It’s not only Crikey subscribers that have read the list of Prime Minster Morrison’s lies and falsehoods they published recently as it’s not paywalled. Crikey claims they applied a rigorous test to their claims and only ‘counted’ those lies and falsehoods they could provide evidence to validate. The criteria used for classification as a lie is intentionally misleading while falsehoods are those claims Morrison made that could have initially been a product of insufficient briefing albeit without correction when the facts were known. Crikey also claims they would do the same to any Prime Minister regardless of gender or political preference should the circumstances warrant.
So why is it important that those leading the country get called out for lying and promoting falsehoods? In the words of Denis Atkins, a veteran political commentator who these days writes for The New Daily and other online publications
While politicians like Mr Morrison fulfil – or even just appear to fulfil – those twin demands of keeping the community safe through proactive health policies and cushioning any economic fallout, the public seems to have otherwise unavailable reserves of tolerance and forgiveness.
Giving politicians a leave pass for bad behaviour – whether it is doing it or lying about it – carries a heavy price.
It tells those politicians they can get away with it and encourages them.
Morrison has a bit of work to do to catch up to ex-President Trump, who according to The Washington Post lied 30,537 times during his presidency. Trump’s average lie count per month grew as his presidency continued. Atkins is correct, not calling out the lies shows politicians that they can get away with it.
In comparison to the major media outlets in Australia, Crikey doesn’t have the reach, staffing or facilities to cross reference and fact check information quickly. Yet we don’t have any of the Nine or Newscorp papers regularly reporting information like the fact that the internal enquiry into the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins had been put on hold a few weeks before Morrison was still claiming in Parliament that the enquiry was continuing, until well after the event. If Crikey can do it, why can’t Channel 7 or even the Herald-Sun?
At least the ABC tries. In conjunction with the ‘Factcheck’ Unit at RMIT, ABC regularly publishes articles that report on reported claims and their accuracy. A recent claim by Morrison that Australia was outperforming other countries with the vaccine rollout was found to be ‘misleading’ which probably isn’t a surprise to anyone (maybe with the exception of those that believe that Morrison is the new messiah).
Every television network and the major newspaper outlet in Australia has reporters that are based at Parliament House. Each outlet will tell you that ‘their experienced expert’, be it Chris Uhlmann, David Speers, Mark Riley, Hugh Riminton or someone else will ensure politicians are held to account. It’s a sad commentary on the reporting or the editorial policy of the major media outlets in Australia when live to air generalist interviewers like Natalie Barr on Channel 7’s Sunrise, Karl Stefanovic on Channel 9’s Today or the panel on Channel 10’s ‘news done differently’ The Project can cut through the political spin far more successfully than the ‘seasoned and experienced’ political reporters. Even satirists like Sammy J, Charlie Pickering and Shaun Micallef seem to be able to hold politicians to account better than the ‘specialists’.
Every lie that Morrison doesn’t get challenged on is another nail in the coffin of democracy in Australia. If you have doubts, The New Yorker recently reported that the Republicans are stalling a proposed bipartisan Congressional investigation into the civil unrest by a pro-Trump lawless mob on the Capitol building last January which probably would make the link to Trump’s false claims of election rigging at a rally earlier the same day as the insurrection occurred. Effectively the Republicans are circumventing democracy to support the lies of a former US President. As The New Yorker reminds us in an earlier article,
on January 6th, “one hundred and forty officers were injured, and we need to care about that.” Many Republicans seem to have willed themselves into a state of not caring about it. One route to obliviousness is by disciplining any Republicans who won’t go along, as with the removal, last week, of Representative Liz Cheney from the Republican House Conference leadership. Another is to express outrage that the commission, and maybe everyone in America, would not, instead, be fixated on last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests and any violence that accompanied them.
If our kids are caught out lying, there is most certainly a discussion on why the behaviour is unacceptable. If someone in a court of law is caught out lying, it is actually a crime called perjury. If you lie on an insurance claim or in an application for finance and it is found out, the company will void the contract. That Morrison seems to believe lying and deceit are acceptable is concerning enough – more concerning is that those with the ability to produce and promote the evidence that he is doing it have apparently chosen not to.
What do you think?
This article was originally published on The Political Sword
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