Power hungry controllers of society – The Media
The Fourth Estate is a societal and political force or institution, whose influence is not consistently or officially recognised.
Supposedly, the Fourth Estate consists of professional men and women who are trained in the art of journalism, whereby they gather information, without fear or favour, and disperse same to the people.
Supposedly, these journalists abide by a Code of Ethics (regulated by themselves)
When media hyenas gather, someone is torn to pieces. The carcass is fought over so that every morsel is consumed in a feeding frenzy that serves only to quiet the hunger pangs for a short time.
In this country, journalists have always been rated below the used car salesman in the trustworthy stakes. I suspect this is because truth is never allowed to get in the way of a story. Journalists are therefore looked upon as people who eagerly spread gossip and innuendo without any regard to the consequences that might be caused to the victim’s life, reputation and innocent family members.
When one powerful sector in society is allowed/trusted to exercise power without regulation, that power become absolute. Absolute power hides behind the freedoms we all hold dear – i.e. freedom of the press and freedom of speech. When challenged by people who have been hurt, or are concerned that media self-regulation is not working and who call for an independent watchdog to ensure it works, we see those wielding the hammers of absolute power respond by retreating behind the placards of “Freedom” in order to oppose any independent regulation.
The people exercise their democratic right to vote in the government they consider is best for them and the country. So it is a disgrace to our democracy to see the media wield their absolute power by siding with the Opposition parties to overthrow that democratically elected government and install another.
Since the people voted in a hung parliament in 2010 and the Labor Party under the leadership of Julia Gillard negotiated with elected independent MPs and won the right to form government, the media have been complicit in schemes to undermine the government, to trash the reputation of PM Julia Gillard, and to ruin Australia’s economic reputation even though this country’s economy is recognised as “world’s best”. Their complicity, and the actions taken to influence the voting public by spurious reporting, misrepresentation and distortion of policy announcements and pressers by the PM and government ministers, are nothing less than an absolute abuse of the “absolute” power they hold.
There have always been those who rise to the heights of powerful sections of society who will abuse the power they attain, but because of regulations, however weak, they are usually found out and neutralised before too much damage is done, or they are exposed, prosecuted and punished. The self-regulated media which answers to no-one but themselves and which allows deviation from their own code of ethics has embarked on a road that can only end in tears for themselves, for the people and democracy itself.
When we see our own national broadcaster indulging in king-making tactics and offering up partisan political reporting 24/7, mirroring the panel shows of Murdoch/Fairfax journalists interviewing journalists, instead of giving the nation straight factual reporting of the events occurring within the nation, we know we have a feral media abusing ‘absolute’ power in order to influence the people. It is in effect a matter of the people being told – “We will tell you what to think, and when to think it.”
Is it any wonder that the 5th Estate has expanded and taken on the task of questioning and endeavouring to sort out the gossip, fiction and partisan propaganda from the actual facts that are happening in front of our own eyes? It is the 5th Estate which is filling in the blanks of information the mainstream media conveniently leave out of reports. It is the 5th Estate which is calling for the journalists of the 4th Estate to do their jobs and question the Opposition (the alternative government) forcefully and insistently, demanding that they come up with more than slogans so that people can compare genuine policies and decide where to place their votes at the election.
The con merchants, the deceivers and the traitors
These are the people who have perfected the art of scattering word flowers and flattery to gain support for dubious schemes and plots. It matters not whether they are endeavouring to enrich their own pockets or to take the next step up towards the platform of power, the recipe is the same:
1. Look professional.
2. Use simple, easily understood language
3. Offer as little real information as possible
4. Hand out glossy leaflets
5. Be sympathetic and understanding
6. Slip in the occasional pointed criticism of your opposition
7. Point to your superior credentials (which may or may not exist)
8. Relate a couple of short happy stories from those you’ve already conned
9. Praise the house, the street, the district, the dog.
10. Promise to fix all problems
Politicians come in all sizes and suits:
Some put their hands up for election because they have a passion to be useful to society.
Some stand for election because they want to be part of the process of creating a better future for those who come after us.
Some choose politics as a career to better themselves and their pockets. Many of these settle into their electorates doing the minimum required to keep their constituents happy enough to give them their vote next time around. These are the whingeing back-benchers who blame the party leader when things get tough and do nothing to shore up support for the party in their electorates. Occasionally, from within this group, come the few who have managed to inveigle themselves to be noticed and put up as being potentially smart enough to be promoted to at least the outer cabinet, if not cabinet itself.
It is not often that large scale treachery emerges within the governing party, but when it does the consequences are dire. It is not unusual for a party leader to be rolled whether in or out of government, but usually, after the initial turmoil surrounding such an event, calm is restored, the party moves on and the deposed leader slinks off to lick his wounds and find another path to fulfilment.
When PM Rudd lost the confidence of his caucus after months of running a dysfunctional government, his colleagues demanded he put his leadership to a vote. After hours of negotiations he agreed to step down in favour of his Deputy, Julia Gillard. He was advised by his friend and colleague not to go to a vote because the low numbers resulting would be embarrassing for him. His emotional press conference after stepping down sent far-reaching shock waves throughout the nation that continued for months because no explanation was given why he was removed from office.
Kevin Rudd was well-liked in the electorates. He always presented with an engaging smile and he could talk the sweet talk. He is an egotist and underneath that smiling veneer lies a bitter, vindictive and vengeful creature who will snipe, undermine, scheme and plan to destroy those in the government he led and, if necessary, the party itself.
The Prime Minister was a gracious victor and showed compassion for the feelings of the man she replaced as leader. She gave him the very senior portfolio of Foreign Minister. This job gave Rudd the chance to use his talents for the good of his country as well as an opportunity to shine on the world stage. It wasn’t enough. The man continued with his underground vendetta which he began halfway through the election campaign, derailing it enough to give Australia its first hung parliament in nearly 70 years.
Kevin Rudd turned out to be a con merchant, a deceiver and a traitor to his Party, to the supporters of the Labor Party, and to his merry band of deluded spear carriers within caucus. He used them all in his bid to seek revenge and – as is common for cowards – he left them to swing in the breeze while he stepped back, fronted the media pleading innocence and declared his dedication and loyalty to a Party he spent more than three years trashing.
In the process, Kevin Rudd trashed his own credibility. So much so that even those in the media who were using his bitterness, his white-anting tactics to overthrow a democratically-elected government and discredit its leader, can no longer trust him.
In an editorial last week, the Daily Telegraph opined:
It is possible in a utopian world that, had Stephen Conroy’s proposed media reforms passed, life would have continued as normal for press and public alike.
It is also possible that in the hands of a spiteful or autocratic government they could have been easily exploited to straitjacket journalism and curtail a meek and hobbled media that would have allowed government irresponsibility, spin and possibly even corruption to flourish.
Self-delusion? Or unadulterated cynicism?
From one of Murdoch’s most strident organs, the answer is obvious.
We in Australia endure a media with the least diversity of ownership of any country other than totalitarian regimes. Self-regulation cannot even be described as a sick joke: it is a fraud through which media proprietors and their willing tools, the journalists, exercise unfettered power without responsibility.
Media reform – including enforceable regulation – is long overdue. The current government still has time to enact the necessary laws. And, just maybe, re-opening the punishment cells at Parliament House could be a pointed reminder to journalists and proprietors of how we expect them to behave.