MEHDI HASAN (HOST): Much of the embrace of conspiracism and authoritarianism is among right-wing people watching right-wing media outlets, especially Murdoch outlets across the globe, and especially Fox News here in the United States. You and former fellow Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who is on the left — and who was also on this show a few weeks ago — you’ve joined together to demand the Murdoch media empire in Australia be held to account. I know you’ve known Rupert Murdoch since 1974, I believe. How powerful, how influential do you think he is as an actor, both in Australia and globally?
MALCOLM TURNBULL (FORMER AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER): Well, he has the biggest megaphone in the English-speaking world — certainly you know, leaving out of India out of it, I guess — certainly by far the biggest megaphone in the United States, in the UK, Australia. And you know, historically, Murdoch’s media more often than not leaned to the right, but it was still reality-based. But it has now become a vehicle for propaganda. And so, there are no limits now.
And this is why you see conspiracy theories being, you know, promoted and advanced on Fox News, and extraordinary lies — and dangerous lies. You see, there used to be a view, Mehdi, that in the marketplace of ideas, you know, everyone would say whatever they like, crazy or non-crazy, but the truth would prevail. But we are in fact drowning in lies. And the threat to liberal democracy is real, because you have — as you can see in the United States — a majority of Republican voters who believe that Joe Biden stole the election. And this is just — it is completely untrue. I mean, it’s one thing for people to believe that Elvis is still alive, right? That’s crazy, but it’s perhaps not consequential. But what you have here is a lie, with devastating consequences.
HASAN: You mentioned dangerous, you mentioned devastating. So let me just ask you straight up. Do you believe Fox and the Murdochs, by creating what you’ve called in the past a “market for crazy,” by pushing not just election lies and white supremacist propaganda — but also anti-mask, anti-vaccine conspiracies — do they have blood on their hands?
TURNBULL: Well, they certainly have contributed to blood being shed. January 6 could not have occurred without the Big Lie about the election having been promoted and pumped out, as it was by Fox News. And you know, anybody who is promoting, you know, these conspiracy theories about vaccines, and anyone who is discouraging people from getting vaccinated, is contributing to death and disease. There’s no question about that. I mean, you know, your Center for Disease Control said just a few days ago America is experiencing a pandemic of the unvaccinated. Well, the people who have promoted that vaccine hesitancy, again, have to be held to account. I mean, here’s Murdoch — Rupert got himself vaccinated as quickly as he could. Like, he’s not a fool —
TURNBULL: He knows the vaccines work. But he’s making billions of dollars out of a, you know, a news channel, a news platform, Fox News, which is promoting and enabling all of this vaccine hesitancy. I mean, surely — surely, you would think you would have enough affection for your viewers, not to encourage them to follow a course of action that is likely to result in their illness and death.
HASAN: Yes, but they don’t seem to care.