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Apparently the Abbott Government is the victim of a deep, dark conspiracy.

Listen up, Peter Dutton.

After a week of the Abbott Government getting smashed internationally by media outlets for Operation Fortitude, the Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton has now turned what was a political shit sandwich into a rolled gold turd soufflé.

When under pressure in an AM interview yesterday, Mr Dutton said there was a “huge move by Fairfax at the moment to try and bring the Government down”.

He accused Fairfax of anti-Government “jihad” and said the “ABC was helping Fairfax”.

Mr Dutton’s comments mimic complaints made about News Limited’s political coverage from Julia Gillard when she was Prime Minister.

And she wasn’t alone. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (my former beloved boss) went more than a smidge further when he said media mogul Rupert Murdoch was using his newspapers to attack Labor because he saw the NBN as a threat to his Foxtel business.

It is a slippery slope to take.

Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton told ABC AM that the media wants to bring down the government. Image via Twitter.

Mr Dutton has now ventured into what we call in politics “insider baseball”  – and it is a dangerous place to be.

It is dangerous because it is highly distracting for the Minister, his staff and the government who have very real issues they would rather be dealing with.

It is dangerous because it angers journalists and editors, the people you really need to keep a strong working relationship with when you’re a politician.

And mostly it is dangerous because the Australian public just doesn’t care.

Once you start talking about yourself in politics and ‘how hard done by you are’, you are in real trouble.

Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd both complained of media bias during their tenures.

The Australian public cares about real issues a great deal – but politicians blaming the media because they have “unfair coverage”. Well, that’s just being a whinger.

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Aussies don’t take whingers lightly.

We sure didn’t see the Australian Cricket Team whinge about the pitch after they lost the Ashes did we?

As someone who has anxiously waited up late into the night hundreds of times for the early edition tabloid front page headlines to go online I cannot deny media bias exists  – and that it is crap when it is happening to you.

It is hurtful? Absolutely.

Is it unfair? Of course it is.

Some of the Murdoch front pages from the Rudd/Gillard years. Image via Facebook.

Does it make you feel better to attack the media outlet that attacked you? Yes. But it won’t change anything.

It won’t change the bad story, it won’t change future coverage, and it is debatable how much it really changes the public’s opinion anyway.

Voting patterns from the 2013 Federal Election suggest coverage such as News Corp front pages depicting Kevin Rudd as a Nazi were less influential than expected on the final election result.

People do not need to be told a story is biased. They are pretty clever and work it out for themselves. They will make their own decisions on voting day – not necessarily the one their local paper told them to.

In the meantime Minister Dutton would serve his government well to get back to commenting on the real issues and the ones that matter most to the people paying his salary.

* Fiona Sugden was Communications Director to former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and is currently a media and communications strategy specialist based in London. She has four children under six and you can follow her on Twitter @FiSugden 

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