Mood: not sure
Topic: big media
We wrote last weekend speculating about pride and denial of encroaching age as somehow affecting the judgement of Marcus Einfeld's retired Federal Court judge and legal lion:
Saturday, 21 March 2009Marcus Einfeld aging disgracefully?
After watching 4 Corners, hearing of a bashing murder major crime at Sydney airport by comparison, and Media Watch last night condemnation of a local News Corp fake story, we have another takeout. It involves a degree of synthesis about some big media predeliction for ritual humiliation. In short emotional violence rather than light.
The News Corp Sydney Telegraph, in the manifestation of Sunday Telegraph got an extreme bollocking last night on Media Watch:
Tabloid Trading 23 March 2009
They are at risk of a major defamation payout to Pauline Hanson. But what we noticed was the pattern of ritual humiliation this time via fake nude pictures of candidate Hanson. No doubt the go big grovelling apology by the newspaper is to mitigate the damages payout. But what makes the fake story most egregious was the attempt to sully clean politics in the Queensland election 7 days later.
In that State electoral corruption is treated with no mercy and several people have received serious gaol terms - including infamously Pauline Hanson herself - until cleared on appeal resulting in some soul searching in broader political circles about victimisation of the woman. How ironic. Arguably one upshot of the Media Watch critique last night by implication is that the editor of the Sunday Telegraph ought to be prosecuted under Qld election laws (?).
We can't help thinking the brazen objective was to destroy Hanson's ability to split the conservative vote as she did federally in 1998 - 2001 with 1 million votes as an ambitious right wing third force: The One Nation barrackers certainly think so as here back in 2001:
We can't help thinking too that the dirty story against Hanson had 'a Karl Rove' style of impact: Karl Rove as tactician for GW Bush USA presidency perfected the 'false smear/exposed/voter backlash' manoeuvre. Usually at the expense of moderate centre left candidates. In this Hanson situation swinging (no pun intended) moderate centre right cvoters reading their usual News Corporation press fodder (The Courier Mail in Brisbane), might well have been annoyed by their nude photographs story being exposed as a fraud. In short News Corp almost certainly estranged their own readers.
Curiously these centre right folks didn't reward Hanson in droves, perhaps realising she was beyond the pale despite the unfair rap. Rather the official female in charge, ALP Premier Anna Bligh was rewarded with a less than expected swing against in the last week. And we can see their logic. Somehow we just know feminist Bligh would never have run a tactic like that against another female politician. Sisterhood. Moral values. Whatever the reason it's not the Bligh style. The swing voters punished the conservatives for a dirty story against a rival conservative in Hanson by rewarding the ALP. Ouch, ouch, ouch.
It didn't hurt for PM Rudd to come in over the top and be quoted all over the electronic news, possibly focus group tested, that Bligh's rival Springborg to the effect that after watching 'Borg for 20 years he "is not up to the job". Does this translate as 'can't control their own side of politics to behave'? We wonder. Shades of Jackie Kelly going rogue and cruelling ex PM John Howard's election campaign in favour of now PM Rudd.
There are many examples of this ritual humiliation proces by News Corp media. But not many blowing up in News Corp's face. Pauline Hanson last weekend. Back around 2005 - significantly this was before Einfeld's speeding offence in 2006 - it was leader of the NSW Opposition centre right premier in waiting John Brogden getting several front page blowtorches in a row leading to this:
A long time before Brogden, Einfeld, Hanson, we heard of the famous example of then junior MP John Howard - later good buddy of GW Bush as PM of Australia - refusing to drive down a very short one way street near St Vincents hospital as his wife Janet was in painful labour. Why so scared? He obviously thought it would affect his politician's reputation. That's a weird sense of priorties, but on the other hand it also implies a healthy fear of a culture of big media gotcha reportage that twists humanity out of shape.
For several months now it has been former Judge Marcus Einfeld in the News Corp cross hairs. They have been revelling in Marcus Einfeld's "lie" as he admitted frankly seeking "forgiveness" broadcast last night on ABC flagship 4 Corners last night.
The News Corp motive to go big is obvious: Einfeld is the very definition of a bleeding heart "activist judge" according to the stereotypes beloved of the News Corp harangue - Piers Akerman, Janet Albrechtsen, related as they are to the traditional US Republican loathing of "plaintiff lawyers" and their allies the "activist judges": These folks damage corporate profits big time, and arguably over reach as well sometimes. On the other hand these crusaders inspire academy award winning movies like Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich . And make shocking documentaries like Enron: Smartest Guys in the Room.
Such 'judicial activists' confront comfortable establishment privilege at every turn. Einfeld was shown in this mode last night on 4 Corners freeing several wrongly accused as a QC and helping poverty stricken Aborigines with real infrastructure assistance.
The centre left side of politics knows well to anticipate the bogus/ritual humiliations of the News Corp/Limited press front page as the local manifestation of Fox News so called 'fair and balanced'. Indeed many politicians are regarded as the proverbial jellyback for their pre emptive buckles. We prefer another approach. The day of the Brogden in distress news in 2005 (above) we thought to pursue some 'gotcha' pictures of their office known locally as the Holt St Harlot. Just to share the embarrassment around. They didn't like it at all:
So now we ask rhetorically, does this history of misconceived and/or dangerous ritual humiliation by News Corporation in a cruel sport of emotional violence encourage public figures to lie about trivial matters? Surely it does. None of this excuses Einfeld's perjury or "mad" coverup of his speeding offence, not least a 20 page piece of legalistic sophistry to the police. A lie that strikes at the heart of the legal system's efficacy regarding honest evidence with which to do their work.
On the other hand hardly surprising that Einfeld didn't want to give the dogs of ideological war another meal. Regretably he only succeeded in serving up several exta courses.
What this expose' of ritual humiliation masquerading as journalism does help with is explain the undue defensive pose that helped bring a big man down arguably in his vulnerable foolish old age. That's News Corp's speed these days in the democratic age of the internet corroding their monopoly on media power and fearsome emotional violence.