even the most idiotic leader ought to have realized that the government’s energies need to be poured into protecting the demonstrably vulnerable groups, not systematically destroying the economies that pay for the measures and services needed to maintain the state and the social, health and economic well-being of all.

Listening to the latest figures by July 24th which Andrews itemized in a press conference will leave the average Brit faintly staggered. There are 7,405 cases of COVID-19 in Victoria of which 206 (2.8 percent) are hospitalized, 41 of whom (0.55 percent) are in ICU. To date, Victoria’s death toll from CV-19 is 55 out of a state population of 6.36 million. That’s 0.00086 percent of the state population. This equates to 0.86 CV-19 deaths per 100,000 of the population of Victoria to date. All of the six most recent deaths were “connected to an age care setting”. [At the time of writing].
Oh yes, incidentally, Victoria’s annual death rate from alcohol-related causes is around four deaths per 100,000. But that’s presumably okay. No need to lockdown the state economy for that, or the 200+ deaths from road traffic accidents in 2019 either.

Confronted with a COVID-19 Biblical ‘catastrophe’ on this scale Andrews has found himself caught in the totalitarian trap. His first lockdown did not eliminate the disease or control it. With the latest news that some scientists really do believe the lockdowns could not compensate for national factors like obesity and age profiles in determining rates of COVOID-19 mortality, the lockdown ideology is even harder to maintain.

Andrews could of course blame himself and his state government, but the self-respecting totalitarian never does that. Instead, he blames his people for having betrayed him. This is the classic refuge of the undermined totalitarian leader. Andrews has been reported as being “very unhappy and sad” that 90% of Victorians with symptoms have ‘failed’ to self-isolate. It’s their fault, not his. Appropriately enough, he has reacted by threatening to extend the second lockdown and enforce even more stringent measures. The idea of targeted protection while saving his state from social and economic Armageddon has not apparently occurred to him.

This a warning for the UK Government and indeed any other government across the world. Victoria’s second lockdown is struggling. Some people are declining to comply and the state faces a much more serious economic catastrophe with an enormous multi-billion $ deficit and hundreds of thousands of job losses. That’s the trouble with the totalitarian’s lockdown: ultimately it generates the fear and insecurity it was supposed to prevent. Those on low incomes in casual jobs have no choice but to work. Resorting to more extreme measures to enforce the lockdown further won’t only make the social, health and economic situation.

One might well ask – where can one find this type of broad, deep, perceptive, nuanced, considered and, above all, consequential, analysis in the Australian media?

Daniel Andrews is a genuinely sinister force in Australian politics, deserving of condemnation and dismissal by either the electorate or his own party.  A wolf in wolf’s clothing, though simultaneously and strangely lightweight.  Corrupt as charged over any number of previous actions, many implemented by his equally corrupt and politically protected police force.  A vindictive abortion and euthanasia practitioner.  A destroyer of proper democratic process.  A socialist through and through.  A particular friend of the now even-more-disgraced-than-normal Chinese Communist Party.  A driver of dangerous, woke education, as evidenced by his continued support for the very creepy grooming device also known as Safe Schools.  A waster of public resources.  What other politician has spent over a billion dollars to NOT build a road?  The list goes on.

Yet the media’s obsession with Andrews’ manifest second-tier Covid bungles has caused the entire Australian journalist profession – with the massively honourable exceptions of Alan Jones and Adam Creighton and a few very minor bloggers like me - to miss the far bigger story.  This is, of course, is the biggest policy cock-up in modern Western history – to react to an unusual virus which kills the very old in considerable numbers, and the not-so-old who are otherwise unwell in much smaller numbers, and everyone else, not at all, with hysteria, panic, lies, totalitarianism and economic suicide.  The policy cock-up of this and of all centuries has been missed.  Because a supine, witless media machine is in the pocket of governments.  And because a population of midwits is not pushing the media (or their politicians) to do better.  Worse, we are not even noticing the failure.  (A midwit has been defined as someone just intelligent enough to be irritating.  Not a knuckle-dragger but also not curing cancer anytime soon.  Exhibiting a tendency to go along with the herd).

