A broken record

204168-julia-gillard-press-clubThe mainstream media is a broken record, stuck on a never ending whine of alarmism and exaggerated shock and horror over Gillard’s minority government. Clearly disappointed that their dream scenario has not eventuated – Abbott forcing the government to an early election – they continue the tired, boring and inaccurate narrative that the Gillard government is a failure. Never mind Gillard’s hugely successful record of policy progress and economic stability in the face of an ongoing worldwide financial crisis, the mainstream media are stuck in a groove which they will only dig deeper as we head towards the September 14 election.

There’s no doubt that journalists and commentators in the mainstream media are feeling their relevancy quickly slipping away. Rather than assess why it is that people are turning off their news coverage, and instead flooding to social media and independent media, they ramp up their ‘look at us, we’ve got scandal and smear over here’ strategy, which just leaves them looking even more irrelevant, incompetent and desperate. Like a dumped boyfriend who just won’t stop calling.

The following two examples from the past week depict how seriously unbalanced the mainstream media has become. These examples show that any news about the Gillard government is automatically turned into over-hyped sensational scandal, however run-of-the-mill the reality of the situation is.

Gillard calls an election

Sometimes the best way to show how much a situation has changed is to demonstrate how things used to be. Let’s look at the way that Howard’s announcement of the 2007 election was treated by the mainstream press. Here is an article from the SMH by Stephanie Peatling. This is a very straightforward report of Howard’s press conference where he announced the election date, 6 weeks before the election. It is full of quotes from Howard, and explanations of what Howard said, including this classic:

“The Prime Minister said a six-week campaign – one week longer than most campaigns of the past – was a necessary timeframe for voters to consider the issues.”

Note here that Peatling doesn’t comment on Howard’s six-week time frame message. What he says is just taken as given. The article also includes a summary of the current poll environment where Howard’s government is 18 points behind Rudd’s opposition. Howard is quoted as saying:

I have no intention of spending even a nanosecond commenting on opinion polls”

Again, taken as given, no further comment provided. Four lines of the article are dedicated to the issue of whether Costello will ‘transition’ to Prime Minister after the election, should Howard win, in a balanced, reasonable way, never once mentioning the words ‘leadership tension’. The tone is remarkably sensible, measured and calm. The only mention of Opposition leader Rudd, apart from Howard’s quotes criticising him, is the final line of the article that says:

 “Mr Rudd will hold a news conference at 2:15pm this afternoon.”

What a change this sort of article is to what we are served up now, by the likes of ABC, Fairfax, News Ltd, and News Ltd again. First off, it’s completely inappropriate for the Herald Sun to use the Liberal Party’s ‘mini election’ advertisement as the pre-curser to video of the Prime Minister’s press conference.

GillardAnnouncesElectionDate1

Although Fairfax and the ABC didn’t have ads for Tony Abbott on their articles about Gillard’s announcement, they did successfully manage to turn the news into ‘bad for Gillard’, ‘good for Abbott’, as is their predilection when anything happens. The first thing you see on this article in the SMH by Judith Ireland and Daniel Hurst is a video, sub-titled ‘What was she thinking?’ She being the Prime Minister. The tone of this line, no doubt, exactly as it was intended when anyone says ‘what was she thinking?’ In the corresponding video, Lenore Taylor says that Gillard’s decision to call an election over seven months before the election date is ‘highly political’ and Michelle Grattan waffles on nonsensically about how what Gillard said isn’t really what Gillard means.

Directly under the video, there is the obligatory link to an article that’s ALL ABOUT ABBOTT. And just as we’ve had to get used to, the first three sentences of the article are about Gillard’s announcement, and the next two are about Abbott. This happens so frequently that I am sure there’s a template floating around mainstream media newsrooms with cut and paste instructions – ‘short summary of Government news goes here, Abbott’s response no more than 200 words into article’.

Not long after the election was called, while the mainstream media were, coincidentally, listening to Abbott’s content-free press-club response, Craig Thomson was arrested by seven police officers in front of a ready assembled press pack. The timing of this arrest, and the fact that serial Liberal conspirator, Steve Lewis, had the scoop is very suspicious for Tony Abbott. This is not an opinion. It’s an obvious observation. So how do the mainstream media respond to this coincidence? Unsurprisingly – ‘bad for Gillard’, ‘good for Abbott’. Just as Craig Thomson is ALWAYS referred to ‘ex Labor MP’, and Peter Slipper is NEVER referred to as ‘ex Liberal MP’, this news, of course, became Gillard’s problem. This ABC Lateline article, headlined ‘Call for Gillard to explain ‘curious’ election timing’, is all about George Brandis’s thoughts on the matter. This is completely representative of the sort of crap that gets broadcast about the Gillard government. Note to journalists everywhere – the Opposition will ALWAYS criticise the government whenever you give them an opportunity. Dog wags tail. Not newsworthy. Anyone with any rational sense can see that the last thing Gillard would have wanted was to announce an election the very week that Thomson was arrested. Abbott, on the other hand, is relishing the diversion from the news that he has no policy yet, nor a vision for the country in which to base a policy platform on. But when it comes to Abbott, the mainstream media follows the rule ‘nothing to see here, move along’. The Ashby conspiracy has been swept under the carpet by the mainstream press and is now seemingly, dead, buried and cremated.

