Memo to journalists – don’t praise the PM

Unless you are senior and well endowed with gravitas, if you want to stay within the Journos' Club, stick to the club rule – don’t praise the PM.  Otherwise you may end up on the outer, shunned by the majority – the timid compliant majority too inhibited to flout the rule.

Yesterday, in his introduction of Kevin Rudd as a panellist in the opening session of a conference to discuss global issues at the Clinton Global Initiative think tank, Bill Clinton said: “In my opinion, he is one of the most well informed, well read, intelligent leaders in the world today.''  Clinton detailed Rudd’s diplomatic background in East Asian affairs, portrayed him as an expert on China, commended his recognition of the need to take urgent action on climate change, and welcomed his advocacy of the G20 as the best forum to deal with issues such as the global financial crisis.  He mentioned that for his 52nd birthday on Monday, his wife, Therese Rein, had given him a book of Revolutionary War maps. ''In other words, this guy's pretty smart.'' [more]

That news item evoked a headline in The Age this morning: Nerd-in-chief Kevin is Bill's celebrity pickwhich began “John Howard was the man of steel. Now Kevin Rudd, it seems, has been anointed the world's nerd-in-chief.”  Not to be outdone, The Australian’s Brad Norington in a piece When it comes to being smart, our Kev fits the Bill - quite a nice headline - began with “Kevin Rudd has given Bill Clinton a dose of the nerdy know-all side to his personality - and the former US president is impressed.  Mr Clinton described the Prime Minister yesterday as ‘pretty smart’, rating him one of the world's most intelligent leaders.”   Norington goes on to say “He [Clinton] described how, as the pair shared breakfast two days earlier, Mr Rudd went into ‘excruciating detail’ on George Washington's strategy to defend New York against the British during the American War of Independence.’  Then in case his readers continued to be impressed with Clinton’s view of Rudd, Norington reported “But the former president's admiration did not prevent one slip as he referred to the Prime Minister as ‘Mr Rude’, to which Norrington added gratuitously “It is not clear if Mr Clinton is aware of reports in the Australian media in the past few days about Mr Rudd's temper-fuelled use of bad language at home.”  What a clever put-down.

These articles are pointers to how you journalists should handle laudatory remarks about Kevin Rudd.  Report the comments accurately (don’t forget the quotation marks – you wouldn’t want readers to think this was your opinion) but create a headline that takes off some of the gloss; not too nasty, just putting him down a little – ‘nerd’ is a good choice.  Norrington’s reference to ‘Mr Rude’ adds a nice dash of mockery, and his mention of ‘bad language’ is a reminder that Rudd sometimes swears, just in case any reader had missed it.

Rudd has been in New York now for several days.  Apart from meetings with executives from major financial institutions, hedge funds, ratings agencies and other big corporate players to try to get them to invest in Australia, his breakfast meeting with Clinton and his contribution to the Clinton think tank, Rudd joined more than one hundred leaders for a special UN summit at which UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had assigned him the role of co-chairing a climate change round-table.  After attending the UN summit, he gave the keynote address at the Foreign Policy Association Forum and was awarded the Foreign Policy Association Medal.   He addressed the UN General Assembly today.  His address was the last, and was pushed back a couple of hours because of lengthy preceding speeches.  He also met leaders of several nations including the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas.  Tomorrow he will attend the G20 meeting of leaders in Pittsburgh where he will talk about Australia’s exceptional escape from recession and severe unemployment.  Since he arrived on Saturday, Rudd has been calling for urgent action on climate change, and wants Australia to be seen as leader in the reform process. 

With that degree of involvement in high level talks, with all the accolades being heaped on him by international high-flyers, it takes skilled journalism to take the shine off his contribution to international discourse on crucial issues such as climate change and the global financial crisis and its sequelae.  Taking the piss out of Rudd is difficult when he’s flying so high, but it can be done, as the articles quoted illustrate.  Confronting him immediately on his arrival in New York with the story of his dressing down of backbenchers who were trying to change his mind about printing allowances, was a great start.  When an Australian PM, especially a Labor one, is overseas on an important mission, make sure there’s some local beat-up to distract him.  And, when the vision of Rudd’s speech to the UN today comes out, if there are empty seats occasioned by the lateness of the speech, do focus on them to take attention away from what he’s saying and pull him down a peg or two.  Today, when Barrie Cassidy appeared on ABC’s 774 Radio Melbourne to sum up the week’s political events and mentioned the high praise afforded Rudd during his busy schedule, it evoked a down-putting comment from the compère: “Yeah, typical Rudd, tries to cover too many bases.”   So even in the face of praise for our PM by others, there’s always a comeback you can use to take off some of the glitter.

