20 February 2011

Accentuate the positive

This blog takes good journalism for granted and bags poor journalism hard. The former can't continue but the latter must.

Peter Hartcher's piece on Morrison and Abbott was superb. Well-written without being hifaultin, Hartcher called bullshit on Morrison and Abbott with interest rates and now with race-baiting. It was elegantly written, it was widely sourced, and drew on Hartcher's deep knowledge of international economics as well as a revulsion for cheap populism of this sort.

Then there was Laurie Oakes' piece, quite good as straight reporting. Morrison seems to believe he can tack to port or starboard like a boat, but unlike a boat the water doesn't just close up behind you.

At the very moment when the Liberals were making themselves the story, up steps Paul Howes for a bit of limelight-hogging. At a time when miners are being paid better than footballers, Howes is painting them as underprivileged. Robert Mugabe and Hugo Chavez are the last politicians in the western world to go on about the class war, why was I the only one laughing at Howes for flogging this dead horse? If you're going to get stuck into Rio Tinto, if you read the papers and know that Fortescue is at the crossroads with its management structure, now is not the time to suck oxygen away from the government.

Bob Hawke was no fan of Whitlam but he would never have carried on in the look-at-moiye manner that Howes is now. Rather than have the journosphere lap up everything he says, ignore him until he has something sensible to say. Fuck off back to the Blue Mountains on your skateboard until Bill Shorten can tell you how to not only get public attention, but use it to benefit someone other than yourself.

There's nowhere to go to the right of Abbott. That's what the normally excellent Shaun Carney missed with this:
Here's the truth: there is a substantial body of opinion in Australian society that is anti-Muslim, anti-asylum seeker, anti-immigration and anti-foreign aid. Millions of people hold these views, quite sincerely and quite vehemently ...

These views could be heard any day of the week on commercial talkback radio last year: cut all aid to Indonesia and probably the rest of the world, too; anybody on a people smuggler's boat deserves whatever they get if the boat starts to sink. There are more extreme but still widespread versions of this view, such as that people whose boats wash up on Australian territory should either be turned back to sea without exception or those on the boats should be taught some sort of harsh physical lesson to deter future unauthorised arrivals.

The voters who think this way are not obsessed with the detail; they are simply heartened and encouraged when they hear sympathetic noises from politicians, which is what they heard from Abbott and Morrison.

Pretty much all those people voted for the Liberal Party last time. The challenge for Abbott, Morrison and people like them is to encourage others and dissuade any doubts they may have. Truckling to people like that with no regard for facts (or, in the case of the funerals, basic human decency) is poor politics and it is going to make for sloppy government. Stop taking people promising sloppy government at face value!

It isn't "detail" to talk about those who died at Christmas Island and their families. Any gutless, anonymous fool can ring a radio station and be tougher-than-thou on "illegals" - but really, are you going to strafe people who are fighting for their lives in rough surf, or impede people trying to help those being dashed against rocks? Just because talkback radio or some poll says "there's a lot of anger out there", doesn't mean that any attempt to go into the complexities is doomed or that you have to take that "anger" as the true voice of the people.

It is interesting to note that there was no event from outside the Liberal Party that prompted this latest outburst of Islamophobia: no arse-witted imam, no risible blogger, no other Muslim fool did or said anything that might have prompted a response from the alternative government. This was an unforced error on the Liberals' part. Never mind that it's mean to pick on Muslims and people mourning the loss of loved ones, let's hit people like Morrison where they live: this is poor political judgment, self-indulgence at its worst.

There is a real possibility that Muslim Australians may be subject to violence emboldened by clowns like Morrison and Bernardi, proving what is currently a bogus thesis that Muslims and other Australians can't get along. To that end, they do nothing to make life safer and easier for Australians: and there's only one thing to do with politicians who do that, get rid of them. You have nothing to gain from indulging drongoes in the public sphere who excrete things like this:
I, for one, don't want to eat meat butchered in the name of an ideology that is mired in sixth century brutality and is an anathema to my own values.

People who eat halal meat do so in full compliance with modern health and food safety practices. In Australia, you can choose to eat halal meat or not eat it at all: liberals know this, and it's one reason why why liberals are better than conservatives.

Halal meat is a major export for Australia, and the last thing our exporters need is halfwit politicians making ignorant comments that imperil our export markets. Press gallery veterans and Liberal MPs may see some mileage in "letting Cory be Cory", but SA Liberals should get rid of this fatuous prick before he causes some real trouble (and in your heart, you know he'll never do any good).

No: let us acknowledge good journalism where it can be found. Let us not, however, give a leave pass to the whole profession under the Crabb Doctrine ("never ever criticise a journalist"), because the issues are too big and too important - and where journalism can't handle the issues, it's always the journalism that's inadequate.


  1. Hi Andreww

    Congratulations on another enjoyable column,
    you never fail to delight.

    "(did or said anything that might have prompted a response from the alternative government)".

    I agree with you just, why did Morrison and Abbott create such an incredible storm, all out of nothing, what is the reason other than to
    cause a mountain of trouble in communities
    all over Australia.

    Looking forward to your next post Andrew and
    many more for 2011.


  2. I was amused to read a small fragment of Crabb crap earlier today. Apparently Our Annabel thinks Cory Bernadi isn't stupid.

    Unfortunately the comments on that particular piece of fluff were closed by the time I read it ...

  3. Thanks Lyn.

    Compared to what, David? Furniture? Does winning preselection equate to brilliance, does it?

  4. Great blog. Thanks for highlighting the distinction between liberal and conservative, something long lost amongst the Liberal Party and the MSM these days. And you used my favourite word in the English language: fatuous.

  5. Although your clinical excoriations of shitty journalism are the main event in this blog, I do appreciate it when you share the gems as well. As someone who does not have much time or patience to sift through the offal, I don't get to enjoy the good stuff unless someone points it out to me.

    Online media runs on page views. The most basic way to influence its content is to push up the page views on the stuff that is worthwhile, so that it becomes worthwhile for the editors and their bean counters as well as for thoughtful readers.

    Don't put away the big stick though.

  6. David Irving (no relation)22/2/11 2:53 pm

    "Does winning preselection equate to brilliance, does it?"

    Apparently, in Our Annabel's world. Personally I think Bernadi is a) a creep and b) as dumb as a bag of rocks.

  7. I'm with you, particularly on b) as being dumb has got him this far but no further.

    When Liberals talk of rebels bringing the party down, it saddens me that folk think more of Judy Moylan than CoryB.

  8. Indeed, Andrew. Judy Moylan is one of the few actual assets the Libs have. If more of them were like her, I could almost bring myself to vote for them.