In politics media bias is a given, no matter which side of the fence you stand on. It is particularly worse for the non-Labor and non-Greens side of politics because most journalists fit on the left of the ideological spectrum so what they genuinely see as even-handed has a lean on it to start with.
So it was bizarre to see former ALP communications minister Stephen Conroy attempt various strategems to control the media to eradicate what he saw as bias. In fact it was one of the signs that the Labor government was a bad government that these attempts even got support.
Therefore it is not a good sign for the Abbott government that they are wasting so much valuable time hyperventilating about the ABC, when there are boats to be stopped, debt to be paid back and taxes to be axed.
They are dependant on the media to get their message across. How does threatening to take a bludgeon to their main means of communication with the electorate advance their cause at all.
And suggestions, like that advanced by Matthias Corman, that the ABC should be prevented from running a website are simply idiotic. Hasn’t he heard of “convergence” and isn’t he aware that many of us, including me, are as likely to “tune in” to the ABC using a live feed from a website, and that this is just the sharp end of where things are going? Doesn’t he comprehend that most of what’s on the ABC website anyway is derived from broadcast products anyway?
This type of idiocy plays right into the hands of those media who say that the Abbott government is hopeless.
But having the media biased against you is not necessarily a bad thing. You can use it to your advantage.
Take Pauline Hanson for example. Despite a massive media campaign against her in the Queensland elections in 1998 she came from nowhere to have the second most popular party in Queensland.
How did this happen?
Well, the media is not nearly as powerful or influential as they like to think they are. In any survey of trustworthiness I have seen, journalists, politicians and used car salesmen have similarly low levels of trust.
So just because they tell you something, it doesn’t mean it is accepted by a majority of electors.
In Pauline’s case, the constant barrage of criticism made voters sit up and say “I mightn’t agree with everything she says, but I think she has a right to say it,” and marked their ballot papers accordingly.
Smart politicians understand this dynamic and work with it, turning press opprobrium into electoral gold.
Dumb politicians do what some members of the Abbott and Rudd/Gillard governments have been doing. It says something about the pool from which we are drawing our politicians that this tendency appears to be bipartisan.