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We need to talk about Steve

After watching Steve Price block Van Badham’s attempts to speak about the cultural problem of disrespect to women, in what could have been a training video to teach people exactly what disrespect to women looks like, I was angry. It wasn’t just that Steve was being rude and aggressive, interrupting Van while it was her turn to speak. It wasn’t just that he used the oh-so-typical-sexist description of Van as ‘hysterical’, attempting to put her back in her place, to tell the silly woman to shut up. I am used to seeing privileged-middle-aged-white-men treating women like this, including me, all the time. No, the thing that made me most angry is that this behaviour is Steve’s bread-and-butter. This is what he gets paid to do. He is a shock jock. The ruder he is, the more controversial, the more unpleasant, belittling and unapologetic he is, the more he succeeds in his career. That made me angry, not just at Steve, but at our whole society, which not only normalises Steve’s behaviour, but incentivise him to keep it up.

If we lived in a fair and respectful society, the Steves of the world wouldn’t be paid to be nasty and rude. When we bring up our children to have good manners, to treat girls and boys as equals, to show other people, even those we disagree with, respect, and then they grow up to see the Steves of the world being paid huge sums of money to be the opposite of all these things, what standards are we setting as acceptable in our society? What behaviour are we ‘normalising’ for the media audience? What are we telling everyone watching that it’s ok to do to others?

The more shocking Steve is, the more likely he is to move up the shock-jock career ladder. The more controversial, the more likely he is to get a regular seat on TV shows like The Project and ABC’s Q and A. These shows, and other similar programs, such as ABC’s The Drum and Insiders, justify having Steves on their shows in the pursuit of balance. Steve represents the ‘right wing’ perspective. It’s not clear who is balancing out the ‘left wing’ perspective; is anyone who doesn’t yell at others and generally be insolent, grumpy and disparaging about everyone else automatically count as left wing? As I saw pointed out on Twitter recently, to really balance out the Steves, or the right-wing representatives from shady-paid-to-think-tank-organisations such as the IPA, you would need a representative from the Socialist Alliance or even the Communist Party to balance out the extreme views espoused by these so-called commentators. How often do the media have a communist on a panel, or even a self-proclaimed socialist? Very rarely as far as I can tell, and when they do have one (Van identifies as a socialist), they get hectored to the point of silence by the Steves of the world and the producers think this is fantastic entertainment. Is this balance? Is this fair?

Even if you accept this shallow procedural formulaic tick-the-box token-rude-right-winger on every panel, what do the Steves of the world show us about the way ‘right wing’ representatives are allowed to behave? I often hear the argument that the Pauline Hansons, Steve Prices, Andrew Bolts, Alan Jones, Tim Wilsons, Piers Akermans, Cory Bernardis, Miranda Devines, Paul Murrays, Gerard Hendersons and all the other myriad representatives of ‘the right’ should be given a platform to share their nasty perspectives of the world so that more reasonable people can pull them up on their views, and we can have mature conversations about what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in our society. But Steve Price’s attack on Van Badham, which shut down her ability to express her very valid argument, is a perfect example of why, in practice, these right wingers always get away with doing nothing other than offending people, denigrating, refusing to be polite, refusing to back down when they’re quite obviously wrong, interrupting, never listening and generally personifying troll-like behaviour at every opportunity. And what do they get for this behaviour? Another seat on another television show or another column in a newspaper, or a highly lucrative job on a television or talk-back radio show. And what does society learn? That this behaviour is acceptable and the representatives of the ‘right’ can behave however they want because, you know, that’s just how they are. Really?

I’m personally sick of it. I’m sick of media organisations favouring this rudeness over rational, the bullying over fair, the shouting and nastiness over considered and eloquent. The media have fed the normalisation of behaviour which has led our society to assume that to be ‘right wing’ means you automatically get away with being a horrible person, but to be ‘left wing’ means you automatically have to put up with people being horrible to you, and this is just the way the world works. The more horrible you are as a right-winger, the more valued you are in the media. The more colourful, the more lucrative. It’s blatantly ridiculous.