The midwit media have failed spectacularly.  As well as missing the big story, they have gotten most of the smaller things wrong.  Four examples of the media’s woeful failures are:

  • The endless platforming of the “official line”, of government and corporate inspired infomercials, infomercials that are both cringe-worthy – “we are all in this together” – and misleading, with the provision of propaganda delivered as gospel, for example the need for mask-wearing;
  • The “karening” of those individuals who dare to break protocol, by breaking quarantine, gathering in numbers or “illegally” crossing borders.  Minor media presenters have taken to describing such behaviour as “disgraceful”, mirroring those midwits on social media who describe these folks as “traitors” and “idiots” who “will kill people”.  These pundits also who wilfully and routinely confuse lockdown sceptics with conspiracy theorists – convenient scapegoats as always;
  • The reporting of non-relevant factoids – like the endlessly repeating reportage of “new cases” – accompanied by a complete absence of reportage (suppression, perhaps) of key, relevant information – like how sick the people are who are these new cases, if indeed they are sick at all.  These are twin failures that play conveniently into the disaster narrative that is propping up the mad hysteria and wasted panic; and
  • The total absence of an understanding of the importance of freedom, and a capacity to recognise the dangers to it, and of slouching towards totalitarianism, to paraphrase the late Robert Bork.

The national “Covid shaming” by media organisations of individuals committing minor and totally understandable infractions of ridiculous and dangerous state commands of dubious legality is an especially worrying and unpleasant trend in a so-called democracy.  This smacks of collaborating with stasi-like government institutions and the abandonment of a once treasured characteristic of the media – standing up for the little guys, speaking truth to power, especially government and corporate power.  Where is the once probing leftist media in all this, for example?

The media’s greatest sin, however, is its collaboration with the emerging police state.  As Guy de la Bedoyere has noted:

Totalitarianism follows a common pattern. The totalitarian knows that fear is his greatest asset and if it can be built into the totalitarian state’s ideology even better. Fear can be amplified or even invented in order to justify the ideological introduction of various measures, in this instance the lockdown, which are sold on the basis that they are the means by which fear can be assuaged, the threat thwarted, and security and prosperity restored. From the start of this crisis the UK Government, as have so many others, has used fear to great effect and we have seen the steady legislative erosion of civil liberties. There is a remorseless and often unconscious move to the point where controlling people becomes an end in itself, however it’s dressed up.

The utter failure of the media to help arrest the slide into dictatorship, even worse, their active contribution towards achieving it, has been simply unconscionable.

These utter failures reveal many deficits in the Australian media: a total absence of investigative instincts, embedded ideologies of safetyism and scientism (see the media’s unquestioning belief in the official “science” and its ignoring of even the fact that there are alternate expert views on all manner of Covid-related issues),  an obsession with politics at the expense of policy analysis and a willingness to go along with the submissive mob and with the political classes (on both sides) who continue to play the game of “blame the political opponent” while missing the big bungle.  All of these are wrapped neatly in a water-tight cocoon of intellectual laziness.

The establishment media has become an unofficial and unappointed Covid cheerleader.  Who, apart from governments, have been more out-in-front selling the pandemic line?  As noted by Lionel Shriver:

… never has a virus been so oversold. Why, I’d like to sign on with COVID’s agent. What a publicity budget.

Folks in the UK and the USA, when surveyed recently about death totals from Covid, assumed that deaths had been in the millions.  Now, I wonder from where they would have obtained that idea.

The specific stories missed by the Australian media, which at least have bubbled to the surface in other Western countries like the UK and the USA, are many and significant.  They include the following twenty:

  • A failure to distinguish death “from Covid” from “death with Covid”, leaving a highly exaggerated impression of the deadliness of the disease;
  • The lack of analysis of who has been exaggerating the death counts (what Lionel Shriver calls Covid Hyberbole Syndrome) and why;
  • The absence of pairing information about increased “cases” with information about the extent of new/extra testing, along with the absence of any analysis of the links between increased testing and increased cases;
  • Questions about the reliability of the testing procedures on which all the manic policies that flow from “new cases” are based, questions related to “false negative” results and “false positives” and the absence of ground-truthing mechanisms against which to test the robustness of existing testing regimes;
  • The absence of an influenza season in 2020 and the reasons for this (noted above);
  • The complete absence of a scientific consensus about the impact of social distancing and of lockdowns;
  • Distinguishing the few masks that (may) prevent air-borne infections and the many which almost certainly do not;
  • The irrelevance of facile cross country comparisons and contrasts;
  • The exaggerated risk of infections from fomites (surfaces);
  • The censorship by social media tech giants of voices that differ from the official World Health organisation’s narrative, a narrative that is ever-changing, inconsistent and scientifically dubious;
  • The easy embrace of the sinister phrase, “the new normal”, as endlessly regurgitated gospel;
  • The absence of reporting of deaths that resulted from lockdown and related policies, either here or overseas (one report suggested 16,000 deaths from missed medical care alone, as at 1 May in the UK, for example);
  • The absence of any robust analysis of the true costs of lockdown – as one example, who has seen any reporting of the inability of businesses to get staff because potential job applicants prefer the ludicrously high “new dole” to actually working?
  • The glaring absurdness of a lack of policy timeliness, or “too much too late” – for example, as someone said recently, "making face masks mandatory six months into a pandemic is like taking condoms to a baby shower";
  • The refusal of the media to draw patently obvious, logical conclusions from key events – like the fact that allowing massive public protests by the Black Lives Matter people shows that governments themselves do not believe the truth of policies that force everybody else to isolate;
  • The abandonment by the media of an educative role, seen, for example, in the absence of questioning the facile, unthinking “we should all do our bit” approach that many Australians are taking to the virus, a version of “white coat syndrome” where medicos are believed whatever they say, simply because they are medicos;
  • The (poor) international performance of the once worshipped track-and-trace programs;
  • The lack of questioning of the often self-serving and cynical motives of the many institutions, both here and internationally, who have a vested interest in exaggerating the scare and prolonging the totalitarian policies in place, or at least in profiting from it all, for example the behaviour of US states exaggerating Covid deaths in order to attract Federal funds;
  • A refusal by the media to ask the fundamental questions – who benefits from Covid hysteria, and what exactly are governments up to?
  • The failure of the media to mount a coherent critique of government policies on Covid – for example, the failure to recognise the sheer policy opportunism, the tyranny of the announcable, the “whack a mole” approach to addressing the almost daily, newly emerging  problems that suddenly require some new policy announcement, however inconsistent this might be in relation to previous announcements, and the “do something, anything” to be seen to be doing something about Covid; and
  • The policy implications of all of these issues.

