The incestuous relationship between Australian journalists and politicians has been exposed again, with the journalist in question being the political editor of news.com.au, Samantha Maiden [seen below in a picture from YouTube].
The politician, sadly, is no longer in this world; Kimberley Kitching, a senator from the Labor Party, died on 10 March of a suspected heart attack. [More on Canberra’s incestuous culture here and here.]
Given the way that News Corporation, the empire owned by Rupert Murdoch, used alleged events prior to Kitching’s death to accuse other Labor senators of contributing to the stress that led to her exiting the mortal coil, nobody except an idiot would have assumed that the topic would not come up for discussion during political programs on the weekend after her death.
As happened on 13 March on the Insiders program which is hosted by David Speers on the government-funded TV outlet ABC. This program has a panel of three that discusses the events of the week, with Speers guiding the discussion, an interview [generally with a politician] and a look at the cartoons of the week.
Maiden is a very good reporter and, though she works for a right-wing outfit — news.com.au is also owned by Murdoch but is not behind a paywall and uses some stories from the numerous other publications that Murdoch owns — appears to be guided by her instinct for news. There is, thus, no reason to believe that she would not have expected the Kitching issue to figure in the Insiders discussion.
Conflicts of interest should always be disclosed prior to speaking on a program such as this, but although Maiden was conflicted about commenting on the Kitching death and its fallout, she did not tell Speers about it before the program.
The correct thing for her to do would have been to withdraw from the program, but then journalists love to have their faces on the Insiders as it is a national program. Perhaps in an earlier era, a journalist would have done the right thing, but in this age narcissism is the order of the day.
When the topic came to Kitching, Maiden suddenly said she had something to disclose: the fact that she had interviewed Kitching shortly before the Labor politician died, in connection with a book which she claims to be writing about the culture in parliament.
Maiden revealed this when the claim that Kitching had leaked to the Coalition came up, vehemently saying that this was not true, and that Kitching had told her so.
It was an awkward situation for Speers as he could not question what Maiden was saying without calling her a liar; here was someone attributing this and that to a dead woman, confident that it would have to be accepted.
Maiden will obviously have to go back to Kitching’s close associates for more material for her book; hence, her appearance on Insiders and her defence of what a dead woman allegedly said.
It wasn’t a very professional thing to do and illustrated how journalists — supposedly the fourth estate but more and more parochial these days and catering to their own whims — and politicians have an unholy nexus. It’s one that leaves the public very much in the dark.