Like kids at the end of the school holidays, some of our journalists are bored stiff. They want some excitement to make their dull life a little more bearable. The Press Gallery sits in Parliament, hangs around the precinct looking for doorstops, dwelling on the occasional press conference. It’s a pity the news is so depressing; it’s not much fun reporting financial doom and gloom or making sense for their readers of the mind-numbing climate change debate. So any light relief is seized upon like a kid offered a bag of potato chips.
So it was a heaven-sent gift when Tony Abbott, bored and frustrated himself, said on Fox News that Kevin Rudd was a ‘toxic bore’. Now don’t ask what ‘toxic’ is supposed to mean, but we do understand ‘bore’. Tony, for the want of anything better to do with his time, or in the absence of any sensible comment on the problems besetting this nation, decided that slinging that insult over the airwaves would be good sport, and certain to attract a headline, something he craves desperately. [more]
Anyway, such a throwaway line would have no impact were it not for the journalists who grasped it eagerly and made a ‘story’ of it, despite its triviality, and repeated it recurrently on news bulletins. Worse than that though was the so-called journalist (Matthew ? Franklin) who, at a doorstop with the PM, in preference to asking him about what is worrying most Australians - job security and the financial crisis - instead asked the PM the world-shattering question ‘Are you a toxic bore?’. Somewhat flummoxed, Kevin Rudd acknowledged that had he heard the comment, hesitated, smiled, deflected the question and went onto talk about the matters that really count. This brought forth a piece from MIsha Schubert in the SMH Toxic bore? PM sidesteps Abbot gibe that analyses the event and records that Rudd proceeded to deflect the question “over the giggles of the press pack”. Pathetic.
The Editor of Crikey wrote an editorial about the ‘toxic bore’ incident, not condemning the stupidity of it all, but adding to it.
This is just one example of the media preoccupation with what they like to see as a boring PM. Crikey’s Bernard Keane actually counted and graphed how many time Rudd used ‘working families’. Presumably he had nothing better to occupy his time.
So what is the PM supposed to do – entertain the Press Gallery as did Paul Keating and Peter Costello? Or get on with the serious job of running this nation in the most difficult times in our memory? If one can judge from the opinion polls, the people want the latter.
News clips of the PM in public situations mixing with ordinary people show him to be articulate, sincere, respectful, deeply moved, humorous, good natured and likeable. When he’s addressing serious issues he’s serious, not jocular as the media craves. He reacts to the situation. His speeches are well constructed and appropriate. Look at a recent one: The PM's remarks to Australian Organ Donor Awareness Week, at Parliament House, and judge for yourself.
The Press Gallery reacts like bored kids on school holiday. It’s time they woke up to their responsibility to address the issues that really count. Please give up on the ‘boring’ story, and take your job seriously. If you’re bored, please go back to school, where you might learn something.