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Political and Media Contests: Which Side (Eye) are YOU on?

By Melissa Marsden

A photo says a thousand words, and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese’s decision to appear alongside Alan Jones has brought about an onslaught of questions about where Albanese’s priorities ought to be.

The fiery discussion ensued following Albanese’s Twitter post of a photo alongside outspoken and controversial radio commentator Alan Jones.

Child abuse survivor and advocate Grace Tame set social media on fire for a comment aimed at Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese.

Tame had only to caption the image “Side eye SIDE EYE” for a wave of comments to appear criticising Albanese for the photo.



One Twitter user posited

“I find it hard to understand why Albo would post this picture on Twitter. Surely he knows that his supporters on here are not exactly big fans of Alan?”

Another argued

“You don’t include male abusers and abuse enablers in any plan that involves the betterment of women.”

These comments were to be expected, given the toxic language Jones has utilised over the years. However, some commenters were more forgiving of Albo, arguing that the appearance was necessary.

The broad-church argument has often been invoked by both political sides in order to convince the public that neither the left or the right takes priority.

One user argued that

“To achieve your plans for the betterment of women, sometimes you have to use all the media outlets you can just to persuade that particular audience to vote for you! Forget the face, it’s listeners you need for their vote. Albo is on your side but he needs to work audiences”.

The both side-ism argument when entering into debate, whether it be through journalism, politics or activism is all too often relied on in instances when seeking power.

Yet, when power is achieved, a side is taken and a strong stance on an issue is often cemented.

Here we have a prime example of a progressive Labor leader attempting to remedy the mistakes of the last election by leaning towards so-called moderate campaign strategies.

Bill Shorten’s failed 2019 election bid saw a bold, progressive and fair policy platform rejected by voters.

Media and political commentary will have you believe that this rejection was in response to the policies themselves. Therefore, Labor’s shift in discourse and attempt to appease more moderate and conservative voices is surely an effective way to ensure election victory.

However, the issue is far more in the delivery of the message than the policy themselves.

Labor could have won the last election with a better strategy, not weaker targets and policies that are currently promoted.

But they faced a wave of media bias and attack dog politics consumed by voters.

So maybe Albanese’s cosying up to Jones can be seen as a method for Labor to get media onside, to promote their agenda in an increasingly monetarised political sphere.

Let’s suppose that line of argument has significant merit. It would need to rely on a number of factors.

Firstly, that conservative media will bend to support the left if their ideological beliefs are supported.

Secondly, that voters who consume conservative media have the potential to be swing voters and vote Labor at the ballot box.

In an ideal world, where the media represent the Liberalism ideal of a ‘marketplace of ideas’, this would be an excellent line of campaigning to pursue.

However, media-public relationship does not actually work like this.

Swing voters are unlikely to consume media from primarily right or left-wing mediums.

Indeed, these voters are often more inclined to gain their election knowledge from the more nuanced bias of commercial news and media outlets.

Albanese’s decision to appear with Jones therefore does not demonstrate Labor’s seemingly new stance of supporting the ‘marketplace of ideas.’

Indeed, the very argument is far more aligned with that of the Liberal party and their fellow free-speech warriors.

Labor supports fair, honest media, however as many interested in political communication and media bias are aware, this has not generally equated to having photo ops with media who back the opposing side.

As journalists (or budding journalists like myself), we must strive to be unbiased and fair in our reporting or commentary on news and current events.

However, to suggest that there is no ideology behind our words fails to take into account the simple fact that everything is political.

Jones and even the ABC have demonstrated this, having campaigned for and against government policies.

For Albanese to appear alongside a media personality who has promoted ideals in complete opposition to what he says are his core ideals could be an attempt to persuade undecided voters.

Melissa Gillian Marsden is a passionate advocate for social justice and a self-confessed political junkie.

It was almost destined that from the moment I was born I would forever have a lot to say. The Granddaughter of a proud Yorkshire woman and fellow Leo zodiac, I would always retain the ability to “talk under water with a mouth full of marbles”. Likewise it was unsurprising that from an early age I was instilled with a fierce sense of loyalty, protectiveness of loved ones and a love of arguing my point (even if it ended in tears).

