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The same but different …

When Turnbull ‘knifed’ Abbott a week ago after publically shaming Abbott’s terrible government on national television while announcing his intent-to-knife, I wondered how the mainstream media would treat this story. I couldn’t help but worry this would be yet another example of a Liberal story being treated with a completely different narrative to the same Labor story. A sitting PM is replaced by a member of their own cabinet. A late night coup. A first term Prime Minister. Abbott lasted a shorter time than Rudd and had already been challenged 6 months earlier. By my reasoning, the white-anting, destabilising activities of Turnbull and his supporters over the last 6 months was far more bloody and underhanded than Gillard taking the opportunity to lead the Labor government when it was offered to her within hours of her colleagues’ decision that Rudd’s chaotic leadership was not going to improve, second chances or not. However you argue it, overall a fair observer would see great similarities in the two situations. But these similarities are clearly ignored by the media and it turns out my worry was well founded. Low and behold, the Turnbull/Abbott story is being treated completely differently to Gillard/Rudd. Of course everyone in the mainstream media is very busy mansplaining to little-old-us the voters why the two situations are apparently completely different. But I don’t need this situation explained for me, because I can see with my own eyes that Turnbull just did to Abbott the same, if not worse, thing Gillard did to Rudd.

If you haven’t already noticed for yourself the differing tone of the stories about new-PM-Gillard with new-PM-Turnbull, take a look at this apple-with-apples comparison.

Here is a transcript of Gillard’s ABC 730 interview with Kerry O’Brien the evening she became PM on 24 June 2010 and Turnbull’s ABC 730 PR campaign interview with Leigh Sales a week after he became PM, which aired this evening.

If you can’t be bothered reading these transcripts, take it from me that Gillard was interrogated about her ‘knifing’ of Rudd for the entire interview, and framed as the ‘villain’ who couldn’t be trusted, a tone which continued throughout her time as PM. Gillard was also hectored about what she would do about the mining tax policy, not forgetting she had become PM that day. Turnbull, on the other hand, was treated like a ‘hero’ and provided with the invaluable opportunity to outline his vision for the country on an unchallenged soap box where he was allowed to sell his government’s refreshed credentials. He wasn’t even tested when he claimed Direct Action was working to reduce emissions when there was no evidence backing this claim. Two interviews in similar political circumstances, yet chalk and cheese in their treatment and tone.

A simple word count showed Gillard spoke for 65% of her interview with O’Brien. Turnbull spoke for 77% of his interview with Sales. Sales even apologised for asking a question Turnbull might ‘find offensive’ and then again said sorry for cutting him off. Soft doesn’t even come close to describing this cringe-worthy excuse for journalism. But it gets worse. Check out the word clouds of both interviews and see if you notice the same thing I did.

Here is Gillard’s interview, where the most used words were obviously Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. So the main topic of the interview were Gillard’s villainous replacement of Rudd.

Gillard Wordle

Now here is Turnbull’s interview.

Turnbull Wordle

Can you see what is missing amongst all the positive words? Yep, that’s right. The word Abbott. You can do a Where’s Wally search for it if you like, but I’ll save you the trouble and tell you it appeared twice in the interview. Hardly there at all. Abbott’s already gone and the media aren’t dwelling on the part Turnbull played in his demise. Unlike Gillard, who had to put up with the media’s obsession with the Rudd leadership spill throughout her entire tenure as Prime Minister, even after she went straight to an election to prove her legitimacy in the role. Yet Abbott has been erased and shiny-Turnbull-with-a-sly-grin has got off scot-free. See what I mean about same story but very different treatment? How do you even begin to explain this other than to say Labor is always bashed by the media, and the Liberals always excused? Sadly this is the only explanation that makes sense.


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  1. Matters Not

    Off topic I know. I have never been a fan of Shorten, but his performance on Q&A tonight approached ‘bloody brilliant’.

    A real eye-opener.

    He had a chance. He took it. And kicked goals all round.

    Under what ‘bushel’ has he been hiding his light?

    Well briefed and the like but he was personally ‘commanding’. It was all down to him. Would never have believed it.

    A Leader? Possibly so.

  2. Florence nee Fedup

    off topic, but QandA worth a look. Shorten handled himself well. Tony did try to cut off answers, without success. Audience listen to every answer. Turnbull invited similar show. 7.30 with Turnbull nearly put me to sleep. Lot waffle about nothing.

  3. thomasthethinkengine

    Good post.

