Now a Labor member of parliament, Dr Leigh thinks the study understates the extent to which Murdoch papers now back the Coalition. But he has no evidence, and none that papers can swing elections. But Rupert’s Republican-backing US television network can.
At the time, we puzzled over this as we expected to see News Ltd papers more to the right. However, remember the methodology there was to associate ideas discussed by politicians with citation of those ideas by the press. In an ordinary world, you would associate right wing ideas with right wing politicians. But Australia has been far from that world for the last couple of decades. The Coalition is, more often than not, associated with anti-market policies — environmental action being a prime example — but their lax views on competition policy being another (especially under the Howard government when the study was conducted). And the Murdoch papers go where the sales go. And their audience has often been anti-market. So it didn’t surprise me that, absent editorial content, they ended up as centrist as the other papers.
My guess, and I also have no evidence for this, is that we would find the Murdoch papers lying on the left side of the spectrum now precisely because the Coalition politicians have moved, economically at least, so much further to the left.