History tells us we should not expect journalists and media companies to learn any lessons from the election result but, clearly, they should.
Throughout the campaign, the Conservative Party was warning of the dangers inherent in Labor’s socialist policies and, thankfully, Australian voters were wise to them.
Chris Kenny writes in The Australian:
“Personal embarrassment is the least of the worries that spring from political journalists and commentators misreading elections, events and issues; of more concern is what it says about the fissure in our nation and the disconnect between media and the public they serve.
As we have seen through their demeanour and social media truth bombs, leftist voices are bitter about Labor losing, doleful about their diminished prospects for government patronage, embarrassed about their pre-election boasting, humiliated by their political predictions and angry that News Corp newspapers, Sky News and Macquarie Radio dared to question Labor’s tax and climate overreach.
On top of this, they are apoplectic that many people among those very same media rivals read it correctly.
Woke commentators love to deride and slander The Spectator Australia editor Rowan Dean and 2GB host Alan Jones but they both put their judgment on the line before the election, emphatically calling a Coalition win. The leftist journalistic groupthinkers like to rail against this newspaper as an influential shaper of national debate but surely no one who had read all the news, analysis, polling and commentary in The Australian could have written off the Coalition.
Cry as they might at the ABC, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Guardian about alleged anti-Labor bias in some commercial media, they cannot escape the brutal reality that their jaundice let their audiences down. The News Corp paper, Sky News and Macquarie Radio did not.
Newspoll favoured Labor marginally but any close analysis, taking into account state by state variations, showed an uncertain outcome. Hence, serious analysis focused on the tightness of the contest.
Sky News and Macquarie Radio were dominated by opinionated hosts, many arguing the Coalition could win. They did, however, routinely include a wide range of commentary from all political perspectives leading to a variety of predictions covering a range of potential outcomes. Again, the unpredictable closeness of the result was a predominant theme.
Yet the bulk of the Canberra press gallery got it wrong, making us question their field of expertise or whether basing them full-time in the rarefied atmosphere of the nation’s capital is wise.
Perhaps they spend too much time in nebulous dialogues with the spinmeisters – with Labor’s Young Turks eager to prematurely connect themselves to a glorious victory and the Liberals more disciplined about talking down expectations.
The failure of the Love Media is not a new phenomenon. Over the past decade this newspaper has often examined the false narratives of the political/media class and how consumers of so-called progressive media (including the ABC) would have been dumbfounded by Kevin Rudd’s demise, confounded by Julia Gillard’s travails and shocked that Tony Abbott could win government.
Just last year the gallery consensus was telling us Malcolm Turnbull was safe and there was no problem with the National Energy Guarantee.
Even after the leadership change they couldn’t work out why it had happened and took up Labor’s game of trying to embarrass a rationale out of Scott Morrison. The gallery groupthinkers said the Coalition had no prospect of holding government and would face a defeat so decisive it would force a rethink of conservative political structures.
Remember these people are paid – often handsomely – to be experts on national affairs. Yet here we are again. And don’t forget that in between times, from a distance, most of this cohort also were wrong on Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump.
You might be tempted to think they report and comment based on their wishful thinking rather than reality. As usual, there are only two possible ways to explain the bipolar media interpretations of our politics.
You can have a low opinion of voters and hold delusional and conspiratorial views about media influence. In that case you might argue that News Corp, Sky News and Macquarie Radio somehow had a pernicious influence over the minds of voters, who were gullible enough to be convinced to vote against their own interests.
Or you might believe commercial media organisations, who rely on engagement with audiences for their very survival, might actually employ reporters and commentators who are plugged in to the aspirations, priorities and values of mainstream Australians, and are therefore able to more accurately report, analyse and speculate on political ebbs and flows.”