The Sydney Morning Herald tells us this morning that polling shows the ALP’s association with unions is hurting it. The second paragraph notes the Liberal’s reaction:
Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s attempt to gain political mileage from revelations of kickbacks and intimidation in the construction union appears to have the Coalition on fertile ground.
There in four words is a wonderful illustration of much that is wrong with media reporting. This isn’t reporting: it’s opinionating disguised as reporting. Journalists Heath Aston and Bianca Hall report as fact that the PM’s actions and words so far on this matter are an ‘attempt to gain political mileage.’ Presumably they have interviewed him, or heard or read other interviews with him, in which he disclosed his motivation. Otherwise they would have left room for other possible motivations. Such as concern that an important part of the Australian economy is apparently in thrall to criminal intimidation. Indeed, a natural outrage that some might feel about such a situation.
This isn’t a left vs right thing. It’s not a Labor vs Liberal thing. I have no doubt that a thousand examples could be found of former PMs Gillard and Rudd similarly being attributed purely political motives when they may well have been motivated principally by a desire to produce what they thought of as good policy.
It’s to do with too many journalists viewing all words and actions by politicians (and others as well) as purely political in meaning, with no real practical, policy or moral import.
And because such judgements are not tethered in actual facts, they do lend themselves to unconscious bias, reflecting the journalist’s pre-disposition.