Day three in The Australian ’s increasingly whacky war on the “psychotic left” and so far it’s proving highly entertaining. I thought they couldn’t top devoting the whole editorial of the Saturday edition of a national broadsheet to denouncing a movement as irrelevant and meaninglessness – (coming soon, Surry Hills’ views on the Anglo-Catholic movement and a demolition of the Henry George League).

Then there was planet Janet Albrechtsen’s sally on her blog which began by praising to the skies the editorial of her own newspaper before recapping the argument entirely. And for the hat-trick, today they detoured to b-slap a letter sent by Robert Manne – one of the rare times his correspondence hasn’t been lost, “never received” or eaten by the jaguar – at a time when not much else is happening apart the Middle East in flames and a six-month election campaign.

Leaving aside the hypocrisy ably pointed out by Charles Richardson yesterday, what is the News bunker’s game? Surely if you run 67%-100% of newsprint in five of Australia’s seven major cities you leave the assessment of a couple of 5000-print-run books to a sidebar and focus on setting the agenda, rather than reacting to it? Butterflies and wheels, as the man said.

Two factors seem paramount. The first is that the notion of living in a parallel political universe might be better applied to the right than the left. Even a couple of years ago, they could claim to have a reasonable hold on projecting “natural” representation of mainstream Australian preoccupations. Then team blue blew it big-time.

First, they stuck to niggling climate-change scepticism long after most Australians thought there was a reasonable chance that it might kill their grandchildren, and that such threats demanded special action. Then, they made themselves look ridiculous by treating David Hicks as some sort of Hitler-meets-Ebola-level threat to Western civilisation, when most concluded that he was a bit player who’d been deserted by the Australian Government. Add barracking rather than reporting WorkChoices, and you have an unbelievably rapid process by which some effective tools became a bunch of cranks.

Possibly they feel this too – and are also feeling their necks. If – if – Rudd gets across the line and it’s Labor from the Indian to the Pacific, the current gang won’t be much use to uncle Rupert. Unlike Murdoch’s UK editors, they haven’t hedged their bets, they’re going ride it all the way down. That may be courage (though none of these climate change sceptics had the courage to resign when Murdoch affirmed his support for the marketplace of ideas by saying he would be ‘inserting’ a green message through all his titles).

Crazy? Crazy for being so blue …?

Don't get mad. Get Crikey.

Get full access including Side View and Crikey Talks.

Subscribe now and save 40% on a year of Crikey and get one of our limited edition Crikey sticker packs.

Hurry! Ends midnight Friday.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
40% off + free merch