green tape Scott Morrison
(Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

Getting the prime minister to engage with questioning has been one of the true challenges of the new Morrison government. Scott Morrison has always been happy to deflect journalists’ questions, but since solidifying power he’s brought in some new techniques in obfuscation gleaned from his buddy Donald Trump. Crikey readers have noticed, and they have some suggestions. Elsewhere, readers touched on the reoccurring phenomenon of supersonic space plane hype.

On Morrison’s new media approach

Quentin Dempster: To counter politicians now deploying Steve Bannon/Breitbart “loudest voice”  methodology (not answering or simply dismissing substantive fact-seeking questions, obfuscation, vilification of critics and personal attacks), committed, ethical  journalists and their publications must make fact-checking a more impactful part of the 24 hour news cycle. A recent example was The Guardian Australia’s immediately published fact-checking of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s speech on climate change to the United Nations. But instead of running these checked facts on the side lines they should become front page items.  Instead of simply quoting dissenting critics or experts, the journalist and publisher should stand behind their own checked facts. This sort of confronting editorial judgement, of course, would carry a risk that the journalist and publication would be denied access to the news source. In the current circumstances that is a risk worth taking. The great US investigative journalist I. F. Stone famously said that “all governments lie”.  Now in the Trump/Breitbart era there often is not even the pretence of fact-based credibility on the part of news sources. Journalism is not about access; journalism is about reporting fearlessly what, in fact, is really going on.

Terry Dorney writes: Hopefully we get a press gallery prepared to go for the jugular. If journalists let him get away with obfuscation, downright lies and smug no-comment answers on a regular basis, the end result will be exactly the same next time. Disappointing to say the least. Give me a microphone and a press pass just once!

Lucille Rogers writes: The only hope for a more balanced media is for the ABC to be brave and return to one of its core reasons for its existence, which is to hold the government to account. It must stop quoting word for word the utterances of ministers without questioning the truth or ethics of their policies.

On supersonic hype

Gregory Killen writes: These articles on hypersonic space planes go back much earlier than Charlie Lewis reports. Back in the mid-1980s I recall reading about the Horizontal Take-Off And Landing (HOTOL) spaceflight project reported from the UK that would take passengers on sub-orbital flights from Sydney to London in around ninety minutes. The proposed vehicle looked a bit like an extended version of the Space Shuttle. HOTOL would be propelled at supersonic speeds by supersonic combustion ramjet engines which were reportedly under development at the time. I was looking forward eagerly to taking one of these passenger flights and have kept my eyes out for news of progress, but not surprisingly HOTOL hasn’t got off the ground yet, certainly on a commercial basis.

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Peter Fray

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