30 April 2013

Playing the clown

Now if there's a smile on my face
It's only there trying to fool the public
But when it comes down to fooling you
Now honey that's quite a different subject ...

- Stevie Wonder, Hank Cosby and Smokey Robinson, 'Tears of a Clown'
In this, Jacqueline Maley tells us two big falsehoods about federal politics. Disseminating political falsehoods is the opposite of what her job should be about. The first is that Tony Abbott is even capable of not being a clown, let alone that he has taken that decision; and second, that the press gallery have snapped out of it too and are seriously evaluating actual and proposed offerings of government for the next three years. Not only are they not to be believed but the only reason you can't condemn such mendacity out of hand is because it comes from such a deep well of self-delusion.
... Abbott isn't likely to give us any more of what he would quaintly call his "brain snaps".
Yes he is. They're his life, they are who and what he is. They're an insight into how he works. The instances cited by Maley are not uncharacteristic departures from the well-ordered mind of an otherwise level-headed and compassionate man. They are integral to understanding what Abbott is like with the responsibilities with which he has been entrusted so far, and are rightly cited as reasons why he ought not be entrusted with any more.
Many within Labor have held a comfortable assumption it is only a matter of time before Abbott loses discipline and does something bonkers that will reveal his "true" self and ... silent rage?
That's the heart of Maley's article, and it's a straw man. Liberals say nasty things about Prime Minister Gillard too, so her litany of Labor people bagging Abbott is less indicative of whatever point Maley is making than she might hope. There is no one thing that will knock out Tony Abbott from contention as Prime Minister, and nobody said there would be. This is a man whose inadequacies have to be drawn out to be seen in their full light. It never ceases to amaze that an experienced member of the press gallery can't see that.
Reviewing those old 7.30 interviews, he seems nervous and easily bamboozled by detail, just as most people would be in a similar position. Big deal.
"Big deal"?

Part of being ready for the Prime Ministership of Australia is that command over the scope of government. All successful candidates for Prime Minister have done this. Very few have it; the number of candidates for Prime Minister is small, not large, and not open to the average Jo(e) who is flat out remembering the date of their Mum's birthday. Abbott isn't going for a job driving a truck or gutting fish, and the broadcast media have been wrong to present him as though he has. We are entitled to be treated with the respect that is due to us, that we will only elect a leader who understands what it means to govern us. That is a big deal, Jacqueline Maley. It is genuinely pitiful that you and your enfeebled employer fail to see that.
He's improved since then - he is more polished and calm, less stuttery and fighty.
Perhaps, but he's no more across the actual job of being in government, and nor is he offering any substantial alternative. Journalists should point that out, and are failing in their duty to readers/listeners/viewers in their refusal/incapacity to do so. Journalists should ask him questions, and make a Big Deal of the fact that he literally walks away from hard questions. Say what you like about Brendan Nelson, he took the job more seriously than this clown.
And if his recent approval ratings are anything to go by, people are accepting the new (dare we say the real?) Tony.
And if they're not? If you look at those ratings, and believe them, you'll see that they're showing is that Abbott is no more accepted than he has ever been.
As he told Sales during his interview this week: "Australians are pretty fair-minded and they accept that people can grow if they move into a new position."

So Abbott has grown, his critics must grow with him.
Let's see what Maley is saying here. A politician has said something that reflects well on himself. A journalist is not only quoting that politician verbatim but is taking him at his word, and demanding that readers do so too. This is both an appalling dereliction of duty, and fairly typical of Maley's lazy approach to journalism. Gillard does not and would not get the benefit of the doubt like that.

Tony Abbott entered Parliament at a byelection in 1994. His leader then was Alexander Downer, a policy lightweight who had learned from Hewson '93 the same lesson Abbott learned: namely to keep it light, bright and trite. At a Liberal Party dinner later that year Downer made a number of gaffes, the very sort of one-off stumble Maley insists can't possibly happen with Abbott. I doubt that Abbott will be replaced before the election, but Maley has no right to demand anything from those of us who are more critical of Abbott than she is.
The days of his headline-grabbing stuff-ups are over.
Bullshit. You wish.
Now it is up to good journalists such as Sales to quiz him on detail and attempt to pin him down on some of the impossibly vague language he uses when he discusses policy.
Leigh Sales was in an impossible position when she interviewed Abbott last Wednesday. Nobody made her Gatekeeper To The Lodge. There are more than two hundred members of the Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery, including Maley - note how their questions of Abbott count for bugger-all.

