Oct 17, 2017

Razer: Four Corners put political candour to death last night

Sarah Ferguson's "interrogation" of Hillary Clinton on Four Corners last night marks a watershed moment (not in a good way) for political journalism.

Helen Razer — Writer and broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and broadcaster

We may despise the deregulatory excess of the Keating era. We can never rue the excess of the Keating mouth. “I want to do you slowly” or “the honourable gentleman's hair, like his intellect, will recede into darkness” are the sorts of things he said to politicians. This talkback in 1992 -- with brute sincerity, Keating urges voters to acknowledge their racist flaws -- is the sort of thing he regularly did. He was, and remains, comically frank. You could even call him an exception. But he was an exception made possible by an age -- an age whose end was recorded and broadcast last night on Four Corners.

You may have taken the good decision not to watch as Sarah Ferguson put public political candour to its final death. You may have avoided Q&A, whose first minutes were given over to Ferguson’s spouse to talk of the talk just aired. It is unlikely, however, that you were not made aware that former US presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had consented to a long-form talk with the ABC. Promotion by the national broadcaster was intense and so various, it got to zero-level with this “insiders” guide on just how one prepares for an interview with Hillary Clinton.

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66 thoughts on “Razer: Four Corners put political candour to death last night

  1. Draco Houston

    I’ve been thinking a lot about a joke Tad Tietze made recently WRT Clinton’s recent media outings:
    “Seeing Clinton in action lately I realise what a terrible candidate Trump was to almost lose the election to her.”

  2. old greybearded one

    I have several feminist relatives who seriously believe some of this. They do not like me saying misogynism was only one part. l consider Assange to be a scumbag these days, for many reasons. He is, like Trump, a spoiled narcissistic prat. However, the main reason for Clinton’s loss to me seems her ultimate betrayal of the theoretical Democrat heartland and a similar effort from the party machine. Trump talked about things that made the lost people feel somebody cared, though he doesn’t. Hilary abused the same people. Were I a citizen of the US I would have voted for Clinton, but only because she was not Trump.

    1. Marilyn J Shepherd

      So you think the vicious Trump, son of a real estate crook, billionaire and war criminal is the same as Assange, son of a quite poor single mum, smart exposer of war crimes by the nation that keeps him in a dungeon for no reason are the same. I can only conclude you have no more IQ than a rock.

  3. Itsarort

    Agreed. However, has there ever been an interview conducted by an Australian with a prominent American that didn’t tip-toe on eggshells (which is why I didn’t bother to watch it)? Maybe Norman Gunston, but he almost copped a punch in the head…

    1. The Curmudgeon

      Gunston interviewing Trump would have some potential.

      1. AR

        Hell yeah, I’d pay to see that!

  4. leon knight

    I can certainly understand Assange’s animosity towards Clinton, and the whole US economic/military machine, and long years needlessly holed up in the embassy might also add something to his bitter demeanour, but in a truth contest between any senior US politician or bureaucrat and Wikileaks, I will put my faith in Wikileaks.
    I hope Assange keeps up the good work revealing stuff the US legal criminals would rather keep secret.

    1. Helen Razer

      I am positive he is not the sort of chap I would like to be friends with. I am equally sure that this doesn’t matter one bit.

      1. Marilyn J Shepherd

        I am positive Assange is just the sort of person I would like to be friends with, I have been rebelling about the frigging establishment since I was kicked out of Sunday school by the methos. when I was 6 years old, when I gave most of my clothes to the poorest family in town at 12 and suffered 6 yrs of sexual abuse and violence by a vicious father while a vicious mother laughed. Give it a rest about whether or not you would like to be friends with Assange, he’s a far better human being than most of the fucking world.

        1. Helen Razer

          Ma-Shep. Take a breath, my comrade.
          The point I am making is that we need not approve of individuals.
          I would also say that a possible hurdle to friendship between you and Mr Assange may be the fact that he does hold some very strange views about women. (He asserts they have limited mathematical ability due to biology, for example.)
          Even if he does believe some odd things, I don’t mind. It doesn’t matter. What matters is WikiLeaks and his commitment to it.
          We don’t say that something is right because of the person doing it, just as we don’t say that something is wrong for the same reason.
          I believe your anger at me is misplaced here.