This situation is never going to change until we have some standard of what is considered acceptable behaviour and there are negative consequences, rather than incentives, for behaving this way. I enjoyed watching The Project hosts Carrie Bickmore and Waleed Aly criticising Steve Price’s attack on Van Badham. In this interview, Steve admitted he didn’t care if the word ‘hysterical’ is deeply-sexist; he is going to keep using it anyway because, like a four year old, or Donald Trump, ‘he tells it like it is’. But the result of this interview is nothing unless it finished with one of the hosts saying ‘do you know what Steve? We’re not going to give you a platform to be rude to people anymore. We’re better than this and we don’t think it is good television to let you offend people from a privileged position on a national prime-time television show. We won’t have you on our panel anymore’. Only when this starts happening will the Steves get the message about the standards of acceptable behaviour in our society. It’s all very well for there to be public backlash, and for advertisers to withdraw sponsorship due to controversy, which I applaud. But Alan Jones still has his job. Sam Newman still has his job. Cory Bernardi still gets a spot on the Liberal senate ticket. What on earth will it take for these people to be told enough is enough? You can have a debate, sure. But there is absolutely no excuse for rudeness, put-downs, discrimination, sexism, personal-mockery and bullying. We don’t want our children behaving like this; it’s time we stopped accepting and promoting public figures who won’t live up to this standard.


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  1. Jaquix

    Steve Price (and his ilk) are gutter trash. You can see by the lines etched on his face, that he is just a grumpy badtempered old man.
    Although as it turned out, the Price/Badham bit is highly illuminating of both of them, Tony Jones was actually remiss in not stopping Price from so rudely interrupting. Possibly that was deliberate, to see how it panned out. Or possibly he was just being weak.

  2. Phil Buckley

    Weak I suspect. Perhaps if the article named the sponsors of Price people could at least boycott them.

  3. kerri

    Great article Victoria! Could not agree more! And the rudeness and lack of civility has spread widely in our parliament as well and we all know who started the pugilistic attitudes!

  4. Douglas Kennedy

    Hi Victoria. I totally agree with your article. However, the problem is that writers such as yourself give SP the oxygen he needs to be commercially successful. His editors probably have the attitude of ‘we don’t care if folk love or hate SP as long as they tune in.’ The ultimate answer to the SPs of this world is how would you feel if the female target was your mother, daughter, sister or (in my case) granddaughter? Keep on truckin’ Victoria

  5. Winston

    I have since read up on Van Dam after this week. She is so articulate, brave and sassy.I hope she goes into politics as an Independant.She’s just too much for the Neanderthal bully males.And for some women i would suggest also.

    Van’s speech on what’s wrong with with left is very insightful and intelligent

    This is me giving a critique of the Australian left in three minutes

  6. Florence nee Fedup

    Steve & his ilk aren’t saying it as it is. Like the four year old, they are saying it as they see it.

    Most four year olds grow up, realising there is more to life than they knew at four.

    Learnt that sometimes one can be wrong, what one says can hurt.

    Learnt that one can’t go around hitting who they like. Not on in any reasonable society. They also learn same goes for the words that come out of their mouths. Deliberately hurting others is not on.

  7. helvityni

    Kaye Leigh, agree about John Hewson, it also helps that he’s just about the only Liberal who has a sense of humour . Have seen him happily push a pram, which many older Aussie males see as a too sissy activity…

    I refused to watch The Insiders when I found Akerman or Bolt on the panel. Tony Jones often gives less time to women on his show, maybe Price was there to boost ratings..

  8. diannaart


    You have translated my various thoughts into worthy prose on this issue of over paid and over valued extreme right purveyors.

    This talk of ‘balance’ – when balance is considered achieved by the right when an extremist among them is given massive time on the MSM, WITHOUT, as you pointed out, an accompanying extreme lefty. Placing far-right-wing-nuts on moderate or mainstream is not balance and they continue to get away with it. Price was not remotely reflective on his hysterical response to a difference of opinion by Van Badham.

