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Why The Public Don’t Understand The Give And Take Of Political Interviews!

People were a little upset with Patricia Karvelas and her questioning of Tony Burke.

I’m not going to go off on a long tangent here but I think we need to understand that there is a bit of a game which goes on between regular journalists and politicians. The whole argy-bargy of the journalist trying to knock the politician of their talking points and the politician trying to stay on task and not bring his or her whole party to the brink of extinction used to be like watching a tennis match between a baseline player and someone who liked rushing at the net.

There was a certain skill on both sides.

These days, however, watching the Morrison ministers I can’t help but feel there’s no rushing the net. It’s more like they watch the volley go past and then try to argue that the ball wasn’t even in play and even if it was, there’s nothing wrong with losing the odd point and who said that this was set point anyway.

I mean, if we look at Greg Hunt’s performance the other day…

Actually someone called me a real Greg Hunt the other day and I got quite upset until they explained they weren’t comparing me to him… It was simply rhyming slang.

Anyway, after Mr Hunt was asked about the use of the Liberal logo by Michael Rowland, he attempted to suggest that the ABC reporter was the only journalist who was worried about it…

We could pause here and reflect on the fact that Mr Hunt seems to be suggesting that it’s only when a significant number of journalists are worried about something that it becomes an issue. Nothing is an issue if it’s only the public who are worried about it. Neither are questions of right and wrong a concern unless one has the backing of other members of the media.

When pressed, Mr Hunt then went on to say that is because Rowland was a member of the left that he was raising this.

Is the subtext that only non-left journalists can raise concerns?

Mr Hunt then suggested that his office was indulging in illicit wagering by telling everyone that they’d been betting that this issue would take up more than fifty percent of the interview would be taken up by this issue when they should be talking about the vaccines.

Given that Mr Hunt talked in so much depth, one suspects that he’d bet on the plus fifty percent option and was trying to ensure that he won by his refusal to actually answer the question and argue that the question was irrelevant, impertinent and a distraction. Seems like cheating to me.

However, the thing worries me most of all about the direction of political journalism in this country is the way in which there’s a reality which is shared by nearly everyone but which is ignored because we keep looking at the shadow puppet performance and not at the clumsy puppeteers who are so inept.

When Morrison made his side-splitting, “Craig Kelly is not my doctor!” at the Press Club, there was laughter. Some people felt that he was rude and arrogant, and that Laura Tingle had been treated badly for asking a legitimate question but I’m starting to feel – as I did with Patricia Karvelas and Tony Burke – that by focussing on the journalist and the politicians we’re ignoring the wider reality.

In the case of Morrison, it was simple. While you may not have found it funny, some people laughed because, well, of course, as if anyone should listen to Craig Kelly. The subtext of Scotty’s response was clear enough: Kellly is a buffoon and you shouldn’t be listening to him. Of course, when previously asked about this, Morrison would have resorted to the “free speech is precious” response.

It’s rather interesting when you think about it.

Should certain views be banned?

No, it’s better to let people speak and then they can be debated and we can show them where they’re wrong!

So what do you think about so and so’s absurd claim that the moon is made of green cheese?

Free speech is wonderful thing and I’m not going to stop them by disagreeing.

And it seems to me that we’ve reached a point where politicians know that what they’re saying isn’t entirely true, the journalists know it isn’t, and even the public know it isn’t, but we keep operating in this little bubble of pretence that not only is it just a difference of opinion, but that we don’t want even acknowledge that everyone knows that the reality but the farce is the only possible way of managing the discussion.

Can we start, at least, saying things that are true? We could start by calling out the platitudes and motherhood statements and meaningless phrases which the current government uses to hide the fact that they’re not actually governing. Or when the Deputy PM tells us that he doesn’t care what happens in thirty years time, ask him if that’s why they won’t raise the rate of superannuation because it doesn’t matter if more people need the pension to survive?

Or could we start by simply acknowledging that the Canberra press gallery have basically argued that they need to keep sweet with politicians and print their press releases without much criticism or else they’ll miss out on getting the scoop of the early press release?

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  1. Geoff Andrews

    Yes, of course! Otherwise the response will be: “The Minister is not available for comment (ever)!)”

