On Missing the Point Completely


Today’s musings begin with a personal disclosure – Boethius is a partnered philosopher. The POB (‘Partner of Boethius’) is a very gentle soul, not given to expletive peppered rants during late night repeats of parliamentary Question Time, and is rarely troubled by distractions such as newspapers, talk back radio, and online forms like The Drum. But coming home last night, stuck in peak hour traffic, pumping out carbon monoxide into the atmosphere, POB was trapped in the classy German made form of motorised transport favoured by Boethius, and compelled to listen to the talkback radio station that is perpetually on the dial in said form of transport, together with the expletive ridden responses it prompted from the otherwise philosophical Boethius.

imageThe topic under discussion turned, inevitably, to the public disgrace that is the ABC, and the smug, smart arsed form of tabloid journalism favoured by its flagship political show Q&A. Yet again Q&A went for the cheap shot, the gotcha moment, the stunt… this time co-opting a child whom, it transpired, had been put up to it by his parents, with the producers no doubt complicit also. You’ve all seen or heard the clip by now, even if you had the good sense not to put yourself through an hour of Q&A live, and in all of its socialist loving crassness, with the dimwitted types in the audience falling about the studio in rapturous applause as the ten year old chastised the Prime Minister as an enemy of free speech. (Honestly, one wonders from which sheltered workshop a typical Q&A audience is procured, some of them looked like they were climaxing in their studio issue seats, such was their glee at hearing the ABC bravely take on the federal government through the agency of a ten year old citizen who can’t even vote).

This latest piece of Q&A political commentary was so undergraduate, the only thing missing was the keg of beer, but as caller after caller soiled the airwaves in the Boethius mobile, two things became increasingly clear – (1) no one was interested in pretending the ABC was not biased, it was patently obvious enough to anyone sufficiently proficient in spoken English to make themselves understood in a day care centre the ABC is hopelessly biased in a leftist direction, and (2), inexplicably, the vast majority of callers wanted to discuss, not the ABC’s obvious bias, but that of News Corp., or Andrew Bolt, or Neil Mitchell, or someone else.

At this point (POB = ‘Partner of Boethius’) went through a metamorphosis that recalled a scene from the sci-fi movie Alien. The point POB seemed to be making, in between words Boethius had not heard since someone he knew ordered a ‘500 gram rib eye steak, bloody, with plenty of pepper sauce,’ in an inner city vegan joint, was along the lines of – Have these bogans on the radio not understood the difference between the ABC and a commercial newspaper or other form of media? (This was the polite version anyway). Indeed! The Herald Sun may well be as biased, in the opposite direction to that in which the Guardian is biased, and Andrew Bolt may be completely impartial in the same way perhaps that anyone hosting Media Watch is impartial at the other end of the spectrum.

But the salient point is surely this – no one is compelling anyone to read the Herald Sun, to watch the Bolt Report, or subscribe to Sky News. You can read or not read, turn on or turn off, pay or not pay for the content, as you wish. No one is forced, against their will, to fund the Bolt Report, or the Herald Sun, or The Australian, nor any other commercial newspaper or television station, nor any other form of media, except, and it is a significant and important exception, the ABC. We all pay for the ABC, compulsorily, without being asked, whether we watch it or not, want it or not. We pay for it through our taxes.

Despite its own charter to deliver news and current affairs in an impartial and balanced manner, the ABC does not even try. Its so called Editor in Chief and CEO is so absent and so rarely heard from, someone should check his pulse immediately. We would not be surprised if the ABC Board resembled ‘Weekend at Bernies.’ To taxpayers who don’t care for the juvenile antics of Q&A, or the insufferable smugness of Media Watch, or the deluded social commentary of ageing hipsters on Radio National, and I could go on and on an on… to those taxpayers, the ABC gives a two fingered salute. How does that make you feel, humble taxpayer? Like the POB stuck in the car listening to caller after caller miss the point completely? Like a patient being told by his dentist that it is possible only one root canal may be needed, but likely two, and, what’s more, the location is very tricky and anaesthesia problematic, so this may hurt a bit (read, the last guy I did this to bit through his tongue)?

No one needs to watch, or listen to, or read, the ABC, but at the present time, everyone who earns a wage in Australia does have to pay for it. And that is the point!