There is one overwhelming reality, confirmed yet again by the four Australian by-elections on July 28, about political media commentary – it is axiomatic that the conventional wisdom in the Press Gallery is almost always wrong.
One can imagine that, after studying Australian political media, Aristotle and Euclid might have come up with some new axioms which we could use as a basis for deriving various proofs and conclusions. Unfortunately they are not around so the blog, with some immodesty, would like to suggest some they might have developed.
Axiom one: The Australian political media have no real knowledge of what is happening in politics or the community.
Axiom two: Their reporting is based on a combination of party briefings, spin and speculation rather than research in the classic sense of the word.
Axiom three: Political journalists constantly frame events as tests which political players need to pass or not irrespective of the actual significance of the test.
Axiom four: Political reporting is a form of theatre criticism which bears no relation to the scientific study of politics.
Axiom five: Political predictions, however erroneous, are always replaced by a justification of why the pundit was right anyway and had foreseen the events which disproved their predictions.
Axiom six: Political journalists have neither heard of I.F.Stone nor employed his methodologies for reporting about governments.
Axiom seven: Political journalists demonstrate the reality of Einstein’s definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Axiom eight: Political journalists who cover current Australian politics serially underestimate Bill Shorten.
Axiom nine: The poor performance of political journalists does not correlate with the general political orientation of the proprietors for which they work.
Axiom ten: The exceptions to these axioms are generally either dead or no longer working in mainstream media.
Axiom eleven: The results of by-elections are not predicted correctly yet still form the foundation of extrapolations of their implications for general elections.
Axiom twelve: The volume of interpretation of the significance of movements in opinion polls is inversely correlated with the margin of error.
Axiom thirteen: Single seat opinion polls are useless as predictive tools but invaluable as copy generating fodder.
Axiom fourteen: The situation in the rest of the world is, sadly, little better.