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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

The media strikes « Previous | |Next »
September 12, 2007

It's going to be the story of the day--- leadership destabilisation in the Liberal Party. The story has legs and it will be everywhere in Canberra, no matter how much the senior Liberals--Downer, Abbott and Minchin-- dutifully try to manage it by declaring their undying love for the greatest Australian Prime Minister since Menzies; or how they will stand by their man.


The media love this stuff--- 'kill the emperor' is their narrative. They own it and they will be squeezing their political sources for the good juice and the latest gossip to keep the destablizing narrative going. The body language will be analyzed as they probe a situation in which the Prime Minister limps on to the election too wounded to win, but too strong yet to remove.

It will be interesting to watch how the media in the Canberra hothouse cover this unfolding tragedy of the blinded, wounded emperor that signifies the end of an era. The media will become the story as the Canberra Press Gallery talk to one another on Sky News and on the radio about what they have written and trade insights.The media story is the main political event.

Sky News is geared up to air all the different angles and it will be the raw material for the other media organizations. As Mark Day observes:

...a 24-hour news channel can go live to the event and deliver on the promise of a full coverage, including every press conference from start to finish. There are two main audiences for this coverage: the political cognoscenti who participate in the process or demand to observe every nuance, and the rest of the media. To them, Sky News is a valuable resource, an instant transcript in every newsroom across the nation. Politicians know this.

The wounded leader scenario will be hosed down, but the recriminations and damage will linger and surface ensuring the LiIberals themselves remain the main story.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:18 AM | | Comments (12)


Janet Howard cannot be pleased with all this treachery and betrayal for the great man. She will see treachery wearing a smiling face as it stalks the corridors of power plotting the demise of the Great One.

your Thatcher moment, which you have longed for, has arrived.

Thanks Gary, you should warn people before you paste a link like that!

I now have to remove my eyeballs and wash them in surgical spirit to remove the taint of reading something written by JA!

Seriously, it is all rather Shakespearian now. Almost Lear like, I am just waiting for one of the trusted advisor's to rip out Howard's eyes and tell him to sniff his way to Dover.

We really are starting to live in a youtubian society now where we demand daily and instant news gratification. Now, what will the media come up with tomorrow? Howard health scare! Janette swears at cleaner! Costello plans seat on telstra board!
Tune in tomorrow! Same bat time Same bat channel!

Your Thatcher has come and gone.

I was in Parliament this morning and saw the media scrum quarantined in a lobby outside the House of Representatives Chamber, watched over by the Serjeant-at-Arms. They spent two and half hours waiting with cameras motors and TV lights ready.Nothing happened. Someone told me as I left the building just after midday.

I was interested in how the media creates the news and keeps it circulating. Thus:

On Monday, Howard made two television appearances to say he was staying on but rumours persisted he was going to be asked to step aside and that he lacked the support of the man he'd asked to take the soundings - Downer.
By yesterday morning there were still rumours, there was some resentment and disappointment with Howard's television performance the night before and some MPs disliked the idea of Abbott continuing to talk about the leadership.

Last week a majority of the Cabinet wanted him to go. Then this event from an senior anonymous but trusted Liberal source :
...Sky News ran a report that Howard no longer had the support of Downer and Turnbull and that Abbott was the only person backing Howard. Confused echoes of Thursday night's meeting, expressions of concern and suspected treachery began to filter out in Canberra as Howard hosted Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
By noon Howard was facing the suggestion of a full-blown putsch headed by Downer and Turnbull with Costello as the intended leader. He cut it dead, if it was a challenge they'd have to blast him out....As reports appeared every 15 minutes on Sky News about Downer's lack of support, he headed into Howard's office at 3.45pm and the Prime Minister knew the status quo would apply through the election.

The media will keep working away on this as the sniff of defeat is in the air and the News Ltd press withdraws their support for the Prime Minister.

Funny how something ostensibly about something else is actually a stalking horse for a different agenda. The article on Thatcher and the Labor bloke purported to be about old protagonists sharing a Homeric moment during a lull in the eternal battle.
The lull was actually a transference that readied the readership psychologically for the article's real objective; a subceptional blast of neo-liberal propaganda concerning neo lib and conservative policies peddled as "reform".
Within that envelope was a guilt-increaser about "our" ingratitude" as to the old tyro Thatcher assuming a Churchillian mantle. In Australian election terms this relates to a myth peddled as an enabler for voting Howard, obligation to the old defender warrior.
As to parliament, on what the writer observed for an hour today, the government looked in strife, reeling from blow after blow from Labor going in for the kill with a string of material from Vasta and Hardgrave, to secret meeetings of cabinet without Howard, To AQIS and so on.
The body language from the government side ranged from despair to disconnection to bewilderment; if not yet at the tilting point so near as to be almost beyong retrieval .
Tatty, like a budgerigar or cat in full moult; bits of fur and feather hanging out all over the place.
Two images above all: the Costello abhorrence of Howard, revealed in a facial expression evoctive of a strangled chook. Secondly, the Dickensian Steptoe& Daughter image of bedraggled Julie Bishop and Fran Bailey sitting next to each other looking like Laurel and Hardy, in contrast to the smart Labor women.
Even the wretched speaker looked down at mouth, making his usual running of interference look like what it really is, rather than the operating of an independent arbiter; his usual modus operandi.

Somebody hereabouts said recently that if nothing happened soon the media would start interviewing one another, and it's happened.

Matt Price liveblogged from Parliament House yesterday and last night Tony Jones interviewed Price and Bolt. Hilarious.

But ultimately dull.

Reminds me of when we were kids on cracker night and invariably the biggest, fattest, most impressive looking rocket failed to go off.

I am wondering if there has been some sort of Blog Government Bagging Protocol(BGBP) established yet should Kevie get the job.
I was thinking along the lines of;
If you voted Greens you could start bagging whoever wins on the Sunday after the election if the winner doesn't go to work that day.
If you campaigned for Howard you can start after 7 days.
And if you openly wrote widely praising posts or comments about Kevie perhaps you can start bagging them after you go back to work after Xmas holidays unless you have to go to work between Xmas and new year (which will be the governments fault) and you can start bagging them after 6pm on Boxing Day.

it is the same with Sky News. Around 4.15 pm each day they have Agenda, which "takes you beyond the spin to find out what is really going on in the world of politics." Hosted by David Speers it interviews other journalists on what they have written and seen that day.

Might be wrong, but sure sbs advertised the return of their funny media satire "Broken News" at ten tonight.
If it's on and you've not seen it before, have a look. One of the silliest, funniest peices of british nonsense have watched in recent years.

The media are still running with the 'wounded leader' narrative whilst patting themselves on the back for exposing Howard's attempt to cover up the Cabinet's desire for him to step down. Mike Steketee writes in The Australian

Howard would not have been found out had it not been for the treachery that exposed his cover-up: the leak to Sky News on Tuesday of Downer's consultations. That was a deliberate attempt to put pressure on Howard to stand down, in the same category as then Labor senator Graham Richardson's leaking the Kirribilli agreement on Bob Hawke's promise to hand over to Paul Keating.

These events can only reinforce in the minds of voters the conclusion that many of them have already reached: that Howard is well past his prime, that by hanging on to his job for dear life he is looking after his own interests ahead of those of the Government.
Howard now looks more and more like a leader in the latter stages of his career.