There are some journalists who can get away with praising the PM.  Paul Kelly, Laurie Oakes and Michelle Grattan have the seniority and gravitas to do so, but even they seldom give unqualified praise; there’s usually a gentle put-down added for good measure.  They will never suffer rejection from the Journos’ Club.  But lesser mortals will if they dare to stray from the convention – don’t praise the PM.

As all you journalists know, the danger of praising the PM or his Government lurks too on the home front. 

Take the stimulus packages.  You have illustrated how to diminish any achievements that the packages have brought about. There is now a solid body of opinion that the stimulus program has been an important element in enabling Australia to avoid recession and rapidly rising unemployment.  Of course there are sceptics such as Henry Ergas and Michael Stutchbury, but their views are weighed down by the positive views of a host of local economists and international bodies.  Even when the evidence obliged the giving of credit, there were still techniques you used to effectively take off the gloss, and for spreading vague doubts about the beneficial effects.

First, you pointed out the great state of the economy inherited from the Howard years, the stimulatory effects of interest rate cuts and the influence of China’s resources hunger; and you used any other factor that could be drummed up to dilute down the effect of the cash element.  Next, you avoided the official term for the initial cash stimulus: a 'cash bonus’, and used instead words with a pejorative slant like ‘cash splash’, ‘cash splurge’, ‘cash handout’, or ‘sugar-hit’.  You threw in words like ‘wasteful’, ‘poorly targeted’, ‘reckless’ or ’profligate’ and sometimes embellished them with ‘drunken sailor’ – words all conveniently provided by the Opposition.  Next, you insisted that the cash would be saved not spent, and would therefore have no effect.  No supporting evidence was advanced, but when you felt you must offer some, you found an economist of that opinion.  When all the evidence pointed incontrovertibly to the fact that the money had been spent and had supported retail sales and employment, you found an anti-Keynesian economist who argued black and blue in favour of Friedman’s idea that tax cuts are better than cash stimuli, no matter what the facts said.  Above all, you cast doubt.

Take now part two of the stimulus, the schools program.  This is large: 24,000 projects in 9500 schools bringing employment to local tradesmen and business to local commerce and industry while re-building run-down school infrastructure.  Local communities all around the nation are pleased and appreciative.  But there were some problems in implementation; the number of complaints soared to 49, and has now passed 50, about 2 per thousand of the total projects.  It was pretty hard to knock a program with that level of success.  It was pretty hard to avoid giving praise to the PM, his deputy, Julia Gillard, who is overseeing the program, and indeed to the Government for this initiative.

But you didn’t despair.  A technique for countering the good news was initiated by The Australian – The Heart of the Nation.  It decided that a campaign to expose the difficulties experienced in implementing the program, being rolled out rapidly to achieve quickly its aims for employment and local business, was in the ‘national interest’.  So it carried a running total, replete with gory details, photos and quotes of the difficulties being experienced.  It even had a dedicated online section for anyone who enjoyed keeping count.  This of course was fodder for the Opposition when it embarked on a blitzkrieg of questions in Question Time.  Remember always that one negative story is worth a hundred positive ones.  Readers will lap up the difficulties, the disasters, the stuff-ups, but will scarcely take the trouble to read the good news stories, even if the media bothered to put them out.   Remember The Australian’s campaign when similar success attends the Government’s efforts.

In conclusion, you can avoid praising the PM, even when others are profuse in their tributes.  There’s a plethora of pejorative words, put-downs, doubt-raising comments, complaints, distractions, and a long list of past media-generated Rudd transgressions that can be recycled.  The media’s response to this week’s events in New York illustrates just how much can be done to pull down or put down our PM when he’s overseas on important missions, ‘strutting the world stage’.

Remember two things:  First if you applaud the PM on these occasions, if you show pride in his contribution as an Australian to global issues, if you take satisfaction in the respect afforded him by leaders of other nations, you are likely to find yourself getting the cold shoulder from your colleagues, and being quietly extruded from the inner sanctum where the cynical journos live.

Next, never forget that in this country the tall poppy syndrome afflicts much of the population.  It would never do if a Prime Minister of Australia became so highly regarded internationally that he ‘got above himself’.  After all, we are just 22 million down-unders, weighed down by a long-standing cultural cringe, and except in the field of sport, we have no right to expect top billing. 

It is your duty as loyal Aussie journos to keep it that way, and you can – just don’t praise the PM, ever.

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bilgedigger

24/09/2009The obverse of course of not praising the Prime Minister is to be careful not to mention the footage aired on SkyNews and the ABC of an interview with Malcolm Turnbull, the Opposition Leader, where Malcolm (pardon the familiarity) looked "un poco pissed". True it was late in the evening and after he had dined obviously very well, but I thought it would evoke some comment in the media. There was Malcolm, eyes half closed, soporific look on face and swaying back and forth being interviewed by our media. There I go, silly me. To expect the media to treat the Opposition Leader in the same way they would have treated Kevin Rudd was much too much. It is possible I am being too unkind and that it was just an accident of lighting or time or something or other and Malcolm had not let a drop pass his lips, but....... Anyway here we have it. The cream of the Australian media serving up the bilge we had today - none about Turnbull but plenty about Rudd.

