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In whose opinion?

An old friend, Nick, recently said that what was once news has now been replaced with a journalist’s view on the world. The journalist’s opinion is no longer secondary; today their opinions are the news.

Having spent many years in the USA and retaining an interest in their politics and their media, he commented that what he is starting to see creep into our media and presentation is this impression that the opinion of journalists is not only something nice to have for politicians, but is somehow more important to the public than the politicians and policies themselves. “Where have I seen that before?” he asked. Yes, FOX News, that world-renowned bastion of journalistic integrity known for it’s fair & balanced review of subjects. Where it is more important to know what a journalist (or more correctly, an “opinion entertainer“) thinks about a subject than it is to know about the subject itself. When that occurs, you start getting people carrying placards to political rallies, not about the policies they object to or want to see enacted, but bearing the name of journalists and thanking the heavens for their opinion.

His best guess is that it occurred when investigative journalism became too expensive compared to paying peanuts for the opinions of journalists, who then began to believe their own rubbish, and whose sense of their own importance grew to an unreasonable level not at all commensurate with their actual talent.

He summed it up:

You’d be excused for thinking today – going by a number of newspaper front pages, headlines and political commentary – that Australia had descended into Mad Magazine hell.

He cited, as an example, Julia Gillard. Rather than being hailed for her expert negotiating tactics and creating one of the most diverse governments in Australian history, we get instead from much of our media the type of reporting and imagery you’d expect from a bunch of attention-seeking, spotty misogynists, beer swilling and word wanking themselves into a fury in some American frat house … or a bunch of smart-arse UK toffs scoffing their ivory towered arses off by way of tabloid drivel. Again, his words.

The idea that Julia Gillard has become more than just a paragraph in the history books, Nick added, has really annoyed and frustrated plenty in our self-serving Fourth Estate … where public interest has fallen to the wayside as sensationalism, gossip and snarling have become the main courses served to the readers/viewers throughout the day.

He had often suspected that the MSM (mainstream media) in this country – much like the USA – have asserted as much influence as possible on Joe Citizen to have Joe vote for the party of their choice. They do this by ‘front paging’ the issues which support their cause. They don’t tell Joe who to vote for, but instead, what to base his/her vote on.

To test out Nick’s hypothesis I took a look at the musings of The Daily Telegraph’s much adored journalist, Piers Akerman. Musings is an appropriate word, however, I think “opinionated rubbish” would be more ideal. Here is a journalist who clearly is unable to write any article without lacing it with unsubstantiated opinion. He fits the bill of what Nick said earlier and which I’ll repeat again: “Where it is more important to know what a journalist (or more correctly, an “opinion entertainer“) thinks about a subject than it is to know about the subject itself“.

I started with Akerman’s “I watched a political show so comical it was a tragedy”. So was his journalism, a comical tragedy, that is. In his opinion, for example, the splashing across the front pages of our newspapers of the drug scandal rocking the major football codes was orchestrated by the Federal Government. Without any embarrassment he sloppily writes:

While real characters appeared in the Obeid Family and Julia’s Disintegrating Party, stars of the new sports-based show have yet to be revealed.

Writers for the Dopiest Sports must name some key players if the series is to build on initial ratings.

Few viewers could resist a show which began with the boast of “the blackest day in Aussie sport”, but without some substance to support the claims, interest could fall rapidly.

Scriptwriters include the Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the Therapeutic Goods Administration. The focus is on the AFL and NRL but main cast members remain shadowy.

As compelling as these programs are, there is the suggestion that the sports show has been rushed to air as a spoiler to woo viewers from the very successful Canberra saga.

Note his conclusion that “there is a suggestion …” without any indication of who might have suggested it. Note too, his earlier comment in the quote that “… without some substance to support the claims, interest could fall rapidly”. He wants substance, yet provides none himself. He is nothing more than a gossip columnist.

The next article I looked at was simply the same baseless opinion with the words re-arranged. Plus he was able to create some imaginary Labor figures to add some grand delusion to his opinion entertainment:

A number of senior Labor figures have compared the Gillard government’s performance over the past week with the dying days of the Whitlam government in 1975, marred by distrust.

Did he name those Labor figures? No. If they existed they could only be chased down for some facts, and facts conflict with opinions. But good old Piers, those Labor figures keep running to him. More appeared here:

Around the nation Labor politicians are shaking their heads and offering their critique of Julia Gillard’s decision to nominate an election date 226 days away.

Many are paraphrasing the catchphrase devastatingly used by slapstick comics Laurel and Hardy: “Well, here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into!”

I’d like to hear who those Labor politicians are and how many and who are paraphrasing the old comics. Again, those facts might get in the way of Akerman’s opinions. After all, he is the news. His opinions are greater than any worthwhile news event, any policy, or any politician.

