labor news corp
Bill Shorten and Rupert Murdoch.

Much has been made of News Corp’s anti-Labor stance this election. While the bias might not be new, its ferocity and tactics over the campaign have been hotly debated this time around.

So Crikey took a look at a sample of work from the most influential media company during Australia’s federal election — midnight to midnight on Monday, May 13 — to see just how negative and wide-spread News Corp’s anti-Labor campaign is.

Midnight

When the clock strikes midnight, most stories for the next day’s papers go live on the publications’ websites. On Monday they’re flush with glowing stories about the Liberals’ campaign launch on Sunday, but there are still column inches aplenty to dedicate to Labor.

The Australian publishes stories about aged migrants “swamping hospitals” under a Bill Shorten visa plan, commentary about tax increases under Labor and a column from former editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell arguing that Labor and the Greens didn’t understand global climate change.

Aged parent migrants ‘to swamp hospitals’
Hospitals in Australia’s biggest destination for migrants could be swamped as more than 37,000 aged parents arrive from overseas under Bill Shorten’s family visa program, according to NSW Treasury analysis.

Labor’s tax attack on savings counter-productive
Australia may find ­itself next week on the path to the largest ­peacetime tax increases since ­Federation. It is not simply the magnitude of the tax rises that makes Labor’s plans exceptional, it is that they are so heavily focused on penalising saving.

Climate politics as changeable as global weather
The push for carbon neutrality is not going as uniformly well as Labor leader Bill Shorten or Greens leader Richard Di Natale would have you believe.

The Oz also went live with a piece criticising Labor’s plan to subsidise the wages of childcare workers.

Labor plans for aged care exclude pay subsidies
A future Labor government would only subsidise the wages of childcare workers, after Bill Shorten ruled out intervening in other ­female-dominated, low-paid sectors such as aged care.

Meanwhile, the News Corp metro tabloids hit publish on Courier-Mail national political editor Renee Viellaris’ hit job on Shorten over a Gladstone Ports worker. The story claimed he was sacked for asking the opposition leader a question in front of a media pack. This was picked up by the regional Queensland papers for their websites by 5am. Other metro websites uploaded a news.com.au version of the story at 6.57am.

Loaded question
The Gladstone Ports worker who tripped up Bill Shorten on Labor’s tax plan for high-income earners has been suspended and forced to take another job. The gutted father of three was told he was in breach of contract for speaking to the media.

At midnight, the commentary goes live. Chris Kenny and Jennifer Oriel both tear into Labor in their regular columns.

The early hours

As the newspapers roll out their online content, the day’s news agenda is set by the network’s papers. A story run is by the Courier-Mail, The Mercury and most of the metro papers about Labor’s negative gearing plans, which Daily Telegraph national political reporter Sheradyn Holderhead writes will hurt builders:

Builders brace for collapse under Labor tax policy
Australian builders are bracing for a major hit under Bill Shorten’s negative gearing overhaul with major developers through to small renovation businesses warning they will have to lay off workers or shut their doors.

Network columns also go live while most of the country is still sleeping. Andrew Bolt’s diatribe about “the left” and “free speech” includes a swipe at Labor and how bad he says a Labor victory would be for free speech.

Barbarians at the gates
Labor leader Bill Shorten yesterday promised the ABC an extra $40 million on top of its $1 billion a year, declaring: ‘My policy for the ABC: two words — ABC everywhere’. ABC everywhere and Murdoch papers nowhere. The Left’s dream. The murder of debate, leaving the stupid to rule, unquestioned.

The negativity is not limited to the big metros. Hobart’s Mercury runs a full opinion piece from a Liberal candidate criticising Labor for its franking credits policy; Mackay’s Daily Mercury is criticising a Labor candidate for not publicly supporting the Adani project; and a Paul Murray column is running across the network, painting Shorten as avoiding tough questions:

Questions you should ask Bill Shorten
Nothing is ‘inevitable’ and it’s time Bill Shorten gave us some straight answers to some questions he shouldn’t be allowed to dodge.

Daybreak

As the sun rises and more workers come on shift, more stories arrive online. At 5.28am, the Queensland regionals (serving towns including Toowoomba, the Sunshine Coast, Bundaberg and Warwick) publish a positive piece about Labor — a commitment to extra funding for a Logan hospital. Like most of the positive News Corp stories published about Labor, it is a fairly straight report about a policy announcement. Another positive story is published reporting of the ALP’s plan for transparency around charities:

Troubled hospital to get $29m extra under Shorten
One of the worst performing hospitals in Queensland will get an extra boost as Labor ramps up its campaign to seize the ultra-marginal seat of Forde.

By 8.25am, the prolific Andrew Bolt has logged onto his blog to comment on the aforementioned sacked Gladstone ports worker, apparently sacked for breaching media protocols:

Worker suspended for asking Shorten a question
One worker, thinking for himself, asks a question that isn’t helpful to Labor and gets punished. Disgusting. Disturbing. it is also treating workers as mere Labor pawns.

Morning agenda

Throughout the morning, websites continue to be populated with updates, follow-ups and new stories.

At 8.49am news.com.au publishes its own version of the Gladstone Ports worker story, repeating the claims from the Courier-Mail but adding a statement from the Gladstone Ports Authority:

Federal election 2019: Tradie dumped from job after bailing up Bill Shorten on tax cuts
A tradie who approached Bill Shorten and asked a tricky question about Labor’s policies was abruptly dumped from his job as punishment.

Afternoon

At 12.27pm, Adelaide’s The Advertiser goes live with a story about the marginal SA seat of Boothby about the electorate’s care for the environment, and reporting on how that might help Bill Shorten’s chances. It is paired, though, with polling that indicates Labor will not win.

Over on Sky News, The Australian’s Chris Kenny takes up the Gladstone Ports worker beat-up on his lunchtime program, interviewing the story’s author and Courier Mail national political editor Renee Viellaris. 

After dark

Once the day programming wraps up, Sky News’ opinion work really ramps up (which has had seven times as much anti-Labor commentary than anti-Coalition, according to The New Daily). Tony Abbott’s former chief of staff Peta Credlin opines in her early evening show that voters haven’t really shown support for Labor at all. 

Broadcaster Paul Murray circles back to the Gladstone Ports worker story again too, discussing it with fellow Sky News After Dark host Rowan Dean on Paul Murray Live.

Another day

Stories for the next day start rolling out across the websites late in the evening, for more of the same the next day.

At 10.27pm The Daily Telegraph’s editorial for Tuesday goes up, criticising Labor’s tax cuts

Editorial: Labor’s business policy will mostly favour big business and multinationals with tax cuts
According to parliamentary budget modelling, mere millions of Labor’s multibillion-dollar tax cut will go to small and medium sized businesses. The majority of cuts will be enjoyed by much larger firms.

What do you make of News Corp’s coverage of Labor? Write to [email protected] with your full name and let us know.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to remove a reference to the Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser, which was included in error and is not owned by News Corp.