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Although Parliament is not sitting, the debate about Gillard’s “misogynist” speech continues unabated (except on our ABC, whose principal news focus seems increasingly to be on traffic accidents and local crime). As previously mentioned, the Coalition has belatedly recognised the need to respond to Labor’s continued extraordinary ad hominem attacks on Abbott (see article below by Paul Sheehan in SMH) and it is giving more attention to Gillard’s past behaviour as well as to the handling of the Slipper case by her and Attorney General Roxon. The fact that Labor now appears to be attempting to play down the importance of the misogynist attack by Gillard will likely encourage Opposition action.

Mainstream newspapers are also continuing to address the issues raised by Gillard, particularly The Australian but the AFR, The Age and SMH also seem to be pursuing relevant aspects. This is reflected in articles below, which contain emphases by me.

My assessment is that Gillard has gone out on a limb that is not going to disappear easily, even outside Parliament.

Des Moore
PS I have included Tweets by Rupert Murdoch on the US Presidential election. They provide a indication of his current views and their possible overlap here in circumstances where the head of state is also widely regarded as deceptive.

Questions just won't go away for Julia Gillard

Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun, October 15, 2012

IT'S the scandal the Prime Minister thought she'd finally killed in August. But now it's back - and even worse.

Bruce WilsonFor years Julia Gillard refused to discuss a slush fund she'd helped to register as a solicitor in the 1990s for her then boyfriend, Australian Workers Union official Bruce Wilson.

Misleadingly called the Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Association, it claimed to be dedicated to workplace safety in registration forms Gillard prepared.

In fact, Wilson used it to defraud construction companies of $400,000.

Wilson, who'd broken up with his wife, took almost $100,000 of that to buy himself a unit in Fitzroy in the name of AWU sidekick Ralph Blewitt, using a power-of-attorney witnessed by Gillard.

Gillard attended the auction with Wilson, and her law firm, Slater & Gordon, lent $150,000 towards the purchase.

All Gillard would say about this time was that she was "young and naive". She hadn't known about her boyfriend's scams and had not gained from them.

But she refused to answer detailed questions submitted by then 2UE broadcaster Michael Smith, myself and, more recently, award-winning investigative reporter Hedley Thomas of The Australian.

Instead of answers, she issued threats, real or implied. When The Australian last year published a column on the scandal by Glenn Milne, Gillard seized on incidental errors to scream at the then head of News Ltd and demand the article be pulled from the internet. It was, as were some of my blog posts.

Milne has never again written for The Australian, and the ABCs Insiders dropped him as a panellist.

Smith also lost his job, after Fairfax accused him of asking Gillard "unauthorised questions".

But if the media bosses seemed timid, understand: the Government was already threatening tough new media restrictions - and it still is. Moreover, it called a press inquiry into what the Greens dubbed "the hate media" - meaning News Ltd in particular.

For months much of the media seemed scared off, but by August the pressure was again building on Gillard, especially when The Australian published a record of an interview Slater & Gordon's angry partners conducted with her in 1995. It showed Gillard confessing she knew Wilson's association was actually what she called a "slush fund", and she'd failed to open a file on the work she'd done, hiding it from her partners. She abruptly left the firm, spending six months unemployed.

With Fairfax's Australian Financial Review also sniffing around, Gillard went nuclear to kill the story.

She suddenly announced at the end of a press conference called on boat people that she'd finally take questions on the scandal, but added: "This will be the only occasion on which I deal with this matter."

No journalist there was prepared; none of those who'd done most of the reporting were there. The ambush worked, and Gillard got through with few scratches.

Many political reporters were too easily impressed, agreeing she'd answered "every question" Canberra's finest could think of. Again, the issue seemed buried.

But last week, Fairfax newspapers - Melbourne's The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald - surprisingly took up the issue they'd played down for so long, with senior journalist Mark Baker writing extensive reports revealing damaging new details.

The Australian also ran more stories, and Michael Smith published a string of startling original documents on his new blog, plus fresh claims from Ralph Blewitt.

TWO serious questions have emerged from this flurry that go to Gillard's integrity; questions Gillard has - again - not answered.

In August, Gillard played down her role in registering Wilson's association: "I provided advice in relation to its establishment and that was it."

But, Baker reported, that answer was misleading.

Baker understood the WA Corporate Affairs Commission queried the registration in 1992 because the Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Association sounded like a trade union body, and should therefore be registered under the Industrial Relations Act, which has much tougher rules.

