tip off

Is the social media fury at the press gallery misplaced?

Criticism of the Canberra press gallery for its reaction to Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech may be misplaced. But it’s worth examining in the broader context.

Social media is rarely kind to the Canberra press gallery but this week there’s been one of those periodic outburts of fury. Only, unlike the 2010 election campaign or the Labor leadership spill early this year, this one has a strong element of gender to it.

The gallery stands accused of entirely missing the significance of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s speech on Tuesday, which sent Twitter and Facebook into overdrive and was quickly picked up by major international websites.

Peter Hartcher, in particular, copped a savaging for his “we expected more of Gillard” piece. And Fairfax’s own Piers Akerman, Paul “Magic Water” Sheehan, copped a bucketing for his attack on the Prime Minister which included a snide reference to her childlessness, one later removed by a Fairfax editor without explanation and, until prompted by Mark Colvin, any acknowledgement.

So — clueless, don’t-get-it (male-dominated) press gallery or lefty echo-chamber Twitterati?

The first thing to note is the two are talking about different things and, to some extent, at cross-purposes. The press gallery doesn’t see its job as analysing the social significance of politics. Its focus is on political tactics — what works politically, what doesn’t, what impact political performances will have on the functionality of the government in the short term and, over the longer term, its prospects for re-election. The gallery also focused on the wider context for the speech, which was the government defending the wretched Peter Slipper. Criticising the gallery for “not getting it” misses that what they’re supposed to be getting isn’t necessarily in their job description.

Countering that is the insistence this was a key political moment, that voters, especially but not only female voters, will respond positively to the Prime Minister’s speech, that they’ll be pleased a female Prime Minister has pulled such an important issue to them out into the open.

That’s entirely possible, but gallery journalists are no better placed to make that assessment than anyone else — indeed, worse placed, if they’re based in Canberra, which offers a distorted view of the world. Nor, it must be said, are social media users well placed to make such an assessment. Twitter, even if 10% of Australians are said to use it, is unrepresentative of all voters, and most likely skewed to the politically-engaged anyway; Facebook is a more representative platform because it is much more widely-used, but in both cases selection bias is a problem, because both allow us to shape what we see. And merely because large foreign websites are carrying it doesn’t mean it will resonate with Australian voters.

Where the “don’t get it” criticism of the gallery may have more substance is that a key moment arrived in political debate without being heralded or particularly noticed. The issue of gender in politics has been simmering since Julia Gillard become Prime Minister. The misogynist abuse of her from sections of the Right outside Parliament, whipped along by shock jocks and sections of News Ltd, has drawn increasing attention. But in recent weeks the issue has erupted into a storm, particularly after Alan Jones’ “destroying the joint” comments. Tony Abbott’s decision — yet again showing he refuses to be hobbled by his own previous comments on any issue — to attack the Prime Minister was always going to create a tipping point.

Never before have gender issues been at the centre of political debate like this. Indeed, the Canberra tradition is to resolutely ignore such issues. Female politicians have, usually silently, endured double standards in how the press treats them. Both sides of politics consigned women to “soft” portfolios involving welfare and social services, with the silent assumption they were incapable of the hard stuff of government, good only for doling out money. Male politicians arrogantly assumed the right to dictate women’s reproductive choices. Attempts to lift the representation of women in Parliament were dismissed as “patronising”.

Suddenly that’s over. A female Prime Minister has directly, fiercely, attacked her opponent for misogyny, in a way, clearly, that no male politician could ever have done.

Women understood this as an important moment better than men. We come back to that significant gender gap I’ve mentioned several times, how over 60% of women voters think the Prime Minister, and all female politicians, cop criticism that male politicians do not, while only 40% of men do. That 61% shows it’s not just Labor and Greens-voting women who feel this way, but many Liberal-voting women as well, women who are prepared to back the Coalition even with Abbott leading it.

This was a political moment most of the gallery, focused on the tactical battle of day-to-day politics, missed.

But that doesn’t resolve the issue of the extent to which the events of Tuesday resonated with most voters, who unlike either the press gallery or social media users, have little interest in politics. Time and polling will give us some clues as to the wider impact, if any.

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  • 1
    Andrew Chalmers
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    But Bernard, it wasn’t just the Twitterati, it was also the veracity of it bounding through Facebook.

