Independent? Yeah, sure!

The Nine newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald, love sticking that slogan “INDEPENDENT. ALWAYS.” under their mastheads.

But how independent are they, really? Take today’s The Sun-Herald splash of an “exclusive” story on Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s upcoming Budget – and re-election – ambitions. (above).

Now, sure, an independent paper is entitled to outscoop its rivals with an exclusive yarn – after all, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there in the mainstream print media free-enterprise market seeking a fair share of a dying readership.

But what did The Sun-Herald forfeit to obtain this exclusive interview with the nation’s purse-string holder? Before, that is, Frydenberg enters similar arrangements with NewsCorpse papers in the days ahead on the lead-up to to the Budget speech on Tuesday April 29.

That the interview had to lead the paper?

That the interview had to give the Treasurer a big free kick on the issue of tax, no doubt presaging the coming “Labor death tax” rerun?

That the article could not include any rebuttal from Labor’s shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers?

That it wouldn’t refer to claims by Chalmers just a few months back that the Morrison Government is the second-highest taxing government in recent history, beaten to first place by the Howard Government? (pictured)

By the way, those claims that have been tested by the ABC/RNIT fact checking process and found that while tax comparisons were complicated, the shadow treasurer’s claim was “a fair call”.

That the intro would have to be something along these lines?

Or was the paper’s political correspondent’s natural inclination – done of his own accord – to work into the intro a not-too-subtle “wink, wink; nudge, nudge” to what Australians know to be “fact” because LNP politicians have been telling them for decades: that only the LNP can manage economies well?

The MGH simply asks the question: if The Sun-Herald agreed in any shape or form to present this “exclusive” story in the way it has, it surely can’t boast to be “INDEPENDENT. ALWAYS.”?

Wouldn’t an INDEPENDENT. ALWAYS. newspaper simply request its own one-on-one interview with the Treasurer, with no stings attached?

Today’s piece is largely creampuff and any criticisms writer James Massola makes of the Morrison government’s time in office are always followed by plenty of opportunities for the Treasurer to bat away such negativity.

The MGH begs another question: The Sun-Herald has two more editions before Budget night. What’s the chances that Labor and Jim Chalmers will be treated to similar exposure in either of those editions?

Okay, let’s make it two questions. Does anyone out there in MGHland believe that this paper’s daily stablemate The Sydney Morning Herald is going to give Labor a fair go over the next 16 days until Budget night?

Now, someone with a bulbous nose in the boardroom at Nine Entertainment Co. might argue that focus has historically been on the government in the run-up to the Budget presentation – the advantage of incumbency, if you like – but hasn’t Scott Morrison virtually declared the election campaign is now under way?

Besides, wouldn’t you just hope that newspapers that are INDEPENDENT. ALWAYS. might do things a lot differently from the despicable Newscorpe rags?

You can insert your own loud, canned, laugher here as we conclude this piece.