    I have yet to hear someone point out that Van Badham’s comments only had a passing element of ‘hysteria’ and that was when she finally responded to Steve’s confected outrage by saying her “ovaries made her do it” – and, yes, that was humour, also lost on Price. Until then everything Van Badham had to say was reasonable, from pointing out that Steve had not given any consideration to the horror story given by a brother on the murder of his sister, to not listening at all to the content of what Van Badham had to say; he was simply waiting for a point when he could stop her from talking. Yes, he does get paid to do this.

    How Waleed Aly has managed to gain such a position in the mainstream and keep on is a wonder. However, I would hardly call Aly or Bickmore, for that matter, as anything except moderate – not a balance to Steve Price for that we would need an extreme difficult to find on the left apart from a Stalin-esque communist. Some balance indeed.

  9. David

    For the life of me I don’t know why people watch this stuff! I stopped watching TV after my wife died in 2005. The News is legal propaganda, the talk shows are mind-numbing ego trips for the panel, shock jocks and other “entertainers”. Why encourage the merchants of distraction, when there are so many other wonderful experiences life has to offer? If all else fails, read a book, load your mind with new software!

  10. Phil

    The majority ‘right-wing’ commentariat in Australia, and the USA, is in a state of perpetually arrested intellectual development, which is why they cannot debate, turning instead, when intellectual pressure is applied, to aggression, insult and bigotry. Van Badham’s intellectualism threatens these infants of the right and long may she reign over them!

    Now we have the Internet, the world is so much more interactive and interesting so there is no real need to resort to the passivity of TV and radio, the habitat of these right-wing mental pygmies.

  11. stephentardrew

    Great article. Spot on as usual Kaye Hewson would be a definite improvement.

  12. Osiris

    @David: “For the life of me I don’t know why people watch this stuff! I stopped watching TV after my wife died in 2005. The News is legal propaganda, the talk shows are mind-numbing ego trips for the panel, shock jocks and other “entertainers”. Why encourage the merchants of distraction, when there are so many other wonderful experiences life has to offer? If all else fails, read a book, load your mind with new software!”

    I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  13. diannaart

    David & Osiris prefer to comment but not watch.


  14. olddavey

    The only way that nonentities like Price, Bolt, Jones et al can attract any notice is to behave like nasty right wing gutter trash.
    Ignoring this tripe is the best thing we can all do, as the more we react the more they puff themselves up with rage and arrogance.

    They need to be treated as turds to be flushed away to fertiliser heaven.

  15. Max Gross

    Given Price’s infamous nature and the fact that he has his very own personal pulpit from which to broadcast his bigoted asinine bullshite, why does the ABC give him air?

  16. Rick Lake

    Hi Victoria.

    A few things. QA had an eclectic panel of speakers more than likely hoping for some ratings controversy rather than a proper platform for discussion on such a serious topic. Price was told prior that the Eddie McGuire question was in the audience/to expect it. What he wasnt told was the guy asking the questions sister had been killed. He commented he was taken by surprise by that.

    Secondly she went after him from the outset, he defended both Eddie/Brayshaw and himself as they are not the public face of Violence Against Women nor should they be. I dont like Steve Price but he clearly said the joke was bad. He asked her to correct what she was saying a few times. She did not. Van Badham interrupted others throughout the show many times.

    Lets just get this straight. If you talk about supporting strong border protection/immigration rights you are not a racist or bigot. Yet that is what happens. If you disagree with Israel bombing Palestine you are not Anti Semitic yet thats what happens. The same thing that has happened here.

    She displayed Misandry as much as he displayed Misogyny.

  17. silkworm

    Tony Jones, Q&A and the ABC should be ashamed of themselves, and Steve Price should be in jail.

  18. Osiris

    @diannaart: “David & Osiris prefer to comment but not watch.


