Questions:

“Look, I’m not going to engage in running commentary on testimony, but I do believe Australians watching all of that happening overseas with News Corp are looking at News Limited here and wanting to see News Limited answer some hard questions.”

— Prime Minister Julia Gillard, responding to a journalist’s question about the News of the World phone hacking scandal at her National Press Club address on July 20.

Questions about questions:

“Are you saying that News Limited papers here have to answer some questions, or just the British tabloids?”

— Journalist in response to the prime minister’s response at the National Press Club.

“‘If Julia Gillard thinks there are questions to be answered, she ought  to say what those questions are,’ Mr [Michael] Gawenda said. ‘For journalists in  Australia, I don’t think there are any issues.'”

Simon Canning, The Australian.

“We have answered every question put to us on this issue openly. If the prime minister has more questions we would be happy to respond.”

— John Hartigan, CEO of News Limited, in a July 20 statement released within hours of Gillard’s answer to a journalist at a press conference

Questions about context:

“Yesterday the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, joined them, declaring that News Limited will have to answer ‘hard questions’ as a result of  the UK scandal. She has stopped short, so far, of Brown’s call  for a ‘watchdog’ on journalists, and lament about a ‘narrow range of  media opinion’. But attacking the newspapers that have done the  most to hold her Government to account for policy failures is a  transparent ploy.

“… Trying to silence opposition by smear and slander, abuse and suppression of unpleasant facts is just treating the public like suggestible morons. In any case, the Murdochs’ contrite appearance at the UK hearing was a triumph of decency, humility and lessons learned.”

Miranda Devine, the Herald Sun, July 21.

“Unless the prime minister can say exactly what her problem with News Ltd here in Australia is, it looks like a cheap smear… It looks like an attempt to bully News Ltd out of their tough … but fair reporting of her carbon tax disaster.”

Opposition leader Tony Abbott, Nine Network, July 22.

Questions about questions about questions:

“So the CEO of News Limited [is] asking some questions himself. It’s not surprising Australians are asking themselves the question too, ‘What  does this mean for Australia?'”

Julia Gillard, July 21.

*Each week Sideshow Alley will nominate the latest offerings to the service of dumbing down politics by journalists and/or politicians, and at the end of each month we’ll be asking former finance minister and author of Sideshow Lindsay Tanner to write through his pick of the best/worst example. But we need your help — send your picks to [email protected] with “Sideshow Alley” in the subject line.

Peter Fray

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