The Dog’s Bollocks

Truth is like a dog’s bollocks – pretty obvious if you care to look.

Wither the embedded commentariat?

Geelong AdvertiserHaving attempted to contemplate the fate of Team Howard’s embedded Commentariat in a previous post I was pleased to see this analysis by Rodney Tiffen, Professor of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney.

The shorter version in highlights:

IF John Howard loses this election, which journalists might follow him into the sunset?

Although the topic rarely receives media attention, many media identities have a vested interest in the outcome of an election. The media are uncharacteristically shy about exploring the extent to which journalists’ careers are sometimes tied to political fortunes.

One difference in the media compared to when Labor last won power in 1983 is the plethora of columnists in the press, expressing largely predictable opinions only minimally disciplined by any evidence that does not fit their prejudices, and overwhelmingly skewed to right of the political spectrum. The News Limited trio of Janet Albrechtsen, Andrew Bolt and Piers Akerman constitute a conformist echo chamber reliably savaging all critics of the Howard government while amplifying the main themes the government wants to promote.

This article has looked mainly at examples from within Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited, the most politicised of news organisations. It raises the larger question of where Murdoch’s allegiance will go in the coming election. There is sometimes journalistic commentary on how politicians come courting Murdoch, but less about Murdoch’s need to court politicians.

Murdoch needs to be seen as on the winning side, and many of his changes in editorial support over recent decades owe much to this. While posing as the creator of bandwagons, his publications have more often been followers rather than setters of political fashion.

Apart from journalistic posturing, being on the winning side is also important to Murdoch’s corporate lobbying. When a result seems clear, prudent interest groups start positioning themselves to live with the new reality. This may partly explain recent behaviour by Telstra and Archbishops Pell and Jensen. Murdoch’s media interests are so intertwined with government that a sympathetic ear in regulatory and policy matters is crucially important to him. As he knows very well, a government that has won without his support, or even worse in the face of strong opposition from him, is likely to need more persuading.

Filed under: Federal Election 2007, Media, Politics

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The Dog’s Bollocks

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