Shanahan's margin of hypocrisy on polls
One of the clearest examples of poor reporting from a senior Canberra press gallery
was Dennis Shanahan's reports in The Australian trying to interpret last
year's polls in a favourable way for the Coalition. All throughout 2007, polling
showed Labor with solid leads but ol' Dennis assured us that any day now, any
moment, John Howard would personally turn it around. Any day now ... after the
2006-07 summer ends ... after the Sunrise Anzac Day thing ... after the
Budget ... after the strip-club thing ... just you wait, all you lefty pundits you ...
It became a joke after a while, yet the biggest joke was that The Australian
kept him on their books. Now, he has the hide to have a go at his critics. Or try to.
Where is the margin-of-error school of polling now?
I know of no school, Dennis, but I suggest to you that gloating is not an activity
engaged in by losers like your good self.
Well done in getting away with an insignificant error without criticism, Dennis. I
hope it gets you through all those times when you feel besieged and put-upon. A
margin of 70% to 9% at a point when an election is hardly imminent is what it took
for you - yes, you - to stop fighting poll results and report them straight, rather
than try and keen for John Howard to come through once again.
A margin of 70% to 9% at a point when an election is hardly imminent is a lot
different to one showing 55/45 when an election is months/weeks/days away. Your
reporting of those polls was nothing short of disgraceful. You were basically trying
to tell the people of Australia that they were thinking something other than what
they were actually thinking, the very essence of poor reporting.
Dennis Shanahan is an experienced journalist, yet his experience was sidelined by
his yearning for more Howard. He was comprehensively shown up by people going
by names like Possum Comitatus, Poll Bludger and Mumble. People smarter than him,
people who knew more about voting patterns than he did, people who all but stole
the bread and butter out of his mouth.
Shanahan had no right to goad people who have rightly skewered him, or paint
them as politically aligned hypocrites. There was more to their criticism than
statistical quibbling; it was the repeated attempts to insert wishful thinking into
data whose framers try hard to position as impartially as possible. He disgraces
The Australian by refusing to slink away in embarrassment, then compounds
it by taking up company space by going ner-ner! at his critics (after first
misrepresenting them, because to accurately concede their point would end his
Isn't it time you pissed off to Washington, Dennis? Heaven knows you're doing
bugger-all good here. Watching the death-throes of one conservative
administration isn't enough, surely.