There is almost no journalism worth a damn going on in the press gallery. Only one Walkley has been awarded to a member of the Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery in this term of Parliament, despite the wealth of material theatre there since the last election. The only exception, Steve Pennells, had to get out of Canberra and go to Christmas Island, an assignment that may have been easier from his native Perth. Non-press-gallery journos like Sales and Kate McClymont won Walkleys for stories on federal politics, eating the lunch of those bums in Canberra. The idea that the press gallery contains Australia's journalistic elite is a joke.

When News and Fairfax shed staff late last year, their press gallery representation was untouched; a management failure compounding a journalistic one.
Abbott talks about hopes and aspirations, and when asked about concrete policy plans, refers to his policy tome (booklet, actually - it's 50 pages), the one he brandishes at his breast in media conferences like a medieval shield.

Our Plan: Real Solutions for All Australians contains almost nothing that qualifies as an objectively measurable promise in a year's time, should the Coalition win government.
That demonstrates a failure of the journalistic method. Journalist asks politician question, politician refuses to answer, journalist can do nothing but quote politician verbatim and leave it at that. Journalist unaware that if reader wants verbatim quote, reader can get it direct from press release on party website.
The firm headline promises Abbott has made are to repeal the carbon tax, repeal the mining tax, begin immediate negotiations with Indonesia on asylum-seeker boat tow-backs ...
For all of those, there are people with experience in those respective fields who believe those things can't actually be done, not by Gillard or by Abbott, not even with a parliamentary majority and a cheering press gallery. Those people aren't party-poopers or providers of verbal ballast so that journos can look 'balanced' by quoting them. There is serious work to be done into whether Abbott's "firm headline promises" are achievable. That work should be done before the election, not afterwards.
... and institute a business-funded paid parental leave scheme in his first term (a policy which feminists have failed to laud as they should).
If it's bullshit, and people can see through it, and it does nothing to expand opportunities for women, then why should feminists (or anyone else) support it?
The Coalition now also has a detailed broadband policy, announced this month.
Yes, and it is an inferior offering to the incumbents. It isn't even clear why the Coalition even wants an NBN, especially given their cost-cutting imperatives, and therefore it will probably be axed if he gets the chance to do so. You can't maintain your poll lead if all your policies are like that.
One of Abbott's new lines of attack is to criticise the government for "milking incumbency", "mortgaging the future" and "booby-trapping the future".
Yes, Jacqueline, it's an attack line. The journalistic challenge is not simply to transmit what the lines are, but to give us the information we need to ascertain what's bullshit and what isn't.

For a start, every opposition that wins office inherits the conditions before it from its opponents and predecessors. The Rudd Government succeeded the Howard government, and Howard succeeded Keating; neither handover was particularly amicable, and all new governments have teething problems. Abbott is seeking to make excuses for not following through on his promises. An old hand like Laurie Oakes would have pointed that out, while disingenuous clowns like Michelle Grattan or Maley simply take Abbott at his word. If Abbott thinks it's going to be too hard to govern Australia, let him give the game away altogether. Don't give us this crap.
This language is incredibly telling - it reveals how inevitable he considers a future Abbott government to be ...
No, Jacqueline, he's not. He's bluffing. It's what Abbott does, and when you've been covering politics for as long as I have you should be able to spot that and convey it to your readers. He's hoping you stay stuck in to the Abbott-inevitable-Gillard-doomed Narrative; a good journalist would question that, but we and he all know what sort of journalist you are. All those gaffes that you cited above are instances where he appeared very confident, but they were demonstrated to be at odds with actual facts.
... (he's not alone - most of the electorate believes that too).
No, you've confused the electorate with the press gallery. Almost all of the press gallery believe that. The electorate is deeply ambivalent about retaining Tony Abbott in his current job, let alone elevating him even further above his competence.
He is so confident he is putting the government (who, being the government, still has the right to, like, govern 'n stuff) on notice it shouldn't make any decisions that lock the next, ie his, government into a particular course of action.