Sir Ian Crisp

24/09/2009Mr Rude is now embarrassing Australia on the world stage. His antics in the Labor caucus have reached the ears of world leaders. BB told us that the Labor caucus was not a workplace and the use of expletives should be dismissed or ignored. That has not resonated with such an esteemed ex-President like Bill Clinton. To have Mr Clinton call our PM Mr Rude must surely be the last straw. Mr Rude or is it Rudd must be recalled before he further tarnishes our reputation around the world.

Macca

24/09/2009I don't believe the PM is a rude person. However,I am. Sir Ian, such is the level of your intelligence that you make the Moronic Milne seem close to genius. Sorry AA....guess someone had to say it.

Sir Ian Crisp

24/09/2009I have no problem with that Macca. However, you should tell someone who cares about your opinion because I don't. Ad Astra, do not under any circumstances shield me from abuse or criticism by contributors here at TPS. TPS is a magnet for people with a variety of views and I enjoy the cut and thrust of robust debate. Even the appearance of an intellectual dwarf such as Macca should be encouraged.

Bushfire Bill

25/09/2009Sir Ian is pulling your leg, Macca. No-one could parrot Lib talking points so perfectly and be considered serious. Today's effort was a 10 out of 10... too good for a genuine Coalition acolyte. The negativeness is all to do with Australian politics not being able to rise beyond the parish pump. For one thing, Australia is a small community. Cities in Asia and South America have greater populations than Australia. California has more people. The size of government here would be regarded as provincial in many parts of the globe. It's not surprising that local political journalism cannot rise above that level. There is also, as AA pointed out, the "tall poppy syndrome". We don't like our politicians to get too many tickets on themselves, except if they are John Howard, and then they are international statesmen. I'm surprised some wag didn't write a colour story on the Inappropriate Toucher From Scores having breakfast with the Intern Fondler In Chief the other day. I can just see the caption: "Up the dress or a pinch on the bum? Bill and Kevin compare notes." It may yet come. An opportunity to depict a meeting between two of the top political minds in the world as a couple of serial molesters swapping techniques may just be too tempting to resist. Let's hold out breaths and see whether Piers Akerman goes down this road on Insiders. He's certainly got the balls to try it. Perhaps Barry Cassidy should have a quiet word before they go to air? Barry has his own problems being taken seriously by Rudd and wouldn't want to add to them. But there's the other aspect: Australian political journalists must dare each other to ask the most cringeworthy question. Why bother going all the way to New York to cover a meeting of the World's business and national leaders when you don't even have a gotcha question up your sleeve? Sadly, the journalist who asked Rudd about Pottygate remains unidentified. It was only Rudd's backhander to him that received publicity. So getting the kudos for trying to make a fool of the Prime Minister doesn't always pan out. At least Malcolm Farr's Hostiegate interrogation of Rudd in London last year scored Malcolm a by-line (although I suspect he would, by now, be ashamed of himself for getting it). I guess the polls show that the continued sniping at Rudd-The-Nerd, and Rudd-The-Swearer, Rudd-The-Hypocrite isn't having much effect, as are Turnbull's repeated misrepresentations (dutifully reported in a "fair and balanced" way) that we have already incurred "$300 billion dollas worth of debt" not really convincing those who need to be convinced (hint: the 83% of voters who think he's hopeless). The endless gotcha questions, asked without any hope of eliciting an answer, [i]do[/i] become tiresome. If as much energy as is put into these stupid games by the media was put into asking intelligent questions designed to inform the public, the standards of political sophistication among voters would be raised to levels we could be proud of. In a way, perhaps, our cultural cringe, the reflex reaction that we shouldn't get too many tickets on ourselves, serves a purpose. We whisper into our leaders ears, [i]"Memento mori,"[/i] and this serves a purpose. Whether that purpose counterbalances the opportunities for informing the public, lost from the time wasted on trying to trap the Prime Minister into admitting he raped a chior boy, is another question that may never be answered.

