Not all Political Journalists are enjoying the scrutiny they have never hesitated to focus on others – Ronni Salt

Click here for larger spectacle

I think political journalists in Australia can expect to be asked questions from Australians more and more as they begin to understand what goes on behind the scenes.

An interaction happened on here yesterday between a high profile twitter user and a high profile Canberra journo

The question the person asked was alluding to the fact the political journalist in question had perhaps asked Anne Ruston a Dorothy Dix question.

In other words – was the journo’s question a deliberate set-up?

Had the journalist been asked to put something like that forward?

Surprisingly, I have no comment on either the person tweeting that or the journalist’s response.

I don’t know what happened.


– Editorial insert –

Mr Coorey deleted his inappropriate reply


This “discussion” relates to the exchange between Morrison, Coorey and Ruston…

…the context of the exchange – women’s treatment by male politicians – makes Morrison’s himterruption absolutely priceless to future mansplainologists.


– End Editorial insert –


But I do know what happens behind the scenes in federal politics, and increasingly – so are everyday punters.

We’ve all heard the journos at pressers discussing their texts direct from the Prime Minister’s office

We know about the late night media dumps and Morrison’s tight relationship with the Australian

We see it every day and people like me and many others point it out and scream about it

The #4Corners episode on Mon night not only highlighted the toxic abuse of women in Canberra – it also highlighted the complicity and silence of many of the media in Canberra.

Ordinary Australians see very plainly, an exclusive and cloistered Us and Them situation.

I rant on here constantly about the “exclusive” stories many journos run that I know – and the punters know – have come straight from the PM’s office.

The performance by some of the media over the AusPost/Christine Holgate issue will show who is inside that circle. And who is not.

Now, many journos will kick back at this and feel slighted that somehow the public is implying they’re on the phone, working out talking points with Scott Morrison and all conspiring together to manipulate stories.

Only a few journos at the Australian do that.

But the others?

Well the other journos and editors know who they are. They also know how the game is played.

They play it every day.

They know to survive in political journalism in Australia you have to have contacts and good leaky sources.

And the media also know the rules they play by within Canberra are not something the the average Aussie would find palatable – if they ever knew the full truth.

Ignoring some stories to protect sources, playing Press Secs off against one another, swapping stories between them.

The unspoken rules of the Canberra journo game are endless.

And that includes looking the other way at government politician’s ugly behaviour because discussing that is beneath them.

It also includes, “cooperating” with the PM’s office from time to time.

At a presser Scott Morrison held recently, he was on one of his obvious soap boxes. All the signs of a Morrison set-up were there.

Morrison wanted to raise the subject of unionism and he used a ridiculous lie about “40 ships” apparently waiting, drifting bereft at Botany Bay.



In the media article above, there’s a paragraph about Morrison sending in the military.

Paul Karp of the Guardian has reported that in good faith. It’s what was said.

But the how of how that question was asked at Morrison’s presser – now that wasn’t in good faith.

The question about sending in the military if required was asked at that presser by a cooperative journalist. From Morrison’s practiced response to the tight specifics of the question, it had all the hallmarks of a media Dorothy Dixer.

And that’s sometimes how the game is played

We have a section of the public now who are not only switched on and engaged – they have platforms like this where they can share that engagement and ideas

They can talk about issues like the game between politics and the media

Ordinary people can discuss it with thousands of others.

But what’s worse for journalists is they have to share this platform with the ordinary punters and the very system and subjects the punters are criticising – them.

So if I critique the way Issue X ran, it streams right in front of the eyes of the media members I’m critiquing.

Journalists and editors and producers can actually see what we think – unfiltered and raw and right in front of them.

It’s like an abattoir. They know it goes on but they don’t want to see it.

And the same is true of the public seeing journalism behind the scenes.

We can all see you now.

We can see and overhear every nuance of the Dan Andrews pressers and see how the Vic Lib party were tying in their attack with complaint journalists. We can see Simon Benson’s Morrison tie-ins.

We can see through the window.

The lights are on.

And more and more, the general public are seeing clearly how the words they see and hear every day are brought to them as part of one very big game.

And the public have never been part of the game, but they’re starting to be.

And every political journalist/editor/producer reading this knows that that’s how the machine works.

Some very good, decent people report on Canberra.

And I don’t know if that high profile political journo from yesterday’s kerfuffle is a “very good decent” person or not.

I do however know one thing.

He is part of the overall game. Part of the way it’s all played.

And we’re wise to how that game is played out.

Yesterday’s twitter visible spat wasn’t a problem – it was a symptom of the problem.

I don’t know if the journalist in question asked a set-up question at yesterday’s Morrison presser or not.

I’d like to think he didn’t.

But if political journalists and media players continue to play along by the old rules, if they continue to exist in a system that runs on silence and “leaks” and exclusives and whispered cooperations, when the public can very clearly see them now, if that’s how they want to still run
. . . then we will continue to have confrontations like the one yesterday between the academic and the political journo.

One where suspicions (unfounded though they may be) are constantly aired because the public at every step now wonder who exactly is playing who.


by Ronni Salt



As the press gallery ate up Shearer Scotty, down the road taxpayers were being fleeced

More articles by Ronni Salt


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