We saw that this week with the confected debate about the appointment of the next governor-general.
Here is further proof of inherent journalistic failure. For a start, almost all political debate is 'confected', particularly that arising from the media management strategy.

Maley has spent the last three years ignoring the process of governing; note the adolescent language used to describe it, the truculent refusal to do the grown-up work of reporting and analysis. Recommending a Governor-General is a prerogative of government, and it's in Abbott's interests to make the incumbents look timid in the face of controversy; when he failed to do that, it was fair to wonder why he was so upset. Surely the Gillard government would appoint a distinguished Australian to the post, someone even Abbott could not impugn? They could have wedged him by invoking the Queen, using Abbott's words about a position above party politics, etc.

Abbott wanted to appoint Howard as Governor-General, and if the Gillard government recommends the next one to the Queen then Howard will be stymied once again. All that confidence stuff Maley talked about is undone by Abbott's hear-hysterical reaction. Maley has actually used an example which rebuts her thesis in order to advance it. Is she bluffing, or is she a moron?
There are also several small and subtle truth-bendings and inconsistencies the Opposition Leader is getting away with, too many to deal with here.
That's your job, Jacqueline, that's your job to follow those through. We need to know which is the best party to govern us, and doing the very work that you so idly dismiss is crucial to that. But no, you go and bite off more than you can chew:
But the most important one is his position on school funding reform. Abbott was wrong-footed this week when NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell signed a deal with the Prime Minister over her Gonski reform proposal.

The Opposition Leader's position was incoherent. On Sunday he told Sky News the Gonski report was "quite an impressive document" and there was "much that was good in the Gonski report".

But in the same interview he insisted "the existing [school funding system] is not broken. It's not broken". The foundation premise of the Gonski report is that the existing system is not just broken, it's unjust, idiotic and mind-bogglingly over-complex.

The report found that there was "an unacceptable link" between low academic achievement and social disadvantage. It found funding arrangements were based on an "outdated and opaque" system. These arrangements are "unnecessarily complex, lack coherence and transparency, and involve a duplication of funding effort".

So which bits does Abbott think are the good bits of the report when he rejects its key premise and its central findings? Does he know better than David Gonski and his expert panel, who worked on their report for over a year?
There is no reason why Jacqueline Maley could not have written her whole article around that. Substantive journalism, now there's an idea. Hell, she could have written several articles:
  • Barry O'Farrell and Tony Abbott were candidates for the job of NSW State Director of the Liberal Party in 1994: O'Farrell won, Abbott lost. O'Farrell is running the next-biggest government in the country, Abbott is flat out keeping the costs of his own office under control. Note their respective positions on gay marriage. Note how Howard sold Liberal Premiers down the river, and how O'Farrell is letting Abbott know he won't be going the same way. See if you can do that without resorting to the simplistic bullshit of LIB SPLIT SHOCK, I bet you can't.
  • O'Farrell knows the education funding model is broken. What the hell has the Shadow Minister for Education even been doing for the past three years? Carrying on like a deadshit in Parliament, and socialising with Jacqueline Maley ...
  • ... and James Ashby for that matter.
  • David Gonski is not some education wonk or Labor hack who can be brushed aside lightly. He is a very significant figure in the Sydney business community, in a way that Tony Abbott isn't and will never be. Why is the leader of the Liberal Party shirtfronting him like this?
All the above points represent potential articles that would be worthy of Maley's readership. They are all too hard for Maley herself, because of her adolescent truculence when confronted with "like, govern[ing] 'n' stuff".
Time to stop expecting Abbott to slip on a banana peel. He is not a clown, he is probably our next prime minister. Let's treat him like one and scrutinise his every policy step.
That worthy final paragraph does not redeem Maley, it sets a standard to which she cannot possibly rise. In this piece, Laura Tingle explains why, and how much, her press gallery colleague Maley is kidding herself. There is no reason why this could not have been done at any point over the past three years, rather than the press gallery rolling their myopic eyes and 'letting Tony be Tony'. It's been A Long Time In Politics, and goodness knows how many media cycles, since Maley excreted that article: noticed much change in her reporting?