After being diagnosed with a life long, life threatening medical condition six weeks after my birth and suffering a traumatic brain injury at the age of six years old leaving me with low vision and short term memory loss, I suppose I knew from the beginning that fairness and equality are notoriously contested and complex issues. I was also taught that not everyone views people with disabilities as ordinary people- capable of great success and failure, strength and weakness that can be (although admittedly not always) completely irrespective of that disability.

Now as a 25yr old university student with degrees in politics, international relations, history and currently journalism I have come to the conclusion that perhaps my love of understanding why the world is the way it is and the tools I have developed whilst at university can be used to shine a light on issues of injustice whilst allowing me to have a good rant at the debates raging in public and political discourse.

* * *

Melissa runs her own blog, Framing the Narrative, and can be followed on Twitter @MelMarsden96.

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  1. New England Cocky

    I would wash that hand very thoroughly and then wash it again in alcohol to insure that anything infective by contact is permanently destroyed. Albanese is a bit old to be groomed.

  2. Canguro

    But isn’t the Jones person the Howard Hughes of Oz when it comes to having a cleanliness fetish? Maybe not to the extent of wrapping himself in tissue paper, but still… fastidiously alert to specks of dust in his harbour pad, masked butler and wettex always ready for action?

    As for the grooming… I understand latex gloves are the thing.

    As for Albo… has he read Sun Tzu? The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.

  3. corvusboreus

    LOTO Albo is well within his rights to consort with a parasitic dunny-grub like Jones, the morally-bankrupt race-riot inciting media whore who suggested that Julia Gillard should be murdered by drowning.

    After all, it’s hard to be morally shocked when PM scomo’s preffered brand of spiritual pastor is currently up on charges of concealing the serial rape of children.

    The key to political contentment lies in the lowering of one’s ethical expectations.

  4. Kaye Lee

    Out of 151 electorates in Australia, 140 of them have more female voters enrolled.

  5. corvusboreus

    Uppity shielas are wreckin’ the joint.

  6. totaram

    Kaye Lee: I love your data-driven approach. But as NEC will tell you, many of these females seem to love the Beetrooter. Obviously, we need to dig deeper, if we can. What else can we glean from other data?

    Melissa: “Bill Shorten’s failed 2019 election bid saw a bold, progressive and fair policy platform rejected by voters.”
    That sounds as if it was comprehensively rejected. I think the reality is a little more nuanced. It was rejected at the national level because of a big swing against Labor in Queensland. What was the reason for this swing? It is worth analysing. I don’t have the answer. Someone has to sit down with many numbers and do some number-crunching.
    Are you up for it? I haven’t seen anyone do the hard stuff. Everyone has their ” gut feeling” opinion with no data backing it at all. Clive Palmer has openly claimed that he was able to harvest second preferences in sufficient number to ensure that Labor lost. Can you refute that?
    I have yet to see any analysis that goes into this issue in any depth. I suspect Labor has nothing of the kind even in internal polling and analysis.

    If you can point us to any such, I would be obliged.

  7. Kaye Lee

    Out of the 8 states and territories in Australia, only 2 of them voted in more Coalition members than Labor in 2019. Labor won more seats in NSW, Victoria, South Australia, the ACT and the NT with a tie in Tasmania. In those 6 jurisdictions, Labor won 57 seats to the Coalition’s 43. Even if we add in WA, Labor still won 62 to 54.

    Queensland had a disproportionate say in who would govern this country.

    Another anomaly is that Tasmania has 1 Senator for every 33,528 voters. NSW has 1 Senator for every 456,039 voters.

    We really should think about the design of the Republic to get fairer representation.

  8. totaram

    I agree Kaye Lee, and I pointed it out. Queensland had a disproportionate influence on the national result. Hence the need to analyse what happened in Queensland. Did Bob Brown’s caravan really turn Labor voters towards the LNP as claimed by wam? How does this logic even stack up? I admit people are not very logical in their voting preferences, but still, this proposition needs to be tested.

    The other thing that bothers me is this: didn’t Bill Shorten and his team get some inkling about this possibility with all the town hall meetings they did in Q’land? How did they miss out on this? This was a big intelligence failure.
    On top of that they failed to anticipate how their policies would be turned into scare campaigns or wedges. The “retiree tax” was a perfect example. I even had people who claimed to be Labor sympathisers claiming the policy would hurt them – even on this site.

