Australian Media Fuelling Doubt with Speculation Specfest


It hasn’t taken ABC Radio National’s Breakfast program long to get back to normal. Its bleak view of the world in general and Australia in particular was in full swing this morning.

Presenter Fran Kelly and Michelle Grattan, daily guest from Fairfax’s newspaper The Age, shared their usual specfest about the national political scene. They hit a new low, discussing the speculation that there may be further ministerial resignations from the Gillard government before the 14 September election.

The analysis: “it is fuelling doubt”. It’s all about perceptions: “impressions of chaos”, “perceptions have taken over”. As Kelly noted, Grattan’s article on Saturday argued that “JULIA Gillard’s problems with her reshuffle will be how it is perceived”.

By whom, the press gallery? I’m sure they’re not using terms such as “sinking ship” or “spinning out of control”. On ABC Tv news, Greg Jennett offered this gem when introducing Gillard’s press conference with the two retiring ministers: “These are the melancholy days of governing”. An “emotional” event in the PM’s words, a sad day. Why the hyperbole, with an emotive, negative and inaccurate word like “melancholy”?

Just who is fuelling doubt? What was the origin of this speculation? Michelle’s take on more resignations: there are “none known about. The government probably doesn’t expect anymore”. BUT “you never know what happens”.

There aren’t even the usual anonymous party sources or leaks used as justification for this kind of beat-up.

You can listen to the segment here.

This kind of negativity goes hand-in-hand with the constant talking-down of the Australian economy. If you believed the gloom on Breakfast and other ABC programs, you’d have sold all your shares months ago and slashed your financial wrists.

Another Fairfax journalist is grappling with this problem. Economics editor Ross Gittins wonders:

It’s long been clear from polling that the electorate doesn’t regard the government as good at managing the economy.

Why this should be so is a puzzle.

At least Ross usually tries to counter this perception. The headline might well be a factor: Why voters believe the economy is in trouble

Another Fairfax publication, the Australian Financial Review, joined in the specfest in
Gillard feared leadership tilt. According to Phillip Coorey and Laura Tingle:

Fear of sparking a leadership ballot at the end of last year was a key ­reason Julia Gillard delayed until last week the decision to reshuffle her cabinet.

Or did she? Later the article gives the game away. It clearly contradicts itself under the sub-heading MEDIA SPECULATION:

While the Prime Minister did not think there was a likelihood of an actual challenge, media speculation at the time was stoking unrest.

Perhaps Phillip and Laura took turns to write paragraphs.

Apparently, the Insiders managed to get to policy matters 47 minutes into the hour-long TV show. I’ll rely on twitter as the source. It’s as reliable as “you never know what happens”!

Anyway the current specfest is a substitute for the usual mindless speculation about the date of the election or the Kevin Rudd challenge meme. When there is no challenge or likelihood of one, the journos have to dance around it, creating their own smoke.

This post originally appeared on Kevin’s blog Labor View from Bayside

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Categories: Politics

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14 replies

  1. Kevin; as always a fine scribe with spot on perspective. Gratin has such a lack of political perception, she has been constantly wrong on just about everything she postulates. She is at the point of desperately trying to create her own news by simply “making shit up” out of delusional desperation. Her credibility is down in the depths with Whacky tobaccyman and Bolt..

  2. Ricky

    Michelle lost all her own credibility early last year when she decided to takes sides: Credibility gone, PM should fall on her sword

  3. Good article Kevin, gap between reality and perception is result of MSM (R-P=MSM). Its their job to report the truth. There is a real growing frustration with the lack of credibilty of MSM…..

  4. Great article. I am glad several bloggers have come out like this. Looking at Age on iPad and their articles deplorable. Also watched first time SkyNews with a Paul someone, same thing. All up the put. They will go the same way as Fox News in America. Fox were so totally wrong about American people and Obama. Keep it up Kevin.

  5. Absolutely Kevin, that was the one that rung loud and true for me, seems she will now be teaching incompetence

  6. Imrh5

    Ta! The ABC have some of the best journalists anywhere. It’s a pity that most of those covering OZ politics have become part of the group think. Fairfax have some like Jo Chandler and Ben Cubby who maintain their credibility and produce quality journalism but they are getting thin on the ground.

  7. It is said of pornography (and I am not expert in this field) that in order to maintain the viewers interest it needs to progressively become more outlandish – more tantalising – more seductive-more flirtatious-more provocative – more stunning and more enticing. And in their desire to maintain some dominance,that’s exactly what the MSM is doing. It has chosen to prostitute itself in the forlorn hope of remaining relevant.

  8. Nice one Kevin, and spot on.

    I watched 7 & 9 morning shows today and both were almost gloating over the latest polls, only detailing the news poll as it is the worst and spinning out of control over what a disaster it is for Labor. The sleaze Richo even went so far as to say that the “News Poll” is the one that all pollies take notice of, and is a complete disaster for Labor. :shock:

    Keep up the good work :cool:

    Cheers :smile: :grin:

  9. So Michelle finally takes the plunge: Grattan quits Age with call for diversity If Grattan was a pollie would the headline be: Deserting Fairfax’s Sinking Ship

  10. Spoke too soon: “Ms Grattan said she would be remaining in the Press Gallery at Parliament House.” She will be joining “The Conversation as associate editor (politics) and chief political correspondent”. Now that’s a strange development for that website. Perhaps we should offer the same job at AIMN to Laurie Oakes. Duelling dinosaurs.

  11. “MINDLESS”! What a glorious word for today’s unthinking journalists! And is Grattan sure she wasn’t “given the boot” from The Age? I’m not so sure.

  12. How does an academic representing a not-for-profit blogsite (The Conversation) get to be part of the press gallery? Forgot – it’s a club!

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