It's over. We were shocked by the inadequacy of political reporting in 2010, and broadcast media have only got worse since then.

The ultimate in 'letting Tony be Tony' comes from this clown:
Tony Abbott is ... feeling pretty chuffed about putting in a decent performance on the ABC's 7.30 program last Wednesday. He was on message, disciplined and, as usual, pretty light with details.
Wow, you know you've cultivated a source when you can tap into his innermost feelings.

Fancy a journalist actually praising a politician for being "on message" and "light with details".

This is a shit article and Preston Towers dispatches it admirably.

Abbott and his handlers have played the press gallery for clowns, and their fantasy that they can snap out of it any time is cruelly exposed. Maley and others in the press gallery actually applaud them for having applied mushroom-farming techniques to media management. 'Media management' gives the press gallery a sense of importance that helps them mitigate their audience-repelling output. It is so easy for Abbott to fool them because they want to be fooled. He is their best chance of being delivered from having to report on that woman, who doesn't prioritise them at all; the first PM since McMahon to get the job without duchessing them.

Barrie Cassidy was press secretary to Prime Minister Hawke. In his day, the opposition got no press at all unless they were tearing themselves apart. What do you put the current politico-media malaise down to, Barrie?
The rhythm of federal politics, the underlying beat, has been ugly for too long. But gradually over the past few weeks, that has started to change.
Don't blame it on the sunshine, don't blame it on the moonlight, don't blame it on the good times, blame it on the ugly. Only the opposition and the press gallery had any sort of interest in making a hard situation worse: fuck them both.
Labor's Rolls Royce version with all the funding implications ...
Why even talk about policy when you use silly language like that? The NBN is not funded on-budget, a dilettante's error unworthy of a serious political journalist. The speeds and coverage of the NBN are going to be barely adequate, and the Coalition's offering even less: 'Rolls-Royce', like hell.
Bob Hawke, John Howard and Kevin Rudd led a community debate on ideas from opposition. Now, with the agenda free of most of the nasty political distractions that characterised politics virtually from the time of the last election, Abbott is starting to do likewise.
Abbott's monkey-house spoiler antics were designed to make the government look like it was failing to govern. Cassidy has forgiven him that failure, yet the government still wears the opprobrium. Having failed to bring down the government with those antics, Abbott shines him dim light with an inadequate telecommunications policy and talks up hysteria over the government's budget position. Hockey's spittle-flecked alarmism over death duties puts the lie to this:
Then the economic ministers and their shadows engaged in an increasingly sophisticated debate about economic management and the fiscal challenges facing both sides of politics.

Both are now more realistic about short-term objectives. They both appreciate that given collapsing revenue, a fixation on an immediate surplus would cost thousands of jobs.
Barely worth even writing that in the face of reality.
On the evidence so far - after recent appearances at a community forum and on SKY and 7.30 - he is now better equipped to engage at that level. He is showing a grasp of detail, a self-confidence and a sense of smarts that hasn't always been there.
This isn't true. The interview with Leigh Sales on 7.30 shows no grasp of detail at all, and Sky wouldn't have put him through his paces. Cassidy, entering his fourth decade in Canberra, disagrees with blow-in Chris Johnson on Abbott's grasp of detail, and here you have to give it to the blow-in. Abbott talked in generalities and refused to engage in detail. He was every bit as nebulous as, well, wishful-thinking descriptions like "self-confidence" and "sense of smarts" that should be given in someone aspiring to the position he now holds, not a new development in someone who's been there more than three years.

It's stupid to pretend that a deeply inadequate candidate for Prime Minister is suddenly ready for prime time - why was he indulged in his inadequacy by the press gallery, so much for so long? This 'let Tony be Tony' stuff is a Liberal Party conceit and it has to stop.

Abbott is not, despite Cassidy's best wishes, being judged against his own feckless past. He is being judged against Julia Gillard, who has "a grasp of detail, a self-confidence and a sense of smarts" to a far greater extent than Tony Abbott. Abbott is not "better equipped" to be Prime Minister than Gillard, there is no proof that he is. All Cassidy's semi-assertions to the contrary are just bullshit.