The Resignation of Chris Evans and Nicola Roxon

If you were a cabinet member, either Senator or Member of the Lower House, when would be an optimal time to resign from the cabinet and announce your plans not to stand at the next election? Throw into the mix that you’re representing a minority government that has a press pack ready to attack it every second of the day. I’m thinking the smart move is to wait until the election is called, and then give up your cabinet position for people with the energy and motivation to fight the election, who will go on to deliver the policies as promised during the election campaign. Of course, you could wait until you find yourself unexpectedly in opposition after the election, and resign ‘to spend more time with your family’ like a certain Peter Costello, but is that really fair to your constituents who voted for you to be their Member?

The news of Chris Evans and Nicola Roxon was interesting, and is worth reporting, but is it worth reporting like a ‘scandal’? Apparently so. This article in the Daily Telegraph uses the standard News Ltd propaganda text – ‘disarray’, ‘rocked’, ‘dramatic’, ‘frantic’, ‘shambolic’, to describe the resignation of Roxon, Evans and McClelland. Abbott, of course, gets brought into the scene in sentence number three. This article on News.com has a quote from Christopher Pyne where he explains why Evans has resigned. That’s right, not a quote from Evans about why he has resigned – a quote from Pyne, who appears to be telling readers what Evans thinks, as if he knows better than Evans:

“And for the Senate leader and a cabinet minister to decide that he’s just had enough speaks volumes for a dysfunctional Labor government.”

I’d love to say this sort of behaviour from the mainstream media is ‘unbelievable’, but sadly, it’s not only very believable, it’s systemic.

So going back to 2007, when Howard was in power, and Amanda Vanstone quit her Senate position in April before the October election, it’s very interesting to see how the very same papers who are hyperventilating about the ‘disastrous’ resignations of Roxon, Evans and McClelland responded to Vanstone’s announcement. The day after Vanstone’s resignation, the SMH published a very short APP supplied article announcing the news. Not exactly front page fodder. The day before, the online edition of Adelaide’s News Ltd newspaper published simply a statement by Vanstone, written by Vanstone, with no other comment other than what Vanstone herself chose to say. A couple of days later, Philip Coorey wrote this article in the SMH, which is the closest I could find to opinion about the news. Coorey’s article is about Vanstone’s plans to take up a diplomatic post in Italy. It’s not completely complimentary of Vanstone and the Howard government, but it’s also very far from the shouty, outrage that we are seeing over the news of Labor MPs resignation announcements. And Coorey’s article includes no comment from the then Labor Opposition.

On January 30 this week, the day the election was called, Crikey’s Bernard Keane tweeted:

“All told, I think the last 20 hours is the Australian media’s worst performance since the 2010 campaign.”

Little did Keane know that the week was still young, and that the media were desperate to prove that they could still get worse. Depressingly, there does seem to be only one direction for this industry to go in. Down, down, down to the lowest depths towards a bottom dwelling place well beyond simple journalist failure.

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19 Comments on “A broken record”

  1. geeez I was already depressed by this morning’s coverage alone, now you have reminded me of the whole bloody week of drivel and biased rubbish… shame this can’t be reproduced on one of the main stream papers, the general public really need a wake up call, they are being lulled into stupidity 😦

  2. Still, there is renewal on the labor benches, just the creak of petrifying wood on the other.

    • Bilko says:

      they only creak on the way back to their offices otherwise they resemble the Easter Isle edifces

    • Ershova says:

      that he feels threatened by hoiotexualmsy () and I don’t believe Bob Brown has ever used such language about any of the groups you previously mentioned, this would see to be a furphy, and PC’s statement was perfectly valid based on the available evidence.As for your disingenous argument that gift can just mean something freely given, you’re ignoring a whole history of several thousand years in which women were treated as property, and somehow thinking that the way Tony used the word is completely divorced from that context? Especially considering the man’s religious views. Puh-leese.And as for Abbott not displaying indifference/hostility towards women:1. housewives, ironing.2. abortion is the easy way out the most convenient exit from awkward situations. and The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience. and Why isn’t the fact that 100,000 women choose to end their pregnancies regarded as a national tragedy approaching the scale, say, of Aboriginal life expectancy being 20 years less than that of the general community? (ugh to that last in particular 3. this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold need[s] to be moderated, so to speak in other words, Tony thinks rape is okay in some circumstances. If that’s not hostility towards women, I don’t know what is.4. I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons 5. …we just can’t stop people from being homeless if that’s their choice… and considering how disproportionately homelessness affects women, and how much of that is because of violence and abuse against women, that’s possibly the worst of all.

