YOU have to feel sorry for the poor dears at Fairfax. There they are, adrift on their sinking ships, yet content enough in their own simple way at the thought that they have driven off all those nasty conservatives who used to buy their papers. At The Age, where not even one conservative columnist is allowed to sully the newly shrunk pages, the big effort appears to be invested in making sure bad news appears less so .... before being made to vanish altogether.
Take this morning's poll showing that Gillard's dills now enjoy the support of only 29% of the voting population. Fairfax paid for the poll, so you might imagine it would wish to give it much prominence. And so it did, for a while.
What follows is a frame-by-frame record of the incredible shrinking poll story:
At 9am we saw this on the Age homepage:
A bit after 10.30, the headline had been softened somewhat and pushed down the page:
And finally, at around lunchtime, Peter Hartcher weighed in with an analysis -- correct, as it happens -- that rather neatly deep-sixed the actual, shocking polls numbers:
There are some polls, however, that do get a prominent display, with no fudging of headlines or hack columnists' attempts to cushion the bad news with a dribble of interpretative insight. On the same home page where word of that dreadful poll was made to vanish, we also find this:
The Age will be dead soon, done in by its own left hand. It will be no great loss.