AN ongoing consequence of the challenge of the traditional print media has seen the move of some leftist journalists from newspapers to the public broadcaster and social media.
Sure, the likes of Mike Carlton, Richard Ackland, Peter FitzSimons and Michael Leunig remain in place at Fairfax Media in Sydney or Melbourne. But many of this set have taken their leave (often with generous redundancies) and headed to such horizons as the ABC and Guardian Australia. Most notably Jonathan Green (now with the taxpayer-funded public broadcaster) and David Marr (now with the loss-making Guardian Australia).
Anyone with a genuine interest in the media would hope that such papers as The Age, the Canberra Times and The Sydney Morning Herald can survive in print form. But Fairfax Media productions are particularly challenged by the fact that the ABC and Guardian Australia dump news and opinion online for free – especially since the latter entities appeal to a similar readership base as Fairfax newspapers. The movement from print to online has had the unintended consequence of providing a new platform, or pulpit, for former Fairfax Media staff to exhibit their self-regard and perceived superior morality.
Take Green, who has emerged of late as the ABC’s man-for-all-programs. His official position is presenter of Sunday Extra on Radio National. But he has just completed a stint as the presenter of RN Breakfast’s summer edition. Green has also presented RN Drive and has a regular slot on ABC1’s News Breakfast and News 24’s The Drum. He also writes regularly for the ABC’s online opinion magazine, also called The Drum.
Green worked at The Age and the leftist Crikey newsletter before signing on with the public broadcaster. Clearly, his background and opinions appealed to ABC managers, who still cannot find one conservative to present, produce or edit any of its prominent television or radio or online outlets.
Green writes well, is a good communicator and appears not to attempt to disguise his political opinions. This makes him a convenient weather-vane to assess the type of world view that finds favour at the ABC today as it massively increases its online presence.
Green used some of his ABC slots to plug his recent book The Year My Politics Broke (MUP), which was published soon after the September 2013 election. In view of the temptation, this was understandable. What is not understandable turns on why Green has written such a revealing book. He seems strong on self-regard, but weak on self-awareness.
Green, like so many of his former and current journalistic colleagues, lives in the inner city. The Age recently reported he had moved from the fashionable Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn and purchased a terrace in Fitzroy.
In The Year My Politics Broke, Green seems to pedal every truism ever heard in every fashionable inner-city coffee shop where well-meaning members of the intelligentsia assemble to reassure themselves about their moral superiority – as compared with lesser mortals, whom Green terms “complacent suburbanites”.
As his book reveals, Green is an eco-catastrophist who proclaims the cliche that Australia is becoming a quarry surrounded by water. He favours opening Australia’s borders to “as many people who might reasonably fit in” including those who arrive unlawfully courtesy of people-smugglers. Green accuses those who disagree with him on this issue as exhibiting “shallow xenophobia”. He also regards the majority of his fellow citizens as misogynistic.
Green seriously divides Australians between an “informed public” (that is, people like him) and “a great mass of people” who are “wilfully misinformed” (that is, people not at all like him). Green wants “gatekeepers” like himself to shape “informed decision making” in a green/left kind of way.
Towards the end of The Year My Politics Broke, the author refers to a 2013 Morgan poll of the federal electorate of Greenway in western Sydney.
Green mocks the fact that Greenway electors (many of migrant background) are overwhelmingly concerned about crime, unlawful boat arrivals and high levels of taxation. He dismisses the “intrinsic merit” of such issues and claims the focus of the Coalition and Labor alike on these matters has broken Australian politics. Really.
The Year My Politics Broke is an elitist book. Yet it is not without its moments. The author bemoans the fact that Julia Gillard was criticised for her “dress sense”. Yet last week Green wrote an essay for The Drum in which he declared he would never regard Tony Abbott as a prime minister of “intelligence, independent thought and creative intellectual flexibility” while “he keeps wearing those blue ties”. This suggests Green’s moral superiority, now free-for-all online, even extends to fashion.
Last Thursday, Green turned up on the set of ABC News Breakfast in Melbourne and used the occasion to sneer at the Prime Minister’s recent criticisms of the ABC. How self-indulgent can you get? Green falsely claimed that Abbott had accused the ABC of “treachery” and then hit the hyperbole button by alleging “it can only be a matter of time before we’re accused of being terrorists”.
Once upon a time, Green sneered for The Age and Crikey. Now he sneers for the ABC courtesy of taxpayer funds and occasionally on social media. Same self-indulgence, different outlet.