Having "Australian Workers Union" in its name meant Wilson could bank cheques made payable to the AWU into his association's account.

Gillard allegedly wrote back to confirm the association was genuine, dedicated to workplace safety, but Slater & Gordon has now told The Australian it cannot

find the file, if it exists, making the facts harder to establish.

That's question one: did Gillard tell the WA Corporate Affairs Commission Wilson's slush fund was legitimate?

The second question is raised by Blewitt, who last week claimed the power-of-attorney he gave Wilson to buy the Fitzroy house under Blewitt's name had not been witnessed, as Gillard claimed.

The document carries Gillard's signature as a witness and is dated February 4, 1993. Wilson bought his Fitzroy unit with Gillard present on February 13.

But Blewitt told Smith he didn't sign his power of attorney until the week after the sale. He was in Perth - and says Gillard was not present.

That's the second question: did Gillard truly witness Blewitt's signature in person, as required, and on February 4, 1993?

These are very serious questions and Gillard may have very good answers. Blewitt's credibility, after all, is not high.

But at stake is Gillard's own.

Labor now moves forward from gender wars mistake

Editorial, The Australian, October 15, 2012

IN a remarkable turnaround, less than a week after unleashing the gender wars the government wants to sue for peace. Labor had portrayed Julia Gillard's passionate speech supporting Peter Slipper as a stand on behalf of women. "Sexism should always be unacceptable, we should always conduct ourselves in such a way as to make it clear that it is unacceptable," the Prime Minister said.

Despite revelations of the then Speaker's disgusting and sexist text messages, Ms Gillard threw her argument and her party's numbers behind him. It is a difficult position to explain and Climate Change Minister Greg Combet tried valiantly yesterday. "I think, just to make it clear, I, along with all of my colleagues, found those texts that were published completely revolting," he told the ABC. "And we're also of the view that the position of Peter Slipper was becoming untenable, but you can't turn the parliament into a kangaroo court and you can't lead a lynch mob." This argument fails the commonsense test. The Speaker is elected by parliament so, far from a lynch mob, it was the only appropriate body to rule on Mr Slipper. The government turned last week's motion against the Speaker into an affirmation. Even Greens leader Christine Milne admits the purpose of Ms Gillard's speech "diminished" its content. Little wonder that Mr Combet also said: "But I would like to see the debate now move on." Not so quick.

The day after her speech Ms Gillard was defiant. "I've had enough, Australian women have had enough," she said. "When I see sexism and misogyny I'm going to call them for what they are." That very night the Prime Minister attended a union dinner at Parliament House with some of her frontbench colleagues. After she left, a comedian made a nasty and sexist slur against Tony Abbott and his female chief of staff. Treasurer Wayne Swan was still at the dinner and later took the stage to speak, but offered no rebuke - until it became public the following day. Confronted with sexist behaviour on her own side, Ms Gillard had to condemn it.

Now counter-claim provokes counter-claim and farce is piled upon farce. Labor senator David Feeney, himself accused of circulating sexist messages about Senator Milne, seeks to blame the conservative side of politics for starting the debate. "I think Tony Abbott mis-stepped when he brought on the debate and I think it's important to remember that this debate was brought out ultimately by Alan Jones and Tony Abbott, and not the Prime Minister." Labor's rewriting of history, and rush to change the subject, confirms the error. The government clearly realises mainstream voters have more pressing concerns than a student politics-style contest over feminism.

As The Australian has reported, the gender debate was fuelled deliberately by Labor as a political strategy to focus on the Opposition Leader's perceived vulnerability. The Prime Minister erred by supporting Mr Slipper and misjudged her vicious "misogynist" attack against Mr Abbott. Attempts to dress-up her personal and partisan attack as a serious contribution to a discussion about the real issue of sexism in politics and the workplace are revisionist. The great pity about this sideshow is that those serious concerns about workplace sexism have been diminished by tribal politicking.

Labor eager to jettison gender battle

Chris Kenny, The Australian, October 15, 2012

FOR all the talk about polling, focus groups and spin, the daily combat of political communication comes down to a very basic formula.

There are the topics your side wants to talk about and there are the topics your opponents want to focus on. If you stay on your ground (as the practitioners describe it) and away from your opponent's ground, you maximise your chances of success.

But if daily tactics are about keeping the debate on your ground, the crucial strategic decision is choosing the right ground.