    As Gillard said when she left politics, being a woman explained not all of it, but part of it. Here too, I think multiple causes are at play. One is a pro-Malcolm bias. One is gender bias. But also, there’s a sense that getting rid of Tony is an unambiguously good move. Whereas dumping Rudd was odd. He was winning in the polls at the time. It was by no means clear it was a good idea.

    So I think relief to be absent of Tony explains some of Malcolm’s positive reception. It won’t last forever.

  4. Margot

    All true. But the added dimension is that Julia, a woman, had the audacity to knife a man!

  5. Jeanette

    Abbott was scathing of the ABC and hated by just about everyone, while Rudd was well liked by most who were not aware of the working problems that his colleagues had to endure. Rudd tried to be a 1 man operation. Consequently Gillard wore the flack. Then again I can’t stand Ms Sales and no longer watch the programme.


  6. bill posters

    Could be that Leigh Sales (like lots of others) are shit scared of Malcolm. He has quite a reputation.

  7. Ishe B

    The deposing of Kevin Rudd sent a ripple of shock and disbelief around the world. Whereas one international commentator compared having Tony Abbott as PM “like taking heroin, better to stop it”. Seems pretty clear to me. New 21st century catch phrase – the world is watching.

  8. silkworm

    Just have to add my plaudits to Shorten’s appearance on Q&A. He was absolutely blistering. On the other hand, I started to watch Turnball on $7.30 and turned it off immediately as Turnball was just pure waffle.

  9. Winston

    Turnball on 7.30 was a waffle fest. Though interestingly everything was revealed about him on Australian Story.Being told by your father that your mother is coming back when she obviously isn’t; is a weak and cruel response to a young child.I think unfortunately after watching this show it revealed Turnball not being of genuine character.I think he will say anything to get what he want’s.It’s all about him.His Ego is massive.This man is a Conservative through and through and in the end he will govern for the powerful and and rich.He’s a bullshit artist.I don’t trust him.

  10. Kerry Wilson

    Liberals have no problem being rude and outraged when questioned, whereas Labor are more congenial and try hard not to insult. The media know this and are scared of the repercussions if they earn a liberals wrath. Labor are by far the softer target and often take the brunt of the journalists impotence. Shorten was excellent, Jones was his usual interfering bullying self.

  11. lawrencesroberts

    Rudd was trying to change The labor Party and get rid of the faction system. The Unions, the main beneficiaries of the system set up Gillard to do the dirty deed. A positive attack by Shorten may well be successful to a potential surprise early election before we realize that Turnbull is just business as usual.

  12. Kaye Lee

    I must agree about Bill last night. He did very well. He is much better when not scripted. I so wish they would get rid of those repetitive talking points where every politician from one side repeats the same phrases in every interview or every question in QT. Bill had a chance to show the difference between him and the snake oil salesman and it was stark. Malcolm on 7:30 was all smiles and optimism – no substance. Bill fielded and answered every question calmly and honestly. Well done Bill!

  13. Kyran

    Your comment – “a fair observer would see great similarities in the two situations”, reminded me of the recent furore regarding apprehended bias.
    “…the apprehension of bias must be a reasonable one, held by reasonable and right minded persons, applying themselves to the question and obtaining thereon the required information. . . . [The] test is “what would an informed person, viewing the matter realistically and practically and having thought the matter through conclude.”
    Australia’s most recent appraisal of the principle was the self serving judgement issued by the vacuous Dyson. Whilst I understand the bias doctrine is generally applied to judges and administrative decision makers, I hope there are sufficient “fair and reasonable observers” capable of making their own judgements, when given the opportunity.
    Well written, Ms Rollison. Take care

  14. Möbius Ecko

    Note that Turnbull has already raised the spectre of WorkChoices, in a snake oil consultative way of course, and lo and behold up pops the Business Council to state Turnbull must address IR and not be afraid of the Unions reaction.

    If anyone had any doubts as to where Turnbull’s allegiances lay, it’s definitely not with the ordinary people of Australia.

  15. lawrencewinder

    With a few spitting the dummy I’m sure Malcolm “Von Ribbentrop” will be pragmatic about bye-elections and call a double dissolution,instead.

    …and Yes… Shortstuff was good last night…. there was substance in his talk and I think Labor need to do more public expositions like this to counter the MSM biased reporting.

  16. johnlord2013

    So very very true.

  17. lawrencewinder

    …and @ bill posters… Sales is a fawning liarbril toady…”Von Ribbentrop” said last night …mentioning the liarbril “broad church” B/S…”as you know Leigh…” So is she a member or not?