    2. Jimbo

      I agree entirely Leon. We should have heard about the corrupt millions paid to Clinton by the Saudis. How does that compare to the Russians using Facebook & Google adverts? Clinton kept Assange in illegal detention (Refer to UN finding) and he rightly hates her for that. Trump continues to do that.
      Long live Julian Assange.

    3. Wallywonga

      The interview. and this article/ subsequent comments illustrate the difference between old school quality journalism and social media driven journalism, now unfortunately overwhelming us. The latter (SMDJ) makes no attempt to be objective/ impartial, or offer alternative view point, riven with personal biases and .. bitchiness (or is that term too sexist?).
      Ferguson’s haughty style irritates a little sometimes, but she has still done some bloody good stuff. The Clinton interview would be expected to follow script, and it is improbable that the ABC would have got the gig otherwise.
      More concerning however that Assange is portrayed by some as folk hero, yet his position affords him a lot of power, that should also carry some responsibility. A lot of evidence now that WL/JA do not attempt to act completely impartially; JA has expressed detest for Clinton publicly several times now, so his response also came as no surprise – more petulant than impartial.
      While there is much I detest about mainstream media, can’t accept that hyena like SDMJ is going to be a better alternative, and there are many examples in human history where pack feeding frenzy has taken us to a very bad place.

  5. Paul Munro

    Helen Razer is harsher on Ferguson with Clinton than I think justified. Ferguson is in my view the best of a rapidly diminishing bunch of journalists capable of high performance interviewing. The session with Hillary Clinton was revealing and held my interest more intensely than most things one gets to see these days. It gave a close up picture of Hillary as she is, including some of the flaws; and it showed her mind at work; I have not seen anything like it with he possible exception of the Princess Diana interview. Razer is right in her reproach that questions might have been directed about aspects of the inequality agenda that were not adequately addressed in Clinton’s campaign when contrasted with those of both Trump and Sanders; there are many searching forensic questions that might be directed at Hillary if she is captive audience but Ferguson’s interview was founded upon a good understanding of Hillary’s campaign story. Ferguson was well-researched in that regard; making her a long way ahead of most of the jocks who occupy current affairs sinecures these days. Nor was Ferguson servile as suggested by Razer; it was Clinton, not Ferguson who raised the 3 million majority in the popular vote; Ferguson was, she always is, consistently civil and measured, marshalling from her calm demeanour a capacity to ask searching questions that evoke responses without generating gotcha tensions.

    1. Helen Razer

      Ferguson is normally pretty good. Not so here, in my view.
      I have read the book, so I guess I’m at an advantage. I can see that the story of the book was the story of the interview. (The only bit left out was blaming Bernie, who is, according to Hillary, a fool who doesn’t cost his plans. Which may have had a little to do with the many economists she could afford to employ to write policy down on her enormous and incoherent website. But, hey. The US, the only nation in history to have achieved hegemon status while going very deeply into debt, could actually just print more money. Sanders is an MMT guy. His chief economist is Stephanie Kelton. While I have reservations about MMT, these are nothing compared to the evidence that the economic theory that Clinton loves, capitalism in balance without regulation etc., just does not work.)

      1. Helen Razer

        That the question about the DNC’s work in elevating Trump as a nominee was not broached is pretty bad, also.

        1. lykurgus

          Maybe she forgot about that – many have. And it wasn’t in the book.

    2. Marilyn J Shepherd

      Ferguson is a vicious, stupid menace to journalism who leaves a trail of destruction of lives behind her over her three programs about non existent people smugglers using a war criminal as her source along with lying information peddled by the stupid AFP. She has caused thousands of refugees enormous harm and not one lazy journalist or anyone else dares to question her lies. I hate her style of journalism, it’s pure Murdoch gotchaism.

      1. AR

        Is there anyone or anything that you don’t hate?
        When was the last time you said/wrote something not unpleasant?

