The Smage joins the smearers. I thought I must have made a mistake when I did my survey of major news sites around the world this morning. Nowhere had I seen a story about a Larry Sinclair, a gay man from Minnesota who alleges he snorted cocaine and had s-x with the Democratic nominee Barack Obama; or I hadn’t until I finally came to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. The two Australian broadloids were treating the story as if it deserved attention by putting it in pride of place on their home pages and now it is the most read item on Yet the story is a load of rubbish uttered by a man with “a 27-year criminal career which includes convictions for fraud, forging cheques, and stealing credit card numbers”. His Washington press conference was ignored by all the major American newspapers although picked up and disparaged as nonsense by a few of the generally respectable political blogs. Yet the Fairfax Washington correspondent Anne Davies must be infected by the same disease as the Fairfax website controllers for she gave the conference a great run and those controllers obliged with the catchy headlined “Obama, his g-y accuser and the lawyer in a kilt“. The trashing of the reputation of these once great names in the Australian press – The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age – continues apace.

Another day, another way out West. The best possible way for an incumbent political leader to campaign for re-election is to be on display showing leadership. In Perth, Premier Alan Carpenter is in that fortunate position even if the circumstances of the gas pipeline failure that have caused it are unfortunate. From all the reports I have seen, the Premier appears to be handling a troubling situation extremely well. Conversely, the worst possible way for an opposition leader to campaign is to be seen as pretending to be in charge of a hopelessly divided party. And the WA Liberals find a new way of showing division with every day that passes. The latest show of disunity involves the Opposition’s education spokesman Peter Collier sending a text message which calls for more Liberal MPs to leave the Party. The message followed yesterday’s resignation from the Party of its former leader Paul Omodei. The departing Mr Omodei was one of those who received the text message from Mr Collier’s mobile phone reading: “Omodei has resigned, three to go.” Mr Collier is not disclosing who he has in mind to join the exodus but frontbenchers Rob Johnson and Graham Jacobs have been quite the shadow cabinet in the last week and the Upper House MP Anthony Fels moved an unsuccessful spill motion against the Opposition Leader Troy Buswell.

Turnbull does his best schoolboy impersonation. When the best a parliamentary opposition can do is play schoolboy debating games it is no wonder that he’s not making any progress in the opinion polls. Shadow Treasurer and would-be Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was at his schoolboy best yesterday trying to pretend that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had somehow made some kind of terrible mistake for saying that “from memory” the forecast inflation rate was 3.75% when the Treasury forecast is actually for 3.25%. The Australian people have more sense than to think that these memory games are important. But they know a smart a-se when they see one.

A churlish bit of ignoring. Given the verbal thrashing the Sydney Daily Telegraph has been handing out MP Belinda Neal it was surely a little churlish of the paper not to give a good run to the views expressed by one of her few Labor colleagues prepared to publicly defend her. At Crikey we do not want to be guilty of the same thing so herewith the comments of Ms Neal’s fellow backbench Labor MP Julia Irwin who the newsagency AAP reported as accusing journalists of a witch-hunt. While Ms Irwin did not mention the Iguanas affair nor Ms Neal by name she did mention Crikey in the same breath as the Daily Telegraph in these remarks on the adjournment debate in the House of Representatives:

Last month in Kenya 12 women were burned to death as witches. But it appears that good old-fashioned witch-hunts are not restricted to deepest, darkest Africa. For the past two weeks in Australia we have witnessed a media frenzy that can only be described as a witch-hunt. We have seen media outlets descend to new lows as they fan the fires of superstition. While I would single out the hammer of witches, the Daily Telegraph and its brother the Sunday Telegraph, I would also add for some of the most disgraceful journalism ever seen in this country. But what is worse is that so-called quality news outlets have been lighting their own torches to join in the witch-hunt. In the age of digital media it seems our journalists are stuck in the 15th century. Only Alan Jones seemed to understand the gravity of this lapse when he said: Unless the media are dedicated to the truth and the facts above all else, it’s difficult to know how the democratic process can function properly.

I like Aeroplane jelly. Due recognition has at last been given to Albert Francis Lenertz of Marrickville, NSW for the lyrics of that great Australian song “I like Aeroplane jelly.” The National Film and Sound Archive has now included the 1938 recording by the seven-year-old Joy King in its “Sounds of Australia Registry.”

Richard Farmer’s “Pick of this Morning’s Political Coverage”, “The most read stories on Australian websites” and analysis on “Politics and economics on the international newspaper sites” are now available first thing every weekday morning on Crikey’s website.

So if you’re drowning in a sea of morning paper and too tired to trudge the web in search of the juiciest of the commentariat then Crikey is here to help with a daily serving of the best in Australian and International media.