Australian Notes

Australian notes

4 December 2021

9:00 AM

4 December 2021

9:00 AM

The unbearable lightness of lying

Ever since French President Emmanuel Macron told a credulous Australian media that he doesn’t think, he knows, that Scott Morrison is a liar, it’s been full steam ahead for Canberra’s Industrial Lying Complex.

Not that we should always trust the French. As we found out with their dysfunctional submarine KPIs, Rainbow Warrior diplomatic truthiness, their unsymmetrical bread sticks and indecipherable films, the world’s most stylish and superficial people don’t really do substance or getting their facts right all the time. Paris is the City of Love and as any jilted lover will tell you, love is the French word for lie.

In Canberra, our own city of love, the pants-on-fire rhetoric has gone what they call in Fyshwick, the full 11 inches. According to the completely honest Fyshwick Tourism brochure, Fyshwick is the Paris of Canberra or at least its Moulin Rouge. Though this may not necessarily be true. C’est La Vie or where the bloody hell are you as they say in the boozier wine regions of Bordeaux. Albo is trying to frame ScoMo as a liar and ScoMo is saying Albo and the Albonauts are sneaky. But whether its worse to be a liar or sneaky, I’m not sure. At least with lying you seem to believe in something.

Twitter has lost its mind with the ‘ScoMo lies’, Liar from the Shire hyperbole as it usually does around three in the afternoon once Question Time is over, another Liberal has crossed the floor, Jacqui Lambie has self-immolated and all the retired journalists are pissed and posting on Twitter. Even the impeccably truthy Crikey has taken a break from its usually thoughtful posting of the mobile numbers of politicians they don’t like by creating a ‘Scott Morrison lies and falsehoods dossier’ because the word dossier makes it true and the fact they’ve now published it as a book means you’re even less likely to read it.


But for politicians, media and political aficionados this liar outing can’t end well. It’s like that Korean TV show Squid Game which if you haven’t seen it, is just Hunger Games with subtitles and better tracksuits. In politics accusing your opponent of lying is a form of MAD (mutually assured destruction) and we haven’t seen that since the Cold War when Reagan was a boy, in 1781 hanging out in the missile silo with a young Joe Biden who was trying to pick up girls by sniffing their hair. Joe’s been making up his CV ever since but because he can’t remember any of it, it can’t be untrue.

I remember when lying was an art, like learning karate or tying a Windsor knot or having a ceramic kangaroo on your front lawn because you’re racist. But like everything else now, the standards have slipped. I remember the good old days, and by good old days I mean when Bob Hawke used to win Father of the Year Awards, Penny Wong said she didn’t believe in gay marriage, Julia didn’t really stab Kevin in the back and Kevin was on Kochie claiming to be a compassionate fiscal conservative and not the budgetary incarnation of Today Show’s now-deceased Blocky.

Of course – to quote Oprah – all they are doing is telling Their Truth. Just like Meghan Markle’s Mail on Sunday defamation action that didn’t go quite the way she thought it would once the facts came out and the journos were no longer buying the whole Oprah grift. Well not this week, anyway, unless it’s Paul Keating explaining how China hasn’t changed since 1995 to an enthusiastically nodding Laura Tingle.

Now Meghan is in damage control – which is the natural habitat of Oprah-endorsed truth tellers when reality intevenes – acting like an exhumed Bob Hope or maybe Lucille Ball, resorting to telling old showbiz stories on Ellen that may or may not be true. Like the time at the start of her career when she was so poor that she attended a studio audition and had to climb out of the boot of her car because the doors wouldn’t unlock, just like Beaumont in Jackie Brown. We all know how that ended. Meanwhile, the truth-seeking media is unquestioningly putting it to air because the medium is the message and by medium I mean pretty average and potentially over-cooked if you’re a steak and your French and being served by a really rude waiter in an overrated Michelin hat restaurant.

The point is, the media can be very choosy over what lying they get upset about and the idea that they might be slightly ‘truthy’ on occasion themselves. So I wouldn’t get too self-righteous about the ‘liar, pants on fire’ dichotomy playing out amongst what fleetingly passes for our nation’s intellectual discourse, even if you work for the #IloveDan social media team calling for transparency while posting under a false name on Twitter.

The Albo Opposition is rowdily excited at polls that say they will easily win the next election but that may actually be telling Their Truth not The Truth. They’re getting antsy about what they see as the Liar from the Shire’s lies. It’s like medi-scare never happened. The debate’s all about whether ScoMo lied about electric cars and the length of the extension cords needed to drive them, or saying he never called Shanghai Sam Shanghai Sam even though that’s actually a pretty clever line and much better than Annastacia’s equally workshopped claim that the Coalition want to give Queenslanders Covid for Christmas. I mean where’s the media outrage over that slightly offensive whopper?

Next year is the federal election and there will be a lot of lying going on. What we really need is to create yet-another Fact Checking Unit employing retired bitter journalists who have sobered up and got off Twitter to pass judgment on what is ‘true’ and what is a lie in the political discourse and post big thumbs-up or down emoji on the website for journalistic credibility as the emoji never lies.

This may all sound quite trivialising and even slightly French, but remember Fact Checking is how the French pronounce autocorrect and we have already determined this claim is Partially True or potentially Completely False. It just depends on how you look at it.

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