Tony Abbott had a big weekend, didn’t he?

No sooner were commentators done shouting him down about his comments on immigration, than his name began to appear in headlines alongside the words “virginity” and “gift”.

The offending 10-page spread entitled “Abbott’s women” in The Australian Women’s Weekly only hit the stands today, but the outrage over Abbott’s comments about his daughters’ virginity have been doing the rounds for a few days now.

Bernard Keane writes in today’s Crikey:

The media laud politicians who are “authentic” and “honestly answer questions”. But that doesn’t stop them tearing them apart when they proceed to do just that. See why so many pollies — and our fearless leader, most of all — negate all signs of personality and stick to the talking points?

Abbott’s made it clear he’s not going to tiptoe around potential suicide by soundbite, and that style seems to be cutting through for him. It’s part of Abbott’s make-up to headbutt his way through issues, but it’s also a deliberate ploy to contrast himself with the image of Rudd as a politician obsessed with spin.

But serious commentators at least owe it to politicians to take their comments in context, and try reading the full transcript or 10-page interview before regurgitating the headlines. It’s easy to read all sorts of sinister subtext into Abbott’s statements (and hasn’t the deputy PM taken that and run with it..?) but given that the man is now the Opposition leader, the public are entitled to be treated to a little more in-depth analysis, even if Abbott’s not.

Peter Fray

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