Thursday, October 11, 2012

How did the media get it so wrong?

It's not often I feel compelled to write on this blog, but the media reporting of the Gillard, Abbott, Slipper thing yesterday has made me angry. Well more angry than usual at least. Why?

It's not like I want to defend Slipper. He's always seemed a bit weird to me. But the double standards, the failure to understand principle and the absolute rewriting of history is breath taking.

I'm not going to summarise the trash written yesterday, but here's my response to a few things the collective missed.

There is no credible argument that this was raised by Abbott on Tuesday as a matter of principle. This was quite plainly a Parliamentary tactic to wedge the PM.

Many stories mentioned how the Gov has relied on the vote (or non vote) of Slipper over the past few months. Not one mentioned that the Opposition is clearly just as desperate for the numbers and has demonstrated that it will do whatever it takes to bring the Gov down.

The offence
Out of 200 pages of private text messages tabled in the Federal Court last week (I haven't read them), the media highlighted two that were a bit dodgy. Calling Sofie Mirabella a botch and describing a vagina as like a mussel.

The botch text is explained, without ANY evidence, as he must have meant bitch. BULLSHIT (I meant to say that).

I have tried every brand of device in my house and none auto-correct bitch to botch or the reverse. I'm sure he did mean bitch and most likely just miss-spelt it, but it is equally plausible that he just couldn't bring himself to use the real word and so substituted a letter to soften it. You'd have to ask him directly. Not one of the journalists or the Parliament have.

The mussel comment is bawdy for sure and may be offensive to some but when sent as a text to a male friend, who was not an employee at the time, cannot be used as a legitimate excuse to sack someone.

Would ANY of the journalists writing yesterday accept this as a reason for their summary dismissal. I don't believe so.

The Principles
The texts were published as part of a Federal Court case in which a Judge is currently deciding whether civil legal action for Sexual Harassment brought by Mr Ashby is an abuse of process. Mr Slipper alleging that it's part of a Coalition political campaign. Is this not just a little bit relevant to describing what happened on Tuesday? You'd think so.

The motion proposed by the Coalition called for the immediate dismissal from office of the Speaker. No referral to a committee. No demand the Speaker address Parliament. No opportunity for the Speaker to defend himself AT ALL.

And no consideration of the impact such an action may have on the Federal Court.

In fact, it sought to do something which has not occurred in our Parliament in its 100+ history.

On the basis of what? Two text messages?

Yet some 'professional' journalist will insist on telling me that the PM's failure to support such a motion shows a lack of principle.

Un. Believe. Able.

I will not dwell on the media descriptions of the PM's speech itself. I have no doubt that the speech is already the most watched 15mins of Parliament in our nations history. That doesn't happen by accident.

I count myself fortunate that I watched it live. I don't normally watch QT, but I'll keep an eye on twitter to see if anything interesting crops up.

On Tuesday afternoon a tweet appeared. "Abbott just said 'died of shame' #qt"

He couldn't have, I said to myself as I raced to the nearest TV. Yes, he did came the unending stream from twitter.

Given the unprecedented response to Alan Jones use of that phrase in reference to the recent passing of the PM's father, I was just gob smacked that Abbott had dared utter it again.

I'm still gob smacked, but now I also wonder why that wasn't splashed across every front page on Wednesday?

Was the PM's reply a cold, calculated, unprincipled response as it has been painted by some? Not bloody likely. Did they see how truly angry she was? That this man, Abbott, had dared utter those words, to her face.

Abbott got both barrels and deserved every minute of it.

I don't pretend to know how this will play out politically. Will polls go up or down? At the moment I don't care. I'm too bloody angry.

Australia's media let us down badly yesterday, even many writers I usually enjoy, seemed captivated by the spin.

I hope they read this.

I hope they reflect.

I hope they stop writing crap.


  1. You have captured my sentiments precisely! I also watched Question Time live and I was forced to stand so powerful and palpable was the PM's speech. It was also very clinically laced with evidence to support her assertions. Her model was on this day, to this person, in this context you said..... It was a stunning indictment. That our senior political writers could so miss its import is amazing. Watching Peter Hartcher trotting out his line on News 24 left me gobsmacked. Is this the best we can do?

  2. I agree with you completely. However on the botch question I can't believe the way that every single journalist seems to have swallowed the Lib talking points re Slipper/botch without checking the actual texts in the Court documents. Slipper refers to video footage of Mirabella being interviewed and puzzled about her statements says something along the lines of 'did she say it because you're mates or because she is an ignorant botch'. Ashbys reply not shown. Slipper replies "shes bright but loses the plot. Perhaps, as you say an "ignorant botch" ". The way I read it Slipper isn't entirely convinced that she made her statements because she is, in this instance, an "ignorant botch" but entertains the possibility. Does the fact that he says that she loses the plot increase the likelihood that he really meant 'botch' as in botched/stuffed up job rather than 'bitch'. I think you'd have to concede that. So we are going to have the first sacking of a Speaker in 112 years based on all these 'Maybes' and 'Perhaps' in a private conversation. Give me a break.

  3. Let us imagine a kinder, gentler world, where the minority government is led by PM Abbott and angels visit the parliamentary gallery to proclaim heavenly blessings upon proceedings from time to time. Now imagine that the ALP in opposition attempts to have the Speaker of the House removed from his (unlikely to be her) position based on a similar argument as used to justify Slipper's removal. Can you imagine the Government's outrage? Can you feel God's wrath being delivered via Abbott's fiery oratory as he dismisses the motion as an unconscionable attempt to circumvent due process and upset the peaceful calm that has reigned since he was appointed to his rightful place? And the press gallery would dutifully record the beauty of his passionate speech against the motion as proof that he is the One, and a thing for all the world to behold.

    Or alternatively, in the real world, Abbott and his troglodytes would probably laugh at the opposition leader, and dismiss the motion with a barrage of epithets on political correctness etc. And the press gallery would dutifully record his passionate speech against the motion as proof that only he is worthy of leading the country in these turbulent times, and the subject of the Speaker's worthiness should be dismissed as a distraction from the important matters of government, best handled through the courts etc.

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