Elders of the media

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What is the world coming to, where the elders of our media come out and display themselves as either bullies or buffoons, asks Denise Allen.

Fair dinkum, you really have to wonder what the world is coming to. As if mainstream media isn’t bad enough with journalists of all ages and gender now offering their biased political opinions every day in our media instead of professional political analysis, we now have two elders of the mainstream media behaving like the sort of bogan bullies in the playground who don’t have the wit or intelligence to win an argument, so they resort to degrading and belittling those who they deem “weaker” than them, and a third who is behaving like a cross between Henry the VIIIth, Sir Les Patterson and Dame Edna!

First, we have Alan Jones frothing at the mouth, spewing his vile comments about the Prime Minister's dear old Dad. You’ve read numerous articles on IA (and in the mainstream media) about that. Then up pops up someone who many people may have thought might have a little bit more decorum where the PM was concerned, given that he is apparently a former Labor Party stalwart, speech writer for many a Labor MP and an author and auteur.

Bob Ellis.

Hidden away in his blog on 12 September 2012 is a nasty little article about our PM. Not as cruel as Jones’ remarks, but not that far behind.

In an article called 'The Real Julia, Stripped Bare' Ellis, for some insane inexplicable reason, has chosen to attack the PM for daring to leave a conference in the Cook Islands to travel home on the day that Australia had its worse death toll in Afghanistan. She came home to show leadership. Had she of not done so, you can bet your bottom dollar the media and the Opposition would have torn strips off her for days on end. Most of us saw it as the decent thing to do.

Ellis, however, didn’t.

Julia Gillard and her proud father, the late John Gillard.

Ellis then took a savage aim at her for leaving a day before a conference in Russia finished to fly home to be with her mother, sister and extended family on hearing of the sudden death of her father saying “she fled the conference and went home weeping to Adelaide”. What drives a silly old man to write something that cruel?

Ellis says she should have stayed the extra day. Why? The last day of any conference is usually just putting minor finishing touches to discussion and saying a cheery round of farewells to all and sundry. It was not necessary for the PM to stay an extra day. Ellis may not be close to his family, but for those who are, we all know we would drop everything to be with our loved ones when a parent or dearly loved family member dies. But Ellis equated these dreadful exodus’ with soldiers in the battlefield not allowed to leave their posts when a loved one dies (and I would imagine that would only occur during a violent exchange of gunfire in a battlefield where flight to safety would be near impossible). Drawing a long bloody bow there, Bob, if you ask me.

Why the PM’s return home when her father died even warrants Ellis’ commentary is beyond me. Does he, like Jones, have a permanent hatred for her?  Does he have precious little to write about?  Is he bored? Or is he, like Jones, just old and cranky?

If I was Julia, I would simply tell Ellis and Jones to “fuck off”, but being the dignified, strong, professional statesperson she is, she wouldn’t dream of saying anything like that to them.

So I will say it for her.

Then we have the outrageous spectacle of John Laws appearing on ABC 7.30, supposedly to offer intelligent commentary on the Jones saga, but instead looking like and coming across as a silly old pompous fool who thought he must have been appearing in some Shakespearean play. Either that, or he thought he was auditioning for the role of Sir Les Patterson now Barry Humphries has retired him.

These old men of the media should be displaying the art of their craft in a dignified professional statesmanlike manner ― honouring their many years experience in the field with informative, clever, detailed scrutiny of an issue.

But no.

Jones, and Ellis to a lesser extent, are ranting like frustrated old curmudgeons, condemning our female Prime Minister with a viciousness that is unbecoming of any journalist in Australia, let alone those in their autumn years.

Laws? Well, as I said, just came across as a pompous old fool.

We have for far too long tolerated the disgraceful ugliness in which mainstream media has descended over the past few years. Young and seasoned journalists, using their medium to spruik their own one-sided political opinions, yet rarely providing us with well-reasoned and sensible policy analysis; rarely, if ever, providing us with detailed and intelligent investigative journalism.

If this is what our seasoned journalists are going to end up like, then God help us all ― because, believe me, they seem to heading that way.

But, I’m an optimist ― I still have faith in the young ones.

But I won't hold my breath.

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