    With a far more representative section of the population, it looked as though an entire generation of young women, who had NEVER been engaged with politics before were suddenly tapped on the shoulder.

    The video was linked, relinked and relinked again through suburbs and regions across the country with young women pressing ‘Like’.

    Now, that’s politics.

  • 2
    Frank
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Is there a word missing after “misogyny” in that lede?

  • 3
    robinw
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps the Press Gallery’s job description needs expanding. It’s remarkably empty of anything but sound and fury right now and we know what that quote ends up as … ‘signifying nothing’. I agree with those commentators who state that the Canberra Press Gallery has been in one place too long and point to AAP and Reuters as examples of organisations that by rotating staff regularly have fresh perspectives offered while with our lot, they are so stale as to be predictable.

  • 4
    Jimmy
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    The press gallery doesn’t see its job as analysing the social significance of politics. Its focus is on political tactics — what works politically, what doesn’t, what impact political performances will have on the functionality of the government in the short term and, over the longer term, its prospects for re-election” What a load of old cobblers - the press gallery currently sees it’s role as regime change and if they can’t get that they want a leader to be toppled - everything is reported through that prism.
    The fact that the right have far more “commentators” and a willing cheersquad in News ltd means this was always going to be viewed as anti Gillard. The fact that more independent journalists with no “skin in the game” have seen it as a line drawn in the sand against s-xism clealry demonstrates the lack of perspective from the gallery.

    It will be interesting in coming days to see if the main stream media in this country stick to their based view (see today HS front page) or listen to the comments from OS and social, recognise a change in the public’s mood and change their tune.

  • 5
    robinw
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    And in addition, how can Gillard be a misogynist? A misandrist maybe though not on any evidence I have seen.

  • 6
    Jimmy
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    “The press gallery doesn’t see its job as ana l ysing the social significance of politics. Its focus is on political tactics — what works politically, what doesn’t, what impact political performances will have on the functionality of the government in the short term and, over the longer term, its prospects for re-election” What a load of old cobblers - the press gallery currently sees it’s role as regime change and if they can’t get that they want a leader to be toppled - everything is reported through that prism.
    The fact that the right have far more “commentators” and a willing cheersquad in News ltd means this was always going to be viewed as anti Gillard. The fact that more independent journalists with no “skin in the game” have seen it as a line drawn in the sand against s-xism clealry demonstrates the lack of perspective from the gallery.

    It will be interesting in coming days to see if the main stream media in this country stick to their based view (see today HS front page) or listen to the comments from OS and social, recognise a change in the public’s mood and change their tune.

  • 7
    jmendelssohn
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    It’s worth remembering that Tuesday’s debate came just after Monday night’s Q+A when the men on the panel, led by the appalling Christopher Pyne, treated Kate Ellis with open contempt. Tony Jones was either unwilling or unable to control them.
    I was still seething about this when I heard Julia Gillard’s response to Abbott – and gave a mighty cheer. Enough is enough. It’s about time the bully boys in politics and the media met a true Mistress of Discipline.

  • 8
    drmick
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Maybe its the press gallery that needs to get there heads out and smell some real air for change. Who gives a purple toss about the tactics. There are no tacticians in the opposition and Limited News could phone in question time on behalf of the parroting cerebral vacuum that parade as the opposition. They have to be coached in the delivery & the content of the delivery every day. Geez.
    You are saying the content of what is said is irrelevant? So the faithful reporting of the bastardry of the opposition and its supporters, (which is all that the Main Sewer Media report anyway), is what you report?. Any wonder the gallery doesn’t understand. You are reporting for whom? How many? Any wonder the great unwashed vote for the “Tactical Hero” of the parliament then.

  • 9
    Jimmy
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Jmendelssohn- I only saw the last couple of minutes of Q&A but what I saw was terrible, Ellis couldn’t get a word in without Pyne & Ackerman yelling over the top while wearing a stupid schoolboy grin.

  • 10
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    And the MSM wonder why they are becoming increasingly irrelevant…commenting on politics as if its some kind of bizarre football match is not what people are after from journalists. Especially when only one side of the football match they believe they are reporting on is supported. Michelle Gratton’s attempt to explain herself on radio national was pathetic.

    Time for a change…remove the tired hacks from both journalism and parliament and get people with real vision and principles in there instead.

    And by the way, everyone apart from the journos heard in the speech that she did not support Slipper, Ms Gillard did however support due process which I thought should be applauded.