Labor's strategists clearly made a choice in recent weeks to stake out gender as their ground. Tactically, they were extraordinarily successful in shifting the debate to their chosen ground. The trouble is that it was the wrong ground.

Labor has now realised this fact and we are seeing its leading figures scramble to get away.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet says it's now time to "move on". Finance Minister Penny Wong says she wants to "focus on things that are important to Australians" and Labor senator David Feeney is busy rewriting history, saying that it was the opposition (and Alan Jones) who "started it".

Observers who have described Julia Gillard's tirade against sexism as a masterstroke must find it difficult to explain why the government is desperate to change the subject. That is not what you do when you are winning.

Labor was right to notice its advantage with female voters and would have been wise to encourage that trend by contrasting its leader and its policies with the opposition. After all, Tony Abbott's overly generous parental leave scheme -- complete with a new tax to fund it -- is a fiscal millstone he wears in overt recognition of his need to build credibility with women.

But by seeking to make gender a dominant part of the political debate, Labor has fallen for the trap of overreach. Voters want their governments focused on the main issues that affect them. The economy, jobs, education, health, border security and the environment matter more than a gender debate.

Eyes on Gillard’s poll position

AFR 15 October, Geoff Kitney and Joanne Mather

Labor MPs are anxiously waiting for the first round of public opinion polls following Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s passionate anti-sexism speech, amid conflicting views about its likely effect on voters.

With political analysts labelling Ms Gillard’s speech the most politically powerful of her prime ministership, Labor insiders are divided over its likely electoral impact – and the fallout it might have for her leadership.

Key Gillard supporters believe the speech and the huge public reaction – including around 1 million viewers on YouTube – will have shored up her leadership position. They expect a positive reaction in the polls.

But they also say that the overwhelming positive reaction among female voters and especially by politically active women has buttressed Ms Gillard’s leadership in a way that nothing else she had done since she became Prime Minister.

One senior Labor MP said the speech had demonstrated the strength of female support for Ms Gillard, especially against Opposition leader Tony Abbott.

He said this was a clear message to her Labor opponents that any new move against her would be met with a massively negative response from women voters. Supporters of former prime minister Kevin Rudd have conceded that the reaction among women to the Gillard speech was a big positive for her.

But they remain cautious about the wider political response to the speech, warning that the Peter Slipper factor might result in an overall negative impact in the electorate.

Labor sources said that it had not done any focus group polling since the Gillard speech. Political strategists for both the Labor Party and the Coalition are unsure how these factors will balance out. “The next round of polls could be the most important for Julia since she became Prime Minister,” one said. The Newspoll, Nielsen and Morgan polling organisations are all expected to release national polls before the end of the month,

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said the Prime Minister was right to call Abbott out on the use of sexist language because it was part of a long term pattern of behaviour by him. “People are calling this the gender wars now. [But] it’s not the main focus of my political activism or my work as a minister. My main focus is getting through the big reforms like the dental reforms”.

Earlier, federal minister Greg Combet said Australians wanted politicians to stop the name-calling and get on with the job of government.

Opposition frontbencher Sophie Mirabella said the government had “totally over-egged” the sexism tag.

Australian Greens leader Christine Milne accused Labor senator David Feeney of sexism.Senator Feeney tweeted a series of pictures that feature the same image of Senator Milne with the caption, “different emotional states of Senator Christine Milne”. Senator Milne said there was a “huge sexist element” in the tweets.

Abbott suffering a Labor Party stoning

SMH Paul Sheehan October 15 2012

Read a selection of comments made by members of the Gillard government

Tony Abbott is a hack. A dog. An aggressive, carping, bitter, mindless, deceptive, dodgy, mendacious, rancid, negative, nasty, muck-raking, untruthful, obstructionist, opportunistic, sexist, political Neanderthal. He is unfit for high office. He cannot control his temper. No trick is too low for him. No stunt is too wild. He is a bully. A thug. A snake oil salesman. A poster child for vile bully-boy values. He has repulsive double standards. He hates women. He stands for nothing. He has unhealthy obsessions. He is nuts.

Abbott behaves like Jack the Ripper.

He is Gina Rinehart's butler.

He is Nancy Reagan without the astrology.

He is a douchebag.

I'm quoting here, mostly from Hansard. These are not comments from media figures, or feral demonstrators, or dredged up from 10 or even 30 years ago. These are insults delivered this year, by federal Labor MPs, directed at one person, and orchestrated by Julia Gillard. The level of personal insult has been on an industrial scale.

