Heroes and Villains – Media Representations and Expectations of the ‘Privileged White Conservative’ in the Rise of ‘Minorities’.

 

Exposing the media depiction of the inheritors of colonial privilege.

 

In the war of political correctness, it is hard to say whether the embers are dwindling or the sparks igniting. This polarising debate has become the undercurrent of everyday life, casting eggshells in a post-colonial, racist, sexist, islamophobic, homophobic, and transphobic world.

 

This is not intended to be sarcastic.

 

The world we live in is all of those things, but through the perpetuation of a sectarian ‘minority’ movement, the media has ensured that we continue to divide groups by their stereotypical diversities rather than human commonalities. Through an analysis of the 2013 Adam Goodes saga, the 2016 Chris Gayle saga, and the wider media in general, this article will highlight how political correctness has created a predictability in the media cycle. This predictability is seen in common characteristics of articles appealing to authority in the guise of objectivity, appealing to emotion in a plethora of opinion pieces, using analogies to suggest that Australia is a product of its colonial past, foreboding consequences for this, and many factual claims rife with informal fallacies. This code of conduct that is emerging in the plight for diversity has just created yet another divided group: The Privileged White-Conservative.

 

Political correctness and social movements have become currency for media outlets, with a failure to comply with “speech codes,” (Mansfield 1991) seeing companies lose credibility and revenue. This was evident in 2011, when Kyle Sandilands, an Australian radio host, cost 2DAY-FM a projected total of $26 million in response to a monologue about “fat slags”. Also, by adhering to or regulating media through this rhetoric of “speech codes” or political correctness, the phenomenon of media creating media persists. Live commentary and coverage of an event only accounts for a small proportion of media. The aforementioned cases demonstrate the incentive for the media to perpetuate and enforce political correctness in order to prolong the life of an event in the media, catering for the pressures of a daily media, to generate more profits, and avoid the potential ramifications of being controversial. It has placed the abidance with speech codes and political correctness in the interest of the media and beyond, with the careers of political, media, entertainment, sport, and social identities being placed at risk. In this, a predictability in the media cycle has emerged whereby an event occurs, political correctness and speech codes dictate an appropriate response of wider society and the subsequent backlash of the ‘Privileged White-Conservative’ determined to prove that they are not racist, sexist, or whatever agenda has been called into question at the time.

 

However, this defence of the ‘Privileged White Conservative’ exists outside the realm of political correctness due to the notion of post-colonialism, whereby dialogue on an issue can only be had by those directly affected and should simply be agreed upon by everyone else.

 

In the wake of these pivotal events, in which a representative of a minority group has been subjugated, many have highlighted or rebelled the defaming qualities of political correctness, with Caroline Marcus, a columnist for the Daily Telegraph saying,

 

“apparently my fair skin and “heteronormativity”, whatever that means, rules me ineligible for comment on a range of issues.”

 

This is reaffirmed by Waleed Aly saying in an interview with journalist for the Honi Soit, Aparna Balakumar, in 2015 that a lot of thought goes on in the production process to decide how things are said and by whom.

 

“I can probably be a bit punchier and a bit irreverent on racial issues. You have that licence. They’ve [co-hosts Carrie and Pete] got to be a bit more careful because they’ll be accused of being racist before I will [laughs].” (Aly in Balakumar 2015)

 

Clearly structural decisions in the production of media occur with respect to political correctness. It underpins the language and communication process for fear of “being branded” with “monstrous labels” (Marcus 2016) causing people to act or react in a certain way for the benefit of their careers. The representational image that viewers may associate a journalist with is now a consideration of media production evident in the BBC’s pledge that “within the next four years half its staff will be women, 15 per cent from black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups, 8 per cent disabled and another 8 per cent lesbian, gay or transgender” (Marcus 2016).

 

The Adam Goodes saga started in 2013 when a 13-year-old girl was exposed as “the face of racism” when she called Goodes an “ape” during a game at the MCG. Following the incident, Goodes refused to play the following game, celebrated a goal in the indigenous round with an Aboriginal spear dance, retired from the AFL, and was awarded the Australian of the Year Award. All of this helped prolong the life of the incident, but an analysis of several media articles shows that it was the media cycle, structured around political correctness, that inspired years’ worth of coverage.