    Unfortunately not much is worth watching on TV. It’s mostly bread and circuses, with chumps like Steve Price at the helm.

  19. diannaart

    @Rick Lake

    What he wasnt told was the guy asking the questions sister had been killed. He commented he was taken by surprise by that.

    Price a seasoned talk back radio host (AKA shock jock) was so taken by surprise that he could not behave with compassion towards Tarang Chawla?

    Price was so focused upon Van Badham that he was not interested in pursuing anything or anyone else.

    As for “misandry & “misogyny” – really? Where did Van Badham display hatred for men? For that matter, Price did not display obvious hatred for all women, rather he displayed a lack of respect for women who dare to hold a different opinion to him and have the utter gall to speak out.

  20. Kaye Lee


    I suggest you look at the transcript. The first thing Price said was “I think Van is just beating that all up. She’s got no idea.” Shortly after he interrupted Tanya Plibersek to say “Well, we should listen to Tanya here, because she’s an absolute expert in this area, because she – her party knifed two Prime Ministers …(indistinct)… “. Look at how many times, while Tanya and Van were speaking, they were interrupted with the transcript saying “(MULTIPLE PEOPLE TALK AT ONCE)”. George Brandis and Steve Price employed the age old strategy of putdowns and constant interruption. Objecting to this is not misandry.

    Steve Price is an arrogant bully with a vastly inflated and unjustified sense of his own importance. He is incapable of listening let alone discussion.

  21. Mercurial

    Agreed, Victoria. But I would be very surprised if Steve Price gets a return gig on Q and A. His behaviour was too much, even for that show.

  22. nettie

    I agree absolutely these rude disrespectful people have no place in our society and should not be given a voice or any public platform. Hyde Park Corner used to be the place for expressing radical ideas – and maybe those who liked your spiel would toss a few coins in your hat! I am truly appalled at the “dumbing down:” of our society and the acceptance of these kind of comments and ideas on public media as the norm in this era.
    I remember the days when erudite orators who had something genuinely enlightening to talk about were given a voice on the ABC and the audience were not treated to the mind numbing rubbish that passes for entertainment these days. For instance the comedy programs of the past, and programs such as “Its Hypothetical” with the brilliant Geoffrey Robertson leading the debate. There are some truly great inspiring speakers with important things to say which would contribute constructively to our society and culture: why waste our time and insult our intelligence with intellectual low life such as these? Tomorrow’s Q and A is going to feature Pauline Hanson – a person of low intellect who is entirely made by the media attention she has received and now has become part of our Government – which seems preposterous to me and shows how dangerous giving such persons a platform for their bigotry can be!

  23. Kaye Lee

    Hanson has her own particular brand of arrogance. She arrived unannounced with a 60 Minutes film crew at the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair on Saturday and copped a spray.

    “You picked on Aboriginal people, now you are kicking the Muslims around,” Mr Yanner yelled as Ms Hanson walked down a flight of stairs about 2.30pm.

    “You are just a racist redneck with your red hair. Go away, go back to Ipswich and your fish and chip shop.

    “You’re a disgraceful, you are a woman lacking moral fibre, you are intellectually dishonest and you are not welcome here.”

    She has used the media to inflate her profile and then says to them that unless they be nice to her, she won’t give them any interviews. She may be in for a very rude surprise this evening on Q&A. I hope the public at least hold her to account for the outrageous things she says. Pauline needs to learn that words matter and that her ignorance will not be given a green light.

  24. diannaart

    Well said Kaye Lee & Nettie.

  25. Deanna Jones

    Steve Price always appears, to me, to be working very hard to keep himself under control. He is a frightening man and perfect for his job of promoting male hegemony. Price et al don’t need to be rational, polite or correct to be mouthpieces for the dominant class. They are doing what they are supposed to do. This is not an oversight.

  26. diannaart

    Indeed, Deanna, these noisy little monsters are paid handsomely NOT to think.

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