Gillard in ABC land

Gavin Atkins on the ABC’s Left swing during the election campaign:

Anyone trying to make sense of the recent election campaign would be advised to stay well clear of the articles on the ABC’s opinion websites, The Drum and Unleashed. With these sites established as an addition to the ABC’s online news service late last year, the campaign was the first big test to see whether online opinion at the national broadcaster could, as ABC chairman Maurice Newman once dared hope, "walk both sides of the street".

But while Tony Abbott’s 2010 campaign will be remembered as the most successful by a first-term opposition in 79 years – and, conversely, Julia Gillard’s the least successful by a government – all of this seems to have eluded the chosen opinion holders at the ABC. I monitored both sites throughout the campaign. Here’s the tally. Negative comments: Gillard, 327; Abbott, 353. Positive comments: Gillard, 197; Abbott, 65. In short, while Gillard and Abbott received roughly the same amount of criticism, Gillard was praised three times more often.

From the first week, articles published at these websites informed us that "Changing leaders has done no damage to Labor’s chances at all because Tony Abbott is unelectable and his party is a rabble"; that cabinet meetings involving Abbott would be a "freak show" and the leader a "shameless political operator".

I like to think that the work of the commentariat – or, as Kim Beazley Sr famously put it, the dregs of the middle class – contributed to Gillard’s disastrous campaign, seducing her into believing that Abbott was unelectable. These assumptions came crashing down at Rooty Hill where, away from ABC land, the Prime Minister finally came face to face with people whose opinions really mattered.

Source: The Australian


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