Razer's Class Warfare

Feb 13, 2018

Razer: Q&A dresses up narcissism and calls it democracy

If you're wondering if Monday nights have changed, it's just business as usual: "A group of people fresh from the Qantas Club Lounge think about themselves, and the medium they inhabit in that moment, as democracy itself," writes Helen Razer.

Helen Razer — Writer and broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and broadcaster

“Behind every great fortune, there lies a great crime.”

Balzac, prolific 19th century novelist, probably wrote something like this in one of his books but, as there’s more than 90 of the things, no one’s found the time to check for sure. Apocryphal or not, the statement is one for which we might find frequent use. I, for example, plan to yell it throughout the banking royal commission every time the criminal fortunes of the finance sector are shown to be lawfully stolen -- this will be often. It is also handy to scream at the television during Q&A.

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76 thoughts on “Razer: Q&A dresses up narcissism and calls it democracy

  1. Desmond Graham

    Wa reading your article until I came across the word – Segued – sorry couldn’t read the rest

  2. Nudiefish

    My wife sometimes puts Q&A, (I suspect) just to annoy me. I must leave the room to save myself the effort of throwing objects at the TV.

    I can’t imagine why the stupid show hasn’t been put to sleep years ago. Possibly from the day that our urban smoothie, Malcolm Turnbull, donned a dead animal and thereby established his credentials as a left-winger.

    1. Helen Razer

      Hey. Leather. It worked for Hillary Clinton and Christine Lagarde.

    2. Lee Tinson

      Yes, you should absolutely leave the room. Here’s a thought: get Foxnews. Sounds like it should suit you just fine.

  3. klewso

    These programs are defined by the politics of their presenters, paid to indulge their opinions and politics – their interuptions.
    The Dum – the likes of Baird and Fanning – “the hypocrisy of the left”/”a fear of Islamophobia means that there isn’t an open debate and that cripples the Left”??? Unlike Baird’s Right – where Molan was only a Major-General? How could he be expected to know that there is “radical violent fundamentalism” that isn’t Muslim?
    Overington with her “Newhouse/Wilson” record, of all people to promote, for Fanning to ask about the dangers of “government censorship”? The way Limited News “shields” us from the embarrassing facts they don’t want us exposed too?
    Machin, Fanning and Stanley “to discuss Jethro’s latest cock-up”? The only surprise was the Red Dwarf crew didn’t have “Cat” Kelly, “Rimmer” O’Doherty and Crieghton on again, to cover?
    Sales and the way she frames her interrogations/chats depending on party? Who’d know anything aboout anything more than Morrison, with his unquestioned forays into trying to get ASIO to nobble refugee applications and how Labor’s negative gearing plans would wreck the economy and home prices (the truth of which he, Turnbull et all suppressed? … Hurry up Laura Tingle?
    While Matter of Opinion should be the name of Stan Grant’s new revue.
    While conservative groupie Alberici gets the gig as “Chief Economics Correspondent” – how long before we get our view of international economics blinkered by Dave Buik again?
    Democracy inaction.

    1. Lee Tinson

      Oh yes … Molan is a big problem.

      I guess we need to see and hear idiots like Overington from time to time to let us know what’s going on in the media we refuse to support by reading it.

  4. Dog's Breakfast

    I have always assumed that the need for ‘balance’ was destroying the quality of the ABC, but they have rather taken to it with some alacrity.

    I won’t watch ABC for political commentary any more, and not even for news unless I’ve missed the SBS evening bulletin. The aping of the commercial news style, particularly the throws to people standing around court rooms, outside houses where murders were committed hours ago, and the like, are just depressing.

    Having said that, the throws to people reporting from floods, bushfires, where they actually add to the news is justifiable. Surely it ain’t that hard to draw a line.

    As it is, Tarquin fintinbimtim bus stop ole biscuit barrel’s opinion is not equivalent to our new Australian of the Year, Professor Michelle Simmons, or other genuinely expert individuals. Balance does not mean equal time. Chris Kenny imbalance makes up for the entirety of political correctness gone mad, all on his own.

    1. klewso

      They’re “drilling down” so often I wonder how many opinion blocked sludge pipes they have to hit before enough is enough.

    2. AR

      I esp love the way a finance story opens with the same shot of the Reserve Bank in Martin Place they’ve used for a decade (check the clothing, even on a couple of blokes walking by) and then cuts to a note-counting machine.
      Really adds to the informational impact.

  5. bref

    I get that your level of cynicism won’t allow you to see any virtue in a show like Q&A, but as someone not in the media, it is instructive for others who otherwise never see the journos or pollies in the flesh, so to speak. If it wasn’t for shows like the Drum, Q&A or Insiders and sometimes 7.30, I’d never see any of them in action. I don’t see see similar shows on the commercial channels. Its easy to tear into a show like Q&A, but I don’t see any constructive criticism. Maybe its time for an organisation like Crikey, in conjunction with expert journos like yourself to put on its own panel show online and show all of us how it should be done.

    1. Lee Tinson

      Good on you Bref. You said it so much better than I could do.

    2. bref

      I’ve even thought of a format you can follow. Some 10 or more years ago I was a big fan of a show called Breakroom Live. From memory it featured a satirist and economist and they literally used the breakroom at the company where they worked. Just a desk and their computer cameras and their biting, usually anti-Bush commentary. There you go, build on that and I think you could have a huge audience.

