My observations of both the mainstream and independent media over this past week show just how far removed one is from the other.
Stories that might be – should be – damaging to the Opposition are brushed off by the mainstream media (MSM) as mere leftie conspiracy theories, or, worse still, are somehow the fault of the Prime Minister or her party. Look at the menu-gate issue if you need further evidence of this. Or look at the reaction to the Prime Minister’s misogyny speech in Perth a few days ago.
Both are treated as nothing more as the Government playing dirty, divisive tricks.
The MSM and the right-wing fan club are going to great pains in attempting to discredit those individuals with the integrity to reveal the menu-gate affair; allowing freedom to the perpetrators of this heinous act.
Those in the independent media re more interested in the story and holding the offenders to account. And in doing so, ie, wanting to put on the table the actual story and the players involved, they are immediately pounced on by the right-wingers as belonging in a loony bin.
Where the independent media like to ask if a story is true and probe for supporting, the opposite side of the ring don’t bother with any probing questions. Instead of asking if it is true – if they are indeed interested, which I doubt they are – their immediate reaction is to attack the innocent messenger.
This site has been hit with a deluge of right-wing snipers, disturbed that we don’t toe the line of the right-wing press which must obviously provide them with a comfort zone. “How can you be independent when you religiously present a left view?” In other words: “Why can’t you be like the right-wing MSM and write crap?”
I have ferreted through my archives to find examples that show the MSM do nothing but write crap. Examples that show they are more interested in spewing forth right-wing opinion in the guise of news or information. It bewilders me that the right-wing protagonists find nothing wrong with the crap written by the media, yet they have no compunction in finding fault with the truth that fills the pages of independent media sites. Like their media heroes, I guess they have one interest only: ignore the truth and if it doesn’t go away . . . then distort it.
Perhaps they’d like to digest the three articles I’ve chosen (from many) to re-post here. Three articles that aim to remind people just how shockingly biased and incompetent the MSM are. Three articles that should encourage one to ask: “Why should I have a problem with independent media while evidence abounds that when compared with the MSM, they don’t write crap?” Three article that show that the MSM in this country exists in a parallel universe from reality.
The first was titled The shout heard round the world in response to Julia Gillard’s ‘attack’ on a misogynist Tony Abbott in Parliament last year. To the Australian media, misogyny wasn’t a bad thing and neither was Tony Abbott’s display of it. The big bad evil one was Julia Gillard for wanting to both expose it and stamp it out. Read on:
Julia Gillard might have stopped shouting at Tony Abbott but her words reverberated around the world.
Hence this post is not about the speech by Julia Gillard or about the man it was directed to, but briefly on the impact of it.
By now most of you would have digested some of the more celebrated responses – including those linked above – so I won’t cover old ground, however, one is worth mentioning; not for Julia Gillard’s stand against misogamy but for her often overlooked performances as a gutsy politician. The New Yorker wants performances like that to enter into American politics. They write:
So why is this among the most-shared videos [the Julia Gillard attack on Tony Abbott] by my American friends today? Purely as political theatre, it’s great fun. Americans used to flipping past the droning on in empty chambers that passes for legislative debate in this country are always taken in by the rowdiness of parliamentary skirmish. It could also be that the political dynamic depicted in the clip parallels the situation in the States: a chief executive who is a “first” took power after a long period of control from the right of center, and whose signature policy achievements have at times been overshadowed by personal vitriol. Or perhaps it’s that we are right now in one of the rare periods every four years where the American political process provides actual face-to-face debate between the leaders of the two parties. After his performance last week, supporters of President Obama, watching Gillard cut through the disingenuousness and feigned moral outrage of her opponent to call him out for his own personal prejudice, hypocrisy, and aversion to facts, might be wishing their man would take a lesson from Australia.
Similarities between our two political theatres abound. Julia Gillard has found a way to evolve from it.
But her attack on misogamy has attracted more responses than her parliamentary grunt. And oh how the responses differ. In one corner we have the international media, the social media and social analysts supporting her speech while in the other corner sits the Australian mainstream media going alone in its condemnation.
Yet in the Australian media all we hear about are the opinions of the Australian media. Elsewhere it is news. Here they are purely opinions.
