- The messages are simplistic slogans, repeated often. When he allows his Shadow Ministers to be interviewed, they are given simple answers to questions, and, almost regardless of the question, trot out the answer robotically.
- If asked an uncomfortable question, he will stop the journalist, and pick a more “friendly” journalist; or he avoids as much as possible the more probing current affairs programs, opting for the cream-puff shows that ask only soft questions. A straw poll of appearances, taken and reported by Bruce Hawker in both the Courier-Mail1 and The National Times2 shows how Tony Abbott has avoided the inquisitorial current affairs shows, and headed for the conservative shock-jocks. It also shows how Julia Gillard has largely avoided the conservative shock-jocks. (it should be noted that Bruce Hawker is a campaign adviser the Labor Party). The figures show the differences for a range of media up to May 2011:
|Julia Gillard||Tony Abbott|
|Inquisitorial Current Affairs|
|Conservative Shock Jocks|
Alan Jones is a Liberal Party supporter, and 3-time candidate at NSW and Federal elections for the Liberal Party. 3
Other conservative shock-jocks used by Tony Abbott include Ray Hadley, Andrew Bolt, Howard Sattler, Steve Price.
“Current Affairs” shows generally fall into 2 categories: populist, shallow pulp; and inquisitorial. My own classification of some of them is below. The list is not comprehensive.
|A Current Affair |
|The 7:30 Report |
Q and A
Meet the Press
Lawrence Bull, writing for New Matilda, trawled through the Australian Electoral Commission, and wrote on 1-February this year 4
“Six-figure donations (from media companies) are common, and the relationships don’t end there - Labor has several major investments in media companies and the close relationship between former Fairfax CEO Ron Walker and the Liberals is well known.”A Summary of his findings is below:
Donations 2000 - 2007
Media Group / Significant Person
Donations to Liberal
Donations to Labor
News Corp (Murdoch)
Dame Elizabeth Murdoch
PBL Entities (Packer)
(2007 Election, as advertising)
(2007 Election, as advertising)
Paul Ramsey Holdings (Prime TV & Private Hospitals)
With the exception of Austereo and the Seven Network, the other media have significantly favoured the Liberal Party. I would expect a rigorous investigation to show that the funding bias reflects their editorial policies.
Summary and Conclusion:
In short, there would appear to be a financial & editorial bias from many media organisations towards the Liberal Party. Furthermore, Tony Abbott’s use of soft, populist media, and supportive shock-jocks, is effective use of the media from a politician reported to to have said to the Independent MP’s that he’d “do anything” to be Prime Minister. He remains, however, evasive of more discerning questions, especially about his lack of policy detail.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s poor polling results reflect her lack of attendance on the shallow, populist current affairs shows, and the aggressive pro-Liberal stance taken by popular shock-jocks. She is lighter on simplistic slogans, being more inclined to rational explanations.
In preparing this post, I looked at: