The media and the #Libspill: Covering themselves in glory?

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The electronic graffiti and non-mainstream media has become a more accurate barometer of public opinion than the Canberra echo chamber, says former press gallery reporter Dr Martin Hirst.

THERE'S NOTHING the political media pack likes more than a bit of blood-letting.

The entire Canberra Press Gallery is on a sugar high at the moment and there’s no sign of them coming down soon.

A leadership crisis makes for good copy and it allows the all-news TV channels to flood the airwaves with blue-tie talking heads from dusk till dawn and then from dawn till dusk (rinse and repeat).

They really only have one thing to say, but it has to be said again and again by as many people as possible with spin (rinse and repeat) and with varying inflections.

Then the tea leaves, the coffee grounds, the chicken entrails, the pigeon droppings and the contents of the ministerial chamberpots are pored over, poked at, sniffed, taste-tested, licked, chewed, sucked and spat out like so much cheap plonk at a Dan Murphy’s wine-tasting.

But the audience (AKA, the punters, the voting public, the great unwashed) ends up being none the wiser.

The men (and the few women) who get to pontificate, pronounce, denounce and define the terms of political debate are hunted down like so many fowl on the opening day of duck season.

Reporters can be seen scrambling over the corpses to get the “exclusive”; they fondle their phones like they are talismans of truthiness and they can’t wait to tell us about their secret sauces who are telling them (and them alone, rinse and repeat) how it will all go down behind closed doors.

They claim privilege to divulge pillow talk, they are used and abused (rinse and repeat) by the spin doctors and the players to dribble out the messages that they want the public to hear without the accountability of putting their names to their comments.

Blood-sucking, self-gratifying politicians use the eager press puppies to shaft their colleagues and shit in their own nests while pretending to be pure of heart and principled.

And the media stars lap it up.

They are the centre of attention and the filter through which politics is conducted.

Unfortunately, most of them are intellectual pygmies with more ambition than brains.

For them, it is the chase and the story, not the substance that matters.

Their “ideological spectacles”, as Michelle Grattan once famously wrote, are from the same two-party preferred optometrist the politicians themselves use.

They are "independent" like the glue on a stamp is independent of the stamp itself.

One without the other is pretty effing useless.

The media (whether the ABC, the commercial networks, the SBS or SkyNews) offers only a very narrow range of opinions.

It is the same when the Prime Minister says he consults widely with “ordinary” Australians, but actually only meets regularly with the captains of industry and the well-funded conservative thinktanks like the Institute of Public Affairs.

The news media speaks to the same players, day in and day out.

The usual suspects (rinse and repeat) are paraded in front of the cameras and the microphones and the “ordinary” people are “represented” to us through the occasional “vox pop” conducted in some random shopping centre.

Yes, the voice of the people is presented as incoherent, confused and not caring very much.

But, as events of the last few weeks have demonstrated, this is not the case.

The electronic graffiti and non-mainstream media has become a more accurate barometer of public opinion than all the seat sniffing done by the cadre of political journalists who will, more often than not talk to each other (rinse and repeat) rather than seek out a wide range of opinions.

My advice to the Press Gallery is get out more.

My advice to readers is also “get out more”.

Don’t rely on the mainstream media, always fact-check and source-check them for yourself and support independent media like, New Matilda and Margo Kingston’s No Fibs and, of course, Independent Australia.

You can read more by Martin Hirst on his blog Ethical Martini and follow him on Twitter@ethicalmartini.

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