  9. Pingback: Political and Media Contests: Which Side (Eye) are YOU on? – Framing the Narrative

  10. Regional Elder

    ‘ Bill Shorten’s failed 2019 election bid saw a bold, progressive and fair policy platform rejected by voters. ‘

    A note of clarification here. The rejection of Labor was not widespread across Australia. Indeed as Kaye Lee notes earlier, the 2019 Labor team under Bill Shorten was only strongly rejected by Queenslanders. In other states the results were close, with Victoria clearly favouring Labor. In the House of Reps, the LNP won 24 of the 30 seats in Queensland, and Bob Katter made it 25.

    That left just 5 Labor representatives in Queensland, or 16.7 %. of seats That was a massive rejection of Labor, and extinguished Labor’s chances of government in 2019. Thus Queensland as a state, achieved the result it wanted and definitively.

    However, Queensland and W.A. excepted, the Morrison government was not what the rest of Australia really wanted in 2019. This has implications for the 2022, with many Australians having had their political preference denied three years ago. And Morrison’s growing status as leader of the worst national government in the last 75 years, only fuels this. The rise of the independent quality candidates in the southern states at this election is another indicator of how much Morrison and his band are ‘ on the nose ‘

    Thus my prediction is that this time, Queensland voters will not get the national government they, collectively as a state, prefer. And even though Labor or the Greens may take a few seats from them this time, Queensland is likely to remain clearly anti-Labor.

  11. Richard Laidlaw

    Anthony Albanese is not Bill Shorten and Alan Jones (for all his demerits) is not Ray Hadley. I’m going with Albo was right to do it, on this one. All voices should be heard, unless they’re uttering criminal threats.

  12. Phil Lohrey

    I am a passionate supporter of Grace Tames, and so proud of her as a fellow Tasmanian.

    I know Anthony Albanese isn’t perfect, or thoroughly beyond moral scrutiny in every way possible. I do feel that he is a very strong supporter of Grace, and Labor under his leadership is far more supportive of women’s rights than any major party except perhaps the Greens. Some independents might be more supportive, though at least one supports a lot of LNP policies.

    Any prime minister or opposition leader must be prepared to face journalists of all persuasions, within reason. I realize that Jones’ bigotry is beyond reason. However, he has a large audience that should be introduced to a humane potential Prime Minister, if there is any scope for sharing the candidate’s values more broadly. There is no chance without some politeness and conviviality involving smiles and handshakes.

    Who else in reality has any chance of spreading more humane policy than we’ve seen in this country?

    I honestly think Grace will forgive Albo for the sake of helping kindness and humanity to prevail. I understand her loathing of Jones. I feel that Albo is leading a team of fabulous women who will promote her causes powerfully.

    Melissa, I hope you wouldn’t like to see that potential weakened. On reading, I wasn’t quite sure whether you were taking a position, and I don’t even know whether you should, but hope that both sides are clear to readers.

  13. corvusboreus

    Phil Lohrey,
    Is Alan Jones a journalist?
    I thought his oft used legal defense was that he didn’t do factual reporting, but instead dealt in peddling opinion for profit.

    This policy of spouting incendiary untruths has, of course, led to Jones being increasingly peripheralised from mainstream media & regularly deplatformed by online providers.
    Albanese, and by extention the ALP, has just relegitimised Jones as serious media worth engaging with.

    Climate change is a critical existiential threat, and parliamentary/societal misogyny is a serious existent problem.
    Alan Jones denies climate science & promotes toxic misogyny (not to mention race-hate).

    As I said before, A Albanese is free to court votes amongst the benthic base that still buy Jones’ bigoted bullshit, but in doing so he risks further ‘side-eyeing’ by those who value rational decency.

    Ps, i haven’t yet seen any actual transcript of the interview.
    If Albanese used the opportunity to grill the dunny-grub about his extensive history of odious activities, like the promotion of climate-science denial, incitement of race-riots, spreading of Trump’s big lie, and advocacy for the murder of Julia Gillard, then albo has my full support.

  14. Kaye Lee


    I think for Labor to blame the convoy is lazy. The Greens vote in Qld went up by 1.5% giving them over 10.3% of the first preference votes in the HoR. The LNP vote only went up by 0.5%.

