NewsCorp’s Victorian election coverage is divorced from reality

The junk mail is piling up, scare campaign ads are starting to irritate people using YouTube, neighbourhood fences are placarded in red, blue, green and teal. There will be sausages. IBAC. IBAC. IBAC. Daniel Andrews. Matthew Guy. On November 26, Victoria, Australia’s disgruntled middle child, will vote.

This will no doubt be a profoundly confusing experience for readers of the Herald Sun, masochistic individuals who have spent the last three years battered over the head with the message that the state is in the thrall of a despot, “Dictator” Dan’s authoritarian iron fist, clad in sportswear fleece, clasping the life out of Victorian democracy. That they will be able to vote at all might be a shock, that Daniel Andrews will win relatively comfortably will shatter at least a portion of their warped reality. 

It doesn’t pay to make predictions in this profession. The reward for being right is non-existent and you just look like a douche, or worse, PVO, if you’re wrong. But Daniel Andrews being Victorian Premier on November 27 is about as sure a thing as politics allows. 

This is because the Andrews Government enjoys level crossing genocide, spending money on building relatively useful things, and harbours the same vaguely progressive ideals of the majority of Victorians. It is also because Andrews is a skilled communicator, slick, smart, and at the helm of a sophisticated and powerful comms team (a rarity for Labor leaders, who post cringe more often than not). And some of it is because Victorians felt looked after during the first few years of the pandemic, our lives placed before someone else’s money, even if the heavy hand did end up bruising.

But the real reason Daniel Andrews is going to win is simply down to the fact that this state does not have a halfway viable opposition. That Matthew Guy is once again Liberal Leader speaks to the shallowness of the Victorian Liberal Party’s talent pool; that Tim Smith, the human embodiment of private school privilege proving more valuable than talent, was their most prominent voice in this last term speaks to the talent pool’s yellow tinge. 

A brief ad:

Lacking a coherent message or a policy vision, they’ve turned their attention to capturing the cooker vote. Do watch this embedded campaign ad please, it’s quite disturbing.

“Remember when we hit the streets to protest.” 

We. As in the Liberal Party authorising the ad. We. Alongside the Nazis that sang Darryl Braithwaite on the Westgate Bridge and the cookers who pissed on the Shrine of Rememberance and the mob that held up a guillotine for “Dictator” Daniel Andrews. We. I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.

And because the barrel is being scraped this low, votes sought in the scungiest shit, the media arm of the Liberal Party, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, is right in its fucking element.

I’ve thought long and hard about The Herald Sun’s Stepgate front page. I left a ruffled copy of it on my desk for a week, letting it waft over me in an attempt to understand its particular variety of stench. 

“These are the steps where Premier Daniel Andrews says he fell last year, suffering serious spinal injuries, collapsed lungs and six fractured ribs,” it begins, doubt sowed in Andrews’ telling of events from the very first clause. “Where he says he fell”, the sort of thing an unreliable narrator would do. 

“The two small wooden steps lead to a porch 42cm above a lawn at a modest Sorrento beach house”. (At this point it’s fun to imagine Michael Warner, discoverer of this scoop, on his knees with a small ruler measuring someone else’s Airbnb.)

“Now the Sunday Herald Sun can reveal that the property where the Premier says he fell is a three-bedroom weatherboard beach shack on Lincoln Avenue. FULL REPORT P6-7”. Whoopdeefuckingdoo but, again, with “where Andrews says he fell” when simply “where Andrews fell” would suffice.  

“The steps down from the front porch are less than 20cm apart, with a smaller gap to the lawn. Despite suffering gruesome injuries on what he described as ‘wet and slippery steps’, it can also be revealed the Premier never raised any issues regarding the safety of the Mornington Peninsula property with the rental agency and initiated no claim against its owners.” 

On a surface level, this is all clearly designed to sow distrust in Daniel Andrews. That is why it exists. No direct accusation is ever made, of course, instead the reader is invited to gather up as many irrelevant facts as they can – the steps being 42cm, the address, weatherboards, the lack of complaining about wet steps in the lead up to the accident – and then they are left to wander down whatever niche loony rabbit hole best suits them personally. “You can’t break your back on 42cm stairs” is “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams” catered specifically to our local variety of impressionable conspiracists looking for sense in all the wrong places.   

A disconcerting secondary thrust of the piece seems to be that Daniel Andrews got fucked up by two small piddly little bitchass steps for bitches. Not the sort of steps that could take out an alpha male or a dictator – which he also is – but wussy ass little bitch steps only a fragile little cuck would hurt himself on. You wouldn’t want to vote for the sort of man that breaks his back falling 42cm, most babies are taller than that. 

Sky News has been just as deranged. Peta Credlin, former chief of staff to Prime Minister Tony Abbot and proud owner of 101 adorable but justifiably nervous dalmatians, has released an hour long dOcUmEnTaRy called “The Cult of Daniel Andrews”. It contains many newsworthy nuggets, like the fact Daniel Andrews wasn’t very nice to various people, and that rightwing shock jock Neil Mitchell and former ALP right faction member Michael “Junkets in Israel” Danby don’t like him very much. This is all presented very seriously, with spooky suspicious music, while Credlin editorialises about the threat of authoritarian Communism in Victoria. It’s fucking bizarre stuff.

Don’t get me wrong: Daniel Andrews does have some extremely enthusiastic fans willing to go the whole hog. I wish I liked anything as much as PRGuy likes Daniel Andrews. But to call genuine enthusiasm for a Labor leader acting like a fairly traditional Labor leader “a cult” is just more culture war bullshit. 

“How is Daniel Andrews still in the race?” Credlin asks herself hypothetically. “Because in Daniel Andrews’ Victoria, things are not what they seem. It’s a secret state. 

[CUE LIGHTNING AND BATS]

“Mates are in powerful positions, and the Premier allows no dissent inside his Government or outside it,” she says to the camera, oblivious to her position dissenting outside the Andrews Government without suffering any state-imposed tyranny. 

At one point she becomes so sidetracked weaving her tail of conspiracy, corruption, and Communism, she focuses on CCTV footage of a slug that may have been planted by a council health inspector for a decent amount of runtime. 

I don’t fucking know, I had to drink to get through it!

“Here’s a sobering thought: if DanielAndrews is reelected, he will become one of the longest serving Premiers in Victoria’s history [spooky music].” 

[DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNN]

“Can you understand how people around Australia hear all of this and look at Victoria and wonder why on Earth it’s such a basketcase?” Credlin asks Georgie Crozier, who is all but happy to agree with Credlin’s assessment of Victoria. 

“Democracy is meant to be government by the people for the people. Is that what we have in Victoria?” 

[SPOOKY MUSIC]

We shouldn’t even pretend to take these people seriously anymore. It’s insulting to the rest of us. Daniel Andrews will win the Victorian election because his opposition is pathetic and Victorians are heavily inoculated against NewsCorp’s bullshit, having been shovelled such a relentless amount of it in recent times.  



Dave Milner
WRITTEN BY

twitter: @DaveMilbo
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