All of the policy areas nominated by Cassidy - managing the budget, telecommunications, healthcare and education - seem to be the main battlegrounds on which the election campaign is being fought. They are all areas where people turn to experts to help form opinions: he-said-she-said false-balance journalism simply will not do. It will exclude them from the decision-making process and will drive down their lack of audience numbers and credibility. In the latter three, the experts seem to be lining up behind the government - not tentatively, but wholeheartedly, even desperately. I don't like the Coalition's chances of building credibility on the budget either, just quietly, and it doesn't matter whether or not those three clowns agree.

When the polls adjust to reflect that reality, you can bet Maley, Johnson, and Cassidy will be amazed. It isn't their job to be amazed at eminently foreseeable developments - that would be, and is, an indication of professional failure. Is there anything more self-defeating, more redundant in every respect, and yes more clownishly absurd, than an obtuse journalist (or three)?


  1. Yes.
    10 out of 10.

    I would however assert that rather than incompetence being the key to the media failing to convey the incompetence of the COALition and its current leader it is actually competence at their job that is the problem.

    They see their job as getting rid of the government and replacing it with their [employers'] preferred option.
    Currently they are successful at this task, I don't share your optimism that they will fail come the election.
    Hopefully you are right.


  2. Another excellent analysis Andrew, thank you.

    Why oh why do we have such a pathetic and so easily-led free press in this country? Is this really the best we can do?

  3. The Canberra Press Gallery don't care how many of the plebs lose their jobs under Abbott, only that they do not lose THEIR jobs under the Abbott thumb.

  4. Bushfire Bill30/4/13 11:43 am

    Andrew wrote:

    "Laura Tingle explains why, and how much, her press gallery colleague Maley is kidding herself. "

    In a nutshell she said there were no specialist writers left, so the task has been given to generalist political writers.

    To a hammer everything looks like a nail.

    To a political political journalist, everything looks like politics.

    There is no truth anymore. So why search for it?

    When Climate policy became polarised (the very reason Abbott got the LOTO gig) it became political. When it became political you didn't have to be a climate scientist to discuss it meaningfully. You only had to be a *political* scientist... and I use the word "scientist" with a large dollop of skepticism.

    Suddenly every Gallery hack was an expert. And they told us it didn't matter whether the Earth was warming or cooling. It only mattered that there was a fight on about it.

    Polls about "belief" in Climate Change replaced Science, as if a bad Newspoll for Global Warming could reverse the process and save the planet.

    Whenever they fail to grasp the detail, political journos use either:

    (a) The Polls


    (b) Where's the money coming from?

    as their easy, lazy ways out of having to do any work.

    So many good initiatives have been dismissed in this way.

    Mark Kenny felt it was safe to say Gillard's China visit was a triumph... such a pity, though, a tragedy even... she wouldn't be around to gather the kudos for it next year. Lookatthepolls!

    Tony Wright wrung his hands over the awful place in which politics had found itself (in a Walkley-winning employment of the passive voice, if there was a Walkley for Blame-Shifting). He pointed out that the China Trip died within 24-hours. He *didn't* point out that HIS contribution to murdering it was to write a fluff piece on the Thatcher-Negus interview at the same time. Talk about navel gazing!

    The NBN, Gonski and the NDIS, have all been dismissed with "where's the money?"... the latter two within a couple of hours. Once the meme is set it sets rock hard.

    And then they mock Gillard because no-one knows what "Gonski" means, least of all the Press Gallery, it seems.

    Giving the national discourse over to political hacks means that everything is political.

    No matter what the government says, Abbott can disagree with it (even if he doesn't disagree at all), obliging cowering journalists at the ABC to cover it as a "he-said/she-said".

    When everything is deemed "political" then everything must be filtered through the "Fair and Balanced" gallery sieve, no matter how stupid.

    And if the only journos covering national affairs are ambulance-chasing, corridor-haunting political hacks, then you can bet your bottom dollar that presentation, production values, gaffes, hectoring, rudeness and indolence will be the tools of trade they employ.

    I hear, "But it sells newspapers," a lot, as an explanation. But it *doesn't* sell newspapers at all! They're going broke! Shedding staff, circulation plummeting, chopping up the furniture to feed the boiler room.

