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

The Canberra Press Gallery sucks « Previous | |Next »
October 15, 2011

I've become utterly sick of the way that the Canberra Press Gallery comments on public policy. They basically have two issues--- the horse race and leadership tensions--and every policy issue is enframed within, and then reduced to, these issues. Only a few dig beneath the surface of the politics to inform us what is happening behind the wall of mirrors. Mostly the journalists rely on leaks.

This is especially the case when they-- ie., journalists talking to other journalists --- talk about the particular issue of the week ie., --carbon tax or asylum seekers. They very quickly move onto Gillard being destroyed, or Rudd making a comeback, or Abbott winning the next election in 2013. That's their core interest. They'll spin political rumours in the form of journalism to spice it up.


They have no interest in the public policy issue per se---where have they informed us about the implications of the carbon price policies?. They also show little interest in changing their practices in the light of the limitations of their commentary and the criticisms of their understanding of politics.

What they offer us is boring---its pretty much realms of speculation about a Rudd comeback and what Rudd will do when he comes back. It's boring. Boring. Boring. It's even more boring than the embrace of the tedious "he said, she said” reporting around climate science.

After watching Chris Ulhmann interview Greg Combet on The 7.30 Report I came to the conclusion that Uhlmann knew very little of the policy, and that he wasn't interested. Time and time again he showed his ignorance:

CHRIS UHLMANN: If you genuinely believe that a market mechanism is in the end the best way to deal with this problem most cheaply, then why is there a $10 billion package at the heart of this which is about picking winners?

GREG COMBET: Well the market mechanism, which is an emissions trading scheme, will put a price for the first time on every tonne of pollution from the largest polluters in the country. That's a very powerful incentive to cut their pollution levels and to invest in more efficient technology and renewable energy. So that's the main institutional change that's occurring. You're pointing of course to the fact that the Government's also investing in $10 billion in a clean energy finance corporation, and this will be there to try and help bring private finance to technologies, renewable energy technologies, low emissions technologies to get them to the marketplace, because in many respects investors in the community are just like everyone else and they're not necessarily that familiar with some of these technologies and we want to facilitate getting them to market.

CHRIS UHLMANN: But certainly. But this is direct action. This is the stuff you ridicule.

GREG COMBET: No, this is not direct action at all. The Coalition's so-called direct action program is a subsidies-for-polluters program. This is an institution, a commercially oriented organisation that will make investments through providing loans or loan guarantees or equity investments to help get renewable and clean energy technologies to market.

CHRIS UHLMANN: But it's all government money and if - by definition, if something's commercially viable, then a private sector investor will invest in it. This is a government investment and you'll be picking winners.

GREG COMBET: Well, no, it'll be an independent corporation. We've announced today that Ms Jillian Broadbent will chairing the corporation, will be the inaugural chair. She's going to go around in coming months to develop an investment mandate. She's a very experienced person with Reserve Bank board experience. She will work ...

CHRIS UHLMANN: But 100 per cent of money will come from government, won't it?

GREG COMBET: No, in particular projects the idea here is for the finance corporation to step in where perhaps a technology's struggling to get to the marketplace - a proper evaluation will be done of its commerciality of course - but this can be a circuit-breaker to work with private finance from banks and the like to get a technology to the market.

Ulhmann, as the savvy insider, is either pretending ignorance for the sake of asking these low grade questions, or he hasn't bothered to do his research. If it's the latter, then he doesn't care, cos his central concern is to look savvy--- practical, hardheaded, unsentimental, and shrewd. Just like the party operatives and strategists he feels an affinity with.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:41 PM | | Comments (13)


Journalism Oz style- Uhlmann's doltishness in the transcript and Moir doing a pinch off Rowson (altho the Abbott childishly striking a match inside an armory of incendiary racial and other social issues, cartoon was good).
I use Sally Neighbour's 4 Corners on human trafficking at it's most gross as a measure against the examples Gary employs, which demonstrate the yawning gap between rare serious current affairs and the lazy trivia that is so dominant.
Was the fairly small crowd that turned up in Adelaide today in solidarity for the Wall St Protests evidence that dumbing down has been devastating?