 

An interview on the ABC’s 7:30 with reporter Sabra Lane in 2015, demonstrated how media representations and the pressures of political correctness dictate journalistic authenticity, choosing to interview Andrew Bolt, a well-known spokesperson for the ‘Privileged White Conservative’s’ and Charlie King, Aboriginal and ABC sports commentator. Under the guise of objective journalism, which Waleed Aly, a well-known Islamic-Australian journalist, says “doesn’t exist”, the media effectively constructs an ‘either-or’ argument, stereotypically; Left and Right, Men and Women, Rich and Poor, and in this case, Black and White. When seen in conjunction with the post-colonial, ad hominem notion that the media and, subsequently, wider society have adopted, the perspective of Andrew Bolt is undermined by the fact that he is a non-Aboriginal talking about an Aboriginal issue. King alludes to this phenomenon in the interview, telling Bolt and all viewers at home to “put yoursel[ves] in Adam Goodes’ position,” placing himself in a superior moral position, suggesting that they have not done so already, instinctively choose not to do so, or are incapable of doing so.

 

The interviewer poses a question to King first, later asking Bolt, “what’s your response to that?”. This is representative of the media cycle itself, whereby an event occurs, the opinions of figures that are symbolically associated with the victim are sought, and then a response from the symbolically challenged or opposed side is sought. This is true in the wider Adam Goodes saga itself. These media representations are furthered with King asserting that the racial slur from the young girl, as well as the continual booing that followed, is “Destroying a hero of Aboriginal people.” By using the word “destroying”, King implicates those of an opposing opinion to have malicious intent with an already established authoritative voice bestowed upon him by the ABC and wider society as a representation of an Aboriginal minority allowing him to position the audience. Furthermore, the use of the word “hero” implies that Aboriginal people are in need of saving, using the divisive imagery of heroes and villains to make an evaluative presumption of the audience and pose a one-sided choice as to which they would prefer to be associated with. It is like siege in the Game of Thrones. The army of the politically correct have gathered outside the gates of the ‘white conservatives’. Outnumbered and threatened, the obvious choice would be to simply open the gates to the outside. But the more that the integrity and identity of the people inside is threatened, the longer the siege will continue. Bolt suggests this in his article in the Herald Sun, ‘Adam Goodes lecture lets us all down,’ saying that the “whole racism industry” has created two sides, grouping together people that have an alternative view to that expected in political correctness in an overgeneralization as the “white oppressor” to the “black victim”, or, to continue with King’s imagery, villains.

 

In an unrelated event regarding the victimization of the ‘Privileged White Conservative’, British MP Phillip Davies said that when put in an opposing position where they have to fight to defend their integrity and identity “they vote for extremist parties, or they don’t vote at all. It’s very, very sad,” (Davies in Daubney 2015). The polarization derived from this media structure has made it so each group needs to have a representative or spokesperson that “can’t cherry-pick… positions and be left wing on some things and right on others,” (Saxon 2016). This has created further division in society, pushing groups further apart to make clear distinctions between them. This belies the effects of the politically correct rhetoric on making people choose a side, with inaction being just as bad as opposition. King continues with the theme of heroes and villains, suggesting that “there’s a lot of other people who need to do something about this,” calling on non-indigenous players in the AFL to emulate Goodes’ dance in an attempt to increase the pressures of political correctness on players to popularize the Aboriginal minority at the risk of losing their popularity.

 

The credibility of factual claims has diminished in this two-sided debate due to the fact that arguments made by people seen as ‘Privileged White Conservatives’ are considered ad hominem, meaning that, seeing as you are representing the accused, you are guilty yourself. Bolt claims that the booing of Adam Goodes can’t be considered racist due to the fact that before the incident where he called out the 13-year-old girl, “He was showered with honours,” being admired as a team captain and being awarded Australian of the year. It was only after the fact that the booing started. In this he attacks the causal claims that booing him started as a result of racism or, as Waleed Aly put it, “minorities demonstrat[ing] that they don’t know their place.”

 

A defence is manifest instinctively in response to an attack. So when Patrick Smith referred to critics of Adam Goodes as “desperate” in an article he wrote for The Australian entitled, ‘Those who boo Adam Goodes, Have the Courage to Admit You’re Racist,’ he was right. When someone is attacked, they are often panicked and indeed “desperate”, causing them to exaggerate, counter-attack, and often appear more passionate than they would have on an issue in order to distinguish themselves from the other side. Smith’s argument hinges on the post hoc, ergo propter hoc argument of the causal claims proposed by Goodes’ critics that the booing is because of singling out the 13-year-old girl, his reference to Australia Day as “Invasion Day”, or that he is a “free-kick milker”. He goes on to suggest that similar and worse things have been done by other AFL players who have received no abuse for their actions saying that the only difference is that he’s “a black fella with an agenda”. This, however, is a false comparison, as no one claimed that Goodes’ actions were criminal or worse than domestic violence and other issues prevalent in professional sport. Also, Smith continues to present the argument of the ‘opposition’ to which he simply ends with “What tosh”. His appeal to emotion and social values to discredit any opposing position continues the theme of the media positioning the audience, first of all into two halves, and then portraying those sides as villains and heroes to influence them onto one side of the argument.

