On Q&A questioners

Peter McEvoy, Executive Producer Q&A writes: Re. “Glenn Dyer’s TV Ratings” (Tuesday)

Glenn Dyer suggests that Q&A undermined its credibility by allowing “a right-winger (Edwin Nelson) to put a question to the panel unchallenged as to his identity”. It seems that to Dyer the defining facts of Mr Nelson’s identity is that he is a former political staffer who opposes marriage equality using a slippery slope argument that compares homosexuality and incest. But why should that have been announced to viewers before Nelson was allowed to ask a question about media bias? 

Mr Nelson was not there to push a barrow for his former employer and it was obvious to every viewer who heard his question that Mr Nelson is a committed conservative who believes the media including the New York Times and the ABC are left-leaning and spend too much time talking climate change and “homosexual marriage” rather than “Judeo-Christian values”. It was there in his own words, and Q&A viewers were able to factor his opinions into their judgement of his question and the panel’s response. 

Contrary to Dyer’s unchecked assertion, Q&A did do its due diligence. Q&A knew Mr Nelson’s background and we judged it unnecessary to rake it up during the program. 

We disclose what’s relevant and Mr Nelson’s former employment and his views on marriage equality aren’t central to his question about whether the media is biased. 

Disclosure’s not intended to shut people out of the debate because they don’t “deserve” a voice. But the McCarthyist impulse seems to be overwhelming the Australian commentariat across the board: “are you now or have you ever been?” None of the opinionated commentators seem capable of engaging the substance of opposing arguments. They prefer to attack the speaker.

Q&A is a conscious push against the filter bubble of modern media: it’s deliberately designed to bring together people who disagree and to expose Australian citizens to ideas they oppose, as well as those they already support.

Glenn Dyer is undermining his own credibility and falling into exactly the same trap as those who tried to silence Duncan Storrar if he argues that citizens like Edwin Nelson are beyond the pale and should be excluded from public debate or forced to hold up a warning sign every time they open their mouths. 

On housing affordability

Joe Boswell writes: Re. “How to fix the housing affordability crisis” (Tuesday)

Guy Rundle writes “The collapse of housing affordability — both buying and rental — in capital city Australia represents the single greatest failure of policy in the post-social-democratic era.”

That’s arguable, and it is certainly an egregious failure, but is it really worse than, for example: energy policy, including supply infrastructure rorting, the wreckage of renewables policy, the growing insecurity of electricity supplies and the eastern states gas supply fiasco; the staggering fiscal crime of giving away Australia’s mineral, oil and gas wealth to foreign corporations for decades without receiving any more than token compensation (although our main political parties have been well remunerated); or a media policy of unswerving abject servility to the empire of Rupert Murdoch? I am sure there are more candidates than these for the title of greatest policy failure. Perhaps there should be a Crikey readers’ poll?

Peter Fray

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