    • JamesH says:

      Both sides suffer from petrifying wood although Abbott’s mouth will never hear it coming.

  3. Thanks, Victoria. Spot on once again.

    • Alex says:

      so. TA’s comments do iedend emanate from a family values’ context informed by (but not totally constituted from) Modern Australian Catholicism, which is not exactly the same thing as several thousand years of generic religious tradition that you cite. Modern Australian Catholicism does not view women as chattels. The issue is whether TA’s family values’ are in fact hostile to women or merely to female autonomy’ which I understand is PC’s primary concern from her later clarification. Abortion on Demand is one of the most important aspects of the Feminist aspiration for female autonomy. I propose it is possible to be opposed to Abortion On Demand/RU486 without being hostile’ to women. Conjugal Rights’ is not the same thing as supporting Rape. You have made a very sloppy confluence there. Importantly TA’s views on Conjugal Rights also include the notion that husbands should respect their wife’s wishes. You have omitted this aspect of TA’s thinking.Your point 4 is a good one. I will Google it for context.Your point 5 is a long bow and in my view does not support your argument.Good supporting evidence adduced by your supporters in later points.I will address your post in a bit more detail when I have time.

  4. Saaq Madiq says:

    Great article as always Victoria. One hundred percent accurate and a coherent , clear summing up of the events of the last week. No hysteria just plain truthful facts. Now the the Main Stream Morons have not got that ability or the courage to present the story as you have. These weaklings, these cowards would rather survive on their knees than to die standing up. Just like Abbott and his misfits they are liars, hypocrites and cowards. They deserve absolutely no respect. Keep up the great work Victoria, I always enjoy your articles.

  5. lmrh5 says:

    MSM have got it wrong like FOX did inAmerica. Did they not look at the coverage of US election and did not cover Obama’s win. FOX and GOP both thought they had the election in the bag. Could this be playing out the same in Australia. I hope so. Social Media won the day in America and we need to win the day in Australia.

    I was angry when I read The Age this morning regarding Evans resigning and how shocking it was to Gillard and ALP. Does not the journalists know of nuance and that Gillard would have known this was coming, i.e. set election day.

    PM is tactically very smart and good on her.

    Thanks Victoria for this article. I have posted to Facebook and google+ as well as on Twitter as well as RT your tweet.

  6. lmrh5 says:

    Reblogged this on lmrh5.

  7. JamesH says:

    I noticed on the Nine Evening News. Abbott was throwing out an old school desk with the Mud Brigade then giving an old lady a bit of a sympathy hug. Then on the ABC news, Abbott is helping to wrap up salad rolls with the Women’s Brigade. I wonder if Abbott remembered to wash his hands first.

    Yes mainstream media has lost the plot in Australia and all the way with Abbott.

  8. Bogdan says:

    The ability to get tourhgh university courses does not entail being able to think on your feet. And even thinking about things away from moements when you are questioned about them is constrained by one’s paradigm, one’s constituency, prior claims etc If we were a less docrtrinaire conservative he’d have more wiggle room.I think it amusing though that he specifies that he voted for, of all people, Barrie Unsworth in 1988, surely the worst ALP premier in NSW since 1976 and utterly emblematic of the Sussex St gang Abbott now complains about. One need not be a supporter of Greiner to see why he looked a lot more appealing to most mainstream voters than the killer in a cardigan . The fellow was instantly unpopular and people here will recall how he made Rockdale the most marginal seat in NSW and how even Bass Hill after his ascension went over to the other side. The fact that Abbott would switch sides for this character shows not merely poor judgement but really, where his head was at Unsworth was your archetype ugly DLP-style reactionary by contrast with the much more liberal and contemporary Greiner. Really, Unsworth was born 40 years too late like Tony Abbott himself.

  9. […] readership figures for mainstream news continue to decline. The mainstream media are, generally, really crap at their jobs. Fact is no longer an important journalist tool. Hysteria and scandal are the only channel that […]

  10. […] readership figures for mainstream news continue to decline. The mainstream media are, generally, really crap at their jobs. Fact is no longer an important journalist tool. Hysteria and scandal are the only channel that […]


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