  • 11
    Lisa_Donna
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    As you quite rightly stated “The press gallery doesn’t see its job as analysing the social significance of politics. Its focus is on political tactics”

    So why was there no analysis of the Oppositions blatant political tactic of forcing a vote in the first place? Why no mention that this unprecedented tactic SHOULD have been voted down for it’s pure political point scoring. Why no mention that the texts are part of a court case that is still ongoing?

  • 12
    Pamela
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    I loathe Gillard but thought she did women proud on the floor in her address on abbott misogony.
    Has the canberra a press gallery realised that one of the reasons we have stopped buying newspapers is that we do not see any relevance in their reporting of politics and policy and the decisions being made about how we live in this country. They just dont get it. They are interested only in the playground fight of parliament and who is punching who.
    One of the reasons so many are turning away from politics is same.

  • 13
    jennatilz mckrackin
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Everyone in the media keeps saying “the government (is) defending the wretched Peter Slipper”. This is simply not true, but it is so crucial to the story. The PM strongly condemned the texts of slipper in her speech. Some say that by not sacking him they are supporting him, that is just absurd logic and requires a jaded cynical judgement - by the media. Was it convenient for the government not to sack him - perhaps, but the whole issue of implied support and who’s man he is - liberal or labor is pedantic & irrelevant - its a beat up to encourage conflict - its journalists creating work for themselves.

    JG is subjected to vicious criticism & bullying from Abbott et al - largely based upon rubbish (die of shame, toxic tax based on “lie”). Abbott stepped over the mark - Julia Gillard exposed him and destroyed him in a historic speech and the pathetic media heap more crap on JG. The media failed badly yesterday and they should hang their heads in shame.

  • 14
    Jimmy
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    The thing that has made me laugh the most over the past few days is the press gallery lamenting that the parilament is focusing on this scandla rather than policy or legislation. They went on to call a kettle black and neglected the passing the quite significant legislation so far this week.

  • 15
    mg57
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    I can only assume that the Canberra press gallery are so used to looking at things through a political strategy lens, that they have missed the entire point of Gillard’s speech. Q & A on Monday was illustrative, as others have noted, for not only Christopher Pyne and Ackerman, but also Lindsay Tanner, talking over Kate Ellis. LT should be ashamed of himself! The broader issue of language use and abuse from both sides, and its impact on legitimising sexism and general disrespect in public discourse, is being ignored in most of the mainstream commentary. However this of course serves the needs of media for sensationalism and drama. No wonder we’re all disillusioned!

  • 16
    MarkWW
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    The problem is that, in unison, Credlin’s Cretins in the press gallery accepted the Liberal spin that Abbott’s motion was principled, and that the government, in opposing it, was defending Slipper’s SMS bloopers. They also completely ignored Darryl Melham’s speech which clearly laid out the reasoning for the Government’s position. Sheehan (and Fairfax) should just be embarrassed by what he has published. Not worthy of a serious newspaper, his putrid opinion belongs with the juvenile haters that pollute the PM’s facebook page.

  • 17
    notmensa
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    In most workplaces, the behavour of Mr Abbott, My Pyne and others would meet the definition of ‘bullying’ and be subject to disciplinary action.

    The fact that Ms Gillard called them out on it was inspiring to the many, many women who have had similar experiences of discrimination, bullying and harrassment in their workplaces.

    The response of the media and Mr Abbott - to accuse Ms Gillard of playing gender politics and/or to say we should just move on - is again what many, many women experience in their own workplaces when they try to address these issues.

    That she is now being attacked for

  • 18
    Crunt Another
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    The issue of gender in politics has been simmering since Julia Gillard become.”
    No doubt Keane’s next piece will be about social media fury at decreasing standards of writing and subediting.

  • 19
    vealmince
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    A rare miss for you, Bernard, and being far too kind.

    Do you really believe the only value the press gallery can offer is horse-race journalism? Of course they are meant to provide social context, but in this case they failed utterly. They were too busy huffing about puffing their view from nowhere about how Julia Gillard was just as hypocritical as Tony Abbott. Or like the ABC, verballing interviewees about how Abbott can’t possibly be a misogynist because the dictionary definition of ‘misogynist’ is someone who hates women.

    They’re so used to giving Abbott a free, uncritical pass, when someone calls him on his shameless and endless hypocrisy, they can’t deal. They have to offer ‘balance’.