And what about the two worst media failures of them all – to ask the two very big yet very simple questions? 

One - Why don’t we lock down the country every winter? 

And two – what comes next Prime Minister?  Premier?  What does getting life back to big N Normal look like, or, in other words, what is the end game Scott Morrison?  Daniel Andrews?  Given that suppression of a contagious disease already in the wild is impossible, and that a vaccine which may or may not work anyway against a clever virus may be years away, what is the policy objective?  What does “success” now look like, given that by scaring the crap out of everyone, you have pretty much ensured that people will now expect the impossible outcome that only suppression will do?  Without somehow destroying the country totally.  How does the political class now get off the treadmill? 

Do ask some of these questions.  Please.  Doesn’t the Australian media notice that we are now, all of us, on such a treadmill, along with our politicians?  The logic of ongoing pandemic is that there is no escape, now or ever.  As Lionel Shriver again notes:

Thus as long as the coronavirus persists, the fearful prophylactic measures will continue. In trade for this valiant vigilance on our behalf, we merely have to sacrifice: our friends. Any new friends. All live performance — music, plays. Restaurants. All occasions, like proper weddings, funerals, birthdays and extended-family celebrations. Travel. Colleagues. Any search for love. Any moving communal experience, like festivals. Dentistry. A functional National Health Service. Oh, and the economy — and in case you need translation, that means the country, full stop.

The media’s missing-in-action performance in relation to these potentially huge stories is little short of breathtaking, and deeply shameful.  As I said, there are only two media personalities in the whole of Australia doing a Peter Hitchens or a Toby Young.

Much of the reason that these questions do get raised in the United Kingdom and the USA is the quality, depth and breadth of alternate media and the innovative creation of “pop up” organisations like the Free Speech Union, Simon Dolan’s Keep Britain Free and Lockdown Sceptics in the UK.  These groups have taken on Big Pharma, law enforcement, the health system, the official “science”, and governments, like that of Boris Johnson, to whom these groups might normally be expected to be sympathetic.  They have been outspoken and persistent in their revelation of the truth of the issues and the ideology and bungles of the official Covid family, aka the elites of what Angelo Codevilla and others have recognised as the core of the new ruling class.

(The Brits, by the way, are simply astonished that a country with Australia’s reputation for rugged individualism has simply midwittedly rolled over before the might of the Deep Covid State, with not even a single public protest against the overweening state that has locked us up and ruined our lives, nor any legal challenges against the lockdowns and border closures.  This is in contrast to a protest in the streets of Berlin – yes, Germany, of all places – attended by upwards of fifteen thousand angry freedom-fighters, fed up with being forced to wear muzzles in public and with all the other restrictions on freedom that Germans have experienced).

A Victorian recently submitted the following story to Lockdown Sceptics, which is based on the other side of the world. 

I’m a 53 year old married father of three, running a small business. In the space of 24 hours my life went from low key, bordering on boring, to law breaking and risky. And I didn’t change a thing I did.

Leaving at 4.20am each morning, I run from my home to the city, about 12-14km (depending on which station I run to), then catch a train to work, getting to work at 6am. This boring routine now violates many new laws in Chairman Dan Andrews’ nightmarish socialist dystopia. By leaving at 4.20am I’m breaking the 8pm-5am curfew, by running for more than an hour I’m breaking the 1 hour exercise a day rule, by running more than 5km from my place of residence, I break the 5km rule, if I forget to carry my mask, that’s another rule broken and if I forget to carry work permit papers, allowing me to travel to work (ludicrously signed by me as a worker & signed again by me as the co-owner of the company), then I’m breaking another edict brought in last Sunday.