The Parliament is not a chamber of innocents. Many members, on both sides, including Abbott, have frequently engaged in invective, over-statement, dissembling and rampant double standards. There is also a more general coarsening of public discourse on the internet, thanks in part to the impact of social media. But it is this government's concentration on Abbott's character that sets it apart. It is the tactic on which the Gillard government has staked its survival, the politics of the personal, of targeting character, of hammering the same message about the same person, by every minister, until it seeps into the public mind.

The strategy was unveiled at the beginning of the year with some of the worst political bastardry from the nation's leadership seen in a long time. It started with an Australia Day address at the National Press Club delivered by Anthony Albanese on January 25. By convention this is a respite from political hatchet jobs, but Albanese launched into Abbott's character, describing him as ''One Trick Tony'', that one trick being ''more negativity, more nastiness, more obstructionism''.

This was standard from Albanese, but something much nastier came out of the Prime Minister's own office the next day, Australia Day. A group of Aboriginal demonstrators had gathered at the tent eyesore in Canberra. A member of Gillard's staff alerted one of the people at the demonstration and said, falsely, that Abbott was nearby and had just denigrated the Aboriginal tent embassy.

Australia Day 2012 was thus marked by a hostile mob surrounding the Leader of the Opposition, berating him, banging on windows, making threats. In an irony that could become a metaphor, the Prime Minister, herself at the same function, got caught up in the mess.

The staff member who made the call, Tony Hodges, was obliged to resign. But the tone and the strategy had been set. On the first day of Parliament, February 7, Gillard re-set the template when she described the ''relentless negativity'' of the Leader of the Opposition.

That phrase, or variations on it, can be found hundreds of times in Hansard this year from Labor members. If you want to check the original insults quoted above, I have compiled a top 40 of the government's most self-revealing personal insults so far this year on

The Prime Minister set the mantra and two days later the leader of government business in the House, Albanese, took it up a notch: ''In your guts, you know he's nuts.'' Albanese thought this was so hilarious he repeated it on February 13, February 16, February 29 and June 25.

The leader's theme was picked up by her chorus. Jason Clare, a junior minister: ''He stands for nothing. He is the Nancy Reagan of Australian politics without the astrology - say no to everything, just rancid, dripping, relentless negativity.'' Hansard, February 29.

After the ''relentless negativity'' line wore thin, the rhetoric was ramped up again.

''He is Gina Rinehart's butler.'' Gillard, Hansard, May 28.

''Tony Abbott is … a dog of a candidate.'' Richard Marles, Labor MP, interview, May 29.

''Abbott is a Neanderthal.'' Rob Mitchell, Labor MP, on Twitter, May 29.

''He is a dodgy snake oil salesman.'' Wayne Swan, Hansard, June 18.

''[He] sees political advantage in people dying.'' Mark Dreyfus, Labor MP, interview, June 26.

''Like Jack the Ripper, he is going to be there wielding his knife.'' Gillard, Hansard, August 20.

''He wants to go the biff day after day after day.'' Swan, Hansard, September 11.

''He is a thug.'' Swan, Hansard, September 11.

''Tony Abbott is the poster child for the vile, bully-boy values.'' Swan, on Twitter, September 19.

Then came the climax last week, when Gillard exploded in rage in the Parliament after she had been caught in the implosion of the reputation of the Speaker, Peter Slipper, a failure by the Prime Minister in every respect, tactical, ethical, moral and political.

Abbott was ruthless in exploiting the failure and Gillard was ruthless in defending it: ''It is misogyny, sexism, every day from this Leader of the Opposition. Every day, in every way … I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man … If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia … he needs a mirror … I am offended by the sexism, by the misogyny, of the Leader of the Opposition …''

It was mesmerising. It was great television. Of course Twitter went into a fever (Labor MP Steve Gibbons tweeted: ''That douchebag Tony Abbott.'') Of course the speech went viral on social media. The Prime Minister's outrage would have resonated with every woman who has endured boorish men. But was the accusation of misogyny true? No. Was it ethical? No. Was it a diversion? Yes. Was it part of a pattern? Yes. Was it good politics? We shall see.

Warning to PM on sexism crusade

Joe Kelly, The Australian, October 15, 2012

JULIA Gillard has been warned she will be held to new standards as an arbiter of what constitutes sexism as the Greens and Labor MPs said the stance contained inherent risks for the government.

