Political Journalists Two Minutes Hate

I READ THE NEWSPAPER, AND was infuriated: then I remember that above the level of incoherently muttering to one’s self, on the Maslow Pyramid of Internet Needs, lies the level of futilely declaiming to the void on one’s blog. “You’ve got one of those, remember”—I reminded myself.

Here’s Peter Brent aka Mumble in (this will become important) The Australian.

There’s another group of people whose members, or at least some of them, seem to really detest Rudd. And that’s political journalists—inside and outside the Canberra Press Gallery.
Some of them pounce on any piece of evidence, any titbit to portray him in bad light, to provide further evidence of his personal dysfunctionality.
…People in the media presumably understand this. But they also have a job to do….

Don’t bother reading the column for its coverage of current affairs through the vapid prism of “leadership”. Don’t bother reading it for insight into the Parliamentary process or Government. Don’t bother reading it for political journalism at all; that’s not what it is. It’s something much more subtle and accurate.

This column of Brent’s lays out the habitus of political journalists in his own newspaper, and in Australia, and should be truthfully read as a condemnation of the entire corps. Any Press Gallery journalist reading it should look at themselves in its mirror and feel either ashamed or insulted, or both.

What can we tell from this article? How about:

  1. The Australian is not, and, by implication, the political affairs columns of all of Australia’s news sources are not, edited for fact in any significant way,
  2. Political journalists see their own job as the promotion and demotion of politicians’ careers,
  3. The “hatred” journalists feel for Kevin Rudd (and, presumably, other politicians and Parties) isn’t an instance of unavoidable bias to be minimised through professionalism, but rather, in the Press Gallery as it is today, a necessary qualification to do one’s job,
  4. There’s no significant difference between opinion, editorial and news reporting in public affairs in Australia, and
  5. Political journalists, as a class and institution, have neither the skills nor the inclination to identify actual public affairs or politics as a subject for reportage.


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