It’s neither ignorant nor foolish to feel you have been poorly treated and even failed by our government of late. You probably have been and it is no wonder people are disillusioned with both our political system and the major parties that control it. Most of us would probably agree that the government and many of its bureaucrats serve themselves far more than they serve us, but I have to admit I am one of the lucky ones. Those in dying industries and those who can’t find work, or are locked out of the housing industry have far more reason to resent the seemingly out of touch political establishment than I.
This comment does not only apply to our current government. While the Abbott-Turnbull government has set a new standard (at least in the Australian context- let’s not look across the Pacific) for outrageous ineptitude, heartlessness and avarice, they didn’t create our political system complete with its cronyism, its lobbyists and its entitlements on their own. Past Labor governments also have to take responsibility for the conditions they have contributed to in the power duopoly they have enjoyed for decades.
Am I still able to bemoan the poor quality of the news reporting without sounding like the oafish American President shouting “Fake news,” at any report that points out he is a liar?
Because we do need to be aware that the filters used to determine what is reported and how it is reported in mainstream news are multilayered. As such it is important readers look past the headlines and hyperbolic editorialising to consider the facts of what an article is really about.
Okay can we stop about the bloody chocolate slice?
If you followed commercial news you could be forgiven for thinking that the most significant events of the last week were the mundane interactions of a bunch of B-grade celebrities (I’m probably being generous there) moping about in a South African jungle reality TV series and that a teacher had politely asked a parent not to send chocolate slice into school because it went against what they were trying to teach about healthy eating.
In case you didn’t see any coverage of the latter, that was pretty much the story. A parent sent some food to school and a teacher sent a note home about it. Oh actually that is not quite the story. A busybody friend of the parent took umbrage at this behaviour and wrote a long internet rant that obviously resonated many other parents. As a result, this rant was widely shared online and reported on in the mainstream media.
When a man as spineless as Turnbull has to negotiate with someone as cut-throat as Trump, Australians should be very worried. In his much-publicised gaffe, if Sean Spicer had referred to our PM as Mr Tremble instead of Trumble, we could have been forgiven for thinking it wasn’t even a mistake. It would describe the man perfectly.
For someone who had considerable success in merchant banking, Mr Tremble seems to have difficulties making deals without giving out major concessions. I make this comment based on his complete capitulation to the ultra conservatives in his party and his inability to make deals with either the Nationals or the cross bench, without giving up everything he stood for.
It is possible we are seeing the final death throes of the two party system, as the popularity of independents and smaller parties rises and with the likely defection of Bernardi from the Liberal Party. As such, Coalition moderates (if there is still such a thing) have an interesting decision coming up.
Do they continue to court the conservative vote at a heavy disadvantage to Hanson and soon Bernardi, who don’t have the inconvenience of having to be reasonable, truthful or even logical in order to retain their core constituency? Or do they eschew the hateful politics of the extreme right and define themselves according to the principles they actually believe in (some of them must stand for something right)?
We may be living in what many are describing as a ‘post-truth’ era, and while I don’t disagree with this nomenclature it does imply that in the near past we lived in a time of truthfulness from our media and political representatives. Let’s not get too carried away with that narrative.
Manipulating and even fabricating information to suit one’s purpose is nothing new to the media and it is certainly is not to politics (as The Chilcott Enquiry made pretty clear). Still, I must admit that soulless human shells like Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway and Nigel Farage have taken this disdain for the public and the truth to a whole new level, but propaganda has many forms and many don’t require any outright falsehood, just a strategically framed disingenuous question.