Groupthink in the Press & Political Class

Groupthink in the Press & Political Class, by James Allan.

There were two top columnists on The Australian with close connections to high-ranking Liberal Party movers-and-shakers, and I mean ‘close’ in every sense of the word.

Apparently that would be Janet Albrechtsen, who is partnered by Victorian Liberal Party powerbroker Michael Kroger, and Niki Savva, who is married to legendary Liberal advancer Vincent Woolcock.

Was this announced on the top of each column these people wrote?  If it were, the readers might be able to judge the comment articles in that light. The political caste’s insiders know all about these domestic arrangements, but most readers would not.  In law, the test is never ‘real bias’ (as no one can know this); rather, the test is always ‘the appearance of bias’. And one way to remove that is to declare your interest or connection up front, so that others can judge accordingly. …

[E]very single columnist on The Australian thought the coup against Abbott was a good thing that would help the Liberals?  Okay, Maurice Newman was the exception.  But talk about groupthink!  Go back and look at the post-coup predictions by Niki Savva, by Peter van Onselen, by Janet Albrechtsen, by Paul Kelly, and even by the Labor-leaning columnists on the newspaper.  All their prognostications have proven laughable.  And yet today, post-election, most are still at it, still puffing up a man who looks to me to be wholly disconnected from the party base and who seems to think that the election fiasco was due to a Mediscare campaign that was prompted by – wait for it – not him but Tony Abbott.

The right in Australia now gets too many of its politicians by the same process as the left:

Look at how many of them get into university politics, then go and work as dogsbodies for MPs or think tank, then use those connections to get preselected. These are people who spend their lives hanging around other politicos. They don’t put principle ahead of advancement because they have never had to do that – not in any real-world job, that’s for sure.  When you are an advisor to an MP, it seems you never quit on a point of principle. And they overwhelmingly seem to focus their attention and care on what’s said on Q&A, or what is trending on social media, or what the columnists are saying in The Australian.