I’m a political junkie. I absolutely love it. I love getting into the nuts and bolts of policies, the machinations behind the national and international decisions we make and the way our policy interacts with our law.
It’s fascinating, meaty stuff.
So I’m pretty done with political reporting at the moment. Pretty, bloody done. I am exhausted by the absolute bullshit of a media that lectures the Prime Minister to get on with policy, and then pointblank refuses to report anything except what some journo heard some other journo say about Kevin Rudd.
I’m tired of anachronisms like reporter Paul Kelly lecturing the women of Australia on Q&A last week that we shouldn’t be talking about Gillard’s speech on equality for women in Australia, we should be focussing on ‘real policies’. Good point, mate. Women being paid the same as men (or even, god forbid, Mr Kelly, being able to talk about the things they find important in public) is silly, daft lady business.
Forget the sexism involved in rubbish like that, it’s the pure, utter lack of intelligence that has finally sent me over the edge. If you genuinely can’t see that gender equality is part of the business of politics, then you have absolutely no right to call yourself a political reporter.
On top of that, I’m entirely ready to take a shovel, dig up the press gallery and turn it into a garden for ornamental cacti. Their lack of self awareness is staggering. Who, on one hand, lectures politicians for focusing on leadership instability, while at the same time, reporting on nothing else?
Monday morning, the Prime Minister gave a lecture on the economy and pointed out a number of massive flaws in the recent reporting of it. What were the questions after the media conference? Were they on the speech she just gave? Of course not! I don’t even think the press gallery listens to anything she says any more – if they ever did in the first place.
The only questions she was asked were the same stroke-inducing ones she’s asked every time she’s interviewed, like this little pearler: “Would you accept that you shouldn’t be the leader any more?”
Apart from the fact that journalism 101 teaches you to never ask a question that can only be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, what did the genius that launched such a searing, astute inquisition expect to receive in return?
“Why yes, my reporter friend, now that you’ve put it like that, I should stand down immediately. As Prime Minister, I sit around all day contemplating whether journalists think I should run the country and after The Age told me to resign last week, I thought ‘bugger it’. Who needs a democracy where people vote? We should let the media run the place as some sort of benevolent dictatorship where all we talk about is what other journalists talk about.”
Of course, the Prime Minister didn’t say that, she batted away one stupid question after another, even as Twitter lit up to berate her for not treating the media with the deference they deserve. (Truly, the media don’t need to respect the office of the Prime Minister, she needs to respect them. Welcome to your brave, new Murdoch world.)
God, I wish someone had dared tell Paul Keating to bow down before his media rulers after he called reporter Richard Carleton a ’24 carat pissant’. He probably would have ripped their heads off with his bare hands.
But we live in different times now. We live in a world where the media truly believe they are more important than everyone else and where they become livid if the people we elect try to talk to us about policy, instead of to them about gossip.
Christopher Pyne held a media conference Monday morning as well and had a crack at talking about the Liberal Party’s education policy. The first question he was asked when he finished? What did he think about Kevin Rudd’s leadership chances.
The second question he was asked was what happened to the rat that bit him during a charity sleep-out on the weekend. He quipped it died of bubonic plague. The third question to Christopher Pyne was from an excited journalist, thinking he had the scoop of the week, seriously asking if Pyne now had bubonic plague as well. Pyne had to point out it was a joke.
Oh yes, and questions on the education policy Pyne had spoken about? Zero.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Canberra press gallery.
Maybe it’s time (in fact, it really is high time) that our politicians stopped pandering to political reporters. I’m tired of watching MPs answer questions that mean absolutely nothing. They should simply stop. Instead, they should turn the tables and rip the reporter asking the daft question a new one.
The next time he is asked ‘Do you support the Prime Minister?’ I want Bill Shorten to answer by saying, “No, I support Team Jacob, what do you think, dickhead? Ask me a proper question or I’m going to shove that microphone up your date.’
The next time Greg Combet is asked, ‘Do you agree with the Opposition’s call for the Government to stand down?’, I want him to say “Why yes, of course I do! This is because I am an utter moron. Christ on a stick you dolt when, I ask you, has any Government ever resigned because someone in the Opposition asked them to? Did you finish primary school? How did you get a press pass? Does your mother know you’re out on your own?’
And the next time our Prime Minister is asked ‘What do you say to those who call you incompetent?” I want her to answer, ‘You’re calling me incompetent? Ah haaaa! Ah ha ha haaaaaaa!!!’ And then I want her to grab two reporters and clunk their heads together, Three Stooges style.
At the moment, we’re all waiting for September 14th, as if once that date is passed, the tone of debate in Australia will magically become more articulate and nuanced and the reporting on the running of our country will focus on policy and not personality.
It won’t happen.
This is how politics is reported now. The dumbing down of Australia has only just begun.
*Corinne Grant is a stand-up comedian, MC, presenter, writer and broadcaster and has performed both nationally and internationally. In addition to her years on Rove Live and The Glasshouse, she has appeared on everything from Spicks and Specks to Dancing With The Stars to Good News Week. She has co-hosted successful national radio shows, performed countless solo live shows and appeared everywhere from the Sydney Opera House to the Kalgoorlie Arts Centre. Corinne’s first book, Lessons In Letting Go: Confessions of a Hoarder (Allen and Unwin) was released in September 2010 and went into reprint just months after its release. You can follow her on Twitter @corinne_grant.