Monday 9 April 2018
Thoughts of the master interviewer, Kerry O’Brien, came rushing back to me as I was watching “Insiders” yesterday. There is nothing wrong with the show. It just suffers from the boredom of time. A sort of longevity of sameness that requires a bit of rehashing.
There is nothing wrong with the subjectivity. They covered the week’s events adequately but it lacks its former spark. At 68, Barrie Cassidy is a little old. He doesn’t seem to have any punch in his interviews anymore. Yesterday was a case in point.
He seemed to let Josh Frydenberg get away with much more than he should have. I don’t have the answers to any of these questions but the whole thing has become rather bland.
They started the show with reference to Friday’s IPOS Poll that now seems to, because of the new way of allocating preferences, place the Coalition within grasp of pulling off a stunning win at the next election. It was an attempt by Fairfax to upstage Murdoch on the eve of “30 Polls Day.”
Remember prior to Christmas, the polls edged closer together and the media had them in a remarkable turnaround phase. Now it’s happened again.
Anyway back to Frydenberg. Barrie asks him every question he could about the government: Building new power plants, the Monash Ginger group, buying Liddell Power station, Abbott cycling through the La Trobe Valley, was it testing the Prime Ministers authority and many more.
But not a bite from Josh who has a degree in sounding reasonable while saying nothing. He did smile though at a question about socialists building power stations. He didn’t even blush about governments telling business what to do. Ideology means nothing when it suits, I thought to myself.
They moved onto culture in politics and it was then that it hit me that I had already written on the same subject this year. So I looked it up and there it is.
One of the perils of writing every day is that you must have an exceptional memory.
At the end of it, I felt a sense of nothingness. I couldn’t think of anything in particular that offended me, although I wasn’t exactly feeling offended. They had covered all of the bases, joined all the dots, so to speak. Bland, that was it, that’s the word to best describe the program.
In a year when it’s highly possible that an election might be called, both the journalists and the presenter all seemed to have not shaken off the lethargy associated with this time of the year.
The interview with the Prime Minister looked pre-recorded, rather rushed, and the questions a little insipid. Turnbull made a poor fist of defending his tax cuts against a 20% increase in company profits, and wages being held down. He refused to say where the money (what services would be cut) would come from to pay for these cuts. 259 of 350 comments on the interview on Facebook were negative.
The program didn’t seem to capture or reflect the intensity of the political atmosphere that is permeating the community.
Perhaps I should be using the word “stale”. As I said, they joined all the dots covering the missing Cabinet papers that the Cabinet had passed onto another cabinet. Then came Medicare, Citizenship, the Batman by-election, the cost of living and the economics that go with it.
The three journalists all agreed that trickle-down economics had not worked and was being debated within the major economies. I wondered at one stage if Labor’s formal acceptance of a national ICAC as policy might get a mention given that 83% of the population want it.
At the same time, in the back of my mind was how the media, prior to Christmas, had changed the dynamics, or the mood of our politics to show that Turnbull was now in with a show.
Everything has changed. Being the worst Government in Australia’s history has been forgiven because the media doesn’t want an election without scandal, without controversy. They want all of that together with a close contest.
I’m not for one minute suggesting that Insiders was unprofessional, biased or unbalanced. The conversations were well covered, although the environment seems to have gone out of fashion. They agreed and disagreed with each other.
My thought for the day.
“People need to wake up to the fact that government affects every part of their life (other than what they do in bed) and should be more interested. But there is a political malaise that is deep-seated”
PS Yesterday, I inadvertently indicated that the Coalition had suffered 60 losing polls in a row. This was of course incorrect.