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Never before have we had a press so controlled, says Bob Ellis, with all the anti-Abbott or anti-Coalition news being deliberately minimised.

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(Image courtesy Tony Yegles / Australians for Honest Politics.)

CLIVE PALMER started a new party last Friday and within four days had recruited two members of parliament to it. This got no big headlines.

Nor did Bob Katter scoring 18.5 in the North, and 24.5 in the North-west, and 11 percent in all of Queensland, and 80 per cent of his preferences going to Labor. Nor did Abbott’s backflip on the morning after pill, nor his daughter’s defiance of him on gay marriage.

Nor did Ettridge’s case against him, which may put him in gaol. Nor did the peril Ashby, Brough and Pyne are now in, of doing time for perverting the course of justice.

This is because the news is being managed as never before, and all the anti-Abbott or anti-Coalition evidence being minimised. Four state and territory leaders have been shafted in the past four months (Redmond, Mills, Humphries, Baillieu), but no headlines of Coalition ‘turmoil’ have appeared. Slipper and Thomson have proven innocent of all sexual misdemeanour and no apologies have been broadcast. David Marr no longer writes for Fairfax, and The Australian and Sky News Agenda, The Courier Mail, The Daily Telegraph, The Herald Sun and The Advertiser push a daily anti-Gillard line.

Never have we had a press so controlled. In 1974, The Bulletin, The Nation Review, The National Times, The Sunday Australian, The Courier Mail, The Land, The King’s Cross Whisper, The Wentworth Courier, The Manly Daily, The Toorak Times, Playboy, Penthouse and Man magazinepublished independent pieces and paid for them. It is now unlikely an impactful letter to the editor will get into the SMH.

We are being news-managed as never before. We are told, rightly, of the Rudd mutiny but not, for instance, of the Crean Arts policy – the best in our history – nor of the crumbling of the LNP under Newman and the many sackings and resignations due to corruption; they are noted but not headlined, or not headlined for long. Abbott’s defeat and capitulation on NDIS is called a victory for bipartisanship, when it is evidence of a party split.

And the Newspoll fraud continues, with Katter preferences going not to Labor but the Liberals, meaning an actual preferred vote for Labor of 49 is being disguised as 45.5, and landline surveys on holiday weekends are not adjusted, and shown as crises for Labor on days when they are winning or competitive. This is as serious as the Malaysian stuffing of ballot boxes will be tomorrow, but in Australia it has become routine.

Cult Murdoch is ruling us, and telling us what we should think. It is what Soekarno liked to call a ‘guided democracy’, where the Dear Leader conceals the bad news and gives himself 98 percent in the orderly elections.

Murdoch, a crook, derided by the House of Commons as ‘unfit to run an international organisation’, owns eighty percent of our newspapers and vigilantly decides what is in them, including Newspoll. And, as in America, where his pollster Rasmussen always showed Romney inexplicably doing well, he shows Abbott ahead still though he has lost policy round after policy round in the past two months and been repeatedly accused of criminality.

These are samizdat years, and it should be noted. Tens of thousands of good people are being sacked and Gina Rinehart is ‘earning’ thirty-two thousand dollars a minute out of dirt we allowed her to dig and no comment on this injustice is being printed. Our surplus could be restored by confiscating half her ‘earnings’ this year and is not being contemplated.

I have been aware for a year now that Labor was competitive and the good policies ‘overshadowed’ by the Rudd challenge would eventually achieve the light of day and win for them, but now I am not so sure. It may well be that the Karl Rove-style implacability-of-attack of the broadcasters and pundits may have achieved its end, and so smirched Labor that it will lose, I fear, by one seat.

But it may not be so.

Palmer’s money is a big factor suddenly, and any poll would show him ahead of Abbott, probably, as preferred Prime Minister in a month from now. It may turn around. The drought loan measures, Gonski, the school kids’ money, the 1.5 million disabled votes, will help a bit. If Morgan shows, as I expect it will, Labor on 48 on Tuesday the Government can win from there.

We are where we are. And we shall see what we shall see.

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