Where there are no imaginary politicians on call to add credibility to an opinion piece one can rely on an un-named ‘distinguished eye surgeon’ to add support:

But Gillard’s new eyewear is straight out of central casting via focus group testing.

A distinguished eye surgeon told me that the new glasses were designed to mask Gillard’s heavy eyelids and give her the appearance or sense of a presbyopic school headmistress/grandparent and convey a knowledge/security/comfort/safety to the most primitive part of the brain stem.

That is, they were designed to create an image totally at odds with the Australian experience of her leadership and the nation’s knowledge of her character.

Goodness. I might phone a friend as well. Or I might bother half of the distinguished eye surgeons in the country and hopefully they won’t respond like a modelling agency. Akerman was ever so lucky to stumble across one who speaks his language. Or simply, shares his opinion.

Piers Akerman’s opinions are highly sought after. We see him on ABC Insiders most Sunday morning offering us nothing worthwhile. Just opinions. He well represents the mainstream media in this country. Like Nick said, a journalist’s opinion are no longer secondary in the news these days. Their opinions have replaced the news.

But there is hope and it comes from Akerman himself. He asks his readers this:

Please send all further examples of media stupidity to this site so they, too, can be entered in the judging to be held on the Saturday of the election or as soon as possible thereafter.

Perhaps he should read his own articles. There he will find a goldmine of data.

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  1. Cap'n Tim

    On the money again. Goodness, could piers really be the Hedda Hopper of Australian journalism ??? Hell yes. They even look the same!

  2. Catching up

    Migs, it is news to me, that an eye surgeon would interest himself in woman’s fashion.

    Maybe an optometrist, with a shop full of glasses to sell, a surgeon, no.

  3. Dion Kennedy

    Lol I will have to check with my ophthalmologist to see if he also sidelines as an image advisor/stylist. Perhaps he’s not distinguished enough to take it on. It’s a sad reflection,when this type
    of man is able to wield influence over so many.

  4. Gaik Ng

    The Daily Telegraph is an “easy to read” tabloid. The paragrahs are short, packed with drama and sensationalism to hold anyone with an attention span of ten seconds. Piers Ackerman actually thinks many people are reading his articles…he is arrogant and self deluded.

  5. Truth Seeker

    Migs, “Another fine article you’ve got us into” 😀 Nice one!

    What can one say about Piers other than he is a a self serving, self opinionated, boring, lying, silly old queen, (no reference, necessarily, to sexuality) who has been credited with the original version of that famous “Bestiality” comment made by that other knob Bernardi. 😯

    Cu, yes that sounds more like something a fashionista or image consultant might come up with.

    Maybe his choice of the word ‘distinguished’ instead of ’eminent’ is telling, maybe the surgeon moonlights as a fashion consultant in his spare time? 🙄

    Cheers 😀

  6. Ricky (Tory Torcher)

    This is problem I have with cocaine fiend and the out of court settled sexual harrasser Whackman is he never prints fact and is at best a hack with attrocious public debating and speaking skills. Last time he was on Q&A he embarressed himself. I would not read a word he scribed, he is benieth me and an insult to anyone over a single didgit IQ. He is pompous and arrogant without any reason (no pillar of academic intellect here, not even a best selling work of mediocrity)He is crap at his job (been passed over many times for prime jobs, sued successfuly for lies & sexual harassment and sacked for plagiarism). Whackyman is an industry joke and the garden variety telegraph readers are his punch line. Now if you will excuse me all of this talk of Whackyman has loosed my bowel and I’m off for a Whakyman only issue with the telegraph is its not printed on two ply, the on second thought I would not even do the paper work with it or anything else Murdoch produced.

  7. higgs boson

    Migs, someone has to feed the sheep and who better than Piers

  8. Kay Bushnell

    Well, a right good (substantiated) opinion piece here! And a double whammy for me! Your opinion of Piers Ackerman matches mine exactly. Of course I don’t get to read much of his guff because I don’t buy the Telegraph – and he is one of the reasons why I do just that!

  9. helen browne

    I agree with all of this .Who are al these Labor members he imagines talk to him.Not likely.

  10. Min

    I find it amazing how a journo such as Piers has suddenly become a fashion expert in things such as ladies eye-glasses. These eye-glasses (of course) have meaning, that Gillard is a presbyopic school headmistress/grandparent and (attempting to) convey a knowledge/security/comfort/safety to the most primitive part of the brain stem. However, Abbott dressed (or undressed) in various macho man attire is just “him” and is not meant to convey any message whatsoever. Written Piers-style, one could claim: Abbott is attempting to convey a message of male dominance/his own masculine superiority over lesser mortals.