 

The underlying appeal to emotion and moral code is the crux of how political correctness is molding media structure to position its audience in alignment with a progressive minority movement. I have to emphasise that the purpose of this article is not to suggest that minority causes are a bad thing. Their intent to achieve equality and give a voice to the voiceless should be encouraged. However, if doing so creates an emphasis on the divisions of people – attributing people to the group which they best ascribe to in your perspective – the movement will be counter-productive to the cause, a cause everyone wants to ultimately reach.

 

British MP Phillip Davies exposes the role of political correctness events and the detrimental effects it can have on one’s career, well-being, and popularity.

 

“Part of it is a warning: don’t you dare speak out, because look what could happen to you.” (Davies in Daubney 2015)

 

This is further exemplified in the Chris Gayle saga of 2016, whereby Gayle was defamed as a result of comments he made towards journalist Mel McLaughlin, propositioning her during a TV interview after a Big Bash cricket match. This debate was much more one-sided than the Adam Goodes saga, not because there was a more convincing premise to the argument, but simply because people had learnt a little bit more about the ramifications of opposing political correctness since the Goodes event. The live TV interview went viral on social media with the Sydney Morning Herald describing McLaughlin as “visibly uncomfortable” when Gayle suggested that they go and “have a drink later”, to which he then said what would become the dominant headline of the event, “Don’t blush, baby”. Despite an eventual acceptance of Gayle’s apology by McLaughlin and an expression from her that she simply wants to put the event behind her and move on, political correctness under the banner of the feminist movement had claimed the event as its own, with the media happy to continue to cover it in order to ‘educate men on how it is “not OK”.

 

Gayle himself sought to expose the media structures that were designed to use bias to take advantage of the situation to gain popularity and align themselves with the expectations of political correctness, saying

 

“There are double standards. All the commentary guys found it amusing – but then someone whisper in their ears and everything was blown out of proportion.” (Gayle in SMH 2016)

 

This accusation was supported when Network Ten, the network which McLaughlin was working for when conducting the interview, described the West Indian batsman’s approach as ‘smooth’ in a tweet that was later deleted,” (Guardian Sport 2016)

 

Furthermore, it is suggested in the Guardian that it was only after seeing a large amount of online criticism of Gayle that the Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland was “prompted” to condemn Gayle’s actions.

 

These bias media structures are described by Dale Hughes, journalist for ABC news, as the “thirst for blood” in his 2016 article ‘Chris Gayle and our addiction to public shaming’. Synonymous with the media cycle’s role in the Adam Goodes saga, Hughes implores that the subjects of the event are no longer “relevant”.

 

“It has a life of its own, bypassing the individuals involved to be held as a symbolic representation of all that is wrong with sexist, patriarchal Australia.”

 

Hughes employs satirical devices to denounce the causal claim and evaluative presumption that all men, or even Gayle for that matter, objectify women. The assumption is that men, in “patriarchal Australia,” see women in a misogynistic way, appealing to ethical and social norms to convince men to either condemn Gayle’s actions, or they are ‘just as bad’ as him. Hughes refutes the media using Gayle as a representation of male misogyny in Australia saying that “this thirst for blood is doing us no favours.”

 

His use of the collective pronoun “us”, inverts the media structures establish by political correctness to characterize opposing arguments heroic or villainous, demonstrating that it is not the goal of minority groups that are often opposed, but the process of achieving that goal.

 

Another device he employs in order to expose the informal fallacies used to depict Gayle in this way is repetition and intensification. Gayle’s apology is described as “not enough” to change his representation as a villain, with political correctness demanding that he’s “dragged through the mud, fined, sanctioned, and sacked from contributing columns in the media.”

 

This is an appeal to emotion, arguing that, “although there is no excuse for Chris Gayle’s behaviour during a sideline interview,” it is clear that he has suffered enough. He rebukes the politically correct argument adopted by the media in a justification for their treatment of Gayle that an acceptance of Gayle’s behaviour would create a slippery slope for gender equality, saying that the contrary would occur, with a mistreatment of Gayle leading to a movement away from gender equality.