    When newspapers insult half their readership by telling them they're mugs for wanting to vote a certain way that's bad enough.

    But when they insult ALL their readers by serving up crap on every subject under the sun like Chris Johnson's barely readable piece and Maley's teenager's take on Canberra, it's a tragedy... for them and their useless careers, but most importantly for their fleeing readers.

    1. (c) "the devil is in the detail". I think the whole election is on a knife-edge because everyone's so ambivalent, and this fatalism is misplaced.

      Maley tweeted me today (deleted the second) and brought the Streisand Effect down on herself.

      If you take them apart line by line, you're boring; if you are direct and pungent they sniff that you're facile. Oh well.

  5. Andrew

    you mention the nbn.

    i would not be surprised if it halted,
    could they do that, just stop it its tracks


    but my question would be what happens to those who are already connected.


    1. Maintenance would be cut back, it would be left to rot.

  6. The Press Gallery in this country are a disgrace. Everytime I hear the line 'the govt' can't get its message out from the media, I feel like putting a mirror up to their face. When I listen to the govt message myself, I have no problem at all understanding their message. It isn't until I read their comments or see their commentary that I go 'WTF?' I wonder did we even witness the same event.

    As for Abbott, my pet rock could have been hailed 'the best opposition leader in history' with the degree of scrutiny the Australian Press Gallery has had to withstand.

    As usual Andrew, brilliant analysis.

  7. Anonymous,

    The free press are like that because, as Andrew says, Abbott feeds the beast, Gillard treats it with disdain.

    If Gillard wins, the power of the press gallery to dictate that their political 'reality' is fact is broken forever.

    As such, with the MSM being driven to financial destruction anyway, why would it's owners keep an overpaid assemblage of preening peacocks in Canberra any more?

  8. Fuck me this is a long and boring article. These crazy articles do the left a massive disservice.

    If you really want to make a change, how about learn how to write and become a journalist?

    1. No it isn't. By going through those articles line by line I have given those articles the respect they deserve. Plenty of people busier than you read through to the end.

      I don't want to be a journalist. I've given three examples of professional journalists who can't write and can't tell what's going on, yet still draw salaries. What I need is perceptive journalism, good writing nice but not essential. You have to take apart the crap to understand what good stuff looks like, like I've done here.

    2. And if you want to understand a complicated world why don't you learn how to read more than a pathetic three world slogan.

      Seriously, this is how Abbott's Coalition is dumbing down Australia in order to get power. What a farce.

    3. I found it well worth reading, myself, Pete. It may be long and boring to you but usually DETAILED ANALYSIS is worth doing, to actually judge whether one option is better than another. If you want soundbites then you are going to get shit policy and shit delivery.

  9. Unfortunately Journalists like Maley fail at their jobs because they don't continue to question. She should be questioning how one (in this case Abbott) can change from a clown so quick. The only thing I know that makes people change so quickly is medication.

  10. I have to wonder at your motive sometimes: why do you consider it a feature of your analysis that you concentrate on trashing the commentary of female journos (Alcorn, Grattan, Maley, et al) when there is such a glut of male journo contributions that you could equally tear to shreds with such alacrity?

    (Although, you do mention them, it is addition, not the concentrated effort you seem to put into bewailing journalism in general).

    That aside, I agree.

    The fourth estate seems too busy defending itself rather than reporting what's going on.

    How many articles have we had recently about (after scathing attacks by 'social' media) what the job of a journo is about and how hard it is to do it e.g. Katherine Murphy (many) vs Tony Wright (getting in on the act)?

    All they want to do is justify their existence, and we have page after expensive page of ruminations on the lot of journos, but no illumination on the current political scene.

    It was interesting to read today that a reporter, Callum Davidson from Independent Australia, http://www.independentaustralia.net/2013/business/media-2/how-the-canberra-press-gallery-shut-out-ia/ was refused acceptance to the Canberra Press Gallery, by David Speers & council, on the grounds that Independent Australia was just an opinionated online vehicle that wasn’t a newsgathering enterprise and that Callum himself had no "history" as a journo, while just recently TheHoopla trumpeted that Gabrielle Chan, a political "sketch writer", had been accepted into the self-same hallowed halls.