  11. rossleighbrisbane

    I guess it’s not the Piers Akermans (or Akermen?) that bother me. On one level his ilk are preaching to the choir, and the ‘evidence’ they use to support their opinions are unlikely to convince the unconverted. What worries me is the entire media’s portrayal of the Gillard Government as ‘desparate’, ‘in survival mode’, ‘hanging on’,
    ‘rocked’, and so on. Slipper and Thompson notwithstanding, we’ve seen nothing like the number of ministers who stood down or left under Howard,children overboard, or the AWB scandal (“Yes, there were rumours of wrongdoing, but we asked them were they true and they said no, so you can’t accuse the Government of sitting on its hands.”) Even the recent poll, portrayed Howard as receiving a ‘ringing endorsement’ as the most popular PM in the past 25 years on 35% of the vote, completely overlooking that he was the ONLY Liberal PM, meaning that those who were on the Labor side of politics had their vote split 4 ways.
    Gillard is still being presented as having no chance, in spite of her opponent being a potential Latham, Hockey contradicting himself regularly on the economy, Robb asserting that eliminating the Carbon Tax will save them $30 billion when in government, and Christopher Pyne, just being Christopher Pyne. Throw in Barnaby Joyce, and while the Liberals may still win, there’s no way I’d be taking the short odds on offer!

  12. Eileen Naseby

    I had an interchange with PA about David Hicks 6 years ago. Nothings changed. He is still confused or worse.
    I wrote ” Dear Piers

    I am confused by your article 14/1/2007 in which you and John Howard both find it virtually impossible to apply ‘the presumption of innocence” to the David Hicks case. Why should this principle not apply to the David Hicks case when it is part of our “our bedrock belief”.. Please understand that many of us who have expressed our concerns about his predicament have not done so because we are “eager to portray him… as a misguided youth”. Potentially we do understand Hick’s actions may prove to have been heinous, traitorous and deserving of even more time in prison than he has served already. What we are more concerned about is the very undermining of our “bedrock belief in the rule of law and in particular (that) presumption of innocence.”

    Why is John Howard “especially mindful…that many Australians would find it hard to accept that a person who knowingly trained with a terrorist organisation against whom Australians were subsequently engaged in battle was not fully brought to justice.” ? What does he mean by the word “ fully’ ?

    Yesterday an old man was decapitated in his backyard in Armidale, a revolting and disgusting crime. Hopefully the killer will be soon apprehended and tried. No doubt the rule of law will apply in this case so that neither you nor John Howard will be allowed to venture a public opinion as to the defendants guilt or innocence until his trial is complete which I assume will take place in less than five years . This is all we ask for in the case of Hicks. The nature of his supposed crime should not justify in any way his right to due process of law .

    He replied “Eileen:
    We’re talking about a man who swore to murder Christians and Jews who was picked up with an AK-47 and a bag of grenades in a war zone.
    Civil law dopes not apply but he is being given a trial, what are you suggesting? That he be bailed, that his weapons be returned and he be given a ticket to Somalia?
    You are indeed confused.

    Piers Akerman

    I rest my case

  13. andyrob

    ” Musings is an appropriate word, however, I think “opinionated rubbish” would be more ideal. Here is a journalist who clearly is unable to write any article without lacing it with unsubstantiated opinion.”

    Absolutely spot on Migs.

    It is great to see that the likes of this fine blog and others are applying the pressure on the MSM to finally report and not just provide their own speclative self agendered bull shit.

    When will they actually start pushing the LNP on any of their so called policies. The country deserves to understand fully what they are about. Sick to death of them dodging any pertinent questions asked and then the MSM just letting it slip and go of the radar.

  14. John Lord

    ‘It is a pity that fact in journalism cannot be made compulsory and decency legislated’

  15. Truth Seeker

    John, I agree completely, and have been talking for a long time about a Canadian style Truth in Media legislation for Australia, with decent penalties for offenders.

    And it would be very interesting to watch the main protagonists ague against telling the truth, and clearly tagging opinion pieces as OPINION. 😯

    Cheers 😀

  16. Natalie

    Senior Liberal Party sources have confirmed that Piers has taken residence in the Head Quarter Gentleman’s convenience in an endeavour to ensure that every visiting Young Liberal is greeted with the “gland-of-friendship”.

    Sources also report that sometimes the giggling can be quite distracting.

  17. Buff McMenis

    OK, mate … you are in TRUBBLE!!!! There should have been a warning sticker on the front of this article! Fancy me opening up the whole thing and the first face I see is that fat, fatuous fart of a fake journalist!!! WARNING, WARNING .. THIS IS ABOUT FAKERY! Not nice! 🙁 Very true but certainly not nice.

  18. Crash Skeptic

    1 – Love him or loathe him, but as far as I have seen in the print-edition of the DT, Piers is always in the op-ed section. ie: He’s clearly identified as an opinion writer.

