16 September 2013

On tonight's panel...?

Finally, Media Watch has a pop at the left, hitting both the ABC and Fairfax in one show


Would it be curmudgeonly of me to point out that it's rather convenient that this sudden change in editorial line happened just after the election? In the interests of fairness I will give Barry credit for attacking the other side, but it is also a fair point that there have been at least half a dozen attacks on Murdoch vs one on the ABC/Fairfax - so 'needs improvement' but getting there perhaps

Incidentally I couldn't really care less if an ABC show photo-shopped a News Limited journo into having sex with a dog, but to me it's clear that this sort of 'joke' (which was only amusing if you revel in seeing your opponents mocked) is evidence of a left-wing mentality, the Chaser are well to the left and I don't think that's disputed, and strictly speaking there's nothing wrong with them leaning in their comedy (outside an election special on a state-funded broadcaster, I should add), they can hide behind the line that some people won't like certain jokes if they want, although I'd disagree that it was actually satire

Their continued promotion by the ABC when they aren't particularly popular any more, however, says quite a lot about the management and culture at the organisation

But onto my main point tonight - following on from a reasonable Media Watch, we were introduced to the Q&A panel - featuring no government or opposition spokesmen (normally a good thing), or even journalists:

Clive Palmer - ok, definitely independent
Nick Xenophon - can fairly be described as a centrist
Larissa Waters (Greens) - because it's not like they get on with the main parties regularly anyway?
David Williamson - a playwright critical of Murdoch
Rebecca Huntley - a research director
Mark Latham - former federal Labor leader

Hmm, worrying...

First point - Latham is hardly independent, he's not a member of the opposition, and he likes writing bad things about his former colleagues, but he is very much a Labor man

'Playwright' always rings alarm bells, David Williamson went on to confirm my suspicions by admitting he was a "leftie" and harping on about socialism and Australia's Gini coefficient (which is significantly better than America's, David)

You never know, Rebecca Huntley might research economics, but alas no, even her bio lists her as "[formerly] involved in ALP politics, working for numerous federal politicians. She was a member of the National Committee of Emily’s List and the ALP’s federal policy committee"

So, unlikely to see much liberal/conservative viewpoints being bandied around there, with a Green thrown in and Xenophon a self-confessed centrist that left any pro-market, pro-business views pretty much to the affable, eccentric Palmer (and maybe Latham as he is at least an economic rationalist)

In what world is this balanced? We have just changed to a Liberal government with a clear majority and Q&A has three panelists who are openly left wing and hostile to the new government, another who is a former Labor leader and essentially no serious voices from the economic right

I just don't understand how this can pass for balance, for starters even if you trot out the letter-of-the-law political party rule, it's odd that the Greens are formally represented as everyone else is either independent or a micro-party, the Greens are regularly featured with the main parties and were part of a coalition government mere months ago

Secondly, two others are former ALP members, and the other effectively admitted being a lifelong ALP voter (or Green, maybe), only one of the remaining two could be considered to have links to the Liberals leaving a four to one balance if you're using any sort of common sense

Sorry but saying 'they're all independent of parties' (except the Greens obviously) just doesn't wash, it's blatant - there was criticism of Murdoch, free markets and Tony Abbott and much support of socialism without any reply - there were no rebuttals from the right (as the sole champion, Clive can say what he likes and avoided any such argument)

Whatever, I, as always, wish to leave it up to the market to decide...not that it really helps...

10 September 2013

Gittins: Labor's problems are all in our minds

I'm not going to waste too much time commenting on Ross Gittins' strange view that we have an unconscious bias that Liberals are better at running the economy

The whole story is based on the poll question 'who is better at managing the economy?' The standout point for me was this:

There was a time during the term of the Hawke-Keating government when the economy was doing well and Labor was ahead on this question. But such times are the exception. Normally, Labor judges its success just by the extent to which it has narrowed the gap with the Libs.

So we all love the Libs, except when Labor actually do run it well, the concept of Occam's razor springs to mind. In the 41 years since Whitlam came to power there have been three periods of Labor government (cumulatively longer than Liberals) - Whitlam, which ended in a constitutional crisis, the well-regarded Hawke-Keating era which lasted about 13 years, and the Rudd-Gillard period which wasn't quite so successful

It couldn't just be that people actually hold conscious opinions on a government's performance? Likewise the fact that Liberals, who favour free markets and appeal to 'battlers', and Labor, who favour trade unions, are judged differently on the economy, is not surprising. My economics text book did not exactly regard trade unions as good for markets, but no no, it's because the Libs are the 'bosses', not the workers (never mind that Labor abandoned most 'workers' for welfare recipients and hippies before Howard)

Gittins also claims that the budget and boat people crises are 'over' - first I'd point out that it's hardly unreasonable for one party to play on two of their key strengths - border control and the economy, much as Labor will soon play on IR and public services, Labor had plenty of crises for when they were last in opposition, such as the evil inhuman border control policy - and yet in power the screaming lefties went away and the new government actually supported Liberal policy (no doubt they'll be back now Tony's in), both sides are guilty of hypocrisy when they are on the easier side of parliament, it's called a point of difference and is hardly indicative of unconscious love of 'the bosses'

Secondly, the crises not over, but surprisingly enough, when there's a new government you tend to give them a little bit of a chance (say, at least a week...) before jumping down their throats and demanding the boats stop now - ultimately there's only two choices for government and it would be rather silly to demand a change before they are sworn in...