Spot on Gary. It is just nauseating. I tune out so often. The unqualified endorsement of an Abbott Presidency makes me want to puke.

Uhlmann is terrible. He even manages to make Joe Hockey look like a towering intellectual. He should stick with the sideshow stuff and leave the serious material to Leigh Sales.

Uhlmann only has two interview strategies. He tries quick fire successive questions on different topics that Mike Willisee used to be so good at, but his timing is off and he doesn't seem able to absorb the answers quickly enough to make use of the slip ups he's looking for.

His other strategy is persisting with policy weaknesses, but as the example here shows, he doesn't do the groundwork to do that successfully so he ends up looking like a total numpty.

we are seeing the great limitations of the Canberra Press Gallery being on the inside, looking at politics the way the party political operatives do. The journos reckon they are savvy because they have the inside knowledge of politics as a strategic game--how things are going to play in the media or in the electorate.

Uhlmann 's pose is that of being savvy. He presents himself as shrewd, practical, hyper-informed, perceptive, ironic, “with it,” and unsentimental in all things political. He knows who the winners are---Abbott---and so he is condescending to the losers---the ALP.

There is a degree of muted acceptance in the Canberra Press Gallery about the fashionable thinking on the right of politics around healthcare, scepticism about climate change, low taxes, and immigration that is currently coming from the US Republicans.

Chris Uhlmann used to be quite good as the announcer on the ABC 666 Breakfast show - used to do that quite well.

The unwillingness of reporters to move beyond personalities to explore the substance of policies with people who know something about the issues =drives me mad.

"...the fashionable thinking on the right of politics around healthcare, scepticism about climate change, low taxes, and immigration that is currently coming from the US Republicans"

True. I've always thought that it was a curse that we shared the same written language as the yanks. It allows the lazy and uninformed to simply parrot to foolishness that passes for argument by the American wingnuts. They can just latch on to the rightwing slogans and talking-points, without the need to determine if they actually make sense.

Good grief, we even get FOX News talking heads gabbering on our screens without any filtering or context. But do we see any stories from Al Jazeera... not likely.

Alternate ideas from other cultures are simply ignored or lost in translation.

According to the Canberra Press gallery Labor's Right faction is now trying to rally support around Stephen Smith as the replacement for Julia Gillard. They don't want Rudd, who is mounting a challenge.

It's more media beat-up and speculation; more rumours pretending to be journalism.

Dunno why the Right faction of the ALP just doesn't embrace Abbott and be done with it. They just love his Nauru solution.

More bad journalism.---Dennis Shanahan in The Australian. He says:

Gillard now appears to be no longer in control of her cabinet. The cabinet represents the last bastion of Gillard's authority after failures in the House of Representatives and the Senate and open defiance in the caucus from some of her backbench colleagues....Frustrated at being unable to do anything about the parliamentary numbers and passage of bills, aware of the Foreign Minister's ambitions, being defied by MPs and now facing the exposure of cabinet differences, Gillard can do little else but hope for a rise in the polls.

No mention of the passing of carbon legislation there or all the other bills that have been passed.

It's all negative; part of The Australian's campaign to destroy Gillard.

Lyn says:
"Uhlmann only has two interview strategies. He tries quick fire successive questions on different topics...His other strategy is persisting with policy weaknesses."

The latter is called "gotcha journalism.This is designed to entrap interviewees into making statements which are damaging or discreditable to their cause, character, integrity, or reputation.

Its also the humiliating exposure that Murdoch's tabloid hacks excelled at.

The hostility towards the Gillard Government these days is so ingrained in their media narrative that it currently informs all reporting of politics and is the accepted context of any "analysis."

The Gillard Govt is being blamed for everything people are unhappy about. ALP bashing is all the rage and Gillard is the press gallery's punching bag. Lots of people are having lots of fun in sideshow alley.

The Canberra Press Gallery has pretty much accepted the Coalition's rhetoric about the illegitimacy of the Gillard Government and the end of democracy with little analysis or thought.