A bloke goes into a pub in a country town on a Saturday morning, announces he can pick eight out of eight winners in the race meeting that afternoon. He takes bets from the whole town, on the basis his picks will be put in a tin, race by race and opened after the last. When they do so, whacko, he’s picked the card. How?

Easy. On the first race he takes his only chance of the day — he picks the winner of the last race. On the second race, he simply writes down the now-known winner of the first, after the third, the winner of the second, and on it goes. All he has to do is choose race meets where the last event has such a dead-on favourite that the risk is virtually nil.

And, of course, towns that are dumb as dogsh-t. All of which is my longwinded explanation to Richard Farmer’s speculation as to how Murdoch is running the politics at News Ltd. Across the world, wherever there’s a slam-dunk, Murdoch gets behind it, so as to look like it was “the Sun wot won it”. Where it’s harder to read, he lets things run a little loose until larger trends emerge.  

Thus the journos on the news sections of the Tele and the Oz continue to debase themselves and their profession by churning out propaganda, such as:

Labor leader Kevin Rudd is on a collision course with corporate Australia, after mining giant BHP Billiton rejected his industrial relations agenda.

Labor leader Kevin Rudd and Premier Morris Iemma have been seen enjoying the largesse of a Sydney pub being investigated for exploiting its workers.

Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd has put a knife to the throat of big and small business with the ALP’s new industrial relations policy.

During its national conference, the Labor Party failed to deliver any detail of how it intends to keep the economy strong.

That’s a selection of first paras from the “news” stories from the Tele as called up by Newstext for one day (30 April).

While at Bruce Guthrie’s Hun , reports were principally descriptive — “Labor goes green with loans”, “ALP sends clear message”, “PM warns of work threat to women”, “Leaders’ war of words”, “Late deal averts logging mutiny” — of events at the national conference and Howard’s reaction to them.

In the Oz, however, magical thinking has taken hold root and branch. “Rudd earns wrath of business”, Steve Lewis thundered on Monday, going on to suggest that the ALP’s plan for the liquidation of the kulaks following victory had welded business into a determined opposition. The story? The BCA had put out a critical press release and a bunch of CEOs had said they would meet in the next couple of weeks to discuss possible strategies. Scary.

Today, Dennis Shanahan hailed a Newspoll that had two-party preferred running 57-43 (as opposed to 59-41 a fortnight ago) as the “slowing of the Rudd juggernaut”. Dennis, read down and you’ll find that the poll has a 3% error margin. A 2% shift is statistically meaningless. Is Shanahan too stupid to read a graph, or just duplicitous? (answers on a postcard).

Murdoch’s “last-race” risk will probably be to go after the Greens again — but if there’s a major Labor figure in a dicey seat they may try and polish her or him off. And after that it’s simply a matter of seeing how the public prioritised Workchoices, interest rates, Iraq, etc etc, and then tell them to think what they already thought.