Ad astra reply

25/09/2009bilgedigger I saw that interview of Malcolm Turnbull by Leigh Sales. He seemed unusually benign with lots of smiles and [i]joie de vivre[/i]. His customary acerbity was absent and he seemed more-then-usually congenial and willing to collaborate with the Government on the ETS legislation. It struck me as being one of his less belligerent interviews. It didn’t occur to me that his expansiveness might be the result of a good meal with fine wines. But you’re right, if that were so, the likelihood of it being reported is remote, except of course unless Glenn Milne thinks he can make a spicy Sunday tabloid story out of it. Sir Ian No, any embarrassment you believe Australia may have suffered from the recounting of Kevin Rudd’s dressing down of his backbenchers is entirely due to Glenn Milne who splashed the story in last Sunday’s tabloids, and the idiot journalist (fortunately for him as yet unidentified) who asked Rudd the question in NY. Neither journalists exhibited any sense of national pride; otherwise they would not have sought to embarrass the PM while overseas. No matter how reprehensible you think Rudd’s actions might have been, no matter how strongly you believe his actions deserved to be questioned, surely you would agree that that should be done here in Australia, not in the glare of the overseas media. You might take pleasure in Bill Clinton’s Arkansas pronunciation of ‘Rudd’ as it fits your favourite description of our PM, but after his brilliant performance in the US, I suggest you change to ‘Mr Brilliant’. Macca Sir Ian enjoys using that provocative title for our PM. Sometimes, like BB, I feel he’s pulling our collective legs. His tongue-in-cheek additions to [i]TPS[/i] add a certain flavour to the site, or as Sir Ian likes to portray it, the ‘cut and thrust’ of debate. I’m sure neither you nor Sir Ian are intellectual dwarfs; your contributions are welcome. BB Your analysis of our national shortcomings is sound. Why do our media focus on what it sees as the negatives, yet pay so little attention to, or give such paltry credit for the extraordinary positives both Rudd and his ministers are portraying. I feel proud of what Rudd has done on this US visit. Clearly he is highly regarded by world leaders. He is given singular responsibilities, is invited to give numerous addresses, receives the Foreign Policy Association Medal, and makes speeches that people take seriously. In two years he has become a respected world leader whose intelligence and extensive knowledge have become international talking points. Yet the petty-minded perpetually try to pull him down, embarrass him, denigrate him, put him in his place, determined to not have him get ‘too big for his boots’. How pathetic. What’s wrong with so many of our journalists? What’s wrong with the commentators who endorse their small-minded views? It’s time we mustered more national pride in our political system and our quality politicians, and desisted from the sickening negativity our media finds so entertaining. We Aussies have plenty of pride in our top sports people, why not in our top politicians?

fred

25/09/2009I frequently wish we could consult parallel universes as a control device to measure the impact of various social forces, ours where the social force is operating and another universe where all else is the same but that force is missing. Aristotle is a pseph fellow who posts around the place and he has put up a summary of polls for the last 15 months. Here. http://www.ozelection2007.info/forums/viewtopic.php?id=6505 He summarizes the numbers thus: "There is only one conclusion to be drawn - the electorate is very pleased with the Government's performance and nothing in the last 15 months has altered this view." So I wonder what the numbers look like in the parallel universe where political [and other for that matter also] is done in a professionally objective manner designed to inform the public?

Ad astra reply

25/09/2009fred A nice set of figures. Thank you for the link. I take your point – what would the figures be in a parallel universe where the public was informed objectively? Another angle though is that the public is smarter than many think, that they see through the spin and negativity of the media and judge the political situation more accurately than we imagine.

Rewi

25/09/2009I concur with the view that journalists raising petty issues at occasions such as the visit by the Ministerial team to New York reveal far more about their comprehension of these events than they do tarnish the standing of the Prime Minister. I'm pretty sure, though, that the journalist in question is no orphan, and that similar types of questions would most likely be put to other leaders, Gordon Brown stands out as a likely candidate. Those who think that this will damage the reputation of Australians internationally should probably take a walk down Jalan Legian in Kuta, Bali, or Earl's Court in London, or any number of alternate locales where Australia's reputation is far more frequently and regularly debased. For that matter, does anyone believe that if you put three Australian journalists in a bar together in New York we'd be guaranteed an ethos of decorum? Finally, however, I disagree that it is a sense of nationalistic pride that should influence journalists to defer from asking... let's be generous and say pointed questions on domestic issues. If at any point in the future it is possible to suggest that our Prime Minister and Ministers 'were distracted from matters at hand by scandals at home', who would be to blame? Only the very same journalists who provided and ensured the distraction. Global economic problems, climate change and nuclear disarmament, anyone?

