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.