10 September 2013

The limits of insider journalism

If you're going to get a handle on the new government, you could do worse than follow journalists who have spent years not only drinking Abbott's Kool-Aid, but skulling or even bathing in it. That's why you need to read this, a pithier Pam Williams (and eerily similar to that stretch of Rudd's 'concession' speech where he thanked his entire retinue).

Journos fancy themselves as realists, but Steve "We Will Get Him" Lewis is a special kind of realist: a magic realist. Check out this non-story:
TONY Abbott's new government is experiencing its first bout of internal tension with senior Liberal and Nationals' MPs openly jostling for the prized role of parliamentary speaker.
No, it isn't.

There is a bit of fact about halfway down the story, where it says Bronwyn Bishop is Abbott's choice. End of story, insofar as there is one.

Bronwyn Bishop was one of Abbott's mentors. She has been practising for the Speakership since Howard dumped her from his ministry. Her niggly and often irrelevant points of order, references to Standing Orders and other folderol of parliamentary procedure were just so many auditions for a role she would never have gotten under Howard, or Costello for that matter. Press gallery journalists theatre reviewers reported these as odd little acts of vanity on her part, like that scene toward the end of Macbeth where the once-vituperative Lady has clearly gone off her rocker and poses no threat to anyone.

Bishop was and is deadly serious about the Speakership and Abbott will indulge her. Bruce Scott was wrong; the Speakership is absolutely within the gift of the Prime Minister. Had she wanted High Commissioner to London or something like that, Abbott would have given it to her. She wants to stick around and will probably die in office rather than go out with dignity; so Abbott will indulge her in that.

The rest of Lewis' piece is sheer bullshit:
  • Scott is the guy who refused to roll over for Barnaby. He's 70 years old and is finished;
  • Don Randall is a grub - if Labor are going to give Abbott a taste of his own relentlessly negative medicine inside parliament and out, and if Abbott wants to try and put that behind him, Randall is about the worst choice they could possibly make. He is consistently in the top five of Politicians Most Desperately In Need Of A Smack In The Mouth. So he's close to Julie Bishop, so what?
  • Sharman Stone was a bright and capable person who was Deputy Assistant Minister for Bugger-All under Howard, and under Abbott she will scarcely go further; and
  • The reference to Kevin Andrews in the passive voice shows that some figments are so weak not even Steve Lewis can make them work.
Nobody should be better placed to give you all the inside information on an Abbott government than Steve Lewis. All he seems to offer, however, is bullshit like this. He is trying to set Abbott up as some sort of Solomonic resolver of problems, but when they aren't even real then Abbott will only look worse when he comes a-gutser against real problems beyond his powers of understanding, let along resolution. Abbott might grow in office, but then so did the far more substantial Billy McMahon.

Lewis' problems with fabulism are a matter of record and he is clearly continuing unchastened down that line. Glenn Milne is now a burnt-out shell for a far lesser offence against that so-called profession. Lewis' future probably includes a few drops ("EXCLUSIVE BY STEVE LEWIS The Treasurer will announce later this morning that ...") but not much more. As if he'll ever bring down a minister in this government.

Today's press gallery is a far cry from the 1970s, where journos told anecdotes about how up-himself Whitlam is, complete with bad imitations of his vocal mannerisms and laughter at the end (similar stories abound about Rudd, without the mannerisms or the laughter). Now the press gallery has what they wanted: a Prime Minister who respects the press to a degree unparalleled since Hawke.

Howard always treated the press gallery like poisonous reptiles: his attempts to look relaxed in their company were never convincing, except that one time in 1989 where he came out with his "Lazarus with a triple bypass" comment. The press gallery hated Gillard because she disdained them, and started flirting with the social media that is dismantling the press gallery with or without official help. They came to hate Rudd, too; journalists with nothing better to do all day but bear witness to a 15-minute grab orchestrated wholly for their benefit got miffed when he was a bit late.

The press gallery should be ecstatic that their boy has been Lodged; they're not, kind of uneasy and not quite believing the situation they're in, not quite believing themselves. This will be where things get interesting.

Not for Steve Lewis, though - that gibberer will bumble along like nothing has happened, until his career finally expires and he wonders how it all came to this. Not even Col Allan can keep this crap going. Give him a Walkley or send him to prison, because Steve "We Will Get Him" Lewis' style of anti-journalism simply has no future.