    3. CML

      I agree with your comments, Paul.
      Helen…the interview was about the campaign, which, as I understand it, is what Clinton’s book is about. The latter probably agreed to the interview on that basis.
      One thing is for sure…Clinton could not possibly be any worse than Trump, who is a disaster waiting to happen.
      As usual, Ferguson did a very good job…I’m happy I decided to watch this 4Corners episode. Am fed up with ‘journalist’s’ rude, arrogant approach to interviewees…while trying desperately for the ‘gotcha moment’.

      1. Helen Razer

        So what you are saying is that you are fine to watch a book promotion. And that the interview subject should get to set the terms of interview.

  6. klewso

    No BS about Ferguson – when it came to “dirty tricks by Assange (after what he exposed was being done in the name of the US, by Clinton and Obama), the Russians, the GOP” et al : it was Clinton that mentioned Bernie Sanders, in passing and re another matter than what the party did to him, to benefit her?
    And Comey should have sat on what they found at the FBI when looking into those emails – when the link was found from Huma Abedin to her front page grabbing husband and Weiner – and waited for a GOP sympathiser to leak it?

  7. Dog's Breakfast

    Even the ABC mostly lacks the rigour to ask difficult questions and require an answer, or an attempt at one. The ABC style is mostly fine, I don’t think you need to descend into rancour in an interview to get substance, but I just don’t know that the depth is there.

    I didn’t watch it, as it was less likely to throw up anything new than a repeat of Big Bang Theory. Helen’s piece tends to confirm, and I give HR much more credibility than most commentators/critics/journalists, whichever hat you’re wearing here HR.

    Clinton can blame whoever she likes, she has the right, but I don’t have to believe her. The TPP was a disaster we were running headlong for as fast as we could. Trump’s election means that we aren’t going to have it, and that is an unmitigated good.

    But capitalism was the problem, not the solution, and I don’t think Clinton has got that yet.

    1. Helen Razer

      DB! You are shocking! Clinton has not yet lost her faith in capitalism? What next? A horseless carriage 😉

    2. michael r james

      The TPP was a disaster we were running headlong for as fast as we could.

      A lot of people on this site are confused about TPP. Sure it would have been awful for the likes of Australia and perhaps most of the signatories–as the Euro version would be too–but it is designed to lock in American dominance for the next century. That is why it has bi-partisan American political support; remember it was finalised under Obama then strongly supported by him. (Are those on this site who are so critical of HRC on TPP also as critical–or more–of Obama? If not then it is pure hypocrisy maybe with a soupcon of misogyny.) It is designed for multinationals to rule over the world, with their legal strengths to overpower everyone else including nation states, often in utterly opaque secret “courts” that apparently make binding judgements. Whether it would be any good for your average American is less clear–because the US can’t compete on many old industries and only limps on because of the sheer scale of its domestic market (and unlimited borrowing on the back of the privilege of its dollar). Seven of its top ten companies are new-tech and thus earn a large fraction of their wealth and power from their world domination, and of course their ability to evade national taxes where they earn that money. Did Sanders have a realistic plan that would have rejuvenated the alternative to this scenario, or are those blue and no-collar jobs gone forever?
      Also, obviously Trump position on TPP is entirely accidental and political. He is and remains clueless as to what it really is. For Australia that has been a lucky break but for how long who knows? The big problem with TPP was that it was driven by the Americans to totally and solely serve their (corporate) interests, and for that reason it excluded China. The TPP parties are attempting to get TPP (minus US) back on the road, but will it be any better, and it will be equally ineffectual combined with damaging (to Australia and most of the minor parties) if China is not part of it? Instead of blaming Hillary, Australia and Australians and Crikey commentators should be looking in the mirror and thinking more about what we want, than expecting some kind of saviour to arise in America!

  8. Nudiefish

    Razer is right, Clinton only looks more favorable when compared to Trump. If it was a race between a dead dog and Hillary I might throw my vote towards Fido. The TPP thing is a case in point – she is a creature of the big corporations.

  9. MJM

    “Frank is frank when he says that Clinton blames everyone but herself.” Absolutely correct. I was not going to watch Four Corners but decided to do so at the last minute as I have found so many of their recent programs essential viewing. Could and should have saved my time as nothing new there and Clinton simply showed she has not learned anything from defeat.