As senior ministers Greg Combet and Tanya Plibersek tried to shift the agenda back to policy issues, Greens leader Christine Milne said the Prime Minister's anti-sexist crusade was diminished by Labor's defence of former Speaker Peter Slipper, who likened female genitalia to shell-less mussels.

Senator Milne warned that Ms Gillard would have to apply the same level of scrutiny to her own side of politics and accused Labor senator David Feeney of engaging in sexist conduct.

"If you're going to call it out, you have to call out sexism on all sides regardless of who is responsible," Senator Milne said.

"The risk for the Prime Minister is, of course, having made such a big issue of it, she really does have to carry through now."

Senator Feeney, a parliamentary secretary for defence, tweeted a series of pictures featuring the same image of Senator Milne with the caption: "The different emotional states of senator Christine Milne." But he rejected any claims of sexism and said the tweets had nothing to do with Senator Milne's gender but were an attempt to expose the Greens as a party of "uncompromising fanatics".

He also said that conservative political forces were responsible for igniting the heated gender war dominating politics. "Conservatives cannot complain that there is a misogyny debate going on in public life when they and Alan Jones started it," he said.

Other Labor MPs expressed concern yesterday they would be increasingly held to impossibly high standards to abandon functions anytime there was "obnoxious comment by a comedian".

The government faced a grilling last week over an unsavoury joke by the comedy character Allan Billison at a union dinner that targeted Tony Abbott and his chief of staff, Peta Credlin.

Ms Plibersek was criticised for not leaving the event, although the federal Health Minister called the union the following day to convey her displeasure.

"It just simply happens at political events that someone will make a statement that is over-the-top," one Labor MP said.

Another MP said that if anyone thought that Labor parliamentarians did not regularly engage in bad language or make comments of personal or sexual nature, they were living in "cloud fairy land".

Former sex discrimination commissioner and the NSW Liberal Minister for Women, Pru Goward, said Ms Gillard had become a judge of sexist behaviour and would need to crack down on her own side of politics in time.

"She's created a rod for her own back," Ms Goward said.

Senate grilling for Roxon's men over Ashby 'duplicity'

Christian Kerr, The Australian, October 15, 2012

THE government's top legal officer faces a grilling in Senate estimates this week over her hands-on role in the Ashby case.

Opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis yesterday accused Attorney-General Nicola Roxon of duplicity.

"I have written to the Australian government solicitor telling him that I want all the legal officers involved in the Ashby litigation to be present to be able to respond to my questions," he said ahead of tomorrow's hearings.

Ms Roxon's involvement in the action has caused disquiet within the legal community. "Many people in the profession expect the Attorney-General to be above politics," one senior figure observed.

Mr Ashby's action against former Speaker Peter Slipper and the commonwealth has been distinguished by comments from senior political figures such as Ms Roxon and Foreign Minister Bob Carr, as well as leaks. It is unusual for ministers to comment on matters before the courts,

Much was made of a leaked text from journalist Steve Lewis to Mr Ashby that said "we will get him" before it emerged that the message referred to efforts to locate a commonwealth driver. It was thought the driver could help substantiate allegations of travel rorts by Mr Slipper.

Senator Brandis said there was no doubt the case was micro-managed by Nicola Roxon. "She ensured that she was closely involved with the commonwealth's defence and the commonwealth's attempt to strike the case out . . . It is inconceivable that she was not aware of Harmer's affidavit."

The affidavit presented by Mr Ashby's lawyer, Michael Harmer, contained the now-infamous text messages between the former Speaker and his staffer.

"We now know that that affidavit was served on the commonwealth as early as the 28th of May.

"Therefore, anything that the Attorney-General said asserting the case to be vexatious and an abuse of process after she was aware of the content of the text messages was duplicitous."

In June Ms Roxon declared the commonwealth would take an abuse-of-process action against Mr Ashby.

"Our commonwealth view . . . is that it will be clearly shown . . . there were in fact clear intentions to harm Mr Slipper and bring his reputation into disrepute, and to assist his political opponents; and that was the purpose for the bringing of this claim," she said then.

Senator Brandis tackled the Attorney-General over the remarks. "Attention on the text messages has concentrated on the salacious content of a small number of them which led to the undoing of Mr Slipper as Speaker," he said. "The broader significance of the text messages . . . is that they demonstrate a history of sexual predation by Slipper on Ashby, knowledge of which would make it impossible honestly to assert that the Ashby case was vexatious or an abuse of process."

Obama foreign policy a liability

Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun, October 15, 2012

TWO battles could kill the presidency of Barack Obama - one with al-Qaida and the scarier with Hillary Clinton.

