Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull testified Monday that right-wing media mogul Rupert Murdoch has done more to divide and damage America with the help of Donald Trump than Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“What does Vladimir Putin want to do with his operations in America? He wants to divide America and turn Americans against each other,” said Turnbull at a parliamentary hearing in Sydney on media diversity. “That is exactly what Murdoch has done: Divided Americans against each other and so undermined their faith in political institutions that a mob of thousands of people, many of them armed, stormed the Capitol.”
Turnbull said that instead of appealing to the mainstream, media companies like Murdoch’s thrive by cultivating the fringe.
“Just reflect on the damage that Murdoch’s publications and outlets, particularly in the United States, have done to democracy there,” Turnbull said. “I mean, the Jan. 6th sacking of the U.S. Capitol was one of the most terrible events in American history.”
The parliamentary hearing was prompted by a petition that was signed by half a million Australians calling for an investigation into Murdoch’s media empire.
Turnbull said Murdoch’s News Corp. operations, notably Fox News, were “utterly liberated from the truth,” and had a chilling connection with Trump.
“I’ve hung around billionaire media proprietors for a long time. I have never seen a politician as deferential to a media proprietor as Trump was to Murdoch, ever, in any country,” said Turnbull. “Murdoch’s media in the U.S. had a symbiotic relationship with Trump.”
News Corp. has become a political party yet it faces no accountability, Turnbull said. He also accused Murdoch’s news operations of climate change denialism, incitement of animosity and violence toward minorities, and peddling bald-faced lies, including that Trump lost a rigged election.
“If you don’t think that is a threat to American democracy and undermining the strength and capability of our most important ally, then you are kidding yourself,” Turnbull said.
In testimony earlier this year News Corp. executives denied that editors were told what stories to produce, and denied that its news operations engaged in character assassination and lying.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.