Tag Archives: Media

Saturday salon 27/2

1. Trump trumps the rest

Trump looks unstoppable. In South Carolina he scored 32.5% to Rubio’s 22.5 and Cruz’s 22.3. The rest were in single figures and Jeb Busch dropped out. Never has anyone spent so much to achieve so little in preselection politics as Jeb did.

In Nevada Trump aced them with 45.9% ahead of Rubio with 23.9 and Cruz with 21.4.

It looks as though the Republicans are going to serve up the dipstick outsider for the election. Continue reading Saturday salon 27/2

Poll stuff 2/2

Newspoll came out 53-47 in favour of the LNP, so support for Turnbull looks solid and enduring. Bill Shorten’s personal ratings were a smidgeon better but still disastrous at 57 points behind Turnbull. To make matters worse, internal ALP polling on Bill has been leaked. Continue reading Poll stuff 2/2

ABC’s Sarah Ferguson accused of bias

Ferguson

In a commissioned review Fairfax’s Colleen Ryan found that Ferguson’s opening question to Joe Hockey on the 2014 budget was “emotive” and would lead to the average viewer thinking the treasurer “was not treated with sufficient respect by the interviewer”.

Ferguson’s opening gambit to Hockey was: “It’s a budget with a new tax, with levies, with co-payments. Is it liberating for a politician to decide election promises don’t matter?”

Ferguson, who pressed an uncomfortable-looking Hockey on the fairness of the budget and its reversal of pre-election promises, homed in on the deficit levy and Medicare co-payment, which Hockey referred to as “tax adjustments”.

“They’re still taxes,” Ferguson said. “I don’t need to teach you, treasurer, what a tax is. You know that a co-payment, a levy and a tax are all taxes by any other name. Am I correct?”

Apparently she treated Chris Bowen in a similar manner.

I thought she treated everyone like a headmistress sorting out naughty miscreants. Because she was generally well-informed and incisive I rather enjoyed her style.

The ABC has defended her:

“As a political interviewer, Ms Ferguson is tough but demonstrates a consistently civil and objective approach,” said Kate Torney, director of ABC News.

“She is insistent that those she interviews do not evade important questions and often focuses on contradictions either within policy positions or in the responses of interviewees.

“The fact that this may make interviewees ‘uncomfortable’ does not necessarily mean that the interviewer is either aggressive or is failing to demonstrate due impartiality.”

Torney said the ABC “does not believe Ms Ferguson’s questions were hostile or unbalanced; rather they were astute and prescient”.

Generally speaking though, I think aggressive interviewing is unproductive, especially when coming from an ill-informed base, which unfortunately is what we get all too often.

The whole affair has become problematic for the ABC because it has been reported in a biased way. Note that The Guardian report linked above speaks of what the average viewer might think. It hasn’t reported a finding of bias as such. But elsewhere we have:

Alan Sunderland as Head of Editorial Policy tells the real story:

Colleen produced an excellent and comprehensive report. Her overall judgement was that our coverage complied with all of our policies and guidelines and the overall quality was “excellent”. At significant length, the report discusses all aspects of the coverage and provides a series of observations on ways it might have been improved, expanded or extended.

When it came to the detail, the report analysed 76 different pieces of content over several days, and in all of that it singled out only three items for particular mention. One of them was the Sarah Ferguson interview.

While stressing that the issue was subjective and her view related only to a “potential perception”, Colleen Ryan suggested that some questions were asked in a way that might raise perceptions of bias because of tone and phrasing. While acknowledging that all the questions were accurate and appropriate, and that Sarah Ferguson had a reputation as an interviewer who asked equally tough questions of all sides, she nonetheless wondered whether enough respect was shown to this interviewee.

He says it was a worthwhile question to ask, and the whole point of seeking outside views is to raise honest questions.

Thankfully the ABC will continue to monitor its performance with such external reviews and publish the results in a transparent way. It’s critics in the MSM should do likewise.

The politics of personal destruction

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There is no trail that leads to Gillard

Mark Latham comments on the obsessional pursuit by right-wing blogger and journalist at The Australian newspaper, Michael Smith of Gillard and the socalled AWU affair 20 years ago.

In practising the politics of personal destruction, The Australian hasn’t been after the truth. It’s been after Gillard.

In a second column he fingers this development for what it is:

A terrible precedent has been set. Anyone rising to the top of Australian politics can be the victim of smear campaigns related to their employment before they entered Parliament. It’s an American trend, the politics of personal destruction, whereby rumours are spread and reputations are sullied for the purpose of tearing down one’s opponents.

Thousands of pages of documents have been examined in the AWU/Slater & Gordon affair – by Hedley Thomas and Michael Smith at The Australian, by the Victorian police and now the Abbott government’s royal commission – and none has revealed impropriety by Gillard. (Emphasis added)

How are these smear campaigns perpetuated in the media? Usually, by telling half the truth – by raising questions about someone’s character, while ignoring evidence and facts that exonerate them. Hedley Thomas has this technique down pat.

