Thursday, September 1, 2011

Barrie and Bolt - Different yet Similar

I am no fan of Andrew Bolt. His regular rantings, be they on radio, print or television show you what happens when poor journalism meets inflated ego. Whether it's his ponderings on the climate change (warmists!), the Gillard Government (disgraceful), the stolen generation (treading carefully around current legal issues) or whatever else he decides to deride on any particular day, you can be sure that his comments are couched in a way to gain maximum bang for buck. And I guess that is why he is employed by his various employers, as controversy almost guarantees increased reader/listener/viewer-ship, which is hoped makes the advertisers happy. But you still can't get away from poor journalism.

I am also no fan of Barrie Cassidy, he of the ABC, for pretty much the same reason - poor journalism. He may be a veteran journalist, but in my view longevity does not necessarily equal quality. Just look at Piers Akerman. Or Terry McCrann. And his current roles of the host of Insiders on Sunday mornings, combined with regular offerings on The Drum, online, are showing increasing signs of tiredness, resulting in poor journalism.

It may not be all Barrie's fault. Maybe the budget cuts at the ABC mean that the news and current affairs staff are all stretched much too thinly. Why on earth is Barrie doing both Insiders and Offsiders? I don't care who you are, being seen to cover both Politics and Sport competently on a Sunday morning is a very hard ask. And maybe the articles on The Drum are seen as simply contractual obligations that need to be fulfilled. I don't know. And quite frankly I don't care why. Whether it is of the ABC's making or whether it's Barrie himself, the end result is poor journalism.

My last two media rants have been directed at these two journalists. Andrew's dummy spit earlier this week caused a flurry of activity in the Twittersphere and resulted in many inches of blog writing, including my blog entry. And I had blogged about Barrie's recent posting on The Drum, here.

Barrie's latest offering on The Drum can be read in full here. It seeks to try to create the story of who the next leader will be for the Federal Labor Party once Abbott apparently becomes Prime Minister.

Respected journalists do not  produce articles of this poor standard. The only actual facts in this article are from the quoting of polling results for Victoria (relating to state politics, not Federal). The rest is a combination of rehash, speculation, wishful thinking and fantasy.

Now the Craig Thomson "affair" was titillating and allowed the Opposition to become very animated during Question Time last week. But looking at the big picture this was nothing other than a sideshow. This in itself will not bring the Government down. And I have previously discussed the concept of a person being seen as innocent until proven guilty. Barrie had a go at this issue in his last article, and I think he may want this to have a little bit more traction before he ultimately lets go of it.

The High Court decision is a blow to the Government. There is no question of this. A lot of political energy had been expended on the "Malaysian Solution", and the High Court's rejection of it is not only embarrassing for the Government, but also seeks to highlight the issues of offshore processing. I was interested in reading Andrew Elder's blog entry about this at Politically Homeless as he is/was a fan of the "Malaysian Solution". He brings up a couple of thought provoking points concerning the development of a regional solution to deter what is in essence people smuggling. However one wonders whether the time, money and political capital being expended on this issue is really necessary. Or actually achieving anything.

Whilst it is embarrassing for the Government, they are hardly the first Government to be knocked back by the High Court. Nor is it the first time that the High Court has turned perceived established principles on their head (Read the Mabo Case or any number of decisions that have gone against the Australian Taxation Office). The test of any Government, and especially this one, is how they pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and start right over again. It will be interesting to see what their Plan B is, or even if they have one (or actually need one).

Getting back to the article being disected, Barrie then writes this sentence:
It goes to competence and leaves the public wondering whether they can ever get anything right.
Easy on there, Barrie. One swallow does not make a summer. Or are you referring to the Building Education Revolution (97% success) or their continued ability to successfully negotiate their way through Parliament as a minority Government, or their earlier success in sidestepping of the GFC? Yes they can't get a bloody thing right.

Then Barrie goes off with the fairies and brings up polling of the Victorian political landscape and somehow manages to show because the public apparently think Ted Bailleau's doing an OK job this translates federally to Abbott getting in as Prime Minister.

Obviously there is a huge amount of evidence that Barrie has in order to state that:
Undoubtedly, much of Labor's sudden demise in Victoria is a branding issue. The state parties are being dragged down under the weight of an unpopular Federal Government.
I am sorry. This is nothing other than BS. You are adding one and one together and coming up with thirty three. With apologies to Rod Tidwell, "Show me the evidence!"

What then follows is an analysis of what apparently are the top two candidates for the position of Federal Labor Leader once Gillard "goes". Bill Shorten (yes, of course) and Mark Butler (WTF!?).

The piece then finishes, rather curiously, with this:
It will come as no comfort to the current leadership team that key people spend their private moments in such musings. But given the events of this week, they can be thankful those musings are essentially private.
This final paragraph reminds me of the keynote address by Jay Rosen recently at the Melbourne Writers' Festival.  You can read the transcript here, on The Drum. I won't spell out why Barrie's conclusion to this article is symptomatic of what is wrong with his journalism. Jay spells that out more clearly than I could ever hope to.

Barrie and Bolt. Different style of journalism. Same outcome.

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