From this side of the Pacific, Trump’s inadequacy seems incredibly self-evident and when they are not worrying about the spectre of nuclear war, many Australians laugh condescendingly about how any Americans could still vote for Trump. It is hard to overstate the role of Fox News and its even more malignant cousin, Breitbart, in explaining this phenomenon. They push a narrative so far from reality you can scarcely understand how people believe them. But obviously they do.
But before we congratulate ourselves for not making the same mistakes, let’s make sure such praise is deserved.
Somehow, despite their ongoing hypocrisy and failures in all areas of government, the Coalition only narrowly trails the opposition on a two-party preferred basis. Moreover, even more incredibly, even with his extensive personal failures and demonstrated lack of courage or principle, Turnbull still has a higher personal approval rating than Shorten.
Why is it so? Well part of the explanation comes from the incredibly partisan coverage and commentary provided by conservative news outlets, especially Rupert Murdoch’s dominant Newscorp. These unscrupulous agencies actively campaigned against the Rudd and Gillard governments with front page headlines and scathing editorials. By comparison, any warranted criticism of the scandal-plagued Liberal Party has been almost muted. If you can see how badly and consistently Murdoch's news media misrepresents reality to American voters and you don't believe he does the same to Australian voters you have a level of trust and optimism I can only imagine. For the rest of us, Murdoch's interference seems pretty clear.
Why Murdoch’s companies are such ardent cheerleaders for the Liberal Party is often speculated, but, in a possibly unrelated matter, Murdoch’s Foxtel was recently the beneficiary of a 30 million dollar gift (contract with no paperwork or performance criteria) from the Australian government in this year’s budget.
Maybe that is just a coincidence though.
Or maybe it’s not.