10 November 2015

Skewered and stabbed

When John Birmingham went after this blog I thought traffic would 'splode, with people piling in to see why anyone would pick on a sweet, fading light-entertainment show. Barely a ripple - this blog is experiencing pretty much its normal traffic and I thank those who’ve left comments here and elsewhere. Why not click on the link above and help Mr Birmingham with his traffic? It’s only fair.

I never wanted to skewer anyone, or stab anyone; literally or figuratively. The violent imagery came from Crabb and Birmingham themselves, projected onto me as though I were the blank canvas. My idea of appalling violence is what a phrase like “popcorn-scrabblingly” does to the English language.

I just want to know how we are governed, and what options we have for how we might be governed. I don't agree that the status quo is our only option. That’s what this blog is about. That’s my hidden agenda. That’s what’s driven the retitling and revamp of this blog (they love a bit of reform). Confusing light entertainment with information doesn’t help anyone.

Birmingham clings to the unproven theory that going into politicians’ homes and engaging them in the sorts of conversations you have with strangers on public transport is enormously valuable. He can’t provide any examples because, after four-and-a-bit whole series, there are none. Posters on the previous threads racked their brains and all they could come up with was Abbott’s fish/steak thing - which was pretty telling, but you knew he was a prick anyway.

Birmingham could do worse than refer to his commenter BennO:
There's no way you see something closer to their true character in these shows. It's a chance for the pollies to show themselves as warm and fuzzy. It's as artificial as any press conference, just in a different way.
In my job, I elicit information from people. I get a lot out of passively observing and asking polite questions. Sometimes I have to raise my voice: whatever works in terms of gathering information. When it comes to political journalism, information is the thing. But in this case, I think I’m beside the point.

Sir John of Birmingham has raised high his blunt instrument and smitten the imaginary skewerer to maintain the good name of Milady Annabel. Hurrah! Like most people, I haven’t met Crabb or Birmingham; unlike either of them I can divorce criticism of their work from personal attacks. They have fallen for the dreaded Journos’ Syllogism:
  • No journo admits criticism from a non-journo; and
  • No journo ever criticises a fellow journo; therefore
  • All journos are above criticism, and it’s your shout.
If you’ve provided no information worth a damn, it doesn’t matter whether you’re nice or shouty.

I’m well aware that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar - if honey-coated flies are your thing. I bet Annabel Crabb has a recipe for them (“cheap and simple over the summer!”) - why don’t you order her book and find out? Birmingham and Fairfax were too cheap to make the link; but here at PGR information, like food, is best when there's plenty of it, and it's shared.


  1. Annabel is to journalism what Micallef is to comedy.

    My God, and we're paying for this stuff.

    1. Mr McCaleff is the conservative thinking crumpets sex symbol amongst the bored bourgeoisie

      Charming, witty yet banal

      So I get your point. ..

      We do seem to lack the kick ass comedy of shows like Saturday Night Live or The Daily Show...

      I hope The Roast returns soon on the abc

  2. It's OK, she's from Adelaide. There's the rider, up front. Everything else is creme anglais filler, which requires little explanation, apparently, but gives the game away; there were no other 'arguments'.
    Birmingham's OK, most of the time, but those rope skirts and Gossamer hairspray have done his 'ead in. He's a gorner...
    At some point, he'll regain his acuity, and get back on form. But yes, the gratuitous gallantry observation is apt. Ah, men... bloody hopeless, sometimes.

    1. As someone from Adelaide, I was mildly irritated by that crack. What is it with people east of the Great Dividing Range that makes it OK to patronise us? As it happens, we aren't all nice.

    2. What is it with people from Adelaide that they criticise people East of the GDR and ignore people to their west?

    3. Was merely making the point that HE used it as the pivot of his argument (for want of a better term). Was making no personal comment about Adelaidians myself, at all. Apologies if you took it that way.

  3. I like the revamp, and your writing is as lucid and interesting as ever.

    I wonder if Birmingham intended to only give your two cents one thousandth of its usual currency (because you're *gasp* a blogger) or whether the author/editors are actually unable to express numerals and text in a cohesive fashion. A generous reading (more than two cents worth) leads me to the believe that it is the former, in which case it is a rhetorical failure, but I have little confidence that the joke is not on their editorial skills...


  4. "Birmingham clings to the unproven theory that going into politicians’ homes and engaging them in the sorts of conversations you have with strangers on public transport is enormously valuable."

