“Petrol prices have ended the Rudd honeymoon” proclaimed Dennis Shanahan, Rudd’s honeymoon was “well and truly over” declared Gerard McManus, while Clinton Porteous got stuck into the Journo Juice and questioned “whether Kevin Rudd will be a one-term wonder?”
It was hard to find an article during the week that didn’t have the phrase “political crisis” scrawled in it somewhere — the government was in a crisis over Fuelwatch, over leaks, over threatening the public service; even over Brendan Nelson’s parliamentary performance, of all things.
We had Glenn Milne on Agenda (replacing his Comrade Confidential hat of trawling through the private lives of politicians, for some new headgear as a political theatre critic) telling us that Labor needed a Costello or a Keating because they were in danger of not cutting through in Parliament. Yeah, because we all know how five second grabs on the nightly news of aggressive boofheads yelling at each plays out in the wider electorate. No wonder Laura Tingle looked like she wanted to slap him. No wonder David Speers looked like he was thoroughly going to enjoy it if she did.
Yet today’s Newspoll has the ALP two party preferred stuck exactly where it was before this manufactured media melodrama began; 57/43 riding off the back of a one point reduction in the ALP primary to 46 and the Coalition primary stuck on 37.
The world of the Opinionatas — a sort of deafening echo chamber of electoral ignorance and lemming like commentary — has never been more irrelevant to the wider public. Costello was right when he told them that they don’t need politicians around to generate noise, they can just make stuff up among themselves. Which is all too often what happens, and the public can see right through it.
One would think that the Newspoll reality being incompatible with what passed for last fortnight’s fictional narrative of a government in trouble, would have invoked a little reassessment amongst the guilty, perhaps even a little humility, at the very least a reappraisal of the authenticity of the narrative itself — you know, when you’re talking shit and it becomes pretty obvious, it might be time to stop?
Alas no — not in the rarefied air of political punditry where attachment to electoral reality isn’t a KPI.
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“Petrol has blown up in Kevin Rudd’s face,” says one pundit this morning, in that sort of Japanese soldier on a deserted Island refusing to believe the war is over kind of way.
To do something novel here and add a bit of fact to this tawdry spectacle — this is what the areas around Brisbane and Sydney would look like under a uniform swing to Labor of 4.3% given by Newspoll — the pink seats are Coalition seats that would fall to Labor, 23 in all across the country.
As we can clearly see, the mathematical reality is far removed from the commentary.
There’s a reason the Morgan Polls continually have journalists near the bottom of the list when it comes to the public’s opinion of professions. It’s also not surprising that a large majority of people believe the media is biased. When these headline act Opinionatas repeatedly lose touch with how issues play out in the only place that counts – the electorate – and when that electorate sees acres of rubbish being rammed down their throats that bears little resemblance to their lived experience and their own views, it’s no wonder their opinion of journalists everywhere, good and bad, suffers as a result.
And a lot of it comes back to these Piñatas of public opinion, dangling out there on a limb, swaying in a political breeze of their own imagining.
Could someone please hit them with a stick and give us the lollies?
If not for our sake, or for Gawds sake, or for the sake of Tarago drivers with a wheelchair and five kids in the back everywhere — then at least for the sake of a credible national media landscape.