There’s a widely held view within the progressive commentariat that News is running a hard, even virulent, line against Labor in the current election campaign.

Perhaps, but maybe the reality is somewhat more banal (although no less disturbing).

A more likely scenario is that the blunt and sometimes nasty coverage in News Limited newspapers of the government in general, and Julia Gillard in particular, is the collateral result of dumbed-down editorial values rather than any vitriolic campaign motivated by political or proprietorial preference; of visceral editorial decisions made mainly by middle-aged male editors whose job is to stir up controversy, attack stereotypes, beat-up small incidents, enrage disaffected voters, impinge on priavte lives and incite readers in an age of uncertainty for newspapers and their future.

Maybe Rupert Murdoch or John Hartigan will unleash their attack dog editors on to the prime minister over the next 10 days, as they did when they installed and then unseated the Whitlam government in the 1970s.

Then again, these days they have their hands full enough just trying to figure out how to make a buck in the modern newspaper game without exercising their prerogative to manipulate elections.