Ad astra reply

25/09/2009Just as predicted, the TV vision last evening of Rudd’s UN address scanned the auditorium to show that the hall was but partly filled, and today we have Stephanie Balogh, [i]Telegraph[/i] journalist travelling with the PM, headlining his address to the UN [i]Kevin Rudd lectures an empty hall at UN[/i]. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/kevin-rudd-lectures-an-empty-hall-at-un/story-e6freuy9-1225779298766 She goes on to explain that Rudd was last on the speaker list and that his address had been delayed until 9 pm by long-winded earlier speakers. She then gives a brief outline of what he said. But it will be the headline that will catch many people’s attention, and unless they read the full piece they will be left with the impression that few were interested to listen to Rudd – another illustration of how journalists put down the PM, and avoid giving him any praise for even being invited to address the UN. Considering the lateness of the address and the fact that Barack Obama was hosting a reception for leaders elsewhere, it’s surprising that the auditorium was even a quarter full, not empty as the headline asserts. Today in Pittsburgh, at Obama’s invitation, Rudd took a lead role and addressed the G20 meeting on global governance. Which proves the old saying: “A prophet is not without honour, except in his own country.”

Ad astra reply

25/09/2009If you wanted any confirmation of our ‘cultural cringe’ read what ‘milo of Melbourne’ said in response to a sound article in today’s [i]Australian[/i] by Greg Sheridan [i]Grand vision, sound strategy[/i] http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,26121995-5013460,00.html in which he lauds Rudd’s attempt to establish the G20 as the prime body to regulate global governance. milo says [i]“Always a little embarrassing to read articles puffing up Australia's importance in the world. Rudd is right to pursue our interests in this way, but as he does so it will be more effective if he keeps a clear headed private knowledge that we are unimportant.[/i] How self-deprecating is that? Sheridan’s article praises Rudd and applauds his vision. He has written several laudatory pieces lately; I guess he has now earned his place among the senior journalists who have sufficient gravitas to entitle them to praise Rudd without being sent to Coventry by their colleagues.

Ad astra reply

25/09/2009Did you read Tony Abbott’s short blog piece today in [i]The Daily Telegraph[/i] about Kevin Rudd’s US activities? Although its title is [i]Kevin, try solving Australia’s problems first[/i] http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/yoursay/index.php/dailytelegraph/comments/kevin_try_solving_australias_problems_first/ , he begins by praising Rudd’s efforts in NY. In fact he’s unusually complimentary about him. Predictably, he follows his praise with an admonition that Rudd fix things in Australia, such as the hospital system. Tony, it’s not either/or; it’s possible to fix more than one thing at a time. The hospital ‘fix’ is already in train, but the ankylosed state of the health bureaucracy will require time, perseverance, money and some political physiotherapy to mobilize the system’s stiff joints; indeed a joint replacement may be necessary. As an indication of the antagonism to Rudd out there among Abbott’s bloggers, read some of the comments: ‘proud aussie of queensland’ has this to say [i]“Tony, to many Australians, Kevin Rudd is simply a huge embarrassment to this once proud and highly respected Nation. It is obvious to most of us that Kevin Rudd is NOT highly regarded or listened to whilst parading on the world stage. The Rudd media will try and influence us by hinting that Kevin Rudd is an important world player, but we can and do think for ourselves. NOTHING Kevin Rudd or any of his bully gang say or do overseas, is good, Tony. Kevin Rudd and his entire gang are destroying Australia, her future and her reputation. Why is the Rudd Govt being allowed to take away our freedom, our respect, our pride, our strong policies, our much loved way of life, our choices, our history and our prosperous future? When will this Rudd nightmare end?”[/i] How do you change a mindset like that? Answer – you can’t.

Ad astra reply

25/09/2009The put-down continues. Although I can’t find the Norington article to which Bernard Keane of [i]Crikey[/i] refers, this is what Keane had to say in today’s edition: http://www.crikey.com.au/2009/09/25/rudd-shuns-nyc-headlines-to-push-his-g20-plan-instead/ [i]“Mr Rudd has received no coverage from the [New York] Times or other respected newspapers that would indicate he is an influential player in climate change negotiations or the push for a new world order. None appear interested.”[/i] Keane continues: [i]”That’s The Australian’s Brad Norington this morning on Kevin Rudd. Normally I’d suggest some right-wing agenda at work – Brad Norington brings to his coverage of the Obama Administration all the objectivity he showed in his coverage of industrial relations here – but it’s more the usual attempt to prevent any Australian leader from getting too uppity – especially one who so obviously loves to grace the world stage. Then again, they all love to do that, especially when they’re in the US.” Cement Norington in the list of Rudd-knockers.

Macca

25/09/2009AA,BB, I know your probably right in your assessment of Sir Ian. Personally, I think he's Piers Ackerman endeavouring to be intellectual.

Ad astra reply

25/09/2009macca I regularly disagree with Sir Ian, but I would never dare to compare him with Piers Akerman! I’m sure he would regard that as cheeky, or to use his favourite word for Kevin Rudd, - rude.