    Whereas almost everyone outside their self-reinforcing bubble thought, ‘You know what? He really is a prize turd.’

  • 20
    Jack Phat
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I agree entirely with MG I have always been a huge fan of LT until Monday night how he could even talk to Pyne the Whiner is beyond me BUT to display what looked like total disrespect for Kate Ellis was disgraceful.
    I and my family and many friends are of the 20% who will decide the next election, my family have voted our federal LIB member in once, out once and back in at the last election. I am confident that he will be voted out with Tony Abbott as leader and back in with Malcolm Turnbull as leader. I could not tolerate Julia Gillard after what she did to Kevin Rudd and I’m sure she regrets it now as well butI have developed a grudging respect for her which she has earned through tenacity and ability. Her speech in response to Tony Abbott was momentous.
    It appears to me that except for Malcolm Turnbull most of the current conservatives Pyne, Joyce, Jones, Bernardi, Hockey all come from the bottom 25percentile of the private school system.
    Come on Malcolm step up to the plate and hand the Mad Monk his Last Supper, you know he deserves it, JUST DO IT.

  • 21
    Raffaello
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Bernard… what the? Press Gallery job description focused on Political Tactics as opposed to social significance of politics. It seems this “job description” did not stop them descending into an orgiastic morass at the mere sniff of a leadership challenge, it does not stop them from characterising a leadership change with the most subjective language… “knifing, assassination, etc. etc.
    Once again, the Canberra press Gallery has demonstrated the inability to see the wood for the trees. Bernard, I generally love your work, although I don’t see the need to be so forgiving of your colleagues…..

  • 22
    John Bennetts
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    I agree with the majority of comments thus far.

    1. The typo must be fixed.

    2. The government stated quite clearly and rationally that they could not support a motion to sack the Speaker which, if passed, would have clearly been an interference with a current court case. They did not say that they supported the Speaker, but they clearly stated why they could not support the Opposition’s silly motion. The Canberra Press Gallery, almost to a man (and woman) failed to understand this.

    3. Abbott used inappropriate words - again - and was called out for this by the PM. This is a separate issue, not directly linked to Point 2 above. Indeed, the PM could have delivered a speech similar to this on any one of a number of occasions previously, on precisely the same grounds. The Leader of the Opposition has so much previous form that it isn’t worth listing it here. The man is not made of very nice stuff.

    Not your best work, Bernard. You missed the bull’s-eye.

  • 23
    john2066
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Meanwhile, back in the real world, Labor just pushed through changes to kick single mums off benefits. Thats the real gender news for this week, but we wont read about it, as it involves substance.

    Most Labor MPs wont care, they likely send their kids to private schools, which they pay for with the cushy seats they inherited from their parents.

  • 24
    Jimmy
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Interesting that the SMH has a very similar article online currently which again lists the role of the gallery to “it is not the job of the press gallery to laud a speech. It is the job of journalists to place events in context, supply background and nuance, and to make predictions about whether political actions will deliver votes.” The last “role” is completely wrong and they seem to be missing the context, focusing on the Slipper issue and missing Abbott’s and the MSM’s attitude of abuse to gillard.

  • 25
    Moloch
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    The press gallery doesn’t see its job as analysing the social significance of politics. Its focus is on political tactics — what works politically, what doesn’t,”

    I think that could reasonably said to be the Press Gallery -including yourself - being hoist by its own petard.

    The one thing I haven’t seen, here or anywhere else in the MSM, is a decent article about Tony Abbott’s long standing tactic of misogyny…

    His continual whispering across the dispatch box - finally called out by the PM on Wednesday. His use of proxies to demean Labor women - ‘deliberately barren’ or as mentioned above, the execrable Christopher Pine never allowing a woman to speak.
    his dog-whistling - women are only fit for ironing and bestowing their ‘greatest gift’ of virginity.

    Perhaps you’re right - looked at like this maybe its not a tactic, maybe its a strategy…
    Aren’t you supposed to be analysing them too?

  • 26
    ffs_melb
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry Bernard, but I cannot fathom the meaning of this job description: “The press gallery doesn’t see its job as analysing the social significance of politics. Its focus is on political tactics — what works politically, what doesn’t, what impact political performances will have on the functionality of the government in the short term and, over the longer term, its prospects for re-election.”
    How can one assess the effectiveness of political tactics or the effects on electability without analysing the social significance of events? Is there some sort of abstract calculus that determines the outcome of elections which is entirely independent of the impact of political tactics on the electorate?