    I think you are a little harsh on Ferguson as Clinton did duck quite a few questions with rehearsed answers. Although I have not read the book and won’t trouble to (thanks Helen for doing it for me) I would think it very likely that Kriss is correct in writing: “”… It’s an imitation of how some of her fans write, a sterile, chatty facsimile of a first-person blog.”” because that is exactly how she sounded last night – a chatty, sterile, facsimile of a person with nothing of real import to say. Not sure that anything Ferguson asked would have dislodged her from that format.

    Disappointing was my response.

    1. Marilyn J Shepherd

      I decided 45 minutes of my life could be spent on better things, I watched a doco. not that long about about how the Clintons stole 93% of the funds they ”raised” for the starving people in Haiti.

  10. Joe Black

    I didn’t think Sarah Ferguson was that bad. I assumed Clinton agreed to the interview as a puff piece promoting her book. Ferguson mainly let her speak but did also make her squirm.

    Clinton made a few good points but was mostly looking to re-write history. There were a bunch of things contributed to her demise – not least herself and her presumption that she could not lose.

    1. Serendipitous70s

      I agree with HR and Joe; it was an interview granted to plug Hilary’s book, which was always going to be a supreme effort to justify her campaign including it’s many misses, and to reiterate “We was robbed!”. So that’s precisely what the interview pushed.
      Ferguson did in my opinion let quite a few ‘free kicks’ pass but at the same time, she asked certain questions to which even the Australian public wanted an answer, and which made Hilary squirm. I agree she did have prepared answers to everything; Hilary is the consummate pollie. One glaring omission was that Ferguson didn’t specifically raise the $8M Julia Guillard ‘ gifted’ from our coffers to the Clinton Foundation. Or was it $12M?
      Overall, Hilary was still pushing the tired line that she should have become President, as if it were preordained, and sadly somehow that, by being a woman and so the first-ever potential POTUS, she and the nation were robbed. This arrogance and imbalanced perspective – a fishbowl of sorts or cone is silence if you will – were evident in the final six to nine months of campaigning, which can account to some degree for the parallel mindset demonstrated by the US media and our media which strenuously presented Hilary as the ‘sure thing’ that must win the election. Trump was obviously gaining throughout that period, but all the world maintained the mantra that ‘Hilary will win, must win, and will be our first female President’. Then the world woke up to a whole different reality.
      Hilary’s book tour and stock answers to everything are keeping on with the pundits’ perspective that proved so wrong, and after being in hiding for so long, she has returned to justify her sour grapes and to make and take the money. Even her incredible riches couldn’t carry her to the White House, and that is probably one of Hillary’s more shocking realisations. There seemed no mea culpa, no “sorry, deplorable, that is, voters” and still no clear road for her to Damascas.

      1. michael r james

        Serendipitous70s wrote:

        One glaring omission was that Ferguson didn’t specifically raise the $8M Julia Guillard ‘ gifted’ from our coffers to the Clinton Foundation. Or was it $12M?

        So, 1. you don’t actually know the amount (which therefore could actually be zero?); 2. you are repeating crap from Miranda Devine as regurgitated by Andrew Bolt–impeccable sources of “fair and balanced” information! 3. you can’t manage to spell Gillard’s name correctly; 4. So bloody what? Unless you think the Clinton Foundation somehow funded HRC’s presidential campaign–which is so against American law that don’t you think Clinton really would be in jail if it had happened, or at the least some of those Republican smear campaigns would have had some kind of tangible outcome.

        Well I suppose they did have a tangible outcome in that they convinced people like you, too gullible, uninformed and too lazy to inform yourself of the reality, to repeat the fake news.

        For the record, the Australian government didn’t give any money to the Clinton Foundation. What happened is that the CF was operating in some difficult parts of the world that they handled the distribution of aid from other NGOs and sometimes governments–including Australia (and both sides of politics). This is nothing out of the ordinary and nothing the least bit illegal in US law or Australian law or the least bit dodgy about it. Since the Clinton Foundation had education as a major focus, overlapping with Gillard’s interests, it is no surprise that this happened.

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