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May 2, 2011

Dumbing down democracy.

Cartoon; by Warren.

Former finance Minister, Lindsay Tanner was interviewed tonight on the 7:30 Report on his book 'Sideshow: Dumbing Down Democracy'.

Among the statements he made are:

We got to a situation where spin, robotic scripting, all of the things that you've heard lots of complaints about over the past few years I think have seriously distorted the picture of politics even more distorting than usual, that is conveyed through the media. I've tried in this book Sideshow to ask why is this happening. The answer is politicians are reacting to how the media portrays them. They're getting more and more defensive because of "gotcha journalism" and more and more are drifting into a world of flimflam and stunts and gimmicks, announcables and spin, both to protect themselves and also to stay in the media. …
... It is possible that a big political dividend will come to somebody who decides to try to break out of these shackles, but there are endless examples of where distortion, trivializing, misrepresenting by the media sends signals to politicians about what they'll get punished for and what they'll get rewarded for.
Full transcript here.

I don’t believe any of this, it is a politician trying to blame the media for the way politicians tend to be today of their own volition. They are not reacting to the way the media portrays them as he states, but are acting in the manner that the media allows them to get away with. Current politicians are a pretty shoddy lot who generally recite the party line no matter what it is and regardless of their own opinion, if they have the intelligence to actually have one.

I recall my father being ‘persona non grata’ with the Nationals for telling one of their ministers in a public meeting, “Look Max, if it wasn’t for the Labor Party split, you would still be in opposition voting against every piece of legislation, good or bad.” Little has changed in 40 years. Apart, that is for the quality of representatives declining dramatically.

While much of the focus (if it can be called that) of the press is rather puerile, servile, sycophantic, and self-serving, when it suits them, they are not to blame for the way politicians are. They have a heavy responsibility for the way they have allowed them to breezily get away with it.

The first interview with Gillard after she rolled Rudd and became PM was done by the sleuth, Kerry O’Brien on the 7: 30 report. After in depth, probing questions, and prying inquiries for some time, he managed to establish that she was a redhead. Kerry was considered one of their best and brightest. Really says it all.

If we want better politics we have to replace the current crop and demand an end to the rather incestuous relationship that exists between politicians and reporters.

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