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Cheerleaders of the press don’t win elections like they used to

Denis Muller writes in The Conversation (7.7.16) about the role that the media, and Rupert Murdoch’s print media stable in particular, played in the federal election campaign.

‘The Murdoch press played its self-assigned role of shamelessly cheerleading for the conservatives in the election. But is Rupert’s influence quite what it used to be?

‘To answer that, we need to disentangle two threads that in the past have been woven together: Rupert Murdoch’s direct personal engagement with politicians, and the election coverage provided by his newspapers.

‘We have not seen any evidence of direct personal engagement this time. Neither Malcolm Turnbull nor Bill Shorten was observed flying halfway round the world to obtain the great man’s blessing, as Tony Blair did in 1995 when newly installed as leader of the British Labour Party.

‘It is probable that this kind of political deferrence is a thing of the past. The phone-hacking scandal of 2011 made Murdoch politically toxic in the UK and it is doubtful that a political leader in Australia would take a risk on him. But his newspapers remain a force, and the question of their influence, if any, remains a relevant question.’

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