      1. Jack Robertson

        Yes, yes, a satirist! Yes yes, more biting commentary! Oh, please can we have more biting satirical commentary on the ABC! Because that’s what will save us all: more satire, more bitingly humourous political and social commentary, from smug, marginally talented twenty somethings with a Bathurst Comms degree and Jon Stewartian delusions!

        Oh, hurrah huzzah, Oh please please please clever ABC TV programming folks, give us more politicky, bitingy, cleversy satirey thingies on the telly, oh, yes, do…


        1. Jack Robertson


          How about a one hour program where allegedly ‘serious’ journalists try to look each other in the eye while discussing this bloke’s ongoing tribulations?

          Satire or irony not allowed.

        2. bref

          When the reality is as awful as it is in this country, when all the ‘serious’ experts and journos are just going with the status quo and supporting the gutless mediocrity that Canberra has become, yes, I think satire has a place. But you miss my point, I put forward the idea of a shoestring budget, online commentary show, not necessarily of a satirical nature, that would be more in line with what Crikey and Helen think would deliver that the ABC doesn’t. The Planet America format is a similar idea.

          1. Jack Robertson

            Yes fair enough…I actually think your idea of a Crikey TV show is a ripper. Because as somebody once said, the quality of TV politics/talking head shows comes down to one thing only: the quality of the brains behind the talking heads. QA is shit because most of the guests are shit: lacking originality, wit, an interesting POV, unpredictability, grace, decorum (intellectual not genteel). Etc. You’d get interesting TV from the crew here; also, because an internet TV show doesn’t become an epistemological cage, defined by format/timing/technical imperative etc.

        3. AR

          Are you channelling the late, great Peter Cook, the long suffering funder of the British Private Eye?
          As he often pointed out with his vodka bottle, the Berlin cabaret satire did so much to prevent the rise of Fascism.

          1. bref

            Don’t forget Clarke and Dawe 🙂

          2. Jack Robertson

            Yeah I am. You know, must if what passes as ‘satire’ now is illiterate sarcastic smart-arsery. Same problem as most TV shows: not enough Talent. Cook was genuine original, but also – like Jon Stewart – smart enough to know it’s self-consuming limitations and get out of it before the joke was on him.

            What we actually need is less satirists/comics and more straight men. Because television is in a way fundamentally satirical, as an entire mode. Faked, proximate, facsimile reality…

          3. Jack Robertson

            The biggest lack in most younger ‘satirists’ is a fatal lack of affection for their targets. You can’t satirise something authentically unless you love it.

  6. klewso

    They’re like Blue Hills. If I want to know about the thoughts of Chairman Rupert I’ll subscribe to his many and varied media outlets and dependents, reliant on Limited News opinion to feed and validate their own and their dependents.
    Why the ABC has to promote and do PR for such a media empire (to show us what we’re missing?) at our cost – while neglecting others in comparison – is beyond me.

  7. klewso

    I missed last night’s episode so I watched tonight’s.
    In this one Linda Reynolds pushes a barrow-load of Liberal Coal-ition platitudes and gets down to unpacking.
    * That there is no difference between a business and government – Jethro.
    * “Poor Jim Molan” :- laugh at him and you laugh at the uniform?
    * All those poor people whose family fled war zones – they can’t help not having the proper paperwork of lineage : meanwhile the party she is a sitting member for does what it does to refugees on the grounds they do?
    Jones still has that penchant for interceding on behalf of panelists of the certain right persuasion and taking Turnbull (the PM who was adamant about ‘what Labor’s negative gearing would mean to the economy and your home values’? Who in an earlier life went into partnership with Abetz, Lewis and Grech in a “Utegate” franchise? And is certain that “Corporate tax cuts = more and better paid jobs for the plebs”?) at his word?
    Chris Kenny was pretty funny though (supporting Linda) – his stand-up about terrorism :- the likes of “psychopath(?)” Muslims committing crimes like the Parramatta shooting and the Lindt siege = “terrorism”?
    The funny part was not mentioning what it was when non-Muslims (Gargasulous? Maddison?) do something similar? Maybe they’re just the acts of “individuals with mental health/drug problems”?

    1. klewso

      And of course Reynolds was selling those “New lamps for old” magic lamps off that “Corporate Tax Cuts = more and better paid jobs” barrow too.

    2. bref

      Poor Jim, he’s learning the hard way, as did Peter Garrett, that politics tends to make laughing stocks out of the unwary. I agree Chris was a hoot, a laugh a minute on tv as he is in print.

      1. Lee Tinson

        Yep. Can’t ever forget that dog.

      2. klewso

        That’s Right. “Double the Standards – Double the Fun!”, that’s our Kenny.

  8. Wino

    Hahaha bloody brilliant. It reads as if you were commentating a horse race….had to stop and draw a deep breath after each paragraph.

  9. Pamela

    Thank you Helen
    Can’t watch anymore- You have helped me understand why.

    1. Helen Razer

      Thanks, P. Glad to know I have diagnosed your pain.

  10. pinkocommierat

    I’d like to know what the antidote is to the solipsism we see on Q&A. It reflects a broader, dysfunctional approach to “communicating” as distinct from listening, analysing, formulating a cogent argument, and conveying it clearly and concisely.
    But Q&A is the symptom of a broader problem: we all say we’re dissatisfied with spin, sound bites, and talking points spouted by inauthentic role-players who represent one or another brand, yet this seems to be the only currency we accept.
    You can switch the telly off so you don’t scream at it, but you still have people in the real world who act like Chris or Van!

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