The Daily Telegraph Photoshopped Tanya Plibersek Giving Presents To ISIS Terrorists, Because JOURNALISM

This is grotesque, in more ways than one.

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From Bill Shorten the mushrooom to a nearly-naked Clive Palmer on a wrecking ball, internet comment thread in print form the Daily Telegraph has experience in the batshit-crazy Photoshop department. Many of their front-page creations are deranged but ultimately harmless, but they have a seriously nasty streak when it comes to people they really don’t like — their front page comparing the ABC to ISIS or crudely stitching Mike Carlton’s head onto a Boston bombing victim and adding a traditional Palestinian headscarf to really up the anti-Islam quotient are pretty stellar examples of the kind of mindset the Tele works in.

That weird blend of casual racism, level-11 hysteria and pure nastiness has reared its head again in today’s issue, this time directed at Shadow Foreign Minister Tanya Plibersek. Accompanying an otherwise innocuous article about Plibersek’s belief that Australia should increase foreign aid to Syria and emphasise a humanitarian approach in the region rather than a military one is this pearler:


For those playing at home, the two guys Plibersek’s been Photoshopped next to are Mohamed Elomar and Khaled Sharrouf, the two Australians who became notorious for fighting for Islamic State in Iraq. Sharrouf in particular, who was diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia by psychiatrists, vaulted into the national consciousness when a photo of his seven-year-old son holding a severed head began circulating online.

Besides that obvious insanity, there’s a (slightly) more subtle message here that’s just as grotesque; the Tele has taken the time to ‘Shop Plibersek into a headscarf, the inference being that depicting her as Muslim is enough for the reader to assume she’s a terrorist. Plibersek can probably shrug it off; she’s a senior Labor politician, and absorbing a base level of hateful nonsense from the Murdoch press comes with the territory.

But the Tele never misses an opportunity to hammer home the message that Muslims in Australia are at best constantly suspect, and at worst terrorist sleeper agents biding their time. It sure as hell sells newspapers, but that kind of constant, droning fearmongering is having hideous effects in the real world too; the persistence of Reclaim Australia-like groups and the ongoing “campaign” against halal food to name a couple.

The climate of fear and mistrust aimed at Australia’s Muslims is one the Tele has done more than most to foster, and it’s doing immense damage to the lives of regular people who’ve done nothing wrong. Dismissing the Tele is a luxury for those who can afford it; for its most vulnerable targets, the damage headlines like this do can’t be ignored, or escaped.