    If Independent Australia can be characterised as an opinionated website, then TheHoopla is also an ‘opinionated online’ presence.

    All that being said, Jacqueline Maley’s crap about examining Abbott’s previous 7.30 contributions fail to take into account that apart from Sales’ (self-nominated Walkley-winning) interview and Abbott’s election-losing interview with Kerry O’Brien prior to the 2010 election, all of his other interviews (on serious channels) have been pre-recorded.

    Therefore the stuttering, muttering, ill-at-ease, economically-illiterate Abbott has been edited out. So much for ‘balance.’

    I’d really like to see an up-to-date opinion of Julia Gillard. She made an absolute gaffe on her first overseas journey as PM. It was an off-the-cuff remark that she’d prefer to be reading with schoolkids than embarking on foreign policy (much like Garrett’s “we’ll change everything once we’re in power” type of gaffe) – as if either should have been taken (much less reported) seriously. Slow news day. More to come . . .

    1. Oh no

      Not Speersy!

      I like David Speers and his analysis!

      Laura Tingle bless her cotton socks just shines

      She calls the advisers idiots


  11. Cont from previous comment . . .

    I reckon Gillard has taken economics between the teeth. Has made a study of it and mastered its intricacies. Abbott, on the other hand, even though he has a degree in economics, can’t abide the subject and, worse, can’t even articulate an economic program.

    Prior to becoming PM, Julia Gillard was responsible for the Education portfolio, and had only to answer for coming in on budget.

    Once in the top job, she had to get her head round economic theories, economic practices and economic outcomes.

    Like most thinking women – unlike Margaret Thatcher who, just like any bloke in power took an opportunistic avenue to garner support (war in the Falklands, anyone?) – when approaching a problem, Gillard comes at it from an honest perspective.

    Let’s lay the facts out on the table. Let’s see what can be achieved. Let’s see the downside – for each an every proposal. A thrashing out of detail.

    What more do you want in a leader?

    I know what I want. And it’s not Tony Abbott and his figurehead style while his troops go AWOL – and we’re left with the foibles of his ill-disciplined troops.

    I'd rather a solid leader like JG who has consistently told it how it is, despite opinion polls, and who has consistently displayed the utmost integrity.

    That Gillard is tagged as a liar is the shame the Canberra Press Gallery will have to bear. After all, it is their fault they do not convey to the Australian public what is really going on.

    It will be to Australia's detriment that we dispose of a great PM, for a clown.

    I can't even cry. I'm ashamed of our once great journalist tradition. Where are the keepers of integrity? Where is the "striking" power of journos in the face of owner-dictatorship? Gone.

    Keeping a job is more important now. The lifestyle, the kudos. Journos don't want to know the life of poverty, the garret. They will sell their souls for the almighty dollar.

    Murdoch understands.

    All we have left is an impotent press gallery who have no recognition, let alone affinity with, 'ordinary' people - their own constituents.

    It beggars belief that Chris Johnson, the supposedly unknown Press Gallery reporter, late of Canberra Times and now of SMH, who wrote such a blindingly poignant obit for Peter Veness, is now castigated as a non-entity.

    What did he do? He criticised the fifth estate for some pretty paltry remarks on Sales' interview with Abbott.

    What he took on was fair enough, but he went too far. And tried to tarnish social media with far too broad a brush.

    Journos really have to lift their game. They have to take it on the chin when they're criticised. As do we all.

    And they also have to realise they no longer have a privileged position.

    We're here to stay. Get used to it.

    1. Hi Kerry,

      1. With every fibre of my being I want to reject the sexism thing. I've not given any of those people sobriquets like 'The Situation' (Abbott) or 'The Verbal Dickhead' (Coorey), yet recent history points to the pattern you describe. I will be more mindful of it.

      I am pretty close to writing Maley off, much as I did with Niki Savva. I don't have it in for Alcorn, I just think she has a Kerenskyist approach that she just can't shake. Looking at the broadcast media I do consume, it does tend to feature a number of female reporters; I tend to avoid commercial TV/radio and the tabloids, which tend to be male-dominated. I offer that as an explanation rather than an excuse.