  • 27
    jennatilz mckrackin
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    This is journalists arbitrarily defining their roles to justify themselves. Condescending bollocks.

  • 28
    Jimmy
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    John2066 - “Meanwhile, back in the real world, Labor just pushed through changes to kick single mums off benefits” NO they shift single mums off the pension and on to newstart once their youngest child turns 8, three years after the go to primary school. Big difference.

  • 29
    cairns50
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    agree with a lot of your aricle bernard, but the canberra got it completely wrong, especially peter hartcher who likes to portray himself as being different to news ltds right wing warriors

    paul sheehan article was all one could expect from someone like him

    abbott thought he would have an easy kill attacking slipper and at the same time attacking and abusing jilia gillard along the way

    what julia said will go down as one of the most famous speeches ever made in the australian parliament

    that speech showed in black and white who should be elected prime minister of australia at the next election

    and it sure aint tony abbott

    bravo julia what more can i say

  • 30
    PK93
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Here’s the point missed by both BK and the press gallery. Abbott’s / the Lib’s use of “misogyny” to knock Slipper off was the height of hypocricy and audacity given that they (including their fellow travellers like Jones have cultivated, leveraged and unleashed misogyny to their political advantage over the last 2 years.

    I watch politics very closely and thought Gillard’s speech was brilliant and on the mark. It is not just the “you-go-girl” apolitical set that apparently see the world differnetly. It is hioghly engaged people who see the incredibly spineless double standards of the press gallery and ocassionally boil over when it becomes offensive.

    And how the hell is the died of shame comment not cost Abbott his job? Atrocious double standards!

  • 31
    Mobius Ecko
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    johm2066 let’s get something right whilst you go off topic to Labor bash.

    It was the government and the opposition in a rare full agreement of a government policy that pushed through that legislation. Howard used to always sheet bad policies that he put through and agreed to by the Labor opposition as also belonging just as much to Labor, so this is no different.

    It goes the same for the really terrible National Security bill that Abbott and the Coalition are in full agreement with.

  • 32
    cairns50
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    PK93 mate because its tony abbott and alan jones who have no shame, they would not even know the meaning of the word

    simply not decent human beings

  • 33
    Nightingale John
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Journalists are members of a club, and within the club they herd themselves together into packs that go bounding after prey determined by the pack leaders. In this case the prey chosen by the pack’s alpha males (funny that) differs from how it seems to the rest of us, at least to those of us not chasing the alpha male’s chosen prey.

    Sometimes all the packs come together to chase the same prey with the same cries. Sometimes different packs have different cries.

    The Press Gallery is obviously not comprised of individuals making their own judgements, We’ve all known that for years. Crikey has been a bit of an outlier, trying to ignore the alpha males with some, but not complete success. But the only way to avoid the natural human instinct for sociability and colleagiality is to avoid the Gallery and sit unobtrusively in the public gallery and never talk to any other journalists. A big ask…

  • 34
    Anne Cooper
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Wrong Mr Keane. From the minute Julia Gillard became PM gender has been at the centre of Australian politics. It is her gender which has her slated as a failure when by any measure hers has been a resoundingly successful govt. Problem was… She lacked legitimacy because of her gender. This was disguised by accusations of dishonesty and duplicity when both those claims have no basis but many women of Australia recognized it for what is was. After all we live with it. You mr leaned we’re oblivious but you would be. Now jones has done us the favours of exposing the sinister misogyny and sexism especially that of Abbott. She is a wonderful and courageous leader, and I think a visionary (an old fashioned word ill admit) and now she has shown us all what a warrior she is. Can you imagine how young women feel now? I’ll tell you - they feel enabled, as their brothers always have been.

  • 35
    NQAussie
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Bernard, you write as though you wish to be returned to the Christmas List of News wannabe`s??

  • 36
    sebster
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Weird article. What’s not to get?

