Time for another blast from the past.
This thread was written by B Tolputt and first posted on June 8, 2010. It is still relevant today.
OK, there are times when journalists are quite deserving of a story in the media, I won’t deny that. Glenn Milne’s little outburst was, of course, interesting to the public at large as was the story about the Balibo Five (for very different reasons). That said, I think we’re starting to see a disturbing trend in the Australian media that is very reminiscent of the US, one which I don’t think it is in our interests to copy.
That is, we’re starting to make journalists and their opinions of politicians & their policies the story rather than focusing on the politicians and policies themselves! There is a problem here and I intend to discuss it (more after the break –grin-)
A recent case which is getting some air in the blogosphere is the essay of David Marr’s about Rudd being driven by his rage (fuelled apparently by childhood trauma). Seriously folks – what the @#$% is that about? A journalist, without training in psychology and with the proof of his “generally political” interviews with Kevin Rudd, comes to some conclusion based on who-knows-what trivial foundation that the Prime Minister not only has a problem with anger (something one could possibly make a case for), but driven by it. Oh, and that his political direction is governed somehow by his childhood trauma!? Give me a break people.
Now, had Mr Marr made his claims and even ignited the blogosphere alone with them, I wouldn’t be too worried. After all, I’ve seen blogs go wild on the story of cats or a new zombie shoot’em’up being released. No, what really gets my goat is that not only did Mr Marr make his claims about Rudd on some very thin evidence (and lacking the training to make the conclusions he did); but the story is so important that “Red” Kerry decides to interview the man on the 7.30 Report! Since when is a journalist’s opinion about a politician news?!? I can already see the adverts for next week’s Four Corners..
“Revealed: What Andrew Bolt thinks of the Labor Government”
This is not about what David Marr thinks of Kevin Rudd, or even why the man has chosen to think this of him. I care as much about his opinion on the matter as I do about my plumber’s opinion on gaffe tape. So long as he gets his job done without too much fuss or expense – we’re all good here. What this is about is the journalist’s inserting themselves as a part of the political story as somehow being as important as the politicians themselves.
Even “Red” Kerry is doing this a little too much for my tastes. Has anyone else noticed that he has started monologuing in his interviews of late? The interview starts with some pleasantries, a quick question or two about the current affairs provoking the politician to show up on the show in the first place, and then Kerry starts with “I put this to you…”, carries on for five minutes or so about his opinion on the world, then ends with “… would you agree with that?” – to which the answer is, without even knowing the question or interview guest, “No”. This is because Kerry is rambling on about his view of events, generally in the most controversial light possible.
When I tune into an interview, I am interested in the interview guests answers to real questions, not the journalist’s view on the world or their guests reactions to it. A good interview is where the questions cut through the spin & bulldust put forth by the guest. The journalist’s opinion is not even secondary, it actually gets in the road of the subject – that being the politicians actions &/or policies. The recent Tony Abbott interview was great, not because it presented “Kerry’s Opinion of Abbott” or even that it presented a view I agreed with. It was great because Kerry asked questions in such a way as to cut through Abbbott’s prepared spin & one-liners to get to the meat of the issue in the public mind, that being “Can we trust Tony Abbott at his word?” to which the answer, from Tony’s mouth, was “No”. The recent interviews with Wayne Swan & Julia Gillard were not so great, not because they showed Labor in a good or bad light, but because Kerry was so focused on getting them to agree to his viewpoint that he didn’t cut through their spin and left me with nothing more than their prepared lines. The interview with David Marr was a complete waste of time because not only do I not care about Kerry’s opinion of Rudd but I don’t particularly care about Marr’s either.
What I am starting to see creep into our media and presentation is this impression that the opinion of journalists is not only something nice to have for politicians, but is somehow more important to the public than the politicians & policies themselves. Where have I seen that before? That’s right, FOX News, that world-reknown bastion of journalistic integrity known for it’s fair & balanced review of subjects. Where it is more important to know what a journalist (or more correctly, an “opinion entertainer“) thinks about a subject than it is to know about the subject itself. When that occurs, you start getting people carrying placards to political rallies, not about the policies they object to or want to see enacted, but bearing the name of journalists and thanking the heavens for their opinion.