    2 – You guys seriously believe that all the leaks of Labor ministers grumbling and griping is just the invention of Conservatives? It’s easy to provide a link to an arch-conservative like Piers and dismiss it… because its Piers.

    But that doesn’t change the fact that the entire press gallery knows about it, and it has been reported widely from all sides of the spectrum (Fairfax and ABC included).

    Gillard even went as far as to lecture the Caucus about there being too many leaks (which, in an amusing yet-oh-so-predictable way was immediately leaked.) And Leigh Sales was grilling Roxon about it on 730 report the other night.

    Given that you lot react to News Ltd stories like vampires to garlic, here’s the same story from Fairfax:

    “One thing sure to ”leak” is a prime ministerial lecture to the troops about leaking. So you have to wonder why Julia Gillard would have left herself so open at her first caucus of the year.

    Surely there was a better way to stress the need for unity than telling her party that journalists had informed her when they returned from holidays they had messages from a number of ALP MPs wanting to give negative assessments of the government.

    The Prime Minister’s frustration that everything she does is seen in a bad light is obvious.

    She feels herself, and indeed is, victim of a media storm but she knows those in her own ranks have fanned the winds.”

  19. Miglo

    But Buff, I took every step in selecting one of his better photos. 😉

  20. Natalie

    When the Prime Minister had her first meeting with blow hart Alan Jones, Alan used the anonymous questioning tome of – some people are saying that you should be called Juliar. So, instead of saying fine, tell me what those people want to know, and what are your questions ? She continued to accommodate the bastard.

    Question Time Thursday – Andrew Robb asks a question of Wayne Swan where the AAA rating is an issue. Andrew says it was always so, Wayne says that is not true… Why did he not say that you are a lying piece of shit ?

    I am so fed up with this gutless attitude. There is no way I am going to be run over by this born-to-rule bunch of wankers like Jones, Bolt, Ackerman along with right wing militarist like Cory Bernardi.

    I have truly had enough of being pushed around. Packer can cry because he wants his casino and we can mine pristine Tasmania !!!

    Bullshit ! I want a fight .

  21. Mark Hyde

    Dear of dear, only poor Ackers could pass this off a a distracting and destructive attack on sport…like his opinion is the crux of the story.

    This is what happens with columnists these days. They take serious nes stories and twist to their own prejudices and biases and then that often becomes how the narrative around the story is formed and played on from there.

    Well Piers, I’m glad I watch REAL entertainment. The FAKE kind is the drivel you serve up and your court jesters are the Federal Coalition front bench.

    Most definitely the ‘C’ grade side…..:P

  22. Min

    Crash Skeptic, that is it. Piers is an opinion writer, not an investigative writer. He is a person whose job it is to provide an opinion (his own) which does not in any way, shape or form mean that he is reporting information in a factual manner. Nor does it mean that his opinion is without extreme bias.

    Unfortunately the way that opinion piece writers/radio voices advance themselves in recent times is that their opinion is the only opinion and woe betide anyone who might put forward a dissenting opinion. One might be subjected to ridicule and debasing comments if one dares to.

    I personally try to look at achievements, look to the future and what can be achieved. In this one I have criticised the government on issues including refugees and marriage equality..but hell, this government is far better than anything which an Abbott-led government might offer. But that’s just my opinion…..

  23. Miglo

    But I didn’t quote unnamed sources.

  24. Miglo

    My point is that most of the journalists in this country write nothing but sensationalist rubbish.

    I’d hardly think Akermsn’s eye surgeon specialist is as credible as the person who brought down Nixon.

  25. Truth Seeker

    I have watched (to my disgust) Akerman on Insiders, and his writing like his live performances show that the man is nothing more than self absorbed moron, basking in his own, perceived, intellect, or in lay-mans terms… A legend in his own lunch box 🙁

    Not only is he more than capable of lying, he is also more than capable of fabricating sources to justify his own rabid right bias, and hiding behind the law that protects journos (?) from scrutiny, by quoting unnamed/imaginary sources with impunity.

    His bestiality comment, outed on The insiders, shows the sad state of a mind that is employed to voice opinion 👿

    Migs, in MHO you got it dead right 😀

    Cheers 😀

  26. Truth Seeker

    BTW, if there was legislation to force journos to disclose sources to a judge in a closed court for the purpose of validating claims of unnamed sources, when required, then I think you would find a lot of so called journos would think twice.

    just sayin’ 😀

  27. janama

    Akerman is an opinion writer – his equivalent in the SMH is Mike Carlton who is just as opinionated and just as biased but from the left.
    Both the Australian and The SMH have links specifically designated “OPINION”
    That’s what newspapers do.

  28. Pingback: No names, please | Café Whispers

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