    Labor bled votes in both directions, to the Greens and to the right wing minors like PHON, UAP, even Fraser Anning got almost 50,000 FP votes. They didn’t go to the Coalition though their preferences no doubt helped.

    Labor had very good policies last election but they were too tricky for the public to understand and for them to explain. On mining and fossil fuels, they tried to have a bet each way which scared the horses in both paddocks.

    Now we have the spectre of the Labor Party trying to be more like the worst government ever in the hope more people will like them. I know politics is a game but it’s a very disappointing one at the moment.

    Side eye alert.

  15. Phil Lohrey

    My feelings against Jones are at least as strong as yours. I can’t imagine Albo endorsing bigotry. I wish that he was in a position to rule out coal and gas right now, and remove investment incentives for landlords. When Labor spoke up on these issues pre-election, people including Jones’ audience dumped a regressive government on us. I don’t think diplomacy can ever be ruled out in the larger fight to end war.

    With all of the ugly distortions through the media masquerading as journalism, where does boycotting stop for someone aspiring to lead the country. I hope that a strong woman such as Christina Keneally, Kate Gallagher, Tanya Plybersek or Penny Wong becomes prime minister, but meanwhile agree with the present powerful winds of change.

  16. Spindoctor

    No Labor politician for the past fifty years has openly bashed the monopoly conservative murdoch, costello and stokes media cartels until Kevin Rudd went on the attack. Bill Shorten was outgunned by a crack social media hit squad with KillBill and BillTax, plus complicit media and Palmers million$ in the Ad spend. The Looters N Plunderers only just got back in to continue their rampant corruption. Shorten did 90 odd public meetings to try to sidestep media but voters went for ‘tax someone else and screw pensioners, the jobless, disabled’ etc. He was destroyed in the most effective bile, bias and smear campaign ever which continues today. Labor since then has confronted every hostile media outlet to push their policies, so even Sky/2GB/3AW, Fin review/SMH etc propaganda is challenged so undecided, swing or even hard core supporters may think its ‘time’ for change. This election Labor/Albanese are wedging the LNP at every turn, with great social media campaigns and the Liberals with a rampant corruption history are hamstrung despite even more blatantly biased media desperately seeking an Albo gaffe to kill his campaign. Albanese has to front every media opportunity, even Jones, to penetrate the wall of bile as winning the election with a huge mandate is the only chance we have to force positive change. The LNP are hopefully toast but the propaganda machine remains post election, unless and until a Fed ICAC and media RC force radical media reorganisation while disempowering billionaire vested interests that control the nation.

  17. totaram

    Kaye Lee: I have come to understand that winning is more important than ever, or to put it more bluntly, kicking out these crooks and grifters is most important. If the winners, whoever they are, can bring in a federal ICAC, much will be gained.

  18. Phil Lohrey

    Going back to the headline for this article, I’m on the side of progressive media like the Guardian, AIM, the Saturday Paper, Michael West, Pearls and Irritations – but although tethered, still watch and listen to the ABC. I’m on the side of (relatively) progressive parties that can win, and unfortunately there’s only one, and it is headed by the only (relatively) progressive leader.

  19. corvusboreus

    Phil Lohrey,
    Fortunately, i don’t live in the electorate Grayndler, so the image of Albanese sidling up to kiss Jones’ pursed pucker won’t be affecting my HoR choices.

    Nor will it change my opinion of the couple of ALP senatorial aspirants who i will be slinging bycatch votes toward.

    Response, not reaction.
    It too seek a ‘not-this’ government.

    As for where should boycotts begin & end?
    IMHO, somewhere beyond the fading jaded realm of Jones, who has incited riotous violence based on ethnicity and broadcast that our nation’s elected (female) leader should be drowned at sea.
    Not only is it atrocious signal form, i also think that it is a ill-advised trade-off in terms of pragmatic politics.
    Guaranteed antipathy amongst progressives and centrists through the hopeful courtship of an irrational extreme.
    Losing Grace whilst scrambling to keep up with the Jones’.

  20. Phil Lohrey

    I can see the other side of the argument I’ve been making, and it is strong, Melissa (author). I should have been commenting on the article instead of anyone’s response, especially using my own name here, as doing this focuses just on the issues.

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