by Ross Sharp

A few months from now, various individuals from the worlds of traditional Australian print and broadcast media will gather together in sombre occasion to hold “frank” discussions – for the benefit of us all – about what role the media played in the outcome of the upcoming September 2013 federal election, and whether this role had been fair to the current Prime Minister or foul.

A question that will no doubt be posed is, “Do you think the media’s obsession with polls and the politics of personality came at the expense of serious policy debate or analysis?” …

Conduct an opinion poll, declare a leadership “crisis”, talk about “simmering tensions” within the “party” for another week and then demand of the Prime Minister this “wrenching confusion” be resolved once and for all for the sake of the nation and its hard-suffering peoples.

And a front page for Rupert.

Another question that will surely poke its curly little head into these discussions will be, “And what of the Rudd factor?” …

The Rudd Factor being that anodyne, confected political pop star whose every visible move and utterance so obsesses our media (for reasons I, for the life of me, simply cannot fathom),  that they insist – no, really, insist –  we all share the object of their obsessions, its minutiae, day in, day out, night and day, under the moon, no matter how trivial these movements and utterances may seem to those of us who dwell out here in the real world.

Andrew Elder, former Liberal Party member …

Kevin Rudd is nowhere near getting the numbers to knock off Julia Gillard. This has been true every day for the last three years. Just because Rudd’s supporters lack the sense and wit to stop crying wolf, it does not mean that broadcast media outlets privileged to take up space in the press gallery have a right to squeeze out other issues. Advocates trying to get stories up on defence procurement, climate change or any number of really important issues are fobbed off by the sort of people who commission Julia Baird articles – but those same people can’t get enough Ruddmentum, running warmed-over stories from eighteen months ago.”

Nicholas Stuart in The Sydney Morning Herald …

Rudd remains utterly convinced of himself and his ability to turn everything around. He believes the voters’ love for him overwhelms everything. He proclaims he’s learnt from his mistakes. He needs caucus to admit their mistake in dumping him and beg him to return on his own terms despite having hung Simon Crean (and others) out to dry the last time the leadership was in play.

Every time Rudd has challenged it’s been a shocking blunder. He brought the first challenge on too early (before the Queensland election), didn’t engage in the second one, and now expects everyone to welcome the messiah. For a former PM, Rudd has atrocious political instincts and no sense of timing. Is it any wonder his colleagues baulk at his return? Is he serious? …

… The media has a great time focusing on leadership. It’s an easy story to write. But it’s not real.”

Not real?

Mark Kenny, Sydney Morning Herald …

A third push to reinstall Kevin Rudd as Labor leader was in disarray on Monday evening as it emerged its singular strategy of forcing pro-Gillard ministers to take the initiative and ”tap” the Prime Minister on the shoulder had come to nothing …

… The Rudd camp, which continues to say its man must be drafted, is uncertain of its next move, unable even to say if he would nominate in a ballot, or do as he did in March and sit on his hands.”

Not real. Aw, gee shucks. Not that that’s stopped anyone before, and not that it will again. I’m sure Mark Kenny & Co. have at least another half-dozen pieces in them about all the stuff that ain’t happenin’ that we need to know about.

A recent editorial from The Age demanded

It is time for Julia Gillard to stand aside as leader of the federal parliamentary Labor Party, as Prime Minister of Australia, so that vigorous, policy-driven democratic debate can flourish once again. Ms Gillard should do so in the interests of the Labor Party, in the interests of the nation and, most importantly, in the interests of democracy … ”

Because there will be riots in our streets if she don’t, and dancin’ if she does and sunbeams from Jesus all ‘round.

It continues, quite hilariously …

“Australians deserve a representative Parliament of diverse ideas. They deserve authoritative and inspiring leaders, who command with compassion and respect for all. They deserve a government that can clearly describe a future Australia of which we can all be proud – not one that will divide, marginalise or exclude.”

You can’t make this shit up.

The following day, a number of responses, among them …

“The Age crossed the line from being a newspaper to being a party political broadcast. Amazingly, the editorial praised the Gillard government while demanding the Prime Minister resign ”for the good of the country”.

So what has the PM done to deserve this? Acted corruptly? No. Been incompetent? Not according to your editorial. No, she should resign because she is unpopular. And why is that, exactly? It wouldn’t have anything to do with three years of unremittingly negative newspaper coverage would it?

The editor then claimed that the problem was that the leadership race was preventing the media from covering the issues. Surely the editor decides what goes in your paper, not Gillard. Newspapers do not get to decide who is the PM.” – Greg Young, Murrumbeena

Yes, they do. Fairfax’s Mike Carlton thinks so …

Prime Minister, it’s time. Time for you to quit. As this Parliament draws to its close, it’s time for you to recognise that, for all your achievements, you are leading your government and your party to an electoral defeat of unprecedented disaster.

As painful as it must be, it’s time for you to stand aside for the good of your colleagues, for Labor people everywhere, and for the nation itself. The plain fact is that Australians are no longer listening to you.

Kevin Rudd is the most popular politician in the country, far and away better liked and respected than Tony Abbott. For all his many faults, he alone has a fighting chance of keeping Abbott out of The Lodge. Every opinion poll shows that you do not. Better to go now, with dignity, at your own chosen speed, than to be flung aside by your party and the people …

But there is no choice. It gives me no pleasure to write this, Prime Minister. The decision is yours.”

Over to you, Jules. Whaddayareckon? …

Why yes, my reporter friend, now that you’ve put it like that, I should stand down immediately. As Prime Minister, I sit around all day contemplating whether journalists think I should run the country and after The Age told me to resign last week, I thought ‘bugger it’. Who needs a democracy where people vote? We should let the media run the place as some sort of benevolent dictatorship where all we talk about is what other journalists talk about.”

If you wanted a couple fine examples of Oz media’s motley crew of pontificating, presumptuous, pretentious, self-important, pedestal-preaching from-up-on-high twats talking total fucking twaddle, you’d be hard pressed to find better than Carlton’s and The Age Editor-in-Chief’s contributions.

Who the fuck are these people, these so-called “journalists” who imagine themselves wise seers and noble sages in selfless service to our country’s political figures, proffering, as they do and have, fashion tips and career advice to its Prime Minister on an almost daily basis, and why the fuck am I expected to pay them any attention? Any of them at all. Why?

Why is anyone?

Would you all like to talk about your falling circulation figures and declining advertising revenues, because I’m part of the reason that’s happening, as I sure as shit won’t pay money to read this crap in print, and I double sure as shit won’t, and would not – ever – pay for it behind a paywall, and reading it for free is barely worth the effort, because it’s the same damn “news” every goddamn day, and all it makes me want to do is shoot the groundhog.

Media disconnect?

I’m it.