One sentence that says it all

I’ve been generally appalled by the performance of the media in the current election. This article by David Crowe in the Nine/Fairfax papers is the perfect illustration. Asking what is wrong with the current election, Crowe concludes

The fact is that neither leader has inflicted a killer blow against the other.

The idea that an election is a gladiatorial contest between “leaders”, staged for the entertainment of the Press Gallery has never been put more simply and clearly.

The article is entirely in this spirit, referring to a “lack of intensity”, Shorten’s failure to “hammer nails in the coffin” and so on.

The idea that the parties seeking government might have different policies, and that some might be better than others doesn’t even enter Crowe’s thinking. Rather, policies are sources of “messages” which amplify perceived “strengths” or cover up weaknesses.

To be fair, this has been the approach of the parties themselves for most of the past thirty years, running presidential campaigns, while avoiding any policy commitment that might increase their size as a target. That’s what political journalists know how to talk about. But faced with actual policy differences, they are like literature critics trying to review a mathematics article.

What makes this even worse is that Fairfax/Nine is about as good as it gets. The ABC has been scared out of doing anything that might attract accusations of bias, and has stuck almost entirely to gladiatorial commentary.

The Murdoch papers are now just propaganda sheets, with no pretence of separating news and opinion – everything is written from the same rightwing or far-right slant[1]. That wouldn’t be so bad if the rest of the media did not treat them as part of the club, to be defended against the attacks of bloggers and Twitterati. The result is that the political centre of the media is far to the right of that of the Australian electorate.

I can’t see this changing any time soon. Fortunately, the impact of media on elections is declining. Labor can win without any media endorsements if necessary.

fn1. They still have a handful of commentators representing the centre-right Turnbull faction of the Liberal Party, while (irony on) the left is represented by Graham Richardson (irony off)

29 thoughts on “One sentence that says it all

  1. Julie Thomas – the extent of abuse of candidate’s Facebook pages is pretty revealing, isn’t it? The lack of response from various candidates about their plans on reducing GHG emissions is also revealing… I’ve pitched several easy questions to candidates that don’t focus on what they or their party has done or said in the past – these questions should be an obvious chance to talk positively about their plans for the future – and I’ve received zero responses from the Liberals/LNP, One Nation or UAP.

  2. Irregular,

    I am betting that you are not a deca-millionaire or better who donates to said parties. If you were, you would have received a quick and detailed response. See, this sums it up. If a person is not wealthy and a donor, then the major parties do not care one fig for that person. This will pertain until mass human action (the only counter to mass money) changes matters. Now, radically changing their voting pattern is a mass action possible to the people in a democracy. There is no need for street action in our current democracy. LNP and Labor could be destroyed at the ballot box in this upcoming election. All it would take would be enough votes for Greens and Socialists.

    But the people have not yet realized the seriousness of the climate and mass extinction emergency. When they do their voting patterns will change radically.

  3. “There is no need for street action in our current democracy.”

    On the contrary, there is every need for street action in our current ‘democracy’. Grass roots activism is where progressive change begins. it doesn’t begin within the establishment. Our current ‘democracy’ system players always resist until they are forced to reluctantly adopt such change by the increasing numbers taking up the cause of the activists outside the system. Activist tendencies of players inside the system, should there be any, are denied oxygen or crushed, eg., Kelvin Thomson and Lee Rhiannon.

    https ://

  4. Julie Thomas, John Quiggin’s post is mainly directed at Nine/Fairfax. This is not a right wing newspaper – The Age is quite left wing. It is this press he is referring to. Its not a big picture issue at all – just a contradiction to your claim that only the right engage in “war” language.

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