Ad astra reply

25/09/2009I’ve just stumbled across this gem written a couple of days ago by Guy Rundle on [i]Crikey, Why Rudd said the f-word twice[/i] http://www.crikey.com.au/2009/09/22/rundle-why-rudd-said-the-f-word-twice/ [i]“Having been reported by Misha Schubert weeks ago, without garnering any comment at all, Kevin Rudd’s F-bomb attack on a range of Labor factional hacks has been put back into play by a full-page splash by Glenn Milne — whose bizarre new hairdo appears to be one man’s attempt to imitate a three-flavour gelato — and dutifully given the News Limited clusterfuck treatment. The latest is some nonentity in The Hun calling for Rudd to undergo “counselling”. “It’s hard to know what’s most pathetic in this latest round of nothing — the natural thin-lipped prissiness that would attract a miniature Pomeranian such as Milne to the story, the dutiful way in which it was spun through every News outlet as if it was news, or the psychobabble counselling angle that’s now been taken up by a disposable Hun hackette. “If News is really trying to open up a new front against the Ruddkrieg, they’re getting pretty desperate. The PM said fuck twice? What sort of cardigan-wearing, twinset-and-pearls constituency do they think is out there, sitting by their Bakelite radiograms, waiting for our Sir Robert to come on and announce that we’re at war with Japan again? “Like hatters driven mad by the mercury that gets under their fingernails, have the News crew started to believe their own guff about collapsing morals, etc, etc. Is there a swear box in the editorial offices? If so it would pay for the new A+ roll-out, the brave new repaging, sorry reinvention, of The Oz we were waiting for. “However, on the off-chance that this malarkey could have some impact, I offer Labor the following remedy. It was reported that the PM really let fly at Victorian Senator David Feeney. The remedy to any negative fallout from this is to arrange for as many Australians as possible to personally meet Senator Feeney. “Feeney is the Cartman of Labor politics  — bumptious, spherical, and obsessively concerned with the management of his Victorian right-wing microfaction —  any encounter of more than 15 minutes with the man would have most people praising the PM’s Christ-like restraint in sticking to verbal abuse and not stabbing him through the eyes with a biro, so as to better mash his frontal lobes. “In my subjective opinion.”[/i] It goes on – click the link for the rest. This comment probably fits better with the previous post [i]Milne sinks deeper into it[/i], but here will do. If anyone is interested in how Misha Schubert played this story in [i]The Age[/i] in [i] PM irks factions over cut to perks[/i] on September 10, in complete contrast to how Milne did, click the link. http://www.theage.com.au/national/pm-irks-factions-over-cut-to-perks-20090909-fhlt.html?skin=text-only See if you can find the f-word.

Bushfire Bill

25/09/2009The Ruddster has had an unqualified triumph of diplomacy with the G20 now being set up as the premier world forum on matters economic. Do we see this as the top headline on any of the on line newspapers? Yes... but the answer might surprise you. The Herald. Relegated to the "World" section. The Age, ditto. The Telegraph, a non-starter. Only.. wait for it... The Australian headlines this coup in its proper place: front and centre, top of the page. Presumably because Greg Sheridan wrote it up (to much disdain from his commenters) as a good thing and worth of going for this morning. But nevertheless, there it is, in the most surprising place possible. Pigs might fly. A two-headed calf is born. Aliens have walked upon the Earth (at least the Tele tells us so). And the Ruddster scored a well-earned top-shelf headline in The Australian. Meanwhile, back at Fairfax, the World's Greatest Nerd continues to bore us and cause the nation to cringe in embarrassment.

monica

25/09/2009You must be physic, AA. I was thinking very similar thoughts about the portrayal of Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister, as I listened to or watched what has been dished up this week on the PM in the U.S.. I reckon if he demonstrated he could actually walk on water, he'd be attacked for not distributing the water properly and just using it for his own self aggrandisement.

Bushfire Bill

26/09/2009Peter Hartcher has a crush on someone. http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/global-turmoil-justifies-pms-jetset-jaunts-20090925-g68d.html [b]Global turmoil justifies PM's jet-set jaunts[/b] [i]"It's the job of the media to hold officialdom to account. It's the job of the Opposition to attempt to seize any advantage it can over the Government. And it's the job of the prime minister to govern in the national interest and prove his critics wrong. So Rudd can count this week as a win. One of his priorities in foreign policy has been to win Australia a seat at the top table of world economic affairs. This week, he achieved it."[/i] Hartcher must be one of those senior journalists AA was writing about.

vote1maxine

26/09/2009As the main stream media continues to descend further into ever lower levels of trivia, histrionics and pettiness, so too do circulation numbers rapidly diminish. Thank god for quality political blogs such as TPS, Pollbludger & Pollytics, as well as well informed political analyses by bloggers such as Bushfire Bill. You guys are not only a great read but also provide a daily satisfying "fix" for my political cravings. You are a sanctuary for us refugees fleeing from the intellectual oppression and suppression of balanced free thinking from a media that has become the propaganda unit of the extreme right.

janice

26/09/2009LOL Bushfire Bill. Hartcher has written some doozies but occasionally comes up with something such as this wherein he discards prejudice and looks at the real picture. George Megalogenis ended his piece with the statement that the polls show that voters still do not know Kevin Rudd. Funny that, because I think voters have got him worked out well and like what they see. Voters are miles ahead of the muddled-headed wombats that make up MSM and the useless opposition who are still in denial mode and asking themselves how it is possible that a Labor leader and PM 's character isn't a mirror image of theirs.

