Soon after it became apparent that Queensland voters had dumped Campbell Newman’s LNP government Rupert Murdoch took to Twitter.
“Shock turnover in Q’land outing okay govt.. Blank cheque to nobodies. Can’t ignore this a huge message to Feds. People have spoken!”
Indeed they have.
But he doesn’t seem to appreciate that the election outcome is also testimony to the waning influence of the Courier Mail, which is owned by Murdoch’s News Corporation Australia.
During the election the Courier Mail crudely championed Newman’s re-election bid in a bizarre down-market tabloid style.
Front pages of the Courier Mail during the 2015 election campaign.
Last week the former Chair of the Fitzgerald Inquiry, Tony Fitzgerald, wrote a searing column in the ABC’s The Drum website detailing the LNP’s weakening of key anti-corruption institutions, attacks on the legal profession, curtailing basic legal rights and profound changes to planning law.
“I have been, and am, critical of Queensland’s Liberal National Party Government, not because of a preference for another (or indeed any) political party but because I don’t want to see Queensland sucked into another vortex of mismanagement and ultimately serious corruption. The Government’s huge majority; a small, inept opposition; biased media support; inexperience; ignorance; and arrogance doubtless made a volatile combination.”
After detailing what he saw as the main failings of the LNP, Fitzgerald took a swipe at the Courier Mail:
“The irrationality of all these shenanigans stuns me. I am simply unable to understand why a government elected in 2012 would disregard the lessons of the state’s dark past or why the state’s largest circulation newspaper would encourage the government’s follies.”
The Courier Mail may be the only local daily newspaper in Brisbane, but like most other newspapers, is struggling to remain viable in the face of rapidly falling circulation. The Courier Mail’s 2015 election coverage, which was clearly out of touch with the public mood, is only like to have accelerated its circulation losses.
The Courier Mail’s post-election editorial reflected the spirit of Murdoch’s Tweet: “Election result a wake-up call to both the LNP and Abbott”, was the headline.
Underneath the headline it featured a photo of Campbell Newman which was captioned “Campbell Newman was too gung-ho for the electorate’s liking.”
The obvious question though is whether the Courier Mail was also “too gung-ho for the electorate’s liking”?
According to the editorial:
“Emboldened by a record electoral margin, Mr Newman set about transforming Queensland by taking on doctors, nurses, teachers, public servants, the judiciary, bikies ... his reform agenda knew no bounds. And while many people were supportive of his reformist agenda, it is clear that Mr Newman’s combative style did not resonate with Queenslanders.
In short, the Courier Mail (CM) fingered Newman’s style – not policy content – as the sole culprit and omitted any mention of its own role in the LNP’s election debacle.
Several readers though, didn’t let the airbrushing of history pass without comment.
“Craig” wrote in a comment posted at the foot of the editorial:
“I love reading the CM. But a few of the editorials supporting bad governance decisions in the last term were beyond the pale. I hope there is a bit more perceived balance in reporting from all media. When Qlders think they have no voice, they roar at the ballot box.”
To which “Lazarus” added:
“I suspect that if the ALP form government you will see a whole lot more investigative journalism and critical pieces in the CM. While I have no problem with the 4th estate playing its role, particularly in a unicameral parliamentary system, Queenslanders do not want bias or one sidedness. The last three years were far from the CM’s best.”
However, “Fred” was blunter:
“@Lazarus Agreed ....one of the reasons I stopped buying the CM.”
Whether Murdoch and the Courier Mail’s editors get the message though remains to be seen.