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Careless whispers nothing to dance about

In my years of being old enough to know what an election campaign is, I cannot recall one so inundated with media tales of what unnamed persons have to say.

The number of stories quoting unnamed Party sources, primarily on Labor’s side of the political coin has been nothing short of staggering – nameless “ministers”, “senior party officials”, “party heavyweights”,  “senior sources”, “powerbrokers”, “spokespersons” and the rest of that particular journalistic nomenclature.

It’s been incredible.  For my part, I’ve been deeply cynical and skeptical about it.  It was much easier to believe that a biased media was just making stuff up.  Mind you, in truth, there’s no way to show they are.

Then came the Gillard leadership spill of June 2013, about which there had been whispers aplenty.

On top of that, we’ve come to learn that Kevin Rudd has a weaker bladder than Julian Assange.  The journalists were seemingly vindicated.

But that leaves me, as a Labor supporter, with a terrible reality to face: Labor personnel are actively undermining their own party.  It beggars belief but it seems to be the only alternative to media mendacity.

Has the relationship between Labor and journalists become too cozy, too personal, too endowed with self-interest and ambition to be tolerable?  Or is Labor just politically inept?

Of course, the relationship between politicians and the media is a complex and important one, but I can’t help but think it’s become something corrosive to our political culture and especially dangerous to Labor.

Generally speaking, Journalists are supposed to report the news, not be part of it.

Brisbane’s Courier Mail ran a story today posing the question of whether it would have been better for Labor to have gone into the election campaign with Julia Gillard.

whispers

Courier Mail Website

Now, the story is pure, tabloid schlock, and goes so far as to use a manipulative photo taken from the funeral of Joan Child (Australia’s first female Federal Speaker), presumably just so they could slip in the Slipper.

It’s not the first time that the Courier Mail, or News Limited generally, have disrespected this sombre occasion in their opinion pieces.  But the interesting and pertinent thing about the story is that it contains multiple quotes from unnamed Ministers and “powerbrokers”.

Just two months since the Labor Party dramatically switched its leader, some senior members of the Government are now complaining that Ms Gillard would have performed better than Mr Rudd.

 

The minister said Ms Gillard would have slowly improved Labor’s vote, while under Mr Rudd it soared and then plummeted.

 

“One of the questions that will be asked is would Gillard have met Rudd on the way down? In the end, we’ll never know,” the source said.

 

“She made mistakes, no doubt, and she made mistakes under pressure. But she was much cooler under pressure and she coped with a greater intensity.”

If based on recent history, we’re forced to accept that these quotes are real, one has to wonder out loud: what the hell is going on?

Why would senior Party figures be speaking to members of the Murdoch press in such a fashion at a time when Labor is busily pushing the idea that News Limited is out to get them?

Why would they be saying things to journalists that they know will result in damaging “news” stories?  Are they mad?  I simply cannot fathom it.

I invite readers to offer their speculations and theories.  Heaven knows I could use a theory that doesn’t have me catching flies, mouth agape.

17 comments

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  1. johnlord2013

    Enjoying your work Dan.

  2. Dan Rowden

    Thank you, John. It’s a privilege to be part of the team.

  3. cassilva48

    The Courier Mail’s byline is THE VOICE OF AUSTRALIA – ELECTION 2013. OH YEAH – No one told me that. This is clearly an attempt to raise the idea in voter’s heads of another round of Labor’s factional infighting. The editor must think the public, are stupid. If they are so convinced that this is happening, then provide the public with the names of those labor senators that are reportedly saying this.

    This is Murdoch style reporting, all wind but no substance.

  4. CMMC

    “Senior Party figures” could possibly describe Latham and Richo.

  5. richo

    Looks like a beat up to me. This is murdoch. this is his style. Bluff bluster and never back down regardless of how untennible the situation is.

  6. Michael Taylor

    It’s good to have you on the team, Dan. You join a list of great writers such as John, Victoria, Carol, Ross, Kay, Barry, Matthew, OzFenric and a couple of others.

  7. ()

    Not surprised in the least. Do you know that Mr Rudd refuses to answer this simple question.

    When did you stop beating your wife?

  8. Terry.

    A story from the courier mail, enough said.

  9. cartoonmick

    Like many people in Australian, my head spins faster every day this campaign goes on.

    Regardless of the outcome, all the smoke and mirrors will leave us with tears in our eyes and be bleeding from the cuts.

    The cartoonists will be the only winners.

    Cheers

    Mick

  10. Michael Taylor

    I forgot to mention our guest authors such as Douglas Evans and Boxlid among them.

  11. Oscar

    it’s not just all these faceless quoted people it’s the insanity of every TV Network and “our” frigging ABC repeating every bit of tosh as though it’s ‘news’. Bad enough we have Limited news but does every other outlet have to blindly follow like sheep?

  12. Colin Thai

    It’s been wonderful reading all the great articles you have all been doing in this forum, I would just love to know if that Abbott snake gets the castle, will we be still getting these informative articles from you all…… I was just thinking, I just hope you are not all sent to the Gulag !!!!!! . Anyway lads and lasses your articles have kept me going thru all the newspaper B/S, thanking you all…….

  13. helenmarg

    Here Here Colin, well said . Also Dans excellent article.Thank you.

  14. Fed up

    Well one would expect these stories. What amazes me, they have taken so long.

    Latham actual wrote a good article FR on the opportunistic Abbott to day.

  15. J.Fraser

    Chinese whispers did not end when Wendi Deng left the octogenarian.

    Murdoch just started using them against the Labor party.

    News Corp as a company Registered in the U.S. is liable for Federal action against it in relation to the bribery charges in England.

    Naturally the guilty charge against the Courier Mail, after the Chief Justice of the Family Court complained to the Australian Federal Police (AFP), will not be a good look when all is added up against the Murdoch interests.

    http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/the-couriermail-pleads-guilty-to-family-law-breach-in-the-italian-sisters-custody-case-20130823-2sfii.html

    Naturally I feel guilty (ha) about contacting these people :

    http://www.newshounds.us/fired_fox_exec_lawyers_up_08272013

    And letting them know what is going on here.

  16. Umberto Ledfooti

    I recall how, many years ago, Bob Hawke brilliantly dealt with an interviewer citing “a man” as his source…

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