Bushfire Bill

26/09/2009George says some funny things, Janice. He near to obsessed over the "Fair shake of the sauce bottle" business. He waited two weeks from the date of the utterance to write his column and made it obvious he was quite disturbed by it. He followed the same theme about Rudd, along the lines of "Who is the real Kevin Rudd?". Just couldn't accept that the man uttered the words for no other reason than they are words he is used to uttering. There were all kinds of convoluted analyses, hypotheses and puzzled speculations from George about it. He stated that he was not comfortable with Rudd departing from the frame he had been put into. Thought this must mean he's a phoney. George is a VERY straight guy, right down the middle, ultra-structured, doesn't like anything to be out of place. He admitted as much in the article. I'd say the confusion he sees in the eyes of the voters about "Who is Rudd?" is actually his own, projected onto others. He can't accept that Rudd is someone who changes his language and acts according to context. Flat-out rejects this possibility. When he sees what is (in his view) inconsistency he can't believe that others don't see the same thing. It was actually a little disappointing to see George all confused like this, over such a simple concept and such a trivial incident.

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27/09/2009Apologies for the slow response folks; I took yesterday off to watch the AFL Grand Final. BB My edition of [i]The Weekend Australian[/i] had a Dennis Shanahan article [i]PM wins place at new seat of power[/i] in the right column, but the top story (apart from the football), was [i]Employers warning – Award net traps office workers[/i], important enough, but hardly ranking with Kevin Rudd’s overseas achievements. [i]The Age[/i] ranked the G20 story third after the footy and [i]Backlash at schools ranking[/i]. The [i]AFR[/i] had one of those top of page headings [i]G20 Summit – Rudd’s New World Order[/i] which I found only after a deliberate search, and a page two spread. The priority of stories for these papers is clear, but why? Is it that other stories are more important to the nation and to readers than the G20 outcomes, or is it that most of the MSM is unwilling to give Rudd the credit he deserves for a result of great consequence to Australia? Dennis Shanahan’s article was well written and acknowledged Rudd’s achievements; Dennis seems to write pieces more favourable to Rudd when he’s travelling with him. Peter Hartcher’s piece was good; I wonder was he too travelling with the PM. The Tony Walker article in the [i]AFR[/i] was sound, but Peter Ruehl’s back page piece [i]Say that again Kev, we’ve all got dust in our ears[/i] was sarcastic and uninformative – I believe he was attempting to be humorous – ‘satirical’ would be too kind a descriptor. I agree with your assessment of George Megalogenis. I have great admiration for his journalism. He, like several columnists, seems though to have an image of what a PM ought to be, and when he tries to fit Rudd into that picture, he finds it disconcerting when he can’t find a comfortable fit. This leaves him concluding that [i]“Rudd remains a work in progress”[/i], which of course he is, but finishing with [i]“But private polling suggests that voters still really don’t know him.”[/i] George is pretty good with polls, so we have to accept his word, but it would be interesting to know what question was asked that elicited that response. And in any case, what does ‘knowing’ the PM really mean for the voters? Perhaps what concerns them most is whether or not he’s doing his job well, which the polls show consistently they believe he is. If you happen to read this George, you might care to fill us in. monica It is sad that the MSM seem so obsessed with the trivia that it is less concerned with the big picture, the things that matter. I guess it begs the old question – do the media respond to what it believes the public want, or does it create an appetite for what it dishes up day after day? The philosophers would probably argue that it is both. vote1maxine Thank you for your encouraging comments; they make the effort worthwhile. At times the MSM is appalling in its coverage, careless with the facts and lacking the incisive logic that makes for good journalism. I may write about that sometime. janice I agree with you that the voters, at least the 75,000 polled by [i]Newspoll[/i] from December 2006, which shows a consistent average 62% satisfaction rating for Rudd, year after year, know what they think about Rudd, even if they don’t ‘know him’ in the Megalogenis sense. Take a look at Aristotle’s post on [i]Oz Elections Forums[/i] http://www.ozforums.com.au/viewtopic.php?id=6498

Bushfire Bill

27/09/2009From the [i]You Could Have Knocked Me Down with a Feather[/i] department: http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,26127889-5007190,00.html Either Glenn reads TPS, or he's playing with our minds.