  1. thank you Andrew well done enjoyed this first long post,since the 7th ms bishop as speaker, are u being served or keeping up appearances comes to mind as entertainment at question time , doubt I will ever watch, as at this point I have not looked at abbott he does not represent me and I have no intentions of listing or looking at him till he is sent packing,as usual you had me hanging on every word, keep us company through this dreadful time I read where abbott has decreed one does not have to be qualified to look after our precious babies in child care and less staff to each resident in elderly care , it all a power game to him not position to help aust, no way just power

  2. Yeah whatever ...... anyhow great to see you having to eat humble pie Andrew ! And I like the modified headline for your blog - a constant reminder of how wrong you and the rest of the clueless got it ! Going on your past record, I think we can now predict that Tony Abbott will be very good as Prime Minister :)

    1. Thank you for taking he time to post, as if you had anything better to do. The content-free nature of Abbott's campaign means you have no basis for thinking he'd be a good PM, a very good PM, or for that matter a pineapple.

    2. Agree to your response to Anon @2.58.
      Are you running a night shift Andrew?
      We don't know what kind of PM will prove to be because he has kept his intentions from us. Strange isn't it that the majority have given him a blank cheque to spend on what?
      I expect Abbott will be as belligerent as he has ever been. The media kept saying he had changed. I didn't see much evidence. The eyes told the story. A wolf's gaze.
      Rejecting Steve Bracks' New York appointment was the first indication that Abbott is still in warrior mode even if Bishop copped the blame.
      I do not believe Abbott knows anything but competitive conflict. It got him the job. I can't see him changing at 56 and it will bring him undone sooner or later.

    3. Well Billy McMahon holds the record for the worst PM in living memory. If past behaviour is any guide to future performance, Abbott should easily wrest the wooden spoon from McMahon.

    4. Is that you, Sophie?

  3. Andrew, I agree B Bishop will be made Speaker and, no doubt, will be dragged to the chair in robes.

    Regarding another key appointment, do you tip John Howard as GG?

  4. Hey Anon @2.58 pm

    F... Off and get a life!

    That you would snipe on this blog is indicative of the libs attitude.

    Idiotic arrogance.

    Greg Sheridan even said it was a bad idea to get rid of Steve Bracks and he is close to our Speedo P.M..

    Petty and nasty .

    Can't wait to see how Mr Abbott deals with the new senate.

    That's going to be extremely fun to watch ...


  5. And of course, the very first act is one of barstardry. Steve Bracks would have done an excellent job. Even if they had a good reason not to confirm his appointment, the gratuitous insults show the meanness and partisan narrow- mindedness that will continue to characterise this bunch.

  6. What chance do you think that the Libs will leave the NBN as it is, now that they are in?
    A snowballs in hell?
    It's also going to be interesting when the boats don't stop (as if they would under Rudd or Abbott).

  7. VoterBentleigh11/9/13 11:52 am

    Insider Journalism is getting a reputation similar to insider trading: unscrupulous and unfair. Miranda Devine's nugatory piece is indistinguishable from a promotional brochure and is a clear-cut example of just how a lick-spittle masquerading as a journalist can adulterate a fine profession.
    Such articles are accompanied by the obligatory booster photographs, but what is gelogenic about the continual images of Tony Abbott flanked by his daughters is that these young women appear to be acting as body guards.

    Depending upon the appeal, the outcome of the Fitzgibbon and Liu defamation case may put a spanner in the works of Steve Lewis' inside sources, given his role in the Godwin Grech affair.

    Bronwyn Bishop as Speaker: Tony Abbott is reported to have referred to her as the Lady Gaga for the seniors' set: the mind boggles!

    1. Lachlan Ridge13/9/13 1:32 pm

      Devine reminds me of an overweight Unity Mitford

  8. Putting Bronnie in the speakers chair is probably the safest place for her. She can't f**k things up too much from there. However you can bet they'll be two sets of rules in place and the "Government" will get away with murder during question time.

    Let us just hope the loathsome Mirabella will not be joining the other clowns on the government benches.

  9. Mirabella has left the building...

    Saved her ego as a result with those carefully crafted weasel words in the papers a short while ago.

    The nasty old guard that she is part of is dead-wood.

    Too much baggage in the system with these "creatures" that initiated the Steve Bracks issue.


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  12. As the polls are now everything, if they continue as they are it will not be long before one can say, Abbott is not our prime minister.