  2. OldWomBat

    Clearly they meant that greg hunt is a bunt, that is, as the Miriam-Webster dictionary defines it: ” a destructive covered smut of wheat caused by a fungus (genus Tilletia)”. I don’t think you fall into that definition at all, but as for greg .. pretty accurate.

  3. pierre wilkinson

    I resent the very premise of your question, and if I may say so, I am quite frankly appalled that you should ask it in the first place; now we in the Liberal Party, unlike those on the left, are happy to have an open and transparent discussion, just as long as you don’t expect clear answers to what might well be a difficult situation, which we of course are managing extremely well, unlike those opposite who are muddled in mire and besides, we are the best at everything….
    so, I think that covers your question
    and if not, I move that the member no longer be heard and thank you, this interview is over

  4. Terence Mills

    The first batch of COVID vaccines had to go back to the laboratories : they had neglected to put the Liberal Party logo on the labels !

  5. calculus witherspoon.

    I think they are a whole bunch of Hunts..

  6. RomeoCharlie29

    Alas, poor Yorick, too smart by half and confirmed the family’s rhyming slang status admirably. Given what seems to bea belief that journalists in the Press Gallery are too beholden to the government, I wonder how many are employed by publications other than those now considered to be pro-government — anything Murdoch, the Nine clique and anything Stokes. I took it to be a hopeful sign that the ABC’s resident comedian on 7.30 very clearly dissed our beloved leader, and the Drum is giving space for crypto fascists like Creighton to make a complete nana of himself. Perhaps, realising they now have only their self-respect to lose, the money having nearly all gone, they are fighting back.

  7. Matters Not

    RomeoCharlie29 – while I share your sentiments generally speaking – what is the ABC to do? Seems evident to me that there will be more and more Ministers who will take every opportunity to pick a fight – thus preparing the ground for even further and larger budget reductions.

    The greatest concern of course is the self-censorship that will inevitably follow, particularly by those ‘hosts’ who are financially dependent on their gig status.

  8. Vikingduk

    Not many people know this, but, this thing’s parents recognised this misbegotten pustule for what it was and is at an early age by giving it the middle name of Ima. Also, what was a closely guarded secret now revealed, shows that there is a silent k before the hunt. So, not so much rhyming slang, but simply calling a spade a shovel. Well, that’s what a journalist told me and a course I believes him implicitly. Coulda been the tea lady, can’t quite recall or maybe one of them backstabbing tree hugging latte slurpers or even baaaarnaby after a few schooners (the drinking ones, not the sailing ones).

    We was necking a few long necks down by the Red Lion and I asked the rotten rooter his thoughts on rorts. Well, he slurred, I give her a root, pointing to a rather fetching Dalmatian wandering by. Na, baaaarnaby, rorts not roots, I sez. What’s the difference sez he, either way you peasants end up rortingly rooted.

    Hang on, how did baaaarnaby end up in this expose? We was talking about that other thing and the typists of the MSM. Musta been the premise of the question.

  9. Harry Lime

    Vikingduk,being in a perpetual state of extreme pissedofedness with the Liar and his flock of self serving mediocre henchmen,I appreciate the temporary lifting of the gloom with a fucking good laugh.When and how are we going to get rid of these fuckwits?This misbegotten government is full of shitheads you’d love to punch.

  10. Kaye Lee

    “Can we start, at least, saying things that are true? We could start by calling out the platitudes and motherhood statements and meaningless phrases which the current government uses to hide the fact that they’re not actually governing. ”

    I reject the premise of your question.

    The Australian people know that a Coalition government wants them to have more of their own money in their pockets. Mum and dad investors, nurses and policemen, and those who are enjoying a well-earned retirement, the people who are quietly having a go – they can’t afford Labor’s big new tax.

    The Australian people understand that you can’t spend more than you earn….

    Oh shit….that was last year’s version

    This year’s platitudes will be temporary, targeted, and proportionate. We have received advice on new platitudes but it is advice to government not from government so we will decide when, or if, to release them to the public.

    We will have more to say on that in the future.

    The rest of this answer was redacted due to commercial-in-confidence, national security, and staff having insufficient time to shred everything.

    Oops I forgot to say comeback. Scotty’s gonna be pissed.

  11. Matters Not


    hide the fact that they’re not actually governing.

