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Berejiklian’s resignation ignites mainstream media lovefest

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Upon her resignation, the mainstream media hailed Gladys Berejiklian as a hero and ignored the ICAC investigation (Image by Dan Jensen)

The resignation of Gladys Berejiklian has resulted in mainstream media revealing their apathy towards corruption and their Liberal Party bias, writes Hayden O'Connor.

JOURNALISTS have used words of praise to describe Gladys Berejiklian when she resigned as Premier; following the news out of ICAC that Berejiklian was to be investigated for a breach of public trust. With these words, certain journalists have fully revealed their Liberal Party partisanship and, ironically, their lack of journalistic integrity.

The reporting on Berejiklian’s resignation has been a revisionist, Sydney-centric, hyperpartisan, hagiographic lovefest. The media’s defence and worship of Berejiklian reeks of friendship. It highlights the inappropriate closeness between journalists and politicians, a closeness that is required for access and scoops, a level of access that is only maintained by reporting the Government’s perspective.

With this access and closeness, many journalists have reported Berejikilan’s resignation from a place of sympathy, as if they were consoling a friend who had just lost their job rather than the resignation of a premier under a cloud of corruption. These journalists have fully transitioned to courtiers and public relations employees of the Liberal Party. A complete and utter failure of the Fourth Estate.

Corruption has been entirely normalised by an apathetic mainstream media to the extent that ICAC itself has been attacked. The Weekend Australian ran the front-page headline ‘Curse of ICAC claims COVID crusader Gladys’. ‘ICAC sentences a Premier to the roughest injustice’ was also a headline from The Australian, along with another that referred to ICAC as a lynch mob.

Political reporter Chris O’Keefe criticised ICAC’s timing stating:

“ICAC knew their actions today would leave a locked-down state without a leader in the middle of the most damaging health crisis in recent history and they chose to proceed anyway.”

James Campbell and Nic White were among the others who also argued that ICAC should have waited.

These attacks on ICAC serve two purposes. Firstly, they create the public perception that Berejiklian is a victim — even if found guilty. Secondly, they try to convince the public that a Federal ICAC is dangerous and shouldn’t be legislated. Both arguments are complete nonsense but are expected from a mainstream with an apathetic attitude towards corruption.

The integrity claim in defence of Berejiklian doesn’t stack up. Her office shredded documents after accusations of pork barrelling; she was clearly aware of Daryl Maguire’s “dealings” when she told him “I don’t need to know about that bit”; yet she did not alert ICAC. She also neglected to declare her relationship with Maguire. From a non-apathetic perspective towards corruption, Berejiklian lied to ICAC. She also cut the ICAC budget despite ICAC pleading for additional funding. These are not the actions of a person with integrity.

Many news outlets such as 9 News Sydney and ABC's 7.30 highlighted Berejiklian’s “accomplishments”, as if that is somehow relevant to a premier resigning due to an ICAC investigation. Plenty of news bulletins elaborated in great detail on Berejiklian’s history, her path to power and her successful migrant story in a worshipping and obituary manner; the reports consisting of high praise without a single hint of negativity or criticism. Watching these distractions from the ICAC investigation was quite sickening and ultimately pure propaganda.

The coverage described above was so terrible that former Insiders host Barrie Cassidy took to Twitter during 7.30’s “special edition” to describe his disappointment and he didn’t hold back, criticising the coverage with three tweets that all attracted over 10,000 likes.

(Image supplied)

Leigh Sales went even further on 7.30 by championing Berejiklian’s resistance to lockdowns which is again, of course, entirely irrelevant to the ICAC investigation. It is this sort of partisan commentary between stories that has resulted in increasing criticism of Sales and 7.30.

Much of the mainstream media’s coverage also highlighted at length Berejiklian’s supposed “poor judgement” that crossed from her personal life into her political life. This plays into the angle pushed by the mainstream media after Berejiklian fronted ICAC last year, suggesting that she was a victim of a dodgy boyfriend and just unlucky with love. On 7.30 last year, Sales let Sydney Morning Herald political editor Alexandra Smith declare without challenge that Berejiklian had done nothing wrong.

All throughout the Maguire and Berejiklian investigation, the mainstream media has sought to minimise it, as they do with all possible corruption — particularly at a Federal level. Now that the situation has blown up, the mainstream media has played into their own self-fulfilling prophecy by claiming that it came as a shock. If the ICAC investigation and Berejiklian’s subsequent resignation came as a shock to anyone, it’s because the media purposefully failed to inform them of the situation.

Sadly, Berejiklian’s resignation highlights how poor our mainstream media has become. We haven’t seen an obsession and worship of a politician to this extent before and it’s simply disgusting. Should Berejiklian be convicted of a crime, the mainstream media won’t mention how they attacked ICAC and praised Berejiklian, they’ll use their platform to protect themselves from any critical narrative.

Ultimately, until we see stronger media ownership and truth in media laws, it’s only independent media that you can trust and even then, you should always be sceptical.

Hayden O’Connor is an I.T. professional from Tasmania who currently lives in Melbourne. You can follow Hayden on Twitter @HaydenJOConnor.

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