Tag Archive: right-wing nutbags


Reverse-spin the news

A few weeks ago I wrote an article defending the ABC from the claims that the public media organisation holds a political bias (I can’t say whether the claims are that it is biased to the left or right, because the conservatives would have you believe it favours the left, while the progressives claim it is biased to the right).

However, one such media organisation that will not receive my support for its editorial line is News Limited, or specifically in this case, The Australian. Murdoch’s national broadsheet, which claims that it needs to “make a lot of noise” in order to be heard, and has already willingly expressed its disapproval for The Greens, possesses a conservative bias that surely must be evident to all but the most one-eyed Liberal Party supporters.

I’m not the first to point this out – the online news service Crikey makes the point often, as does the Grog’s Gamut blog, both of which are finer examples of media and political analysis than that shoddy rag could ever wish to be.

So why am I so incensed about this today? Well, I woke this morning to find the latest Newspoll results had been released. The figures showed Labor on 34% primary vote, the Coalition on 44% and the Greens on 14%. That’s a 1 point increase to Labor, a 2 point drop to the Coalition and a 4 point gain for the Greens. The two-party preferred figures are now 48-52 in the Coalition’s favour, a four point drop in the difference from the last survey.

Here’s how our unbiased friends at the ABC reported today’s poll results:

As the carbon tax continues to dominate the political debate, a new opinion poll shows the Coalition’s lead over Labor is narrowing slightly.

The Newspoll published in today’s Australian newspaper says Labor’s primary vote has risen one point to 34 per cent, while the Coalition’s primary vote fell two points to 44 per cent.

The Coalition is still leading Labor 52 per cent to 48 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.

A fortnight ago the Coalition led by 54 per cent to 46 per cent.

Yep, much as it was. Labor’s gained, but the Coalition still leads. Pretty much as it is.

This tone was obviously too simple (or more likely too left-wing) for The Australian, whose Political Editor Dennis Shanahan instead went with this angle:

ALP fails to profit from Liberal ructions: Newspoll

THE Coalition has kept its clear election-winning lead over Labor as Julia Gillard’s personal support co

ntinues to languish and Tony Abbott calls for an early “carbon tax” election.

Despite two weeks of publicity about infighting and squabbles within the Liberal Party, and a concerted government campaign against the Opposition Leader, there has been virtually no change in the party standings.

Look at the wording: “clear election-winning lead”, “Gillard’s personal support continues to languish”, “Abbott calls for an early carbon tax election”, “virtually no change in the party standings”. From that, you’d think Labor had been wiped out by the latest poll. In fact, even their claim that Gillard’s personal support is languishing is not correct, because the poll figures show an increase in Gillard’s satisfaction ratings, and a decrease in her dissatisfaction rating. Meanwhile, her opponent Abbott has fallen in satisfaction and risen in dissatisfaction ratings in the same period.

It’s sadly typical of The Australian, and many News Limited papers, to report favourably towards the Liberal Party. God forbid they actually look at the results, which show a drop for the Coalition. And heaven forbid they dare mention that The Greens were the biggest positive movers in this poll, rising a significant 4 points in the primary vote alone.

So, I figure if they won’t write it, I will. Much like I did in that ABC article, here’s a quick re-write of the poll results with the shoe on the other foot.

———

Coalition on the nose as progressives rise

The Coalition’s internal rumblings and negative campaigning appear to have lost their appeal to voters, with the latest poll figures revealing the Liberals and Nationals leaking support to both the Labor Party and the Greens.

The Newspoll figures, published in The Australian, reveal that the Coalition has dropped two percentage points in its primary support, now sitting at 44%, barely above the 43.6% primary vote it lost the 2010 election with. Meanwhile, the Labor Party have gained one percentage point to be on 34%, and The Greens were the big movers, rising four percentage points to sit on 14%.

The two-party preferred gap has narrowed considerably as well, with the Coalition now only holding a slender 52-48 lead over Labor after preferences.

Party room dissent may also increase after the figures also revealed Liberal leader Tony Abbott’s personal support has taken a tumble in the past fortnight, with his satisfaction ratings dropping 3% overall to put him at a net satisfaction rating of -16. In the same period, Julia Gillard’s personal support has risen by 2 points overall. Mr Abbott has been accused of pursuing a campaign of “mindless negativity” and lacking in any genuine policy direction, recently claiming he favoured “pragmatic politics over policy purity”.

The poll results come on the back of an already disastrous week for the Coalition, with front-bencher and former leader Malcolm Turnbull launching public attacks on party colleagues and openly criticising the Coalition’s climate change policy. Tensions between Mr Abbott and his shadow treasurer Joe Hockey have also surfaced, with the two forced to put on a joint press conference in an attempt to quell speculation about a falling out.

Meanwhile, Labor and the Greens have been strengthened by a campaign launched by a coalition of community groups expressing support for the proposed carbon tax. The campaign, launched on the weekend, includes celebrities such as actors Michael Caton and Cate Blanchett, and is supported by public figures like entrepreneur Dick Smith and former Liberal Party leaders John Hewson and Malcolm Fraser.

———

Now I can’t claim to have anywhere near the circulation figures of The Australian, and although I deride them, their standards of writing are far superior to mine. However, it still feels nice to reverse the spin and stick it to the right-wing media in this country sometimes.

A common held belief, often pushed by elements of the right-wing of Australian politics, is that the government-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation (or the ABC, Aunty, whatever you want to call it) maintains a level of editorial bias to the left-wing of politics.

This is quite a serious claim to make of a broadcaster that is both government-funded and legislatively bound to provide “independent” broadcasting to the Australian people. If the ABC did in fact maintain an editorial bias in its news publications and broadcasts, it would in fact be violating its charter, and would in fact deserve to have its right to exist questioned.

However, in my experience, and the experience of many, this is far from the case.

Take, for example, this news article about the latest Newspoll results. The headline reads “Abbott’s satisfaction rating on the rise”. Mmm, a headline proclaiming the popularity of the leader of the Liberal Party.

The rest of the article reads as follows:

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has maintained her popularity over Opposition Leader Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister in the latest opinion poll.

The Newspoll published in The Australian shows Ms Gillard leads Mr Abbott as preferred prime minister by 45 to 36 per cent.

Bang! Gotcha ABC! Look at that, blatant editorialising for the Left!

Sorry, sarcasm took over there. Let’s look at every statement in those paragraphs objectively. In the previous Newspoll, Ms Gillard led Mr Abbott in the preferred PM stakes 46% to 37%. In today’s Newspoll, she leads 45% to 36%. Same margin, only both leaders have lost a point. More importantly, it means the ABC’s reporting is factually accurate.

The next paragraph, like the headline, actually points out Mr Abbott’s gaining ground on the PM in different measures:

But the poll sees Mr Abbott’s job satisfaction rating up 6 per cent, from 36 to 42 per cent, in the past month.

Look at that, praising the Right. Surely this can’t be! Again, from the neutral point of view, this is factually correct, so there is no problem.

The article goes on to discuss the party results next, pointing out that:

The primary vote for the major parties remained steady, with the Coalition on 44 per cent, the Government on 33 per cent and the Greens on 12 per cent.

On a two-party preferred basis, the Coalition continues to poll an election-winning lead of 6 per cent.

Again, pointing out the Coalition’s strong position in the polls, and again, doing so accurately. Certainly no left-wing bias here.

The article then concludes by quoting the Prime Minister:

The Prime Minister declined to comment on the poll, saying if she speculated on polls she would “get very little else done given the number of polls that we see”.

“I’ve got a lot of hard work to do as Prime Minister. We’ve got a lot of hard work to do as a government, and we’ll get on with doing that work,” she told AM.

I’m sure the Right would have you believe that a lack of a quote from Mr Abbott would indicate a left-wing bias. However, the only reason they’ve quoted Ms Gillard is because she fortuitously appeared on ABC radio this morning when the poll figures were released, so it was logical to seek comment from her on the numbers. Had Mr Abbott done the same (which he has not), he too would have been asked to comment.

No, the ABC does its absolute best to maintain its independence and freedom from editorial bias – something that cannot be said for its commercial competitors (*cough* News Limited *cough*).

If this article were to be written by an institution with a left-wing bias, here’s an example of how it might actually read:

—–

Abbott loses ground in latest Newspoll

Today’s Newspoll results spell bad news for Tony Abbott and the Coalition, losing 4% of it’s two-party preferred (2PP) lead to Labor, and failing to gain ground in other key areas.

Labor’s primary vote increased by 1 point to 33%, with the Coalition dropping by the same margin to sit at 44%. The Greens and others remained unchanged.

Labor has also clawed back on the Coalition’s 2PP lead – gaining two points to be at 47%, while the Coalition fell the same amount to sit at 53%.

The news was no better for Mr Abbott in the preferred PM stakes, with the Liberal leader failing to gain any ground on Ms Gillard, despite her rating falling by a point. Ms Gillard leads the preferred PM ratings 45% to Mr Abbott’s 36%, a net lead of 9%.

The only good news for Mr Abbott was a slight rise in his satisfaction rating as Opposition Leader, on the back of his opposition to the Carbon Tax and other government initiatives.

Mr Abbott did not offer any comment on the polling figures this morning, however Prime Minister Gillard was modest about her government’s improving fortunes in the polls. She said was not interested in speculating on poll results, and was determined to get on with the tasks at hand.

“I’ve got a lot of hard work to do as Prime Minister. We’ve got a lot of hard work to do as a government, and we’ll get on with doing that work,” she told ABC radio this morning.

—–

There you go, now THAT is a piece deserving of being labelled biased. Again, it tells the facts, however it represents them in a way that is far more favourable to the Labor Party, and critical of the Liberals. If I read that on ABC News, even being a left-leaning member of society, I would be disappointed in its lack of neutrality (and the fact that it looks like it was written in five minutes by a 22 year old non-journalist student, which it was).

I don’t know whether to believe that the Right expects that all media should do what Murdoch’s papers do and report favourably towards it, or whether their inherent opposition to any form of public-owned entity makes them anti-ABC, but I don’t understand it. The ABC, in my view, goes a long way to providing objective, unbiased, informative reporting in this country, and most certainly fills a void left by the commercial operators. Their taxpayer fundbase will always see them prone to political attacks, and while I think it’s vital that all media, the ABC included, be held accountable, I firmly support and am very thankful for the existence of the ABC.