To hear the praise coming from Australians one has to read an overseas newspaper. For example, the Irish Times provided a better and more balanced appraisal of Julia Gillard’s speech than that dished up locally. Where, in the Australian media, will you read such honesty as this?:
When Australia’s prime minister, Julia Gillard, told the opposition leader, Tony Abbott, this week that if he wanted to know what misogyny looked like he should pick up a mirror, it was seen by many women as a defining moment for feminism in the country.
“I almost had shivers down my spine,” said Sara Charlesworth, an associate professor at the University of South Australia. “I was so relieved that she had actually named what was happening. She was so angry, so coherent and able to register that enough is enough.”
It was the first time an Australian leader – and possibly any world leader – had delivered such a forthright attack on misogyny in public life.
Prof Barbara Pini, who teaches gender studies at Griffith University in Queensland, said it was a watershed moment. “It’s incredibly significant to have a prime minister powerfully state that she has experienced sexism and even more powerfully state that she will refuse to ignore it any longer,” Pini said.
“That the sexism which is so deeply embedded in the Australian body politic was named may give some women licence to express and seek to counter the sexism they have experienced in their working lives.”
According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, one in five Australian women has experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. A recent study by Monash University in Melbourne showed that 57 per cent of women who worked in the media had experienced sexual harassment. It said women were badly under-represented in top levels of media management, holding 10 per cent of positions, compared with an international average of 27 per cent.
The report’s author, Louise North, said her findings might go some way to explaining why much of Australia’s mainstream media concluded that Gillard’s speech was a political disaster. “PM will rue yet another bad call,” said one comment piece.
“Gillard’s judgment was flawed. All she achieved was a serious loss of credibility,” said another.
That response was in stark contrast to much of the commentary in social media and conversations between women around the country, which were alive with praise for the prime minister’s stance.
“Leader writers are generally white, middle-aged men and they have no perception of gender bias,” North said. “They don’t want to acknowledge that it happens within their newsrooms and they certainly wouldn’t be open to challenging some of those positions and changing the public discourse either.
Tim Dunlop, in his fabulous article on The Drum, The gatekeepers of news have lost their keys takes up the fight against the Australian media – one of the few in the media to do so – as he tackles the local bias:
The authority of the media – it’s ability to shape and frame events and then present them to us as “the” news – was built upon its privileged access to information and the ability to control distribution.
Collecting, collating, packaging and transmitting information – “news” – was expensive and thus the preserve of a small number of big companies, and we were pretty much bound by the choices they made.
But those days are gone. That model is a relic, though it still dominates the way the mainstream media goes about its business, and provides the template for how journalists think about their role as reporters.
When you have the likes of Michelle Grattan, Peter Hartcher, Peter van Onselen (paywalled), Jennifer Hewett (paywalled), Geoff Kitney, Phillip Coorey, and Dennis Shanahan (paywalled) all spouting essentially the same line in attacking the Prime Minister – a line at odds with the many people’s own interpretation of events – people wonder what the point of such journalism is.
It bewilders me that our mainstream media is taking such a vociferous and concerted stand against public and international opinion. The impact of the speech is lost on them. One could be forgiven for thinking they have an agenda. Regardless of how much they condemn the Prime Minister, the world isn’t listening.
Next we come to an editorial from the Herald Sun in a post that I titled, simply, Editorial bullshit. The editorial was nothing but a pack of lies and to the editor, obviously a pack of lies worth spreading. Read on:
I’m not in the habit of reading the Herald Sun’s editorial. Actually, this morning’s was the first one I’ve ever read and I curse the individual who suggested I do so. In future if I want to read what Murdoch’s editors are thinking about I’ll grab a copy of Mein Kampf.
This morning’s editorial was written by a person equally as mad. A clear-thinking person could not have written such bullshit. I will dissect it in parts to support my claim. We begin:
The Gillard Government has finally admitted what Australians have long suspected to be the case. Its promised Budget surplus was nothing more than a political fantasy.
Economic data made it clear Labor’s much promised surplus was unachievable. Yet the Prime Minister and Treasurer belligerently stuck to their mantra in what can only be described as a cynical political ploy.