He then gives an instance of Thomas’s ‘journalism’ about how AWU funds were allegedly used to pay for renovations at Gillard’s home by a Melbourne builder, Kon Spyridis, way back in 1995.

In August 2012, Spyridis declared this to be untrue, telling the Herald Sun: “The union has got nothing to do with Julia’s payment for the house; Julia paid me”.

Latham then outlines how Thomas, in a story in April this year, through half-truth and innuendo implied that Gillard was guilty.

Journalism of this kind is not only incompetent, it’s wilfully malicious. It’s a betrayal of professional standards, whereby the public should be given the whole story, not just selective quotes for political purposes.

But then it got worse. In previewing the royal commission’s hearings on the Bolt Report on June 8, Thomas declared that Spyridis’s “evidence will be really interesting because he has said little on the public record”.

This was brazenly untrue. Spyridis had said a great deal, all of it clearing Gillard. Thomas seemed psychologically incapable of allowing these words to pass his lips.

Latham points out that in the two-party system where one side only needs only a few votes more than the other to win government, “there’s a built-in incentive for tearing down the rival party through smear and scare campaigns.”

During the last term of Parliament, the Liberals manufactured outrage around two big lies: that the carbon tax was destroying the economy and that Gillard was a crook.

Here’s the long term two-party preferred voting intention according to Nielsen:

Nielsen_cropped_600

Late in 2012 the ALP was competitive again at 48-52 TPP. Newspoll at that time had the parties 50-50. Cynically in October 2012 Julie Bishop launched a remorseless attack in question time for two weeks implying that Gillard had been involved in criminal activity in 1995. At one point Abbott announced the matter settled, which was blatantly false.

It seems clear that this scurrilous behaviour had its reward, although in 2013 Gillard herself managed a few own goals, detailed along with the good stuff in Mungo MacCallum’s book The Mad Marathon: the Story of the 2013 Election.

Abbott told lies every day for three years about the carbon ‘tax’.

If a net 2 or 3 out of 100 change their vote as a result of these lies it can win an election.

Now we have these defamers and prevaricators running the affairs of the nation.

We pay, but what do we get?

There was much interest in a leaked list of the pay packets of the ABC’s star personnel yesterday, published (paywalled) in The Australian. If I’d been asked to guess how much these folks were paid I would have been thinking the $80,000 to $120,000 range, which shows how out of touch I am.

The salaries listed in this article range from Annabel Crabb on $217,000 (rounded down to the nearest 1000) to $355,000 for Tony Jones.

My question is whether we are paying for star power, essentially personality, or for competence, outstanding ability to do the job. With respect to the latter, I don’t rate highly at all the competence of many listed. Tony Jones is an awful interviewer and is more interested in entertainment than journalism in my book. So my impression is that we are paying mostly for personality.

Some of the people listed are unknown to me in terms of their work. Richard Glover must be an awfully good radio presenter to be worth $280,000.

The Courier Mail today picks up on the Queensland scene. I believe Spencer Howson, local radio’s Breakfast presenter, was the only one to make the top 100 at $160,000. He’s light, breezy and rates well. It’s a long time since I’ve listened to him. For me Fran Kelly at $255,000 would be my choice in the time slot, and that seems an awful lot of money. Steve Austin, our local Mornings presenter, is on $115,000. I rate him and that strikes me as about what he’s worth.

The Community and Public Sector Union were not impressed, seeing it as an attack on the ABC.

It’s claimed that the women are paid less. Leigh Sales at $280,000 is paid $11,000 less than Quentin Dempster, but $25,000 more than Chris Uhlmann.

Jonathon Holmes was on $187,000, which inclines me to think we are rating star power above competence.

Someone pointed out that you can take a bunch of any half dozen and their combined salaries come nowhere near that of Kyle Sandilands.

Bolt rools!

Australia is a competitive nation on the sporting field. In the field of climate change we excel in two ways. Firstly, we head the OECD in terms of per capita CO2 emissions. Secondly, our press is the most critical of climate change science, according to a Reuters survey. Our leadership is in no small way due to the efforts of one Andrew Bolt. That’s what Wendy Bacon told Richard Aedy on the Media Report recently.

Wendy Bacon was talking about her report Sceptical Climate Part 2: Climate Science in Australian Newspapers. There is a summary of key findings here. From this page (scroll down) you can download the report, or parts of it, or go to Key Findings with links to sections of the report.

Oliver Milman in The Guardian has a useful summary.

The report analysed 602 articles published between February and April in 2011 and again in the same period in 2012. The article covered ten papers including The Australian, the capital city Newscorp papers, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The West Australian. Missing were The Canberra Times and the AFR.

There were fewer articles in 2012 (270 as against 332) but actually more sceptical articles.

Fully 97% of comment pieces in the Herald Sun either questioned or rejected climate science.

When measured by words, 31% of the writing in the surveyed papers did not accept established climate science in 2011, with this number rising to 44% in 2012. This in spite of the fact that The Age and the SMH have become less sceptical. Continue reading Bolt rools!