On September 11, a heavily armed Islamist militia linked to al-Qaida launched a co-ordinated attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, killing the US ambassador and three others.

Bizarrely, the White House for days insisted this attack with machine guns and mortars was just one more protest against an anti-Islamic clip on YouTube made by an Egyptian-born American.

"People gathered outside the embassy (consulate) and then it grew very violent and those with extremist ties joined the fray and came with heavy weapons," claimed the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said much the same: "The protests we're seeing around the region are in reaction to this movie."

Last week this story was exposed as a hoax.

State Department officials conceded there had never been a protest at the consulate, and they'd known within 24 hours it was a terrorist attack.

Moreover, Eric Nordstrom, the US regional security officer in Libya, told a congressional committee he'd twice asked Clinton's State Department for more security agents for Benghazi.

Instead, he got fewer ... then came September 11.

This is a deadly symbol of Obama's foreign policy: appeasing militant Islam by blaming America, and projecting weakness. And spinning, spinning ...

Bad enough for Obama a month before the election, but Vice-President Joe Biden then made it worse in a debate with Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan, apparently contradicting Nordstrom by saying: "We weren't told they wanted more security there."

Tidying up a seeming lie, spokesman Carney shifted the blame Clinton's way: "The Vice-President was speaking about himself and the President and the White House."

Clinton and Biden hate each other even more than Clinton hates Obama. Both could run for President in 2016.

So how will Clinton respond to being thrown under the bus?

Stay tuned.

‘Nightmare for Israel if Obama wins,’ tweets Murdoch

AFR 15 Oct 2012, Arthur Macmillan Washington

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has taken to Twitter to savage the Obama-Biden campaign, appearing to throw his full support behind Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

The 81-year-old News Corporation boss accused Vice-President Joe Biden of lying about the US administration’s relationship with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu and over the deadly attack on the US ­consulate in Libya.

“Nightmare for Israel if Obama wins. Biden outright lied about ­personal relations with Bibi. Susan Rice for State real nightmare,” Mr Murdoch tweeted.

Ms Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, has been mentioned as a possible successor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who says she will leave her post after the election. In the second of four tweets within 18 minutes, Mr Murdoch lambasted President Barack Obama and his aides for their handling of the aftermath of the Benghazi consulate attack that killed four Americans, including its ambassador Chris Stevens.

“White House still lying about Benghazi. HAD to know truth, or is whole admin a shambles? Biden threw CIA under bus, now WH throws State!” Mr Murdoch wrote.

Having earlier posted that he thought the 2012 race would come down to Ohio, one of 10 key swing states, Mr Murdoch noted the “huge spending by both sides” during the campaign, adding: “Obama TV buying operation infinitely smarter”.

Mr Murdoch, whose interests include Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, has previously criticised the Romney campaign but his latest tweets make it clear he wants Mr Obama ousted.

“Next debate, Romney needs to ignore personal attacks and pivot to plans for millions of jobs and real opportunity for all. Only that matters,” Mr Murdoch advised the Republican candidate.

His criticism of Mr Biden follows the Vice-President’s remarks during a debate on Wednesday, when the Democrat said Mr Obama’s relationship with Israel was strong.

Mr Biden also said: “With regard to Bibi, he’s been my friend for 39 years.”

Political bloggers have pointed out that Mr Biden has probably not known Mr Netanyahu that long, as the latter was serving in the Israeli military and fighting in the Yom ­Kippur war in 1973.

The State Department has faced a media battle in recent weeks regarding its response to the Benghazi attack, which administration officials say has been politicised by Republicans.

Mr Murdoch’s remarks about Ms Rice may refer to a TV interview the diplomat gave on September 16, just days after the Benghazi attack.

Ms Rice said that, based on the information US officials had at the time, the incident appeared to be sparked by a “spontaneous” protest over an anti-Muslim film made on US soil and posted on YouTube.

Subsequent evidence suggests there was no major protest outside the consulate and the attack was planned by local militants, possibly with help from several outside extremists.

The State Department and the White House later admitted that the Benghazi attack was terrorism.

Mr Murdoch, who is known to switch political sides to ensure he backs election winners, has not always praised Mr Romney. In July, after meeting him, the media baron tweeted that he doubted whether Mr Romney could beat Mr Obama.

But Mr Romney has since revived his campaign, chiefly because of a strong performance in the first of three televised debates against Mr Obama.


The Australian Financial Review

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