By Hannah Francis
The world was watching this week as our Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivered an epic attack on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
The 15-minute video, in which she calls him a misogynist and a hypocrite, went viral in cyberspace and made waves across international media.
In contrast, our local media largely failed to acknowledge the significance of the speech. Instead, we retreated to the filthy pigpen of Australian political coverage and “debate”.
Gillard’s oration was a fine display of feminist prowess and should have transcended partisan politics. I am deeply troubled that it hasn’t.
One commentator on Jon Faine’s ABC radio show this morning said the speech had set feminism back decades.
Comments like this make me very angry, especially when they come from men.
The Herald Sun ran a dismissive campaign against Labor in the wake of the speech. Its headlines focused on the Slipper affair and suggested Gillard’s leadership was hanging by a thread.
Andrew Bolt called her “a woman of no principle”.
To give The Hun some credit, there was a brief article noting our PM’s international popularity, but this was countered somewhat by the way her impressive rhetorical skills were reduced to a mere “rant”.
Thankfully, there was praise aplenty among my own social media circles. Many of these accolades were from females, but not all of them were Labor supporters. They had put their politics aside for one day to express glowing, nationalistic tributes to our PM.
Others in my networks also pointed to the inconsistent media coverage and slung some arrows of their own: “Have we been Murdoched?” said one.
MX was all over Gillard like hot sauce. It ran what I think has to be the best headline all year: “Julia Caesar, Global support for our ‘badass’ PM”. This was followed up with two or three articles congratulating her achievements.
MX shares many things with The Herald Sun, including its owner (Murdoch) and its hometown (Melbourne), and therefore much of its content and resources.
But it does have a different demographic – and a niche one at that. The inner-city commuters who scoop it up for free at train stations and read it on the way home are tired after a long day’s work. They want light entertainment. They want a feel-good story about our PM kicking goals on the global field. They don’t want yet more tawdry, domestic political infighting.
So no, we haven’t been Murdoched, not quite. But perhaps our mainstream media is just so wrapped up in the “bad news bias“, it couldn’t spot a good thing when it was lecturing us across the (parliamentary) floor.