I’ve been thinking a bit about the News Limited campaign for a new election, or an immediate coronation of Tony Abbott as rightful PM (see Tim Dunlop).
It continues today, of course, with Treasury being labeled as a Labor front, denunciations of the very idea of a minority government, and no doubt much more in The Australian (I stopped reading before I got to Paul Kelly).
There’s been something of a rupture in the political fabric, a refusal of events to co-operate with the narrative. Imagine what the commentariat would have been writing if Tony Abbott had clearly won the election – I think we see a ghost of that in the weird descriptions of Mr Rabbit as “brave” for refusing to answer questions on his costings, and refusing to undergo any scrutiny on his policies.
You can fill in the dots.
Richard Green made an intriguing observation at Troppo:
With the Labor apparatchiks who believe most heavily in “the narrative” seemingly on the way out the illusion may swiftly disappear just as Alan Jones’ influence in NSW evaporated when Bob Carr’s departure meant no-one in power was treating him as if he had it.
But this election has produced something even crueler. A bunch of independents who care not a whit for what the headline of the day is, how things are playing, the flow of “the narrative” or winning the horse race. it’s no wonder that the News Ltd papers are strikingly unanimous in calling for a new election. A new election gives them a chance to look like players. The independents make them look impotent.
The identity between certain media interests and those of the Coalition is much more starkly foregrounded than usual.
The enemy of the 24/7 news cycle, and the constant weaving of the narrative, is twofold – actual events and then, their lack. You can only get so far writing stories about “Labor recriminations”. There are only so many cries of horror about a parliamentary debate on Afghanistan (perish the thought!) Greg Sheridan can write. Maybe.
Or, rather, the more of this stuff we get, the less connected it seems to anything, except the interest of its writers in returning things to “normal”.
The frustration comes out in claims like “the tide of public opinion seems to be turning against the independents” – a proclamation made by Virginia Trioli a few minutes ago on ABC News 24. There’s no credible evidence for that claim.
It may be two weeks before we know which way the independents decide. Two weeks is an eternity in the mediasphere, and time is running out to restart “the narrative”.
The media: By and large, they are living up to my worst expectations. The full conservative meltdown might not have occurred yet, but it is only being held in abeyance by the lack of a final outcome. If Labor get to form a minority government, the hounds will be released. In the meantime, the “narrative” is being shaped to minimise the chances of a stable Labor minority government. With the prospect of Labor returned and a bunch of independents in power who do not care at all about the media’s opinion of them, The Australian in particular is staring into the abyss of their own irrelevance. They will not go quietly.