  18. Matthew Oborne

    ABC misrepresented the dumping of pensioner discounts on council rates in my state. They were dumped to find extra money due to Federal budget cuts that we are all aware of but state Labor was portrayed as the perp. The overall “balance of Media coverage needs to be an issue, When Joe Hockey was interviewed on 7.30 after delivering his second budget it was obvious many tough questions should have been asked in the public interest and some were. We all know the result of asking the Liberal government tough questions puts the ABC in an impossible position. Was the love fest on 7.30 an attempt to get off on a good footing? I understand the ABC would have been under enormous pressure had Leigh repeated Kerri O’briens performance. Turnbull said he have a generous social welfare system, which is an obvious lie as all the payments are below poverty level. That was her giving him many free kicks but that free kick left a very foul taste in my mouth. Could car manufacturers be considered to stay? Were the polls a rejection of conservative politics? Why was it so hard for a person considered liberal to actually lead the Liberal party? It seems for now. Graeme Morris has never been directly asked on Q&A why he said Julia should be kicked to death, why not? The ABC have been hobbled they havent picked up a bat for team australia but they are too afraid. The different standards will continue so long as we put up with them. Turnbull opened the door to his time with Goldman Sachs yet Sales didnt ask him about the $450 million dollar loss of australian investors money under his watch. I would like to think we could get a contest of great ideas in this upcoming election but Turnbull has already flagged the slowly boil the frog approach to the poor of our nation just as Morrison has.

  19. lawrencesroberts

    I have a strange notion that Turnbull will have another Grentin Grotch moment.

  20. mars08

    Turnbull, on the other hand, was treated like a ‘hero’ and provided with the invaluable opportunity to outline his vision for the country on an unchallenged soap box where he was allowed to sell his government’s refreshed credentials…. Two interviews in similar political circumstances, yet chalk and cheese in their treatment and tone…

    Similar circumstances?

    Oh…. you mean apart from the fact that Gillard was faced with an uncompromising, aggressive opposition leader who stayed “on message” and relentlessly criticised the government of the day?

  21. David

    One day I hope but doubt, those who continually proclaim “our ABC” or even God forbid “my ABC” will see the stupidity of such meaningless ownership proclamations.
    Since 2007, coincidentally the appearance of Abbott in the spotlight, the Corporation has been the ABC’s ABC. Not yours, not mine, not our neighbours not the local bowling club’s, not the common herd but those who decide what we see and hear and when. Those being the hierarchy within the former unbiased, true to its charter, ‘Aunty’.

    On the next level are those who regard themselves as the ‘stars’, the front liners, the 6 figure salaried hey look at me types. We know who they are, the aforementioned Sales, the equally rude and pompous Jones, the two clowns on ABC TV Breakfast, that woman has worst case of verbal diarrhea, National Radio’s Francis Kelly, too many to mention on News Radio, The Drum, on the list goes…..oh and in case you thought I had missed him….the Liberal Party tragic, the ABC TV News head honcho, the insipid ‘Tony I feel your pain’, Uhlmann. What his influence over Managing Director Scott is. I can’t imagine. Well I can but lets leave it there.

    Anyone ever met someone claiming to be a member of the Friends of the ABC organisation. I haven’t and I mix from time to time in the company of those I would imagine are likely to be such. If the Friends still exist they obviously have no problem with the blatant bias of the Corporation from those who control its output, or their voices are ignored. The latter appeals, as those who have tried to complain about perceived unbalanced programmes will attest to. It’s a waste of time.

    As the current snake oil sales man PM was in another life, Minister of Communications and set about defunding both the ABC and SBS with hundreds of job losses, I can’t see any change in the National Broadcaster any time soon. It will remain the Government’s ABC and no amount of denials from the top floor of Broadcasting House will change that.

  22. diannaart

    Rudd was polling well but impossible to work with (‘with’ being the operative word); Abbott, polling dreadfully, did not work at all; except for the minority of rusted on neo-cons.

    As others have noted, Gillard had the temerity to be born a woman and, horror of horrors, working class lefty. Whereas Malcolm is seriously business class, silver-tongued and wealthy… did I mention wealthy?

    The background to these upheavals remain the same – if you have sufficient wealth and are on good terms with the conservative elite, you get treated a tad better by mainstream.

    Power has never recognised strength of character, decency nor altruism – those are characteristics of the grasping poor and wanna-be’s.

  23. Pingback: The Same But Different . . . | THE PUB

  24. Barbara

    ABC are making sure that they don’t rock the boat as they are still waiting to see if they get their funding. The ALP on the other hand can be interviewed with a completely different glove as THEY do not have funding to hand out at the moment. LNP have NEVER BEEN held to account for anything this is why I call them the TEFLON PARTY NOTHING STICKS.