They should have admitted the inevitable long ego. The economic decision is the right one, as the Herald Sun has consistently advocated in the face of falling revenues and slowing growth.
Let’s see if I understand this. The decision is supported by the editor’s newspaper and more or less expected by the Australian community. Nothing wrong there. Labor are responding to the economic data at hand and, again, I see nothing wrong there either. All of a sudden our editor sees this as a cynical political ploy, which means he does not read Murdoch’s masthead paper, The Australian who almost two months ago wrote that “For a second day, Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan have refused to directly guarantee a budget surplus in 2012-13“. Sort of admitting the inevitable, in a way.
The editorial continues with:
But the Government ignored all warnings and has damaged consumer confidence in announcing what they should have come to terms with months ago.
People will ask, not unreasonably, if they can ever trust this Government.
Where is the evidence to support this? The evidence I found was the complete contrary to that claim. From Roy Morgan Research we learn that:
The weekly Morgan Consumer Confidence Rating is now at 117.4pts (up 2.4pts over the past week). Consumer Confidence is now a significant 6.2pts higher than a year ago, December 3/4, 2011 — 111.2.
Driving the rise was more confidence in Australia’s economic future and also in personal financial situations compared to a year ago.
Australians are more confident about Australia’s economy over the next twelve months with 32% (up 2%) of Australians expecting ‘good times’ economically compared to 28% (down 3%) that expect ‘bad times’.
Now 33% (up 1%) of Australians say their family is ‘better off’ financially compared to a year ago while 29% (down 4%) say their family is ‘worse off’ financially.
Over the next five years 35% (unchanged) of Australians expect Australia’s economy to have ‘good times’ economically while just 18% (down 3%) expect ‘bad times’ – the lowest since May 12/13, 2012.
Australians are more positive about their personal finances over the next 12 months with 39% (down 1%) saying they expect their family to be ‘better off’ financially while just 18% (up 2%) expect to be ‘worse off’ financially.
Unsurprisingly, the editor took a swipe at Labor’s economic credentials:
. . . ineptitude and political cynicism was behind the promise of a Budget surplus. It was to convince voters Labor was in control of the economy when clearly it was not.
Meanwhile, in the real world outside of the editor’s office:
The OECD’s latest economic survey of Australia released today shows once again that our economy stands tall amongst its peers, with 21 consecutive years of growth, robust economic fundamentals and a positive outlook in the face of acute global challenges.
The OECD finds that, unlike many developed economies, the Australian economy remains resilient, with successful macroeconomic management contributing to solid growth, low unemployment, contained inflation, and strong public finances.
The OECD commends the Government’s “exemplary handling of the global economic and financial crisis” avoiding recession in 2008-09.
Although the OECD notes our economy is not immune from risks in the global economy, the survey notes that “[t]he current monetary and fiscal policy mix is appropriate to sustain recovery, and Australia is in a good position to respond to risks.”
The report also highlights that the Government’s fiscal consolidation is part of a re-balancing of policy which “implies less pressure on interest and exchange rates, thereby alleviating adjustment difficulties for the exposed non-mining sector.”
While we understand that not everyone is doing it easy, this OECD report today is another reminder that Australians have a lot to be proud of and confident about.
Would the Herald Sun editor be bullshitting? Of course he would. Here’s why:
Today, the Herald Sun renews its call for the Prime Minister to call an election in March to allow the Australian people to decide who should govern this country.
Yes, in other words let’s organise a distraction from Tony Abbott’s embarrassing performances and Labor’s jump in the polls.
The final post, Let’s focus on what’s important looked at the media reaction to Wayne Swan’s announcement some months ago that a surplus was unlikely to be announced in the May 2012 Budget. The Opposition were in an uproar over the announcement and the media were delighted to act as their mouthpiece. Meanwhile, economists were hailing it a good move but their opinions were suppressed by the Opposition’s compliant media. They couldn’t let the facts get in the way of some juicy propaganda. Read on:
Many of us are not surprised to learn that the Treasurer, Wayne Swan today announced that it was unlikely that Labor will be able to achieve the promised budget surplus in 2012/13. For the purpose of this post I won’t go into any of the reasons or throw figures at you.