I now run at my usual time, but only around my area, still for the same time and distance, with my Garmin switched off, my location services on my phone also switched off, clad entirely in black. The first 40 minutes of my run is spent avoiding main roads (police might find me out before curfew is over), avoiding shopping areas (maybe a camera might catch me), and ducking up peoples driveways, or standing still behind a tree, whenever I see a set of headlights. Maybe it might be the cops?

My formerly law abiding a mild mannered wife and children now also find themselves breaking several laws a day. Maybe we need something at the supermarket, but we’ve already been out once that day for shopping? Go out again and you’re breaking a law. One shopping trip a day is allowed, and only for one hour. Going for a small jog, find yourself out of breath and slow to a walk? Put that mask on! If you’re not actually jogging/running, a mask must be on at all times! There’s suddenly a lot of people going for very slow jogs, looking like it’s the first time they’ve run since school, all for the freedom of not wearing a mask.

Last weekend, I wanted to take my two youngest kids out to get an ice cream. Such frivolity is not a permitted reason to be out. To get around this edict, I asked my 13 year old daughter to write out a fake shopping list, so that if questioned by police on the reason we were out, we could produce the fake shopping list and plead that we were out in order to shop for vital supplies at the supermarket across the road from the ice cream shop. So my daughter is caught up in my law breaking lifestyle too.

I haven’t even mentioned the myriad laws and rules my brother & I must now keep in mind in trying to run a little hardware company with 16 staff. Including who we sell to, when we sell, where we allow goods to be collected from and what the customer is going to do with the goods. I’ll save this saga for another time.

This is life in Melbourne in August 2020.

Yes this is Victoria.  According to its Dear Leader, Big Brother himself:

We can no longer have people simply out and about for no good reason… you will be stopped and you will be asked and need to demonstrate that you are lawfully out and you are not breaching that curfew.

Enforced by the gruppenfuhrers of VicPol.  As the Brit Peter Hitchens noted:

The local police chief, Shane Patton, fetchingly dressed in black shirt and black tie (does he know no history?) is pleased that non-muzzle-wearers are being ‘shunned’ and says his officers ‘had’ to smash into cars whose drivers did not co-operate with stop and search.

Why aren’t the Australian media all over stories like this?  Karl Marx, writing in the The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte and pivoting off his countryman Hegel, famously stated that historical phenomena occur twice, “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce”.  Sadly, Australia, especially Victoria, is currently experiencing both at the same time.

In his epic poem, The Second Coming (1921), the Irish Nobel Prize winning poet WB Yeats famously and ominously summed up a disintegrating world in the phrase “the centre cannot hold”.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst   

Are full of passionate intensity.

The centre cannot hold.  Prophetic words that were written all but a century ago, in the aftermath of the Great War, yet still fresh, still resonant now in a new age of panic, hysteria, totalitarianism and ignorance.  The Fourth Estate, for so long and long considered a core part of “the centre”, has been a conspicuous failure when all the other core institutions of society around us – the Church, the bureaucracy, our elected representatives, parliamentary oppositions, our corporations – have also been failing, monumentally.  The media has simply merged with what one British observer has called “Covid Cult Culture”.  And in an age where social media has ultimately not lived up to its potential for democratising the way people get their information – indeed social media with its “fact checkers” is now a force for Soros inspired censorship of views that threaten Big Tech’s domination of the world – it is more important than ever that old media somehow find again, and live up to, their traditional role as seekers of truth and providers of truth.

Until they do, those of us wanting the real stories about Covid will have to keep looking outside Australia for the answers not provided to the questions not asked, as things fall apart.


Paul Collits

Paul Collits is a freelance writer and independent researcher who lives in Lismore New South Wales.  
He has worked in government, industry and the university sector, and has taught at tertiary level in three different disciplines - politics, geography and planning and business studies.  He spent over 25 years working in economic development and has published widely in Australian and international peer reviewed and other journals.  He has been a keynote speaker internationally on topics such as rural development, regional policy, entrepreneurship and innovation.  Much of his academic writing is available at
His recent writings on ideology, conservatism, politics, religion, culture, education and police corruption have been published in such journals as Quadrant, News Weekly and The Spectator Australia.
He has BA Hons and MA degrees in political science from the Australian National University and a PhD in geography and planning from the University of New England.  He currently has an adjunct Associate Professor position at a New Zealand Polytechnic.