I’m swamped with work right now, so the promised thread on children will be some time off yet. Meantime, I thought I’d briefly share my amusement at the recent obsessions of the Australian mainstream media.
Nothing much has changed in community sentiment; all major polls show Labor heading towards the same electoral oblivion is has faced in every recent state election. As the full impact of the Carbon Tax starts to be felt in our rising electricity and fuel bills, it appears Labor has given up on convincing the electorate that the tax Gillard promised Australians before the 2010 election she would not introduce, is in fact for our own good.
Unable to compete in the arena of public policy, Gillard has sent the debate straight down into the gutter.
Through proxies, of course. A year ago, Gillard hired Scottish political muckraker John McTernan as her new communications director. And it’s been heading steadily southwards ever since, aided and abetted by a compliant and cowardly mainstream media. So, for the past couple of weeks, instead of the Carbon Tax, the Mining Tax, the dramatic decline in our terms of trade and our uncertain regional relationship with an increasingly assertive China, the headlines have been dominated by two pieces of comparative non-news.
Firstly, the smear campaign against Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. Reporters have suddenly and inexplicably become obsessed with the idea that Abbott is misogynist, a thug, and has problems dealing with strong women. It’s been bolstered by an allegation, now thoroughly debunked by witnesses, that thirty-five years ago, as a 19-year-old student politician at Sydney University, Abbott punched a wall somewhere in the vicinity of a female rival.
All garbage, of course. Abbott is married with three adult daughters, and his chief of staff and parliamentary deputy are both women. The bloke spends a large part of his waking life taking advice and instruction from strong and capable females, yet the press pack merrily ignores this reality and swallows whole the news release stream which flows from McTernan’s office. Not that any of it seems to have made any impact—the latest Essential Media and Newspoll have Labor unchanged at 46% 2PP.
Then there is the allegation against right-wing radio commentator Alan Jones. Unlike the one against Abbott, this one really did happen. A News Limited journalist brought a covert recording device along to a private Young Liberals dinner the other week, at which Jones was taped telling guests that the Prime Minister’s recently-deceased father, John Gillard, had “died of shame” at his daughter’s persistent lies in parliament.
Even for one as lacking in tact as Jones, this was pretty low. He has been forced to publicly apologize, more than once, and his radio station has temporarily suspended all advertising on his program in response to an organized social media campaign against his program’s sponsors. Contrast with Abbott’s gracious words of condolence to Gillard in Parliament, and you will see the disconnect between the two. Jones is not a politician. He is not running for political office. The words quoted of him were unscripted, off the cuff, and intended for a private audience. Yet Labor politicians have been falling over each other to link Abbott to Jones’ boorishness.
That the mainstream media can for two whole weeks zero in on these two isolated, heat-of-the-moment and private incidents—one of which it is now known never happened—exposes them as having abandoned all pretence at genuine journalism, instead becoming shameless cheerleaders for one side of politics. Small wonder the mainstream audience, of all political persuasions, are abandoning their traditional sources of news in droves, embracing the far more diversified and non-corporate-controlled sourcing of news and opinion on the internet.