Monday, May 20, 2013

CAAANBRA: Fair & Balanced

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll have no doubt that Rupert Murdoch, that former Australian and worldwide media boss, prefers the conservative side of politics. He’s made no attempts to hide it; in fact, many of his News Limited/News International/News Corporation news outlets actively promote a conservative agenda. Fox News is so far to the right, they're the least trusted news organisation in America.

Nooooo, scream the conservative consumers of Mr Murdoch’s newspapers and television interests. In their view, conservative is “normal” and the rest of us are lefty communist stirrers. Hmmm. What you perceive really does depend on where you stand, but regardless of your position on the political spectrum, few would argue that Mr Murdoch’s news organisations are more conservative than most other news organisations.

Headlines and leaders from News Limited today
With new Newspoll and Neilsen federal opinion polls being released today, the headlines are telling. Fairfax's online titles, including the SMH, the Age and the Brisbane Times, are running the headline “Gillard Budget Boost”, while Murdoch’s press prefer to point out that the Coalition still has an ALP-slaughtering lead. Fair enough too – we need different perspectives on our world.
It's not just the Aussie press, though. Rupert Murdoch is not holding back. He has a personal twitter account, and this morning Mr Murdoch tweeted the following:

“Oz polls show nothing can save this miserable govt. Election can not come soon enough. People decided and tuned out months ago.”
With all due respect, I don’t accept that. The polls Mr Murdoch refers to are the Neilsen and Newspoll  numbers released overnight. Both sets of numbers are either stable or slightly positive for the government and for Ms Gillard as preferred PM, in a post-budget context where ALP votes should’ve been lost, not gained.
Internationally, political pollsters aren’t having a great run of late. In British Columbia, all of the media-aligned pollsters were wrong in their recent election. Every single one of them said that the Liberals would romp home and they didn’t. They lost. According to CBC News British Columbia

Angus Reid forecast in its last poll before the election that the NDP was the party of choice for 45 per cent of decided voters and leaners, with the governing Liberals in second place with 36 per cent support.
But in Tuesday's election, the Liberals won 44.4 per cent of the popular vote while the NDP ended up with 39.5 per cent. The win gave the Liberals 50 of the province's 85 seats, five more than the party had going into the election.

Back in Australia, Neilsen’s numbers this week show the Coalition leading the ALP 44-32, a slightly larger gap than was reported in British Columbia, but the BC polls were taken just prior to the election, not 4 months out. There were other similarities too: both leaders were fairly unpopular, and the economy was a key election issue, at least according to the pre-election polls.
The same inconsistencies were a factor in poor polling accuracy in the 2012 American Presidential elections. Gallup, one of the world’s oldest and most respected polling organisations, are holding an internal investigation into how and why their results all pointed to a Romney victory last November. Less than two weeks before the election, Gallup predicted a solid Romney victory; he was leading in the polls by 4%. The final result saw President Obama re-elected by the same margin. In polling terms, that's a big mistake. Huge.

Fox News's Bill O'Reilly, deep in denial on Election Night
Politico has put together a handy summary of some major polls conducted up to Election Day, and few of them had Obama in front.

Remember the faces at Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News when it became increasingly apparent that the Republicans would lose the election convincingly? Less than a month out from the Presidential Election, Fox News ran the story of Los Vegas bookie who was predicting a Romney landslide.  The conservative media in the USA was so sure that their man would win that they were visibly shocked when he didn’t.

The headline doesn't reflect the content of the story.

But Nate Silver, statistician, author and commentator, predicted the election so accurately, he called the result in every one of the fifty states, and DC. He had a look at the Australian situation when he was here in January this year. He predicted a Coalition victory, according to a headline in the Murdoch-stabled Australian.

What he actually said was that the ALP government would be the underdog:

In his first Australian interview after arriving in Melbourne yesterday, Silver said given the recent Australian polls, "clearly the government would be the underdog" but "the most important variable is not how many polls are taken but when the polls are taken relative to the election".
My lefty tendencies aren’t giving this election away just yet. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, perhaps it’s the weather or some hitherto unknown clairvoyant powers, but this federal election is still up for grabs. Don’t be surprised if, come September 15th, we see more sad Murdoch employees - Andrew Bolt, Janet Albrechtsen, Piers Ackerman, Dennis Shanahan and the rest - wondering how it all went so wrong.

Fox News - America's least trusted news source


  1. The delusion is strong in this one...
    The reason news stands out is not because they are so far to the right, its because all other media channels are so far to the left.

  2. Yes, I believe I said that in the second paragraph.