Economists are in unison, agreeing that the Government has done the right thing to drop the surplus commitment. Unsurprisingly, evidence of their support is very hard to find in our media online news sites. If you’re lucky you might catch a brief interview with one of them on TV. One of them might even be given the chance to explain why this is a good outcome.
The reason Australia was able to escape the Global Financial Crisis of a few years back was because it had the guts to spend money and thus create jobs. Again, I won’t go into that as we all know how Australia benefited from this bold, but necessary move.
Well, almost everybody knows we benefited. The exceptions being our Murdoch media and the Federal Opposition. And today we hear that this duo are still the world experts on the Australian economy. Today, their opinions take precedence over our economy. The online news sites are filled with nothing but their ‘valued’ opinions.
From that economic minnow Terry McCrann:
Wayne Swan’s decision to finally come clean and admit the bleeding obvious with the budget is just another cynical and dishonest move from a discredited treasurer in a completely discredited government.
It’s been blindingly obvious for months that there was no way the budget was going to swing miraculously from a massive $44 billion deficit last year to a tiny $1 billion surplus this year.
Indeed, it’s been obvious right back to budget night in May.
But Swan and prime minister Julia Gillard believed they had to keep promising a surplus, after her: “There’ll be no deficit in 2012-13 under a Government I lead”.
Swan quite deliberately brought the mid-year budget update forward, while the figures could still be massaged to still pretend to predict a surplus.
Even though the surplus predicted was pathetically, meaninglessly small.
Now he’s just as dishonestly chosen to tell the truth just before Christmas and the extended summer break.
Did McCrann focus on the economy? No.
BTW, how does one dishonestly tell the truth?
From ‘he who runs away‘:
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said it was a “humiliating, embarrassing, nervous announcement from the Treasurer”.
Mr Abbott said the surplus was not a forecast – “it was a fact”.
“It has now been dumped,” he said.
“You just can’t trust this government to manage the economy. You just can’t trust this government to tell the truth”.
Mr Abbott said the Prime Minister made “two solemn covenants” during the election – the carbon tax and the surplus.
“She said that the day after she made the no carbon tax commitment. This second solemn commitment, this second covenant with the Australian people, dumped.”
“For three years they have been boasting of this surplus. Well, they don’t have that anymore”.
Did Abbott focus on the economy? No.
Even from Mr Eleventy:
Opposition Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey said it is “not in the Labor party’s DNA to live within their means”.
“Taking out the garbage five minutes before Christmas is the way the Labor party operates,” he said.
“They are treating the Australian people with contempt.”
Did Hockey focus on the economy? No.
And this front page non-story ‘ha ha I told you so’ from an un-named news.com reporter:
Treasurer Wayne Swan:
“We’ll be back in the black by 2012/13, as promised.” (May 2011)
“The government remains absolutely committed to delivering our return to surplus as we planned.” (August 2011)
“We’ve nailed our colours to the mast.” (February 2012)
“Despite the tough global conditions, we remain determined to return the budget to surplus in 2012/13, and we will get there.” (March 2012)
Prime Minister Julia Gillard: “My commitment to a surplus in 2012/13 was a promise made and it will be honoured.” (April 2011)
“We stand by the predictions, the entries in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. We stand by the figures and we’re on track to deliver a budget surplus.” (November 2012)
Did he or she focus on the economy? No.
Of course they don’t want to focus on the economy. It’s going gangbusters and will continue to do so.
Well done, Mr Swan, on what is another bold move. I don’t care what you said previously. You have the good sense to act upon approaching change, rather than react after the change.
As an aside, I’ve never supported the need for such a quick return to a surplus as I believe it has been the Government’s hasty response to pressure from the media, the public and the Opposition. Unfortunately they are going to be under attack from all sides over this. It’s my hunch that the leading economists in the country – who support the move – will be gagged by the media.
Is it too much to ask that the critics try and focus on what’s important, ie, the economy?
PS: This announcement has really let Abbott off the hook. He’s happy to face the media again.
OK, I’ve only picked out three examples but most intelligent observers would agree that millions more examples are being produced on a daily basis. You just don’t find this sort of rubbish on the independent media sites. When the Prime Minister suggested that the media would gain some credibility if they didn’t write crap, it is clear that only the independent media heeded her call.
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