Media Analysis

Dutton and Trump: A dangerous duo

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons)

Managing editor Michelle Pini examines the legacy media's use of both-sidesism to create an alternate reality where Dutton and Albanese and Biden and Trump are presented as equal.

Both-sidesism is a very dangerous thing in politics. It masks the wolf’s true identity and allows it to appear as a bit of a black sheep — perhaps a little idiosyncratic, even troublesome, but not the threat to life and limb it actually is.

In the case of Australia, it has legitimised dangerous people like Scott "Five Ministries" Morrison to ascend to the prime ministership and Peter Dutton to compete for the position.

In the United States, it has allowed a criminal to evade punishment and even to be considered a viable option for the most powerful position in the Western world — again.

These occurrences, which may once have been dismissed as highly unlikely in the case of Dutton but certainly fantastical in the case of Trump, are achieved through a slow and steady manipulation of reality.

By presenting incomparable facts about two political contenders as if they were equally worthy of our outrage, our only logical conclusion is: Well they’re both the same, so which do I pick?

But the reality is that one may be flawed, even deeply so, but the other is a diabolical wolf, which, if elected, can only end in tears and probably bloodshed.

To many Australians, it is mind-boggling that Donald Trump, a convicted felon, can run for president at all. That he can actually be within a wolf’s whisker of attaining this role is so incredible, that many of us choose to dismiss it as simply improbable. 

Nonetheless, should “the land of the free” re-elect Trump, not only will a convicted felon hold the highest office in the free world, but our unquestioning commitment to the U.S. alliance means we are in it up to our ears — conjoined, in fact. This was recently further fortified by the AUKUS partnership.

Let that sink in for a minute. We are inextricably linked to any psychopathic decisions Trump will undoubtedly make if he makes it back to the Oval Office.

Of course, we know that President Joe Biden is getting on in years and his public appearances are, well, less than impressive. We know that many of his Government’s policies are also less than ideal and some – like the stance in Palestine, which excuses genocide – are truly objectionable.

But the American corporate media ensures that these things are always front of mind while also making certain that the many, many heinous and abhorrent facts about Trump, a wolf who doesn’t even bother to don sheep’s clothing, are only briefly mentioned, expertly underplayed or presented in such a way as to be perfectly acceptable. So the logical conclusion is: Well they’re both the same, so which do I pick?

Meanwhile, the Australian establishment media, led as it is by American overlord, Rupert Murdoch, mirrors this “both-sided” process of manipulation, which expertly ensures everyone only really gets one side.

In Biden versus Trump both-sidesism, our national broadcaster constantly discusses, debates and dissects on repeat Joe Biden’s possible health issues, but not only completely ignores Trump’s probable dementia, it ignores his very real criminal record and the shocking extent of his crimes, let alone that if elected, he may well destroy life as we know it.

With Albanese versus Dutton, we are constantly reminded how many of our esteemed media – such as believe Dutton to be a "nice guy", who even cooks seafood chowder. So, you know, we should just ignore all the bad stuff he has already done and is very likely to replicate if elected prime minister.

Albanese, meanwhile, like Rudd, Gillard and Shorten before him, is attacked on a daily basis.

Let's take recent events concerning their respective offspring to further illustrate this fact.

After Peter Dutton's teenage son was photographed holding a 'small bag of white substance' with a Snapchat caption referring to the item as a 'Birthday day treat', the media cheer squad happily parrotted the response from his office: 

'This is a private matter for the Dutton family.'

Case closed. Never mind that Dutton, an ex-drug cop, has enthusiastically campaigned for drug testing among welfare recipients so that their allowance can't be used to purchase illegal substances.

We are not suggesting that the Opposition Leader's son took drugs or that families of politicians should be open slather for the media.

However, contrast this with Albanese's son who accessed the Qantas Chairman's Lounge. This made front-page news with headlines such as 'Albo's 23-year-old son scores exclusive invite' and 'Secret favours and benefits, Albanese slammed over son's Qantas lounge access'  flooding legacy media.

Nor are we defending them or implying any elected officials are flawless specimens to be idolised.

Considering Dutton a credible alternative leader to Albanese, however, because a few in the media say he's a "nice guy" is frightening. It ignores his abysmal record in office when his department tortured refugees and immigrants, when his government mercilessly hounded the poor with Robodebt, or when he showed zero compassion for Pacific Island nations, for Indigenous Australians, for the sick, the old or the dispossessed. 

And weighing up Biden and Trump and declaring them equal is like comparing Hitler to former German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Sure, Merkel had her problems and her leadership may not have been unblemished, but this can hardly compare with Hitler's Final Solution, for example. There is simply no comparison.

Finally, in the words of Albert Camus:

"Be careful, when a democracy is sick, fascism comes to its bedside, but it is not to inquire about its health."

This is not the whole story! Subscribe today to read the whole article and access all our work.

Follow managing editor Michelle Pini on Twitter @vmp9. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter/X @independentaus and Facebook HERE.

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