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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Saturday, May 07, 2005

We know who he is

The current media frenzy around John Howard and his patient deputy Peter Costello is tiring. Throughout this saga, political journalists have been content playing the insider's game, gaining interviews with the key players and parading their "insights". Take today's article in the Sydney Morning Herald by Peter Hartcher. A full page in the paper and yet virtually not a word about the values, ideas or policies Costello as Prime Minister may express. Would the voting public not be interested in what Costello actually stands for? He has remained virtually silent on numerous government decisions since 1996, including asylum seekers, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, just to say a few. The timing of a potential leadership tussle is interesting, to a point, but simply becoming the conduit through which this drab political game is played suggests that these kind of journalists are simply content to be involved, get a quote and feel close to the action.

When Hartcher says John Howard is "looking every bit a statesman" after his recent foreign policy adventures, would he like to convince readers that issues such as Guantanamo Bay have simply disappeared? Channeling government propaganda has never looked so tawdry.


Anonymous michael said...

Yeah Hartcher is pathetic, but in one sense he is pretty pragmatic as a political journo.

Why report on the supposed policy differences between Costello and Howard when we know that neither of them have a significant influence on policy?

Hartcher knows where the power really lies and his sycophantic support for the US FTA certainly made his position on it clear.

If you want to know about policies, check the business pages for the attitudes of CEOs - especially of companies that donate big time to US and Australian political parties. That way, you automatically get the policy positions of all leaders and wannabes of both major parties.

On a similar note, I think that if the US pharamaceutical companies haven't trashed the Aus PBS by the end of the year their best window of opportunity will have closed.

The impending Michael Moore doco on Big Pharma and the scandals over SSRIs and anti-inflammatories has put a bit of spine into the US and (especially) UK press and the drug companies will soon be too much on the nose for any pollie to be seen to be doing their bidding.

Of course you wouldn't know a thing about that if you were relying on the suckhole Australian media for the news (or the Aus medical professional bodies who have managed to almost ignore the restrictions and warnings on SSRI use overseas and are still encouraging prescription as usual).

Saturday, May 07, 2005 12:06:00 pm  
Anonymous michael said...

"Lately, perhaps too late, we have come to recognise that the threat to the state — or what should be regarded as Public Enemy No 1 — comes not from right-wing radicalism but rather, from the impotence of politics, which leaves citizens exposed and unprotected from the dictates of the economy."
- Gunter Grass in an article in today's Guardian.

Saturday, May 07, 2005 1:52:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Sadly, this is what passes for serious political commentatory. Hence the need for other voices, ie. bloggers, to engage. As Tim Dunlop says, bloggers are the new public intellectuals. I can't wait (??!!) for a blogger to get a regular column in the mainstream media. And let me guess, it sure as hell won't be somebody with anything too interesting to say. After all, the papers still need room for Gerard Henderson, Paul Kelly etc...
I'm currently writing a longer piece on these matters for Online Opinion. Watch this space...

Saturday, May 07, 2005 2:08:00 pm  
Anonymous michael said...

"I can't wait (??!!) for a blogger to get a regular column in the mainstream media."

Aargh!! Tell me its a joke, Antony!

Not funny to me right now as an activist organisation I work with currently seems flat out trying to debollock itself by applying for government grants for reformist work.

With any luck, the blogs will kill the mainstream media. Or, more realistically, a hybrid of blogging and mainstream reporting something along the lines of what Christopher Allbritton and Dahr Jamail do.

Saturday, May 07, 2005 2:48:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Yes, I'm kidding re a blogger in the mainstream! Can you imagine who they'd select? I've got some ideas...
Allbritton and Jamail? That's a great combo. There are others...

Saturday, May 07, 2005 8:47:00 pm  
Anonymous michael said...

Just noticed that Dave Edwards has excelled himself in his most recent analysis of the liberal media.

He's a bit of a one trick pony, with almost all of his articles simply using new examples as illustrations for the same tired old thesis that we all know so well. But still, its good to know that someone is refusing to let the bastards forget that they're bastards.

Some interesting new blogs at MediaLens too. Worth a look.

Saturday, May 07, 2005 8:51:00 pm  
Blogger Comrade JR said...

It's a real shame with Peter Hartcher, he was always very good when he wrote on US politics for the Financial Review. But people like him and Louise cant-remember-her name at the Herald typify the "Paul Kelly" style of journalism, which involves advising senior politicans on what they should do. One of the few print journos in Australia worth reading at the moment is Laura Tingle at the Fin. Rather than offering sycophantic "advice", she deconstructs politicians' agendas in her Friday column. She is one of the few senior journalists to express any kind of anger about the attacks being waged against Australia's most defenceless citizens - welfare recipients - in today's budget.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005 2:34:00 pm  

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