  • 37
    negativegearmiddleclasswelfarenow.com
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    the MSM have collectively failed to ‘call’ a major speech

    they have completely miss-read the situation

    the Main Stream Morons

  • 38
    Charles Dodgson
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Bernard, I think you nailed it with: “The press gallery doesn’t see its job as analysing the social significance of politics. Its focus is on political tactics — what works politically, what doesn’t, what impact political performances will have on the functionality of the government in the short term and, over the longer term, its prospects for re-election.” That, it seems to me, is exactly the problem; because the press gallery has simply not adapted to the milieu of the new digital age.

    Anyone can now access the details of what is happening in Parliament from their own desk. We don’t actually need self-satisfied journalists (you Crikey journos excepted) telling us what is happening. Personally, I now only look to journalists to give me on-the-spot reports and I get increasingly frustrated that none of the mainstream media seem capable of providing this. All the journos you mentioned - but strangely left out all the ABC journos Sales, Alberici and Crabb who also completely failed to place Gillard’s speech into perspective - failed in their duty to actually report. I reckon they have all been exposed as lazy. All they did was repeat their collective prejudice against Gillard. Not only did they fail to place Abbott’s parliamentary tactic into a perspective (there has been next to no reportage of the legal and legislative implications that would have arisen if the speaker had been voted out in a no-confidence motion while still under police investigation); they also failed to recognise the significance of Gillard’s speech as a statement of gender politics. The foreign media are not so boundup with the personal battles of the parliament and, therefore, can actually see the theatre in terms of the longer term political outcomes.

  • 39
    michael r james
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Nice try BK, but you still don’t really get it. When you and Peter Hartcher (and Emma Alberici) find themselves agreeing with the likes of Sheehan, Bob Ellis, Michelle Grattan, Nikki Savva, Jennifer Hewitt and Judith Sloan, you really need to stop, count to ten, take a walk and rethink.

    People had different reasons to react so strongly to Hartcher. My own was that the whole framing of his argument was partisan and wrong. He repeated the meme that “Gillard defended Slipper” but dozens of comments here and on his article (which BTW was cowardly stopped at 11am after being blitzed by 700 uniformly hostile ones) pointed out she did no such thing. Indeed the dumb reader’s poll associated with Harcher’s article asked a shabby push-poll question: “Do you agree with Gillard’s support of Slipper.” Given only 5 points separated the poll results it was remarkable.

    It seems it takes Tony Windsor, Adam Bandt, Rob Oakeshott and Bob Katter* (!) to state the obvious: the vote was entirely about avoiding Parliament setting a precedent by sacking a parliamentary dignitary without notice or proof of criminal wrongdoing. Avoiding turning Parliament into a kangaroo court. This was the main reason why such criticism has been aimed at Hartcher and particularly Alberici in whose interview with Tanya Plibersek was wholly and aggressively misfocused, and persistently so. Most of us have long stopped listening to Grattan or the usual NewsLtd bunch and embittered old men like Ellis, Sheehan and Richardson, but it is truly dismaying when the more sober political journos get it so one sided, and dead wrong.

    Sure, to also avoid losing a vote while this chaotic situation was resolved. And Hartcher and others may be right to say Gillard has acted in these matters (Thomson, Wilkie, Slipper) to secure her government but, doh! like no other leader of any persuasion would not have acted to keep their parliamentary numbers. (Criticize on the competence but criticizing for the motive is ridiculous.)

    As usual it took Laura Tingle for a proper journalistic approach to put the events in context using the evidence and background.
    *Tingle cited Katter: Katter had been party to another “kangaroo court” in Queensland during the Jo Bjelke-Petersen era and “to this day I still get shooting pains in my chest at the terrible injustices that occurred there”.

  • 40
    fredex
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    The role of journalists is to deliver eyeballs and ears to the advertisers in the mass media that employs the journalists so that all concerned can maximise profits.
    Who pays the piper calls the tune.

    Thats a basic tenet of journalism, all other considerations are secondary.

    Why pretend otherwise - perhaps as a smokescreen to disguise the economic vested interest fact?

    That makes the entire preamble in Bernard’s piece pure self serving bollocks. Which means that which follows is based on bollocks and valueless.

    Added to the journalists’ desire to service the economic vested interests we have in this particular case the not so subtle intrusion of their patriarchal sexism.
    Patriarchy is the context in Australia in general and the mass media in particular and even if you are a woman in the field of journalism that is a social fact that has to be accomodated one way or the other.
    Which is the point that was made several times yesterday by people who understand [because they experience the patriarchal power] eg Susan Mitchell here, Penny Wong on ABC TV last night talking to a victim of sexism who could not admit it in this case.

