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.
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.