An information alternative
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