TT’s motto is: Balance is appeasement. Fairness is truth.
Sadly, it no longer appears on the front page of TT, or the classic Premier Lennon quote ( f…ing useless ) but this quote from Tim Dunlop adds to, and amplifies, the mission of TT…
Let’s talk about talking about climate change.
In a sane world, where the public sphere consisted of sensible discussion of important issues, Julia Gillard and Labor would be a shoo-in for the next election, patted on the back for tackling the matter in a responsible way and applauded for attempting to fix the mess created by her inept predecessor, Kevin Rudd.
She would be seen to be doing nothing more than keeping her commitment to put a price on carbon and doing it with due consultation with the other members of parliament – the independents and the Greens – with whose votes she governs and who were also elected to the Parliament by citizens of our democratic country.
The discussion in this putatively sane world would be dominated by careful consideration of such matters as what price to place on carbon, the benefits of a carbon tax versus that of an emissions trading scheme, consideration of how our scheme would work with international schemes, and matters to do with compensation for industry and consumers.
What’s more, journalists – you know, that body of professional communicators – would present the discussion in a way that was both intelligible and engaging for what we might call the average reader. People like you and me.
In short, the debate would be about outcomes, not positions, and we would be converging on a scheme that was most likely to achieve our long-term goals in the face of the reality of climate change.
But we don’t live in a sane world. We live in a world where Tony Abbott and his contradictory rantings on the topic are taken seriously. We live in a world where leading newspapers and journalists insist on characterising the issue as some sort of legitimate choice between equally valid alternatives and where leading ‘commentators’ like to insist that climate change is a malign leftwing conspiracy.
We live in a world where most political journalists know perfectly well that the Opposition’s position is borderline insane but who nonetheless report it seriously because the norms of their profession – what they laughably call ‘balance’ and ‘objectivity’ – do not allow them to tell that simple truth.
Any journalist or commentator who dared tell you that the Opposition is talking bullshit and that they know they are talking bullshit would be labelled a partisan hack (by other partisan hacks, of course) and if somebody at the ABC did it, Gerard Henderson, I do declare, would have an attack of the vapours.
In short, we live in a world where truth and reality are deemed to have a leftwing bias and therefore must be leavened with rightwing talking points in the name of balance.
So the media pretends the Opposition are offering an alternative, thus helping to legitimise their nonsense, and thus, by definition, putting a pro-Coalition spin on the debate. All this in deference to their norms of objectivity and balance.
I’m sure you see the irony. Unless maybe you’re a journalist.