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The Forum > Article Comments > Can democracy survive the media? > Comments

Can democracy survive the media? : Comments

By Patricia Edgar, published 13/5/2011

Patricia Edgar reviews Lindsay Tanner's new book Sideshow.

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I disagree that it's the fault of the media, they're just as much in a populist bind as the politicians. Just as the pollies have to toe a tawdry line on the usual bourgeois insecurities--border protection, tough on crime, tax cuts, getting back to surplus etc., so does the media, which is just as driven by ratings as political parties are by votes. The blame lies squarely with the viewers and the electorate. Even the ABC is regularly harangued for being "leftist", what a joke! They'd love to be leftist, which is synonymous with "intellectual", to feel like the years at university weren't wasted, but if the ABC wanders from the populist script there's an immediate drive to cut its funding. So even the ABC is under pressure to convert from news to "Variety television", which just ain't the same without the product placement and the add-breaks.
Politics and media these days are part of the same science: marketing and PR. Modern democracy is a collective Henry the eighth and modern science studies his faeces.
Posted by Squeers, Friday, 13 May 2011 5:09:05 PM
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Lindsay tanner seems to have totally sidestepped the obvious point which is that in a free society, people inevitably consume that which they feel best meets their needs. We choose what media we consume. We choose the politicians we elect. And we then we choose to blame someone else for the perceived failings we encouraged in the first place.

How anyone could claim that the media is the cause of the problem is simply beyond me. If people were unhappy with the news/current affairs they were getting, someone else would be making money meeting that need. The fact is that the need doesn't exist. The commercial media outlets would lose viewers, followed shortly thereafter by advertsising dollars, were they to significantly deviate from their currrent offerings. The truth is that the vast majority of people want their news and current affairs presented in the 'womens weekly' style. They vote for politicians who acknowledge this prediliction, and punish those who don't.

So lets not get too carried away with pointing fingers on this issue. The blame clearly starts with us.
Posted by PaulL, Friday, 13 May 2011 9:47:04 PM
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"claque" - nice word.

Congratulations! The best article I've seen on OLO yet - Author, Author!

Somehow I feel Lindsay Tanner's arguments, and his book, are a case of "sour grapes". Sorry, Lindsay, but you always came across as a bit of a limp fish. Some in the spotlight are statesmen (or women), some are calm, venerable and erudite, others bombastic and enervated, and others yet are thin lipped and evasive. The media reveals heart and soul, as well as any nasty "zits".

"Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them". How we wish our politicians could fit into one of those categories, but, alas, so many limp fish - evasive (I'll answer your question My Way, thank you), flat and boring (samo, samo... this is the message, take it or leave it), unbelievably obtuse (we Need this Tax, you need this tax, this tax needs You), or Sun-shiny (We Can Save this Planet, but we need You to realise that we are your only hope - for your children, your grand-children, the couple next door, and all the boat people - oh, did I forget we also hug trees?). Macbeth brought down, but no Lady of the Lake prevails.

All is not lost, fortunately. There are a few knights at the round table, replete with gleaming swords, albeit not all smiles - politics is a serious business after all, decorum.

Occasionally emerges a true King, smites the enemy of the state, and rules with benevolence, but all too quickly (or slowly) develops a mistaken grandiosity, and falls on his sword.

Media, however constructive and insightful, can still fail the masses - and a GWB squeaks home. Alas, imperfect.

For all the virtues of our political system, I can't help thinking true stability and security, both nationally and internationally, may only be achieved by the adoption of a "Board" system of governance - elected "visionaries" imbued with masses of wisdom, experience and humility. Holistic governance - economy, society, environment.

Our media, whilst imperfect, "outs" the villains, and offers hope to the struggling masses.
Posted by Saltpetre, Saturday, 14 May 2011 12:41:33 PM
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"Our media, whilst imperfect "outs" the villains, and offers hope to the struggling masses".

...and might I inquire as to which galaxy you are posting from?

I stopped watching telly, listening to radio and reading papers at the time of the last election, because I found I had reached my limit - and I haven't returned.
However, I find I pick up enough snippets during the course of my day to keep abreast with any major events.

We have two political parties that offer no distinction between their policies, who tango with the media and trumpet vacuous clichéd sound-grabs, so that we are left with one homogeneous cloud of consumerist spin - where is the hope in that?
Posted by Poirot, Saturday, 14 May 2011 1:03:04 PM
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Well, Poirot, you either have to laugh or to cry, but you must never lose heart.

How can I paint you relevant pictures if you don't worship the idiot box? This is the information age, and it's coming at you from all angles, up, down and side-ways, in endless streams of hype, spin and spotlighting. It takes all our senses, from Id, Infundibulum and neo-cortex, to spot the "pretenders" from the true "dragon-slayers". But, try we must. (Or the bogeyman will gobble us up.)

It is indeed a pity we are presently caught in a state of flux - two steps sideways, give a little kick, two steps back. Our "hope" lies in the inevitability that all nightmares must surely end, eventually.

All is not lost! We have a new budget which will surely save the day! (Why this particular day is worth saving, heaven only knows.) And, it looks as though the dreaded Carbon Tax is shortly to become a reality - future shock with brass knobs on. Is there a Tony in the wings - can he draw the white rabbit from the hat? (I'm not looking sufficiently nonchalant at this stage, I'm afraid.)

I have to disagree, however, that all is the same - I'd hate to see Julia in speedo's. (Quick, stop, don't let me think about it even.) Laughing on the outside, gritting my teeth on the inside. We have a problem, and no easy solution, but if you want a real laugh, just think about how it will be if the same mob gets back in, but with an outright majority - see, there's always a darker side, so chin up.

P.S. I come to you from about 2 blocks east of "the black stump". Brrrr.. Brrr...
Posted by Saltpetre, Saturday, 14 May 2011 3:10:28 PM
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Well well well a labor politician shamelessly blaming the public for not listening to the crap he's had a large hand in dishing up.

The history shows John Howard did reach the masses through public conversation and people listened. At the same time he suffered much of the crap politically biased anti liberal media comment. Then Rudd and Tanner came along using all the spin techniques crafted at state level well politic's became overrun with labor spin merchants and their flunkies in the media especially in the ABC.

What happened Lindsay couldn't your biased media get you re-elected? That should be the question being asked.

As for Windsor being an honest pollie. Wait to see the judgement from the people who elected him to represent their interests. He'll be dumped with a massive rejection simply because he didn't act as he portrayed himself to be. That was totally dishonest. And don't try to say he was always going to side with a labor government because his electorate was labor leaning. That would be as dishonest as Windsor.

Abbott is now doing as Rudd did with one difference. He intends to do as he says and he will. All the spin from the government to focus solely on him has totally backfired. They like the media expected Tony Abbott to implode. He hasn't succumbed to that crap. He's risen above it and people know that. They will vote for him in greater numbers at the next election because he is sticking to his 'script' and everybody knows that his script is workable. On the other hand Tanner's minions in the media running his party's spin are now up against a politician playing them at their own games and thrashing both them and labor.

Abbott and the Liberals have an advantage because the liberals are not perceived in the community as playing labor spin games. It's only the facile labor biased media that see and report that. Labor is seen as the party of infantile spin doctoring. Look what's happened at state level.
Posted by keith, Saturday, 14 May 2011 5:49:33 PM
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