November 21, 2012
The reaction to the appearance of Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull’s appearances on Q&A this week indicates that politics for most of the mainstream media's political journalists is leadership speculation. This provides commentators with an opportunity to fuel talk of leadership challenges to the leaders of their respective parties.
It's horse race politics connected with movement in opinion polls--who is going to stab who, when and how---often based on off the record messages from nameless insiders in the various warring camps. In doing so the media operate as a pack, interview one another about their speculations on the state of play on cable television, write an article reporting what was said about their special insights as insiders.
They then interview various politicians about the leadership challenges circulating in the media big time. That provides the fuel for another around of speculations with the journalist breathlessly reporting that said politician smiled wrongly or shifted their foot. This is interpreted as counting the numbers. The race is on.
It's tedious and boring. They are trading in fictions and bogus narratives. But hey, it brings readers to the page and eyeballs to the screen and no expertise is required to speculate about who is going to challenge who. Recall the bogus narrative of the Canberra Pres that was almost certain that Gillard would be gone by the end of 2012 probably much sooner, and that Abbott would win a crushing victory in 2013 against Rudd Labor because the carbon tax meant the end of the world. Some even called on Gillard to resign.
The Canberra Press hasn't really addressed that they got this wrong, and badly. There's been little self-examination of their political journalism. Nope the dogs barked, the caravan moved on, and the political journalists continue with their horse race journalism based on reporting the messages being sent by the-behind-the-scenes message senders ("senior sources ....") in the political parties.
They have little interest or knowledge to assess how the Liberal Party's Direct Action response to climate change is a short-term solution; that it would not be sufficient if Australia was to aim for a higher abatement target than its current level of 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020; or how much it would cost in public subsidies until 2020.