    That’s to be expected because the world works best when it’s left to market forces. (Well that’s the underlying but unstated ideology anyway.)

    Point being that if you want good government, then elect one that has little or no policies apart from promising to just spectate while the market works its magic.

  12. Matters Not

    Re – meaningless phrases. Perhaps all phrases (and words) are meaningless in themselves? With actual meaning coming from the meaning given or not by a particular individual or groups of same in particular circumstances?

    Take the word fight as an example. Those who are following the current trial of Trump will know that his legal team are making much of the word fight. That the word fight can be given particular (and sometimes) peculiar meanings by different individuals in different contexts is never more evident than in this clip.

    People giving meanings. Where will it end?

  13. wam

    The ABC since gillard have been ‘fair'(they interview labor, LNP and extremists) and consistent with their standard question to a labor representative ‘when will you stop taxing the rich/wasting our taxes on welfare who won’t work.(at least burke tried to make the 12 unemployed to each job??) Karvelas is just following the rules. The attack on the morning show announcer reflects how little the ABC is watched by the government. The extent of the bastardising of the ABC, since the appointment of the insider hastae, may be clearly demonstrated in the morning.
    beauty matters not context is everything. Hate is such a useless word nowadays from broad beans to pol pot?

  14. calculus witherspoon.

    Yes, wam.

    Now we have tory “balance- a lie for every truth and even the truths open to fair speculation.

  15. John Lord

    I think that fellow Hunt needs a manager. He’s been handling himself too long.

  16. Henry Rodrigues

    Mr Lord, I like to frame Greg H by the perception he creates in many minds, that he most resembles, a GHunt, in a party of abnoxious pricks.

  17. Terence Mills

    You will be pleased to know that the so called ‘sports rorts’ were not rorts at all.

    Former sports minister Bridget McKenzie fronted a Senate committee last week and has helpfully explained how all those recommendations by Sport Australia on sports grants got changed at the eleventh hour and went to LNP or marginal seats.

    She clarified for us that the 136 emails that went between her office and that of the prime minister had no influence whatsoever on changes made to grants allocations or why there were spread sheets with colour codings to assist in identifying which party held respective seats (Red for Labor, Green for Greens, Blue for LNP).

    In respect of the changes to the final draft of recommendations Senator McKenzie clarified the situation by saying that a ministerial brief had been altered without her approval and she did not know who was responsible for the changes :

    I can’t identify a specific person [responsible for the changes] but I categorically know that the change was made in my office [i.e. not the prime minister’s office] because that is where the brief was processed.

    In a cheeky conclusion the Senator was reported to have said :

    “my hope is that this committee puts aside political partisanship and finally provides an honest appraisal that clears up the many misconceptions perpetuated about this program.”

    So. you will all be pleased to know that nothing untoward occurred in the allocation of these grants and it is all a Lefty plot to undermine and demonise this nice government and its hard working and worthy ministers.

    We should all be ashamed of ourselves……….but wait, who could this mysterious person in the minister’s office be – will we ever know – could Inspector Clouseau at the AFP assist as he did when investigating the forged documents in Angus Taylor’s office : could it be the same shadowy person ?

  18. Kronomex


    The mysterious person is Unnamed Staffer and a relation of the equally mysterious Jobson Growth.

  19. Rossleigh

    Mm, let’s put aside political partisanship to ponder how staff can just get away with altering funding without the approval of the minister and not have some massive investigation as to why they felt that they had the authority to do such a thing. Reeks of either massive incompetence in terms of oversight or staffers being given far too much power!

  20. Geoff Andrews

    this year’s script will be explaining the economic oxymoron of our largest “debt” in history and an economy apparently recovering faster than predicted.
    But I diverge. We are asked to consider the question: “Hate is such a useless word nowadays from broad beans to pol pot?”
    Is it wisdom beyond profundity or. perhaps. a cryptic crossword clue from the Weekend Australian?
    Time will surely tell but I think the inclusion of “pot’ is relevant.

  21. Florence Howarth

    The Coalition doesn’t want more money in your pocket when they lower taxes. Truth is lower taxes lead to more user-pay, less in your pocket.

  22. Catriona Thoolen

    Nothing has really changed (The Sidestep – Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Charles Durning):

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