The last two years have seen unprecedented use of the word ‘unprecedented’ by Australian journalists. Conflating the limits of their personal memory with the fullness of human history has been wonderful fodder for their inclination to hyperbolise the unremarkable.
State premiers have been gleefully rubbing their hands together with the wonderful opportunity to accumulate and consolidate political power which is presented by the intersection of a hyperventilating media and a government-addicted population. Premiers gathered their experts in lab coats and impressive uniforms to perform daily press conferences, along with the flourish of sign language interpreters for an extra pinch of drama normally reserved for real emergencies like floods and fires.
No journalist routinely asked actually tough questions about the gross exaggerations of the early modelling, or why government was relying on the same models from the Imperial College long proven not fit for purpose. No reporter demanded actual accountability for the unaccounted real costs of government policies on the multitude of other areas of health care, employment, and economy.
Everything ‘unprecedented’ was acceptable collateral damage in the ‘war’ against a respiratory virus with a remarkably high survival rate for anyone younger than the average Australian life expectancy.
And although some cracks are starting to appear in the lock-step homogeneity of corporate media narratives, they are still very much acting more like government campaign machines than an effective check on political power.
Take for example this question from, allegedly, one of Australia’s most credible political reporters: Andrew Probyn from the ABC; to Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese at the January 25 National Press Club lunch.
‘For all those people who do know Mark McGowan more than they know you; who is Anthony Albanese?’
Wow. So much journalism. Is that the searching, tough interrogation of the alternative Prime Minister mere months from a federal election? Campaigning has already started and instead of asking questions about borders in the federation, or a softly lobbed question on vaccine mandates under federal Labor, the national broadcaster wants the aspirant critic of Scott Morrison’s performance to simply describe himself.
Albanese was so pleased with the opportunity to preen and parade, he made the question a social media post on his every platform.
This is who I am. pic.twitter.com/IYgCz62p1V
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) January 25, 2022
So who is asking the tough questions, if not corporate media?
As far as I can see, it’s other politicians. Again, it’s not the darlings of corporate media, but a handful of politicians on the outer: the rebels, the mavericks, the literal outsiders.
Campbell Newman is one such candidate, and he’s got a question Andrew Probyn might like to ask of the Prime Minister at next week’s National Press Club soiree.
‘Who are the real liberals?’
In a promo clip for a CPAC.network event I’m helping organise a few weeks from now, the former Queensland Premier says:
‘Real liberals are about freedom, about free enterprise, about backing small business, about allowing individuals and their families to get ahead, and be self-reliant and take care of their own affairs. Real liberals are about less red tape and bureaucracy; are about balanced budgets, low debt, and actually making sure we spend every dollar we get from the taxpayers wisely.’
He rightly observes there’s not enough of that in Australia today.
It’s a great question, and the kind of real question Andrew Probyn could have asked the alternative Prime Minister.
The ABC’s been long doubted as a bastion of independent journalism and balanced editorials. Along with a search for the real liberals in Australian politics, the question on many lips these past two years has been, ‘Who are the real journalists?’
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