xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Font of Noelage: May 2016

Thursday, 12 May 2016

The toadying media.

A free press should be a strong bulwark of democracy. Each day we read of journalists being arrested, or just simply disappearing, in autocratic dictatorships like China and Russia or in some countries in Africa and Asia. In many parts of the world citizens are denied accurate information about what their governments and the rich and powerful are actually doing.

In Australia it has not come to that yet. Despite our media being 70% controlled by Rupert Murdoch, we are still able to glean information about what our political leaders and the economic power brokers are up to.

Now that Mr Turnbull has called for a double dissolution election on July 2, the Australian media has gone into overdrive to keep us up to date with what our politicians are doing. Whole teams of reporters and journalists follow the party leaders in a never ending news cycle that seeks more and more information. Often the information that is reported was not worth knowing in the first place.

This 24/7 approach to election news is not necessarily a good thing. For a start the constant news feeds and the stories about stories about stories tends to make the average punter switch off all things to do with politics. This is inherently dangerous. For our democracy to flourish citizens need to be well informed about what is happening and what options there are to future actions.

The media’s policy of giving almost constant election coverage not only turns most voters off but it also puts the political parties in charge of the news. On Mother’s Day, dedicated TV watchers could have followed Mr Turnbull as he kissed his wife goodbye, met with some favourably inclined voters, caught a plane in Sydney, got off a plane in Canberra and then travelled through the rain to meet the Governor General. He alighted from his car with the beatific smile of a world statesman about to proclaim that peace had broken out all over the world and not that he was going to call an election which we all knew about anyway. In earlier times the TV news would have just shown the PM getting out of his car, not the Royal Progress like journey from Sydney to Canberra.

Each day Bill Shorten, Malcolm Turnbull and a vast array of other politicians of all persuasions, front up in high viz vests and hard hats, or white dustcoats and goggles to shovel sand, look knowledgeably at machinery and flashing electrodes, lay bricks, fondle watermelons, drink a beer, smile at children or converse with carefully selected adults. These conversations are always highly structured to cast favourable light on the politician involved. Just last week we saw Malcolm Turnbull talking to a young couple who had just bought a house for their 12 month old baby boy. This was to no doubt reinforce the PM’s message that negative gearing is the favourite investment tool of your ordinary mums and dads. He was not asked any hard questions about negative gearing or the fact that his electorate of Wentworth is the negative gearing capital of Australia.

Each night we sit watching the news and what we see are politicians moving through highly orchestrated scenarios where they are never, ever asked a question in anger. The media has been sucked in by the political parties. It should stop giving wall to wall coverage of these arranged “news events”. 

By covering the inane meanderings of the politicians in shopping centres and church bazaars the Australian media is actually toadying to the agendas of political parties. As a result, more often than not on TV, we what the political party wants us to see and not necessarily what we need to know. In days past politicians were not hounded 24/7 by a news pack. They stood in public arenas, often faced by hostile interjectors, and talked about their policies. People were interested by what hey had to say. Not anymore!

What needs to happen is for the ABC and the commercial TV channels to state that they no longer will follow party leaders all over the country reporting every little trivial thing that did or did not happen. They should tell the politicians that each day they will give them twenty minutes to stand before the cameras and answer reporters’ questions on policy issues. That twenty minutes could probably be condensed down to ten minutes of watchable TV news about issues that really matter. People would once again take a keen interest in what was happening to their country.
Will it ever happen? No! So just settle back and continue being pulped to death by My Kitchen Rules and The Gogglebox.

Friday, 6 May 2016

I've been Trumped.

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about Donald Trump. In this blog I wrote, oh so knowledgeably, about how the Republican primary presidential race would pan out.

I observed that while The Donald was getting about 40% of the votes in various primaries his combined opposition was polling between 50% and 60%. Pontificating like a latter day Nostradamus, I then boldly stated that as Trump’s opponents fell by the wayside the anti-Trump vote would solidify behind one candidate.

Well, it did not happen. Trump continued to berate and belittle his opponent and completely destabilised their campaigns and destroyed their presidential ambitions. He blew them all out of the water.

Jeb Bush pulled out. Then Marco Rubio pulled out. Now, I thought, my point will be proven. Cruz will gain votes from those two gentlemen and wallop Trump in Indiana. It did not happen. Trump gained almost 60% of the vote and Cruz and Joe Rasick both pulled out of the race. Trump is now on his own in a one-man race and headed for victory at the Republican convention.

In my blog, I also said that, just as happened in the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968, it could be that nobody would win the 2016 Republican nomination on the first ballot, enabling delegates to change their voting preferences in a second ballot to make some person, other than Donald Trump, the republican nominee for President of the United States of America.

Well that will not happen either, because Trump will gain enough Electoral College votes to be nominated and approved on the first ballot.

True to form, which is inconsistency personified, Trump accepted his big victory in Indiana and then started heaping praise on Ted Cruz for his brave and courageous campaign. For the last three months Trump has been calling Cruz a liar and a dummy. And they are the nice things he said about Cruz. Obviously, having completely destroyed his opponents Trump will now try to get them to fall in behind him as he goes into full attack mode against Hillary Clinton.

Three weeks ago I would have said that Trump had no hope in hell of beating Hillary Clinton. Now, I am, not so sure. As in the United Kingdom, voting is not compulsory in the USA. In the last UK election, David Cameron’s Conservative Party won a very healthy majority with only 35% of the possible vote.

A contest between Clinton and Trump is likely to turn a lot of voters off. Hordes of disenchanted Democrats, who idolise Bernie Sanders, may stay away from the polling booths in droves. On the other hand, Donald Trump is increasing his vote every time there is a primary. Don’t ask me why. I do not know. I don’t think even Donald Trump knows. He did ponder this phenomenon a few weeks ago, saying, “Why, I could walk down the street and shoot somebody and my vote would go up.”
Well, he hasn’t shot anybody, yet, but his vote is certainly still going up. 

How will it end? Who knows? I am starting to get very worried.