The paper offers this sub-headline: "Howard praises Joyce as good bloke."
Sorry? Let me get this straight. The Prime Minister offers irrelevant Australian lingo about Joyce and the "quality broadsheet" reports this as a major, page one story. Of course, its editorial is little better and although acknowledging some issues with the government's proposals, it argues Joyce should know his place.
The current wrangling of the Senate is largely irrelevant. The mainstream media seem to think that because one individual is making a large noise, it's the biggest yarn of the month.
Crikey's Christian Kerr got it right yesterday: "Something has changed in the Howard Government – and just saying “Barnaby Joyce, Barnaby Joyce, Barnaby Joyce” grossly oversimplifies matters." The media, as ever, takes the lead from the Howard government and refuses to actually see the growing numbers of disaffected Liberals. But it's much easier to highlight Howard's "fears" over his "reform agenda" - as the SMH says today - than actually discover the undercurrent of anti-Howard sentiment in its own ranks.
UPDATE: Let me make a reasoned guess that one of the main reasons this article is leading smh.com.au today - a feature about the David Jones spring/summer collection - is because David Jones is a major advertiser in the SMH. It's hardly news, after all.