      2. Old-school journos used to be proud of their ability to cut through the bullshit. Today journos are proud of the extent to which they are part of the bullshit, praising the generation thereof and giving substantial offerings such a coating that they smell like bullshit. This is not a change that anyone has to accept. Bushfire Bill (whose comment is on this thread) is big on this too.

      3. It is impossible to understand recent stories like the Boston bombing or the Indonesian abattoir expose without understanding broadcast media and social media as inextricable parts of a whole phenomenon.

      Social media people get it but only some broadcast media people do. I love how journos characterise bloggers as wannabe journos, yet with all these broadcast media redundancies it seems a career in journalism is just an expensive form of training for setting up your own blog.

      4. If Maley et al think my blogposts are long and boring, wait until they see the Budget! No wonder they rely on Abbott so heavily.

  12. Pete

    "Pete30/4/13 4:08 pm
    Fuck me this is a long and boring article. These crazy articles do the left a massive disservice.

    If you really want to make a change, how about learn how to write and become a journalist?"

    It is boring to you because you're not used to listening to anything other than a three-word slogan, much less digesting nuance of policy.

    One day you may become an adult. Until then I suggest you make excuses for not being eligible to vote.

  13. I see that Maley tweeted this article was too long for her to bother with, kinda explains her indepth analysis of Tony Abbott.

    1. Indeed. The criticism is that complicated policy is beyond their ability. Their defence against that criticism? 'Oh, can't be bothered with that, it's too long.'

      It beggars belief.

      And if it's all the same to Ms Maley, I'd rather my Prime Minister be slightly more intelligent than me. Tends to work better that way. Still, big deal, eh?

  14. I have really given up on them all. What does crap me off, is the nice earners these lightweight lazy so-called journalists get for throwing together a few words praising Tony Abbott.


  15. Thank you Andrew another excellent article and the clowns of the press gallery control who can be a member.

  16. Like I said on Twitter, these journos are behaving like they have "Battered Wife Syndrome". They accept being treated like fools (Abbott running away is the classic example) and rather than fight back, they hunch over and simply transmit the press release, or the weasel words, verbatim.

    Even Sales succumbed last week.

    The Prime Minister dismissed this version of journalism (and the 'pet journo' method) very early in the piece. But instead of respecting her for same, they wanted revenge ... thus they sided with the foolish Abbott (who, lets face it, should NEVER had gotten to the position he has ... he is a pedestrian 'also ran' with an anger management problem ... not PM material AT ALL).

    Like many in the public eye, who live or die because of popularity, they have hitched their coattails and are determined to be right, even when they know they're wrong.

    Integrity is the first casualty.


  17. Watch Obama.....

    Watch Abbott.....

    Simple really

    Hes a dud and I can already see Diplomats smirking out of discomfort when he approaches them..

  18. Excellent article, Maley's work is just as damaging in some ways asthe rabid Bolts of the world as on some level we expect credible work from her. Insipid nonsense as all her work is. Let's get rid of their picture bylines for a start. They do all so believe in their own bullshit. If I am ever given an opportunity I will be giving the Prime Minister a standing ovation. I love her dignity, warmth and intelligence, her humour and her belief in education in improving the lot of kids stuck in a low socioeconomic class with no way out. These journalists have no fucking idea and care even less.

    1. Bushfire Bill1/5/13 12:40 pm

      It's they who think their critics have NFI.

      THEY have "The Savvy", and Maley is a particularly egregious example of that.

      At least now it's confirmed who's she's working for. That was a truly awful article that she'll never live down.

  19. First class analysis once again,

    Characteristic of Maley's superficiality that she can be offended by it without being able to read it.

  20. Spot on.

  21. "If Maley et al think my blogposts are long and boring, wait until they see the Budget! No wonder they rely on Abbott so heavily"

    Andrew, that one paragraph goes close to summing all this up.

  22. The Australian political media isn't worth a bucket of warm spit.

    1. Oh no. i think it is worth a bucket of warm spit. But that's about all.

  23. Whoever that was on twitter criticizing you that the length of this blog post was longer than that which it critiqued, must think that cause and effect are equally balanced. Reaction </= Action.

    Sometimes the implications of actions are far greater than the actions themselves.