I'd agree 'crisis' is hyperbole, but that's politics, which I'm fairly certain we could find from Labor, ultimately while we may not be in Weimar Germany the Australian people do not like the idea of spending more than they earn, they also don't like being lied to constantly and having the government fail to deliver their promises time after time (this hilariously is also the fault of our unconscious bias again), the British and Europeans were complacent about their huge levels of debt for decades (I'd never heard of a government running a surplus until I came to Australia), and look where that ended up

In short, weak drivel from Ross that appeals to the far left

I'd also make the point that this is clearly apologetic to Labor, it's simply an opinion with little empirical evidence (if any?) and therefore it's as biased as the Telegraph's daily attacks on Labor, which cause such a problem for the ABC and Labor

Yet, you don't hear people complaining much about it - I know Fairfax is biased, great, that's why I don't read it, rather than trying to censor it or running ads trying to get it to say what I want

It wasn't the Tele that won it

But don't tell Paul Barry that, in his latest epistle he provides a mock-up of the famous Sun headline from 1992 (again)

Now, aside from the issue that Barry has now twice used a 20-year old story from another country to beat Murdoch with, which suggests an obsession rather than contemporary media analysis, the idea that we'll never know if the Murdoch papers won it is a fantasy

The Telegraph, who according to Barry, are the worst of the Murdoch press only 'won' 4 seats in NSW, they may yet gain another 3 in unconfirmed results - while they've taken 2 (out of 4) in Tasmania, 3 in Victoria and potentially only one from Queensland (which has the second naughtiest Murdoch paper)

They could've won without NSW, although it would've been pretty strange to not pick up anything in the nation's biggest state - in fact the swing against Labour was below the national average, at a meagre 2.99%

The states where Labor really crashed were Victoria, the only state which had a Fairfax paper actually support it (not that you would know that if you listened to Barry), Tasmania and South Australia, all traditional Labor strongholds

Any simple analysis would show that the impact of Murdoch's papers was limited at best, in fact there seems to have been a negative correlation - with the Labor supporting Age creating the biggest mainland swing, and the single paper state of Queensland barely losing a seat

This is, to be honest, extremely poor from the ABC - while you might be able to attempt to justify Barry's weekly commentary on the bias of a populist daily tabloid as a fair cop, but boring, the suggestion that the Telegraph had a significant impact on the federal result just doesn't stack up with the facts, it's lazy and quite clearly biased

Arguably it's evidence of ABC 'group-think', where they decide that people must surely agree with them and Murdoch and his tabloids are trashing the awesome Labor government - no need to actually review their assertion that the Tele could've won it when three other states had bigger results

They also don't seem to have been able to stop the woeful Western Sydney Liberal candidate Jayme Diaz providing Labor with one of their only swings towards them, odd that...

For the sake of balance Barry also mentioned an anti-Murdoch 'GetUp' ad that went 'huge' on social media (the importance of which is contestable, and another weird ABC obsession) that the commercial broadcasters refused to air

I'm sure they refuse to run all kinds of things, but GetUp say that this is an outrageous breach of their free speech (why?) and Barry again twists the story to suit himself, saying that the non-Murdoch channels don't want to make an enemy, his view, not anyone else's

It couldn't just be that they felt it was in their commercial interests not to run the ad? It couldn't just be that commercial networks aren't a platform for free speech that they can actually use their own networks to act in their own interests? It couldn't be that Fairfax also refused to accept it as a paid ad?

Arguably there is a media story in this case - the commercial networks (and Fairfax) once again not running a far-left political ad*, but it's very convenient that the Media Watch subject matter was Murdoch, after a whole episode..about Murdoch

My thanks to Andrew Bolt for the screen grab of the dummy front page, he has effectively written the same article as me and I probably just should've saved time and read that before making my own post - but as an aside he points out that 6 (of 10, I think) have been focused on News corp - we should start making those graphs that Barry uses every week to judge the Tele

From memory, I think the others have only focused on vested commercial interests in tabloid television and beating up 'shock jocks' - how many have focused on Fairfax or the ABC...or are they just that good?

*The ad was a strange one, featuring a man criticising the Courier Mail's editorial stance against Labor and using it to clean up his dog's mess, saying that we're all entitled to our opinions, you know free speech and all, but then saying it's not on for Murdoch to put one in his papers

It doesn't make a lot of sense - to me, the ad seems to imply you must receive the Courier Mail and it must provide objective 'news' - yet in reality you choose to subscribe to it, does that man think it's some form of state funded newspaper he has to receive?

He's wasting his money on expensive doggy bags, difference is we don't have to with Media Watch...