(Image: Mitchell Squire/Private Media)

Prepare for war Occasionally there’s an outbreak of synchronicity across the Australian media that is as mysterious, beautiful and unconsciously coordinated as a murmuration of starlings at dusk. So it was in February when Craig Kelly was “hauled in” and “dressed down” by Prime Minister Scott Morrison according to publications across Nine, News Corp and on the ABC.

And so it is today when everyone bought right into the idea of returning to a “war footing”.

Anatomy of a beat-up Of course nothing generates content like culture-war footing. And so it was yesterday when #SpeakingUpSpeaksVolumes, an initiative based in Melbourne’s outer-northern and western suburbs aimed at improving anti-LGBTIQ+ mental health, was reported in the Herald Sun, Yahoo! News and many other outlets under headlines like “Call to stop using ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ in schools”.

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Inevitably this migrated to talkback radio and then to Sky News, where Pauline Hanson — whose campaign to keep potatoes white means so much to us all — declared she’d had a “gutful” of all this non-gendered PC nonsense. All of which would be something of a shock to anyone who read a few paragraphs into the Hun‘s piece to find the campaign’s statement:

To be very clear, the #SpeakingUpSpeaksVolumes campaign is not about mandating the use of pronouns or terms like mum and dad, but is focused on addressing the very serious impacts that bullying and discrimination has on LGBTIQ+ people, children, and young people in particular.

As the campaign sets out, LGBTIQ+ young people are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers and transgender people are nearly 11 times more likely. We can’t imagine the fact that every campaign that calls for compassion, tolerance and understanding towards them is reported this way is helpful.

Honourable conduct? Magda Szubanski has fired off a couple of mean tweets about Jenny Morrison which has, naturally, resulted in calls for the Australian honours system to be reformed. One referenced the slightly odd photo of her looming over Scott’s shoulder, and another seemed to reference an old conspiracy theory about Jenny doing the white supremacist “OK” symbol. They where leapt on by departing Liberal Nicolle Flint.

“I cannot believe the appalling personal attacks on Mrs Morrison, especially by Ms Szubanski, a woman who has received one of our nation’s highest honours,” she said. “I will be writing to the responsible minister to once again request a review of the standards to which Australian honours recipients should be held.”

Oh, so this is what prompts a look at reforming the Australian honours system? We have a few thoughts ourselves about who gets picked and why, if Flint is interested.

Tucker into this It’s sometimes harder to know which is more contemptible: the idea that people like Tucker Carlson believe what they say, or that the whole thing is merely a posture adopted for commercial reasons. The Fox host has been flinging himself to the right for quite some time and last week he reached a new extreme, openly extolling the white supremacist “great replacement” theory. The Christchurch shooter would have loved it, and indeed white supremacist groups have praised the segment.

Yet Lachlan Murdoch has stood by his man, restating Carlson’s argument that actually it’s about voting rights. Surely even Fox has a line beneath which it will not go? Possibly, but that won’t happen until Carlson stops raking in so much money. According to Forbes, Carlson’s show sold US$108.3 million in ads in 2020 (down from US$190 million in 2018, but still more than any of his stablemates). That figure included US$40 million from My Pillow founder and Trump fanatic Mike Lindell. Until that changes, don’t expect Carlson to.

Crikey clarifies ICYMI yesterday, Good Talent Media got in touch to let us know its panel on identity politics had replaced Angus Livingstone with SBS’s Omar Dehen.

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Australia has spoken. We want more from the people in power and deserve a media that keeps them on their toes. And thank you, because it’s been made abundantly clear that at Crikey we’re on the right track.

We’ve pushed our journalism as far as we could go. And that’s only been possible with reader support. Thank you. And if you haven’t yet subscribed, this is your time to join tens of thousands of Crikey members to take the plunge.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief
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