Friday, 19 October 2007

Selfish, ignorant journalists mislead voters.

I do not know Annabel Crabb, who apparently writes for the Fairfax press. Good. I do not want to know someone shallow enough to write the following:

"Taxing times for poor Rudd, having to step out naked every day."

Annabel Crabb
Fairfax Digital (Sydney Morning Herald)
October 19, 2007

"Policy nudity is not a comfortable state for any politician. So imagine what it must be costing Kevin Rudd in sheer willpower to head out every day, tax-wise, with barely a stitch on. Day after day, he's asked in a dozen different ways - politely, brusquely, by journalists, by talkback callers, by hecklers in the street - about his lack of a tax policy.

The Prime Minister, thanks to the early blowing of his entire $34 billion wardrobe allowance, is far from naked. He is clothed, and gorgeously so."

etc, etc. The unoriginal cliches roll on and on.

When will Ms Crabb learn from the Australian public that they are not impressed with promised tax cuts (mostly benefiting the wealthy). They want SERVICES.

Give the people Nurses in the Hospitals, Teachers in the Schools, and dare I mention Mobile Phones which work outside of the CBDs of cities.

In what sense is John Howard "clothed, and gorgeously so" with his tax policy? Ms Crabb is clearly unable to see beyond the prospect of more Gucci handbags on her selfish arms, and Prada shoes on her cloven hooves.

No, I do not wish to meet Ms Crabb; but I do wish she had learnt a better standard of journalism, and maybe that she had done an extra class or two of politics AO2, and perhaps, even, a two day seminar on Ethics. Either that, or she could try listening to the ordinary people of Australia, not just fellow journalists, in the Wine Bars of Canberra, Sydney, or Adelaide.


Anni said...

Hmm - I haven't read this story but in general I am actually a bit of a fan of Crabb's journalism. She is both witty and funny, and not one of these cynics and know-it-alls - God knows there are lots of them in political journalism. But we don't always have to agree, Denis!

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Anni

That's a bit of a challenge to me.

Let me explain. I really was annoyed by her superficial "take" on taxation: that less taxes are automatically better. I strongly disagree, as less taxes for the really (obscenely) wealthy classes is what is destroying the egalitarian society in which I grew up.

Australia is doing what America did under Reagan, and Britain did under Thatcher. It is the "Greed is Good" ethos translated into taxation legislation.

We need to transfer resources to those who need them - in hospitals, and in schools. And what about the housing affordability problem in Australia? The young people in Australia are being locked out of home ownership.

Lower tax rates for the rich are not going to do anything to solve these problems, and will in fact, make them worse.

But for clever, witty journalists, in regular employment, lower taxes would seem attractive - for them. But what about Australia?

I expect political journalists to write with the broad perspective in mind, not to write from their own self-interested position. That's my problem with what Ms Crabb wrote. That, plus the cliche of "the Emperor's New Clothes" is worn and tired, and basically a lazy "hook" on which to hang a poor story.

I do not know much about Ms Crabb's body of work, but I do know she wrote a biography of Mark Latham, after he had ceased to be leader of the Labor Party.



Anni said...

Hi Denis, I am really reluctant to enter a possibly never-ending debate about something that deep inside we probably have similar views about, but since you specifically asked in your email, I came back...

I have read the story now and I suggest you do the same. She is not saying that 'less taxes are automatically better'. She is commenting on a particular point of a campaign and making some historical comparisons - granted, it is possibly not the deepest or the most interesting bit of political commentary ever written, but as far as I can see, you are putting words to her mouth that she hasn't actually written at all. Her description of Howard's lavish costumes could actually be read as commentary against tax cuts rather than for them - that's how I read it, having followed her writing over a period of time. But irony of course is a difficult tool and, if you don't mind me saying, it seems to be a tool that easily backfires in the passionate world of blogging.

But all in all, she is actually not writing about taxation here. My criticism of the piece would be that maybe she should be writing about it, rather than the timing of the candidates' tax announcements. Reporting about campaigning rather than the actual issues is a common weakness of the newspapers these days, but that is slightly beside the point you made. You admit yourself that you have no idea what else she might or might not have written on the subject, so I think we are hardly very well equipped, based on just this piece of writing, to accuse her for self-serving writing. And if I know anything about junior female print journalists' wages, you are probably a bit off the mark when you exclude her from the rest of Australia.