Ebenezer

27/09/2009He is playing with something BB, and its not our minds. Cheers Eb.

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27/09/2009BB What an amazing piece, but before you entertain any notion that Glenn-baby has had an epiphany, take a look at his latest. No doubt stung by Rudd’s characterization of him as ‘the Coalition’s journalist of choice’ he’s written a follow-up piece to last Sunday’s about Rudd’s outburst at some of his backbenchers critical of the Government’s reduction of parliamentarians’ printing allowance, this time in today’s [i]Sunday Telegraph, Rude Kevin Rudd will reap whirlwind[/i]. It’s more of Milne’s wishful thinking. He must go to sleep fantacizing about Rudd’s downfall and how it might occur, and when he wakes he writes as if it’s reality. This time he’s recycling last week’s story without so much emphasis on Rudd’s use of the ‘f-word’, but on the gathering backbench and union whirlwind that will blow him away. Milne asserts that [i]“...put simply, what aggravates his colleagues and union leaders is what they see as his prissy, self-centred, top-down, ‘nobody's right, but me’ approach to government.”[/i] Will the backbenchers and union leaders appreciate Milne becoming their spear-thrower? Or will they see it as ‘the kiss of death’ to the cause Milne insists they are pursuing? How accurate is Milne’s assessment likely to be? If it’s as accurate as his recurrent predictions of the end of the Rudd honeymoon, we can safely ignore it. If you want to counterbalance Milne’s latest effusion, read the original account of the episode by Misha Schubert in [i]The Age[/i] in [i] PM irks factions over cut to perks[/i] on September 10, click the link. http://www.theage.com.au/national/pm-irks-factions-over-cut-to-perks-20090909-fhlt.html?skin=text-only and, for a belly-laugh, Guy Rundle’s piece on [i]Crikey, Why Rudd said the f-word twice[/i] http://www.crikey.com.au/2009/09/22/rundle-why-rudd-said-the-f-word-twice/ I’m posting this here as this is the contemporary post, but I’ll also post it on [i]Milne sinks deeper into it[/i] Eb You're likely right. He's also playing with his own mind.

Bushfire Bill

27/09/2009It occurs to me that analysing Glenn Milne is a hopeless task. I've tried to find scenarios, (or "paradigms" as Glenn would call them) into which I could slot the Dapper Dwarf. But he keeps slipping away from me. I think he's a force of nature. There are so many malignant forces at work inside his diminutive frame that only the end results - "Rudd is Gone for all money" - are predictable. Further analysis will probably send me mad. Glenn is already there. Why should I want to follow?

Michael

28/09/2009I wrote this in 'reply' to George M's piece about 'knowing' Kevin Rudd, and it turned up as an online comment. It would seem to fit this thread almost as tidily. John Howard used to trot out the phrase, “Love me or loathe me, people know where I stand.” Too much “me” as there always was with Howard. We ‘know’ politicians by their works, and when Howard delivered without too much disturbance to the nation, his works passed muster. When the aptly named WorkChoices went too far, out. It was never truly about where Howard stood, it was about where we stood after he’d done something as the country’s leader. We don’t need to really know Kevin Rudd. We don’t need to consider whether we could share a beer with him, or a bus trip across the Nullarbor. All we need is to be sure he is working for Australia. I have seen nothing to the contrary yet. I have seen a leader who’s thinking of tomorrow and the day after, who sees where Australia may be best positioned for the times ahead, but who is also not so besotted with the future that he does not respond to what needs to be done ‘right now’. The stimulus packages and the successful co-shepherding of the G20 to collegiate global prominence, with this country’s place in it, are cut from the same cloth - a leader working for Australia. We know him by his works. More than enough.

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28/09/2009BB Milne has a piece today [i]Liberals can't lose Dutton[/i], which not unexpectedly has drawn much contrary comment. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,26132865-33435,00.html In view of your assignation of 'the reverse-Midas touch' to Milne, I'm not sure Dutton will welcome his advocacy. Michael I agree. This nonsense about the people not knowing Rudd is another of the MSM's fanciful attempts to make out that Rudd is a mystery. Why it bothers with this, goodness knows. They seem quite unable to work out how Rudd functions. But the people are consistently satisfied, which is all that counts. Today's [i]Essential Research Report[/i] show Rudd still enjoying 66% approval and only 23% disapproval. Approval was higher only twice before, in February and March. These results are the same as [i]Newspolls[/i] since June 2006 as reported by Aristotle. http://www.ozelection2007.info/forums/viewtopic.php?id=6505 I may write something about this.
How many umbrellas are there if I start with two and take 2 away?