Voters got the usual Murdoch fayre: blanket support of Scott Morrison, leader of the Coalition, and blanket dismissal of Labor leader Anthony Albanese. And, up until this election, Murdoch tended to get what he wanted, as he has in the UK since the Sun first shilled for Margaret Thatcher in 1979. Former PM Kevin Rudd lined up the endorsements.
The Courier Mail, Herald Sun, Australian Daily Telegraph, and of course the Australian, backed Morrison. The Australian’s associate editor Chris Kenny, displaying the Murdoch arrogance and swagger that comes with the sure and certain knowledge that your chosen candidate will prevail, told his readers that “Scott Morrison will be the first Prime Minister since John Howard to win an election and lead his party to the next one”.
Sadly for Rupe and his Australian troops, that one soon joined “Dewey defeats Truman”, as Australia’s electorate declined to do Rupe’s bidding and bundled more than 20 of the Coalition’s MPs out of their seats. Labor’s gains were not so great, with Greens and Independents doing well. And out there on the right, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and United Australia have thus far, as Richie Benaud might have put it, got No Score.
So what went wrong? Simples. On issues like climate change, the population knew it was real, was happening, and was increasingly affecting them. Morrison was rather too relaxed about it. The Murdoch press was, too. There is only so much mileage in gaslighting when your target audience knows it’s being taken for fools. One former Murdoch editor said so.
David Yelland, who used to edit The Sun, concluded “Australia today shows us populist mass market media may no longer carry the day, it has become partisan, climate change-sceptic, old, white, male, tired, irrelevant, ill-judged, wrong”. Australia is an increasingly multicultural and, whisper it quietly, tolerant country. The old dog whistles don’t work.
Commentator Rohan Connolly was not displeased at that state of affairs: “Feels pretty good to wake up today knowing whatever is ahead, we WILL have a more compassionate and inclusive government, and that media monopolies CAN’T simply impose their will upon us. Was a huge moment for this country and we’ve nailed it. Well done Australia”.
And to show that Murdoch still doesn’t get it, after Malcolm Farr, longstanding contributor to News Corp properties, observed “The disconnect between News Corp papers and voters is the huge media story of the election. The screwed coverage and impotence of the brace of tabs and the national daily is going to be difficult for News to overcome”, the Australian Daily Telegraph produced a superbly tone-deaf response to the result.
Under the by-line of Peta Credlin, the article declared “Go Right To Save What’s Left Of Libs”. Like, even further right. When parties in that area have just scored zero seats.
Murdoch will now try his damnedest to finish Albanese. Hopefully no-one will be listening.
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