This week Sally Loane, Stephen Crittenden, the SMH and Adele Horin all come under the critical eye of PP McGuinness:

The silliest contribution to the election debate so far has come from Sally Loane on ABC 702 who has instituted a daily spot discussing the leaders’ neckties with a “gentlemen’s outfitter”. This is pure flim flam appealing to none but the empty-headed – just about Sally’s intellectual level.

The saving grace of her program is a regular lineup of quite interesting people (excluding the boring closet Laborite Barrie Cassidy) who speak knowledgeably about their own areas of interest. Politically, the most interesting of these is the “spindoctors” segment, where the participants make usually sensible comments about how issues, political and otherwise, are being handled by those in the public eye.

They are self-promoting of course – it is a great opportunity to talk up the value of their own services – but at their best with participants like Graham Morris making no bones about their own political backgrounds but displaying a capacity for pretty objective analysis. The ineffably silly David Marr spent about half his time this week in his Mediawatch segment on ABC TV complaining about the fact that Bruce Hawker, one of the spindoctors panel, is a former Labor staffer and he hadn’t noticed it being repeated ad nauseam. Clearly David is scraping the barrel for real issues; he has never of course done more than give the occasional hapless ABC individual a clout across the ear, while ignoring the huge beam in his own eye and those of like-thinking types in the SMH and the ABC.

He might have a go occasionally at someone like Stephen Crittenden whose “religion report” is too often devoted to denouncing Cardinal Pell for not being nice to homosexuals who want to violate the principles of their religion as interpreted by Pell, or giving airtime to the latest prelate who thinks his role is telling his flock (that is, the sheep who are silly enough to listen to him) to vote Labor, like the Bishop of Parramatta. No wonder the bible bashers are on the increase out West while the Catholics are dropping off – at least the Channel 9 Sunday program has realised that the hot gospellers are now of electoral significance and included a couple of them in its voter panel talking about the prospects of the unfortunate Ross Cameron.

This silly man is being abused, ridiculed and punished for having flouted his own moral principles, and then being idiotic enough to confess it. Meanwhile the press gallery covers up for themselves and the politicians they sleep with. It is apparently better to have no moral standards and screw around indiscriminately or trawl the gay bars (plenty of these amongst both pollies and journos) than to try to be moral and fail. So much for Christian charity. Hypocrisy is the charge – brought by hypocrites.

Poor old Sally, when she hasn’t got a Mike Archer, a Karl Kruselnitsky or a pet doctor, starts imitating the Radio National’s appalling Life Matters program, wWomen’ith chit chat about nappies, kiddies, orgasms for elderly ladies or what have you. It’s a Women’s Weekly for ladies with degrees, no ideas and nothing useful to do.

Politics has been overshadowed all this week by the horrors of the Beslan school. But even here tendentiousness has not been absent. As usual a government minister got a drubbing for identifying with the terrorist problem there and saying that we had to take it seriously.

The SMH with its extraordinary double standards decided that the terrorists were not terrorists but merely “rebels”. Tell that to the thirsty, terrified and now dead kids. This kind of weasel word game is played all over the world – in his latest newsletter Daniel Pipes, a pro-Israel expert on Middle Eastern affairs, collects quite a few euphemisms to avoid the word “terrorist” in connection with the Beslan events – his favourite is the Pakistan Times description of them as “activists”. Up there with the SMH is The New York Times with “insurgents”, the LA Times with “hostage takers”, and – who else? – the BBC with “radicals”.

Honours for the most idiotic comment on the Labor tax package were shared by ACOSS and Adele (the Good) Horin in the SMH. ACOSS complained that their pet constituency did not get enough to keep them more comfortably in dependency. To his credit, Latham responded with a quick backhander pointing to the fact that it is in ACOSS’s interests to maintain dependency. Adele the Good toed the bleeding heart line, as usual – it saves any thought. These are the people who think that any policy package which doesn’t, like Lewis Carroll’s caucus race, have prizes for everybody is not good enough. And nobody spared a thought for the low income smokers who’ll have a fair slice of their money clawed back by higher tobacco excise.

With all its faults, especially the pretence that the Coalition’s $600 bonus (ask anyone on a very limited budget if the occasional lumpsum to buy the kids shoes or pay off the card isn’t a godsend), Latham’s package was pretty good. But the hacks had to play the game of pretending to be objective by picking holes in it. See, they say, before they get back to abusing Howard, we are really balanced aren’t we?

The only sensible criticisms came from those who pointed out that both Liberal and Labor are into a sordid bidding contest for votes, and entirely neglecting the serious long-term and generation problems to which any spare cash in the budget surpluses ought to be assigned. Howard’s credentials as an economic manager depend on more than his good luck with interest rates – and they are not good. Labor’s funding proposals are crook (tariffs, etc). Both sides are recklessly and unashamedly buying votes at the expense of the future. But how many hacks even understand or care about this?