(Image: Mitchell Squire/Private Media)

Machine gun Kelly Yesterday Tips observed that Prime Minister Scott Morrison has possibly the greatest talent any politician can possess: the ability to get the media to not only uncritically report what you say, but go further on your behalf than you ever have. So it was on Monday when a content-free equivocation about the Coalition’s “preference” that Australia reach net zero emissions by 2050 was translated into headlines about Morrison’s “more ambitious climate change target”.

And now it continues with Morrison’s handling of the Craig Kelly clown show. By any measure, Morrison (who has already directly intervened to save Kelly once) has failed to rein in Kelly’s conspiracy theories and medical misinformation on his immensely popular Facebook page.

According to Channel Nine, the PM “lashed” Kelly in a private phone call. But Kelly’s public statements didn’t shift one iota. So the headline, as far as we can tell, really should have been “Prime Minister resolutely fails to control dangerously out of control MP”.

Indeed, this morning Morrison found it necessary for further theatre (once again gratefully recounted by Nine’s Chris Uhlmann), this time “hauling” Kelly into his office for a “dressing down” — after which Kelly put out a fairly contrite statement that appears to have been sent from the year 1997.

Dinner, dancing and donations Labor responded to Monday’s political donation data with a call for cap on donations. “We needs caps on political donations,” Albanese tweeted. And we wholeheartedly agree.

Yet on the very same day, Labor issued an invitation to a fundraiser on February 17 in Canberra (parliament is sitting that week) where for $5000 you can have a “boardroom dinner” with Albanese, or $3500 for members of the federal Labor business forum.

At least we’ll get to know who attended. Labor has a policy of revealing all contributions over $1000. We’ll find that out in almost exactly 12 months when the 2020-21 data is finally released.

Of course, an election might already have been held by then. Donations in the run-up to that won’t get revealed until … 2023.

That was then, this is now Paul Murray, February 2, 2021:

Of course in the US the media are going to be nothing but puppy dogs to Biden and his administration … They expect the soft coverage they got during the election campaign where a couple questions was enough and they had favourite reporters and this would continue when they were running the free world.

Paul Murray to Donald Trump, September 21, 2019:

What do you want to say to your many Australian supporters who wish you nothing but the best in November 2020?

Lessons not learnt Facebook has a new appeals system for content-removal decisions — but a recent case from Myanmar shows the social media giant has apparently learnt fuck all from the past few years:

On October 29, 2020, a user in Myanmar posted in a Facebook group in Burmese. The post included two widely shared photographs of a Syrian toddler of Kurdish ethnicity who drowned attempting to reach Europe in September 2015.

The accompanying text stated that there is something wrong with Muslims (or Muslim men) psychologically … The post concludes that recent events in France reduce the user’s sympathies for the depicted child, and seems to imply the child may have grown up to be an extremist.

The oversight board argued none of this qualified as hate speech, and put the content back online.

This would be one thing in isolation, but Facebook has form. In 2018 the UN indicted it for playing a ‘“determining” role in the genocide against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The platform has also faced scathing criticism for the same issues regarding anti-Muslim sentiment in India.

Nine’s maze of conflicts Eddie McGuire’s recent catastrophic mishandling of the report into systemic racism at the Collingwood Football Club illustrates many things, not least the absurdities of a media landscape like Australia — a tiny pond with a two giant fish.

In the case of McGuire, this gives us the spectacle of reporters for The Age having to ask their employer (Nine, which publishes the former Fairfax papers) whether it stands by one of its most high-profile employees, and the company resolutely doing so.

“We will support him as we can through his association at Nine,” a spokesman is quoted as saying, before adding in gloriously mangled corporate speak “and more broadly by taking a more leading role in socialising these issues across all of our businesses.”

This comes in the same edition that The Age ran a scathing assessment from Barrie Cassidy who (correctly) called McGuire’s performance “spin over substance, rhetoric over action, a ridiculously ill-conceived attempt to reframe the debate through deception”.