    The consequence of all this context and the journalist’s long term compliance with such is that they never would come close to understanding what they witnessed in parliament.
    After they talked to themselves they printed the usual crap.

    Only the social media came close to understanding the significance of what had occurred, although Crikey is to be commended for having Susan Mitchell’s piece, and that of Shakira Hussein, oh and First Dog.
    For all the social media’s disadvantages and faults they at least are free [yikes -what is that word doing there!] to see without imposed blinkers and to describe without having to pass through the editorial and marketing filters.

  • 41
    zut alors
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    I ceased reading analysis from the Press Gallery ages ago - apart from reading Bernard Keane just to keep my hand in. Reports these days are based on personalities, tactics, scandals, power struggles.

    Whatever happened to principally reporting or analysing policy? It doesn’t appear in Keane’s above-mentioned job description.

  • 42
    johncanb
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    As you Bernard so perceptively said yesterday there are two main narratives running here. The narrative that the main stream media almost universally (left and right) jumped on yesterday and Tuesday was that the government showed poor judgement in defending the wretched Peter Slipper. As argued above by other correspondents, there is a good case for saying that Gillard was not defending Slipper in her speech on Tuesday. What in the press gallery zeitgeist led them to take a different view? Is it a function of the twittering which leads to groupthink? It is a fascinating example of difference between the gallery and others which should be explored further.

    The press gallery considered the government lost the day, and I think they were right in the end, but to a large extent because the press gallery painted it that way. The gallery is very important in filtering Parliament for most of the population.

  • 43
    Jason Dwyer
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    from what i read the press gallery decided to just ignore the politics of how it came to the debate.

    it was all ‘ohh, shes a hypocrit cos shes defending teh indefensible’

    what i heard ( having #qt on in the background as i often do ) was repeated repudiation of the content of the messages ( not that i’ve seen a hanging offense in there ), but a defense of due process.

    the opposition tried to wedge the government, and the msm has simply aided and abetted, and in the process has completely conflated the debate of a long history of misogyny with slippers private puerile messages.

    as a result, the magnificence in delivery of gillards rebuke of abbott was lost, most tellingly in the shrieking of the likes of paul ‘magic water’ sheehan.

    its almost like the majority of the MSM just went to print with whatever was in the LNP daily briefing notes

  • 44
    rhwombat
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Bernard. This is the beginning of the end of the ancien regime. Julia Gillard has just won the next election. Get with the program, or go and stand in the naughty corner with the rest of the sycophants with Daddy issues. This just illustrates the underlying truth about the conservatives failing to achieve escape velocity from their patrons - a term I use intentionally.

  • 45
    john2066
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Fair enough single mums aren’t being kicked off benefits, but they are being cut bigtime. And the Liberals went along with it, ok, but Labor still proposed it and supported it.

    The determination of people to discuss irrelevant rubbish they can get publicly passionate about rather than things actually happening isn’t just limited to the press gallery.

  • 46
    klewso
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    The press gallery seems quite happy to “analyse social significance of politics” when it suits - just as they’ll take up some causes and not others - as they suit.

  • 47
    Arty
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Q&A is an excellent program with humour and thought both presented when there is no politician on the panel.

    The presence of a politician soon curdles the output. That is when I seek superior entertainment on channels 72 or 90.

    It is unfortunate that the Q&A chairmen cannot resist the temptation to get a political scoop. Watch his body language and the light in his eyes when the political gotcha moment is at hand.

  • 48
    shepherdmarilyn
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Yes but many of those young women and other single parents don’t understand that sweet Julia shafted them big time.

  • 49
    shepherdmarilyn
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    So Peter Slipper sent some off colour texts about women to another man, get over it.

    He didn’t murder anyone, start a war, molest babies or even claim to hate women.

    Jesus wept what precious flowers.

  • 50
    Jimmy
    Posted Thursday, 11 October 2012 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    JOhn 2066 - “Fair enough single mums aren’t being kicked off benefits, but they are being cut bigtime.” Why shouldn’t a single mother who’s youngest child is 8 (and attending primary school) move off a pension and on to newstart where they have to undertake some form of training or gain some employment. And it shouldn’t be forgotten they can earn over $900 a fortnight and still receive newstart and will pay no tax on the first $21k they earn thanks to this govt.

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