Let me start by saying that I have actually heard far more about ‘the Beetrooter’s’ personal life than I need to and I am pretty bewildered that commercial media (never would the term, ‘journalist’ be less appropriate) think the story of Joyce and Campion is still newsworthy, let alone worth a six figure appearance fee. Everyone involved in trying to sell this scandal masquerading as news disgusts me and I have absolutely no interest in hearing about it.
But having said that I still have to admit to some sympathy for Barnaby Joyce.
I’m a pretty empathetic person. Regardless of his track record of appalling serf-serving hypocrisy, I find it hard not to feel sympathy for public figures who self-implode and are then derided by the media and the public for their actions.
I get the idea that we should all expect to face consequences for our actions, but I take no pleasure in any suffering he is experiencing.
But that also doesn’t mean I excuse his actions or think he deserves any leniency.
After accepting as little responsibility as he could for the affair that led to his relegation to the backbench, he almost belligerently demanded that the media respect his privacy and move on. And everyone kind of did. Until the gutter media came knocking with a chequebook.
When revelations surfaced that he and Ms Campion had been paid $150 000 for the interview, Joyce’s first response was once again to avoid any responsibility for it and blame his partner. When it became clear that this wasn’t really going to work, he took the next month off in personal leave (credit to Labor for agreeing to a ‘pair’ during Mr Joyce’s leave, so that the government is not disadvantaged by the loss of one member. I doubt the Coalition would have been as generous). which would have been a whole lot easier to reconcile if we weren’t about to be subjected to the paid interview- and reportedly an upcoming book- which is odd behaviour for someone needing time away from the public eye.
But whether or not someone deserves our sympathy does not preclude us from giving it. Barnaby unarguably deserves the negative attention he is getting (he has actually had a pretty charmed run considering his general level of incompetence, hypocrisy and self-serving misconduct.
Yet for all that, it does nothing constructive for anyone to see him suffer a nervous breakdown in the public eye. For all the disdain I hold for Mr Joyce, I hope he survives the storm and moves on- just not in public office.