  25. sandrasearle

    Matters Not, being a Victorian has helped me to understand who Bill Shorten really is. He is an extremely intelligent person who understands both sides of business for a start & has great negotiating skills which have been evident in getting some infrastructure completed on time & on budget. Patience is something that he possesses which most people see as a fault, but hey, isn’t that what Malcolm Turnbull has shown he possesses. Just look at how last week turned out for him. People just need to get past the relief of Abbott’s departing, settle themselves down & forget that we do not vote for a president. POLICIES ARE THE THING THAT COUNTS especially good progressive ones that look after ALL of us, not just the top end of town.
    Now I’m off to catch up on the Q & A program so see if my opinion has been justified.

  26. David

    sandrasearle….all good points

  27. Florence nee Fedup

    sandrasearle Yes, you have it down pat. What TURC showed, that Shorten does indeed have skills. They are talking about what he achieved back in days Work Choice. Unions were supposed to be hobbled, not coming to such agreements with employers, big employers.

    Also a man not likely to take orders from union bosses.

  28. keerti

    of course not florence! He’ll take them from gina and murdoch! It seems a little more democratic if the unions are involved in decision making via national assembly which is reported, rather than some private discussions between murdoch and the sleazy wanker that we’ll never hear of!

  29. Florence nee Fedup

    Not sure that is true. Could be his own man. I know that is not usual theses days,

  30. Florence nee Fedup

    If polls can go up that quick, they can come down quicker. Wonder how long before any trend shows up. Only number that really matters,

  31. georgep

    Not excusing it. The media did indeed do its best to bring down R/G/R. But there *were* some key differences. Chiefly, it had been done before therefore none of the stunned sensationalism needed to propel the story forward. And secondly, we all new it was going to happen sooner or later. Just a question of time. And many were suprised it took so long. So again, when it happened it was more a relief than a sensation.

  32. Neil of Sydney

    Coalition voters noticed the big difference between the interview with Turnbull and other Coalition politicians. ABC hosts normally are very aggressive towards Coalition politicians but are more friendly to Labor politicians.

    I suspect Sales treated Turnbull very friendly because she was relived that Abbott was gone. Conversely a lot of labor supporters were very upset with the way Rudd was knifed. Kerry Obrien most probably voted for Rudd and therefore gave Gillard a hard time. Sales and Obrien would both be Labor supporters.

  33. David us a favour and just bugger off, you are merely trolling plain as day, trolling looking for a scrap…you cease to exist for me, you are a pathetic fool. Sales a Labor supporter, you idiot.

  34. jimhaz

    For me, if Turnbull continues the attacks on the ABC, other than in terms of the horrid contemporary aggressive interview style, that will be a sign he is not genuine about creating an improved political system where objective facts are presented to the public. I have it as a sort of KPI on his performance.

  35. Neil of Sydney

    Sales a Labor supporter

    That is what i think. Most Coalition supporters were surprised and sickened at the lovey dovey interview with Turnbull since is was so different to the way she interviews other Coalition politicians. So nobody is arguing with the facts but with the interpretation. Why was Sales so friendly? She most probably agrees with Turnbull on the republic, climate change and other things and was glad that Abbott was gone.

    Kerry Obrien would have voted for Rudd who removed someone who had been in power for 11 years and did the impossible. Got Labor back into power and then Gillard knifed him. Once again no facts are argued just the interpretation. Obrien most probably did not like what Gillard did. In fact many Labor supporters did not like what happened.

    Yes the same but different-but why?

  36. lizzieconnor

    I thought Leigh did an excellent job in allowing Malcolm to show his lack of principles or policies, using her charm as a brilliant if subtle weapon. On the night she presented as the legendary good cop, with Tony (Jones) as the bad cop a little later. The fact that they had different targets was not so important as the outcomes of the two interviews.

    Do you think the 7.30 manner of questioning showed Malcolm in a good light or in a bad light? And do you think the Q&A manner of questioning showed Bill in a good light or in a bad light?

    I could be wrong of course, but I think the proof is in the pudding.

  37. Florence nee Fedup

    Leigh did much better job with Morrison tonight. Showed she does indeed know how to ask questions. Sorry Neil, this mob are rapidly hanging themselves.

    I suppose he also believes Uhlmann votes Labor as well.

  38. Pappinbarra Fox

    Scroll the troll

  39. Michael Peters

    54 to 44 = 10 votes the difference = which means it only took 5 parliamentary members to change their mind

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