Earlier this year the wife of former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, Blanche d’Alpuget, gave a candid interview with The Australian and revealed some very eye-opening truths into the life on the inside of politics. Perhaps most shocking, she shared that her husband could never have been a successful politician if he was in the game today and the reason is the media. It’s a bold statement, that the media has killed politics, but if we consider it closely enough, we find that it is true. And the question that remains is will there ever be a way to give politics enough breathing space to actually find success again?
In the interview she said, “Bob would never have got to be prime minister had the media been as intrusive into his private life as they are now and Australia would have been much the poorer for it. Literally. Literally, poorer”.
She shared that it’s the lack of respect in the media towards authority figures that drives such poor qualities in society and the negative framing of politics in the media is the actual reason politicians are seen as such low-integrity, untrustworthy people.
“The media has become very intrusive into the private lives of politicians and therefore there are many people of great quality who understandably are completely unwilling to go into politics because they know that somebody will be trawling through all their background just looking for first. We can see what a disaster that has caused in America already, but it’s a disaster here too”.
But how accountable can we actually hold the media?
We have to understanding the changing role of media over the last two decades. The media was a high integrity business. It was the duty of a reporter to get the facts – and only the facts – and share them with the public. Bias was not present because it intervened with the journalistic code of ethics – a mythical document that once existed! However as we’ve reached the social age, everything has changed. The social age is the time when we all have the ability to share our opinion in real time. Every man and his dog has a social media site and they have complete freedom of speech. This attitude towards social commentary has filtered into the media. When Daniel Morcombe’s killer was sentenced we heard about it first on Twitter – that is how the news broke. Then the headlines weren’t static or factual, they hinged on our emotions with titles like “A day of victory for every family”. Slowly, but surely, bias has been allowed to creep into the media stemming from personal opinion. Our newsreaders aren’t just newsreaders, they are notable pseudo-celebrities and anyone can see that they don’t hold back in expressing their opinions.
This is where the media has done the public a disservice. We now don’t have basic facts presented to us. We have bias and opinions about an issue. How can anyone generate a clear personal position on any issue when we don’t know the clear facts? Our personal positions are influenced by the newsreaders and the somewhat corrupt media organisations. You look at Fairfax and NewsCorp. Both have their political preferences and both debatably play the political game to get the outcome they desire.
This means that the self-serving nature of the media has disabled the ability of the general public to have a truly well informed opinion of anyone. And this is how it’s ruined politics. Remember the old social saying, you don’t talk about money or politics? Well, now the uncomfortable and personal matter of politics has become a free-for-all. Sharing a political opinion was once a rarely done thing, and now it’s the norm.
When a news publication published a video of a politician that makes a mistake or says something clearly without thinking, it goes viral. Everyone dismisses the fact that the previous day he may have made a very intelligent comment about a serious issue and instead focuses on the blunder. It’s also likely the media publication that published the video did so with an intent to further position a politician in a certain way to influence public opinion.
Blanche’s statement is true and it also shows that there is a perpetuating cycle. What kind of self-respecting person would want their life analysed under the spotlight? What kind of person would happily enter politics knowing the slaughter it brings from the media and public? The game is open to the people who are willing to go up against it, and sadly that calibre of person is no longer the strong, integral, community statesman they once were.
The selfish nature of the media pushing their own agenda has completely killed politics and it doesn’t look like there will ever be a way to come back.
Tell us, do you agree? Do you think the media is to blame for pushing the integrity and quality of politics, politicians and the parties down to such low standards? Share your thoughts in the comments below…