Jan 31, 2013

Gillard’s hot date in the media eye of the beholder

What did the nation's political pundits make of the PM's election date announcement yesterday?

Matthew Knott

Former Crikey media reporter

The nation's political hacks, well-rested after summer soujourns, launched into action yesterday following the Prime Minister's shock announcement. While many of the pundits who gathered at the National Press Club regard their prognostication skills highly, no one expected to hear an election date. Gillard's spinners had leaked the key points of her speech to the newspapers the night before -- minus the kicker lines about the election date. The Daily Telegraph's Simon Benson managed to scoop the PM by a matter of minutes, tweeting the election date while the PM was still clearing her throat. Sky News, experiencing a collective wet dream, was quick to roll out its taking heads. Remarkably, Sky analyst and former Coalition staffer Chris Kenny thought Gillard's move a mistake. "I'm bemused by it all; I don't know what to say," said Graham Richardson, before preceding to talk about the announcement at length. Government ministers have complained loudly about the treatment dished out to them by The Tele, The Australian and The Australian Financial Review. But it's the Herald Sun that sticks the boot in on its front page by declaring the marathon poll a "227 DAY FARCE". The nation's babies, apparently, are on red alert. Terry McCrann, set free from the business pages, was unimpressed. Tezza reckons an April poll would have been better:
"There's no way that the next half-year can be anything other than an extended election campaign, with all its hyperventilation and suspension of substantive, sensible policy discussion and decision-making."
Star columnist Andrew Bolt reckons it a "desperate" move:
"There is no way Gillard would have called an unprecedented eight-month election campaign if she’d thought Labor could win a snap election before then ... Gillard is in awful strife, and has little to hope for with Parliament resuming next week."
Over at Fairfax, copysharing went into overdrive. The news story by Mark Kenny and Lenore Taylor -- both nominally from The Sydney Morning Herald -- led The Age's front page, leaving doyenne Michelle Grattan to occupy the opinion page. Age veterans Tony Wright and Michael Gordon both popped up in the SMH. It appears to be the new normal for the broadsheets as they race towards a tabloid future. The AFR, meanwhile, devotes a whopping seven pages of coverage to Gillard's announcement. Political editor Laura Tingle can see the upside: “By putting the date out there, the Prime Minister maximises the time in which, as she put it she looks like she is governing rather than campaigning.” The Oz gives the story two full pages but reserves pride of place for an exclusive on changes to new racial discrimination laws. Brisbane’s Courier Mail found a local angle by featuring a photo of Kevin Rudd holding a chainsaw on its front page. ...

The announcement of the election date, of course, had to jostle with the day's other big story: Gillard's hipster glasses. The prime ministerial specs, The Tele reckons, sent a message of "authority, intelligence and being in command". Meanwhile her "bold but feminine" suit showed she is not "trying to be a bloke". And her "fresh-faced and relaxed" make up was designed "not to distract from the main game". Fairfax's Judith Ireland hopped onto Twitter to test the nation's pulse, concluding: "Not since John Howard went rimless had Australia witnessed such a major politico-ocular event."

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8 thoughts on “Gillard’s hot date in the media eye of the beholder

  1. Glen

    “Star columnist Andrew Bolt” is a justifiable regular for Crikey derision. The interwebses offers up an interesting little sincerity test; call it Clicks of Separation™. So how many irony-free clicks between some Crikey banner and Mr Bolt’s famous blurg?
    Answer: Just 2 … find them.

  2. Bill Hilliger

    If only the printed media made good toilet paper. And yes the wet dreams of the electronic media was abundantly evident at sky news.

  3. Bill Hilliger

    At Doncaster Shopping centre I saw young mothers crying whilst reading the front page of the Herald Sun. When I tried to console one such mother she howled and said: “I want to watch it unfold on Sky News with my fave, the org*smic David Spears.” Must say, I believe JG treated the media badly by depriving them of 8 months speculation on when the next election would be held and who would lead the labor party at that time. My condolances to Nikki Savvas, Michelle Grattan, Gerard Henderson and a host of other so called journalists, nothing left for them to pontificate about. The same gaggle should now concentrate on some TV rated cooking competitions for their giggles.

  4. klewso

    She used to do Maggie Thatcher – now it’s Natasha Stott Despoja?

  5. Ian

    Journalists in the mainstream media have been called many, many insulting names. They have been described as useless, inept, overpaid, bloviating buffoons and much worse. What has never been mentioned is the truth of things.

    Australian journalists are venal, corrupt and incompetent.All of them…without exception or excuse.

    We should be demanding better.

  6. K.D. Afford

    Meanwhile Tony Abbott gloats on getting rid of the carbon and mining taxes. As PM he will announce:

    Australia has raised its level of concern for Climate Change from “No worries”
    to “She’ll be alright, Mate.” Two more escalation levels remain:
    “Crikey! I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!” and
    “The barbie is cancelled.” So far no situation has ever warranted use
    of the final escalation level.
    Apologies to John Cleese.

  7. jesse mandragoria

    quality. stay classy australia.

  8. Dogs breakfast

    You know, the coverage of this could hardly have been more fatuous. The serious media took turns in describing the announcement as ‘tactically clever and strategically bereft, all the way to tactically bereft and strategically clever, and took quotes from various party dingbats (election directors or somesuch) who parrotted predictable party lines.

    I very much doubt that any of them would know the difference between a tactic and a strategy, or that a tactic might be part of a strategy, or that it might be strategic to employ a certin tactic.

    As usual, I was just left with the thought ‘effin w–kers’.

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