Every so often, an article so awful (even by the pathetic standards of our press gallery) comes through that you can’t just ignore. An article which makes a mockery of the media and their pathetic pretense to write anything but gossip when they are meant to write about politics. An article that encapsulates the perfect sexist groupthink of the ABC/Fairfax/SBS collective.
This is one such article by ‘journalist’ Jacqueline Maley. I will return later to the fact that Maley basically never writes about politics (she writes about the theatre of politics, an entirely different thing).
What happened: In the NSW state parliament, a female opposition MP questioned Brad Hazzard (the conservative party minister for health) about masks, and he was critical of her in his response.
That’s it. There was an argument in an Australian parliament (which are all absolute bearpits, where disputes are expected, everyone has to have a thick skin and people of all genders repeatedly insult each other).
In Maley’s logic this was complete sexism (even though Hazzard did not mention gender in any way). It was sexism, because in Maley’s world women don’t insult men that way.
Er, yes they do Jacqueline. Refer to Julia Gillard’s sneering at Christopher Pyne (not about his policies- about the way he talks etc). Refer to all the abuse heaped by ‘progressive women’ on Tony Abbott, and the laughingly patronizing way he was said to have a ‘woman problem’. Refer to Kristia Kenneally patronizingly offering to ‘pinky swear’ to a male MP questioner (on a very valid question of possible corruption). Refer to the hundreds of abusive messages women on twitter leave for politicians (of all sides). Refer to daily conversations where, yes, women are patronizing, women ‘explain things insultingly’ (womensplaning?). Quite frankly, I wonder if someone asserting that ‘women don’t speak to men that way’ has ever actually visited planet earth; or dealt with an officious female bureaucrat?
(And, a bit off topic, we could also talk about the completely insulting way Julia Gillard spoke to female politicians on her own side (as recounted by them in their own memoirs). But; lets not go there.)
This is Australia, people disagree, it is not some Fairfax/ABC/SBS collectivist public sector-style love-in where everyone is ‘civil’ all the time (and anyone who’s experienced an environment like that knows how fake and passive/aggressive it all is anyway). Hazzard was doing his job in a parliament, the condition of entry of which is an expectation there will be vigorous argument and dispute. It’s a bit like someone who doesn’t like singing going to the opera.
Of course, the deeper issue here is Maley’s perception of her role as a journalist. She never writes about policy. She never writes about the actual issues or power issues in society. Her writing is all about the people who happen to be in politics. Who doesn’t like who. Which staffer fought with that staffer. Which minister slagged off that minister in cabinet. And on it goes. No discussion of issues.
The TV show ‘Kitchen Cabinet’ on the ABC is an example of where this attitude to ‘journalism’ ends up: politicians being invited on a soft-ball show to cook meals, talk trivia and ‘show their human side’. And this rubbish is funded as news and current affairs by our taxpayer dollars.
While people like Maley write their gossip columns, real issues are happening. People are losing their jobs, corruption is absolutely thriving in Australia, income inequality is soaring. But unfortunately, Jacqueline is looking straight past all that, eyes squinting, to focus on the gossip. And in fact, that choice by journalists to focus on trivia is a direct driver of the corruption and bad decisions, because there is no scrutiny. And that’s really toxic.