    I don't think he even does that. He's defending Crabb because book, money... WTF!

    It's amazing that he's even acknowledged your existence, but as usual with print dinosaurs, neither he nor his editors link to your post. So of course, few of his respondents know what your real point is -- that Crabb falsely spruiks her show as conveying political insight -- and he doesn't have to argue that (because he can't).

  5. Wow..

    I remember sering John Safran go after Ray Martin and sneak up to his house unannounced

    The rest is history and on you tube

    To this day I can't stand Ray Martin and his awful wife

    That's also why he was released from Catols By Candlelight because he was an asshole towards the kids on the show

    We need shows like that to expose them for who they really are sadly

    A bit of anarchy doesn't go astray...just a little bit is ok

  6. My two favorite female journalists in the United States

    Christiane Amanpour

    Barbara Walters

    Both very nice yet great journalists as well

    You can have both and still have some credibility left for your craft of journalism

    I don't want nice but kick ass babes. ..

  7. Haven't these dimwits ever seen the episode of the Simpsons when Burns comes to dinner as part of an election campaign?

    Clue for Birmo & 'Bell: It was the little girl that undid him, not the press

  8. It didn't take long for journos like John Birmingham to circle the wagons to defend one of their own from attack by the rampaging, uppity natives.

  9. Love the blog, even if I don't often like the style. The revamp has made it a million times worse. White over dark has never once worked in the history of ever, and should be thrown into the pit of hell never to return.

  10. Hi Andrew love your new blog very much. Hey where is the option to sign up for email alerts
    Cheers Lyn

  11. This is the first time I've seen one of the MSM journos actually recognise a blogger ie you, Andrew! You must have got up his nose! Feel proud! I love reading your blog about our media, their deficiencies, and the deficiencies of the Canberra Press Gallery. They have a lot to answer for. Keep on going. I think the alternative media has so much to offer, so much more than than the MSM, which I gave up on a while ago.

  12. Andrew, love reading your blog and think that if the MSM media is criticising you, all power to you! Keep on going! I have been so disillusioned with the standard of reporting from the media over the past ten or so years, have turned to the independent media on the net. I receive so much more information from them. Your thoughts on the Press Gallery and the MSM are so revealing. Who would ever watch any "Kitchen Cabinet" on Scott Morrison, a dangerous man indeed? God forbid if he ever becomes our PM.

  13. Like the new look and wish you luck on the success of your masthead's declaration. Sadly (depending upon your point of view) we are seeing the end of honest journalism as the owners/shareholders demand that only their truth be told, thus leaving the rest of us with ashes. The only reform we will get is when the majority of the population no longer rely on the major news outlets but get their information from the Net, like your site here and many more that are appearing around the world. I can't see it happening any other way as the dinosaurs running these existing 'majors' have slow drying concrete in their veins and their employees mirror their condition.

  14. It really is odd how they insist that a politician participating in a planned recording with a journalist to be televised on Australian television will be more genuine than their other public performances. Do they expect the thrill of cooking to distract from the half a dozen strangers in the room?

    It further begs the question, why do they pay any attention to politicians in public if a cooking show is more likely to expose their genuine self? What are the factors that undermine more genuine public expression? Do they benefit our democracy? Do journalists collectively work to support more examples of apparently informative 'genuine expression'? Where do leaks fall on the chart of genuine/disingenuous expression?

    Fortunately we have your blog to answer all of those questions, they didn't seem to occur to our lofty journalists.

  15. How can someone like Birmingham say this" "Part of the sickness of our politics the past few years has grown from an inability to see that not everything is political."
    She has a person on her show who is only on there because he is a politician!! That is the sole basis for the existence of the idiotic program. If you don't want politics don't have politicians. A political journalist, any journalist is not in the business of being nice to politicians and public figures. Question everything. To imagine a politician is going to agree to be on a show like that for any reason other than to project themselves as a decent person is to live in a parallel universe. Thus the show SHOULD NOT EXIST

  16. The telling part of Birmingham's piece was the bit about him having recently hung out with Annabelle and she was very nice and all. Of course.

  17. Imagine this guy's satisfaction levels , he spends his life working for Fairfax media, you would have more freedom if you joined the French Foreign Legion .

    Cheers Andrew

  18. Birmingham was the host for Crabbes BS in Brisbane hosted by my fave and so unnamed bookshop. He is a paid fanboy with mostly shit politics framed by some 'tude. Too rich to care anymore.