The year that ends today was remarkable for one thing on the media front that has gone largely unnoticed: the fall from grace of one of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s brightest stars who has long been a standard-setter at the country’s national broadcaster.
Sarah Ferguson was the journalist’s journalist, seemingly a woman of fierce integrity, and one who pandered to neither left nor right. When she sat in for Leigh Sales, the host of 7.30, the main current affairs programme, for six months while Sales was on a maternity leave break, the programme seemed to come to life as she attacked politicians with vigour and fearlessness.
There was bite in her speech, there was knowledge, there was surprise aplenty. Apart from the stint on 7.30, she brought depth and understanding to a long programme on the way the Labor Party tore itself to bits while in government for six years from 2007, a memorable TV saga.
Continue reading All your gods have feet of clay: Sarah Ferguson’s fall from grace
After British Prime Minster Theresa May called a snap election on April 18, many journalists have been at pains to suck up to her and paint what is, in fact, a move born of desperation as some kind of astute political gambit.
This, despite the fact that this kind of sucking up to politicians has been, in the main, the reason why newspapers and magazines have gradually lost readership over the last two decades to other more rough-edged publications that speak the unvarnished truth.
The next British election is due in 2020. By then, Britain would have completed negotiations to leave the European Union, a decision the people voted for in a referendum in 2016. Even if things are not completely sewn up, the general points of the deal would be clear by then.
Continue reading Theresa May needs an election now. Else, she may lose even her own seat
Right now, the whole of the US seems to be obsessed with Donald Trump, someone who was never considered likely to be a challenger for the Republican nomination for this year’s general election.
In the process, the US has forgotten that it claims to be a democracy. Trump may not be the best person to be a candidate for the presidency but then in a democratic system, the people’s choice is meant to prevail.
After the so-called Super Tuesday primaries, it became apparent that Trump would be a serious contender for the Republican nomination. With every subsequent contest, he has solidified his position and now looks a near certainty.
Continue reading Democracy has its downsides, but it’s the best system we have
When a prime minister has discovered that only one tactic — ratcheting up the fear factor — helps to boost his poll numbers, and his poll standing is desperately low, what does he do?
Tony Abbott has made a profession of demonising asylum-seekers and Muslims and pretending that the world faces an existential threat from the terrorist Islamic State group.
In recent times Abbott has gone back to similar tactics. First, he engineered a “request” from the US, for Australia to join in air strikes on Syria.
Continue reading Abbott ratchets up the fear factor to boost poll standings
They call them anti-terror raids, though one has to ask seriously whether they are stopping anything at all. An idle conversation where a man who is worked up blurts out, “I would like to shove a bomb up his arse” can always be interpreted by an over-zealous, dumb police officer as a terror threat.
The timing of the raids in Brisbane and Sydney was very neat – it all happened very close to September 11, the day that all people in the West associate with terrorism. It’s a good time to stage such raids and raise the fear factor.
Continue reading Terror raids reprise one of the oldest games in politics
The moment a Western journalist is treated in the Middle East in a manner that is deemed to be different to that in his own country, the West does tend to get rather heavy on the moralising and judgemental pronouncements.
Peter Greste, a journalist for Al Jazeera, the TV network that has revolutionised coverage of the Arab world, was given a sentence of seven years jail on what seem to be trumped up charges of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
The Brotherhood came to power in elections in Egypt after the so-called Arab Spring had resulted in the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak who, at one stage, looked like having a permanent mortgage on leading the country, either on his own or through his descendants.
Continue reading When the US bombed Al Jazeera, were journalists not prevented from doing their jobs?
AUSTRALIA normally does not keep talking about its annual federal budget much longer than a week or 10 days. The populace is inclined to look to its own selfish needs and is largely oblivious to the bigger picture.
But this year is different. The budget was presented to parliament on May 13 and nearly a month later, the government is still struggling to sell it to the public.
This is because there are cuts aplenty, largely for the poor and middle-class, and these have not gone down well. The fees in universities will go up due to deregulation. Petrol costs will go up due to the re-introduction of indexation.
Continue reading Australia’s medical research fund is made up of funny money
TODAY, a large proportion of the Australian populace is groaning after hearing of the measures which have been brought down in the 2014 budget.
Last September, many of those people blithely voted for the Liberal and National coalition and propelled them into government.
There’s just one thing to say to this mob: suck it up.
Continue reading Voted for Abbott? Then just suck it up
THE Australian Broadcasting Corporation is a huge organisation, funded by public money, that dominates the media in Australia. It purports to be among the most liberal and forwar-thinking. Yet oft times, it is exposed as having a colonial outlook, one that harks back to the days of British Raj.
This is not surprising – Australia was settled by British convicts but the rulers were the upper classes from Britain. For many years, Australia had a whites-only migration policy.
For the most part I ignore the clear evidence of discrimination that I notice on the national broadcaster. But at times I react – as I did on September 5 this year, nine days before the federal elections. I submitted the following complaint:
Continue reading The ABC is a master of weasel words
SO Egypt’s mild flirtation with democracy a la West is over. And it is unlikely to ever return. It’s happened on a good day too – the US celebrates its independence day and Egypt celebrates military rule. What a coincidence!!!
The problem is that the West wants its own systems imposed on other countries – in order to benefit economically. The idea that one cannot bring in a Westminster system and superimpose it on a different model does not really register with people at the US state department.
Mohammed Mursi is from the Muslim Brotherhood. He may be less extreme in his thinking than others in the same movement. But, obviously, he has never been a candidate of choice for the folk in Washington.
Continue reading Back to the good old Mubarak days in Egypt