Making Malcolm look a little silly. One casualty of this morning’s inflation figures is the credibility of Opposition Shadow Treasurer Malcolm Turnbull who has been pretending for months now that Treasurer Wayne Swan has been overstating the extent of the inflationary problem. The 1.3% rise in the consumer price index in the first quarter of this year, making the annual increase 4.2%, makes a nonsense of the Turnbull position.

Blurring news and comment on the ABC. It is a rare role for a former tobacco company lobbyist like me to be defending a state premier announcing new anti-smoking measures, but the ABC last night showed a real bias against NSW Labor Premier Morris Iemma. The national network’s television reporter on the Sydney version of the 7pm news ended her report on the release of a discussion paper on ways of curbing smoking by the young with a very gratuitous value judgment that the Iemma government had “run out of puff.” Hardly the impartial reporting we should expect from the ABC.

Slight improvement for Hillary. This morning’s voting figures for Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia are judged by the markets to have marginally improved her chances of becoming the Democratic Party candidate for President of the United States. The Crikey Election Indicator now puts the probability of Clinton being endorsed at 15.8% which is up half a percentage point from earlier in the week. Barack Obama is still firmly favoured as an 80.8% probability with the prospect of a hung convention resulting in Al Gore still rated as a 3.4% outsider. The good news for we election freaks is that the Clinton victory was strong enough to ensure that the race for the nomination will continue for weeks yet.

No improvement for George. President George W. Bush now has the highest disapproval rating ever gained by a President in the US Gallup Poll.


Not that Dubya is yet the undisputed champion of unpopularity. While his disapproval rating of 69% is the highest in Gallup history, his approval rating is not the lowest. That approval rating, now at 28%, ties for the lowest of his administration, but Harry Truman reached a 23% approval rating in 1951 and in 1952, and Richard Nixon had two 24% job approval scores in 1974.

The Daily Reality Check

Quote of the day:

Here are two lessons. The media distorts events, generally with a negative bias. To put it simply, bad news sells. Second, we all know a lot less than we think we do. If you’ve ever been involved in anything that gets covered in the media, you know that the press never gets it quite right. Throw in what psychologists call “confirmation bias” — seeing only what you want to see and you realize that all of your opinions are based on distortions. That makes virtually everything we read or understand what Nassim Taleb calls “a narrative fallacy” — a story we tell ourselves that says more about us than it does about what is actually going on. As Mark Twain put it: “To a man with a hammer, everything is a nail.” That’s a lesson worth remembering as you turn off your TV set. — Nicholas Vardy, The Global Guru

The Pick of this Morning’s Political Coverage

One Murdoch man will be right. Former Treasurer Peter Costello has signalled he is ready to quit Parliament with the announcement he will write his memoirs. Malcolm Farr told his readers in the Sydney Daily Telegraph on Tuesday. Rarely do politicians write their memoirs when they still are an MP, he argued, because if they are frank they are certain to upset some colleagues. Over at the Tele’s serious stable mate, The Australian, political correspondent Matthew Franklin this morning takes a different view. Peter Costello has vowed to identify the way forward for the Liberal Party in soon-to-be-published memoirs, writes Franklin, igniting speculation that he will use the book to relaunch his political career and seek the Opposition leadership. Now we know!

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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