 

The aforementioned articles and their role in contributing to the existing politically correct structures of the media clearly identify a counterproductive support for minorities. The criminalization of ‘Privileged White Conservatives’ as villains and the subsequent removal of their voice from discussion due to ad hominem post-colonial notions has led to a greater polarisation in the debate of political correctness and free speech. It has seen a movement away from democratic debate to a divisive attack on the integrity of Australian tradition, inspiring escalated reactions from both ‘villains’ and ‘heroes’ to defend their honour. Causing the media and popular identities to act and react in specific ways, popularizing opinion pieces in order to generate popularity and revenue is counter-productive to achieving social equality. The Adam Goodes and Chris Gayle sagas demonstrate that trying to influence society to denounce its past, present, and ‘privilege’, will only exacerbate events.

 

By Daniel Caltabiano

 

 

References

 

Aly, W 2013, ‘Curse of Australia’s Silent pervasive racism’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 April, accessed 15 October 2016,

http://www.smh.com.au/comment/curse-of-australias-silent-pervasive-racism-20130404-2h9i1.html

 

Balakumar, A 2015, ‘”Don’t call me moderate”: speaking with Waleed Aly’, Honi Soit, 18 November, accessed 17 October 2016,

http://honisoit.com/2015/11/dont-call-me-moderate-speaking-with-waleed-aly/

 

Bolt, A 2014, ‘Adam Goodes lecture lets us all down’, Herald Sun, 5 March, accessed 25 October 2016,

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/opinion/adam-goodes-lecture-lets-us-all-down/story-fni0ffxg-1226846319656

 

Daubney, M 2015, ‘Phillip Davies MP: ‘Political correctness is damaging men’’, The Telegraph, 2 November, accessed 21 October 2016,

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/11969823/Philip-Davies-MP-Political-correctness-is-damaging-men.html

Guardian Sport 2016, ‘Chris Gayle tells reporter: ‘Your eyes are beautiful, hopefully we can have a drink’’, The Guardian, 5 January, accessed 27 October 2016,

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/jan/04/chris-gayle-reporter-drink-blush-network-ten-big-bash-melbourne

 

Guardian Sport 2016, ‘Gayle stirs up ‘don’t blush baby’ controversy’, The Guardian, 14 February, accessed 28 October 2016,

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/feb/14/chris-gayle-sexism-row-moody-interview

 

Hughes, D 2016, ‘Chris Gayle and our addiction to public shaming’, ABC, 7 January, accessed 28 October 2016,

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-07/hughes-chris-gayle-and-our-addiction-to-public-shaming/7072898

 

Lane, S 2015, ‘Is booing Adam Goodes Racist or all in the game? Andrew Bolt and Charlie King debate’, ABC, 30 August, accessed 24 October 2016,

http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2015/s4284169.htm

 

Mansfield, H 1991, ‘Political correctness and suicide of the internet’, Heritage, 26 June, accessed 20 October 2016,

http://www.heritage.org/research/lecture/political-correctness-and-the-suicide-of-the-intellect

 

Marcus, C 2016, ‘If you disagree with me you’re a racist’, The Daily Telegraph, 10 May, accessed 15 October 2016, http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/if-you-disagree-with-me–youre-a-racist/news-story/f706d26f6747eaac2b0f239f88402742

 

Saxon, P 2016, ‘Forget political correctness. Let’s talk about being plain wrong’, Radioinfo, 25 January, accessed 21 October 2016,

https://www.radioinfo.com.au/news/forget-political-correctness-lets-talk-about-being-plain-wrong

 

Smith, P 2015, ‘Those who boo Adam Goodes, have the courage to admit you’re racist’, The Australian, 31 July, accessed 22 October 2016,

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/opinion/patrick-smith/those-who-boo-adam-goodes-have-the-courage-to-admit-youre-racist/news-story/d7882e16657e2b2c323f15dfd5bfdc8e

 

 

 

2016, ‘Chris Gayle’s extraordinary claim about the ‘don’t blush, baby’ interview with Mel McLaughlin’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 June, accessed 27 October 2016,

http://www.smh.com.au/sport/cricket/chris-gayles-extraordinary-claim-about-the-dont-blush-baby-interview-with-mel-mclaughlin-20160615-gpjiom.html

 

 

Second Media Article Proposal – Daniel Caltabiano

The basis of my second media article is centred around the use of media, both news journalism and views journalism, in defining both the ‘left’ and ‘right’ wings of society. Through subtle connotations or explicit opinion, coupled with the authoritative influence of the media itself, the media is used to satiate the need for each side to separate itself from the other. This need is unique, in that is is seen as political foul play to defame a seemingly opposing group, yet it is essential to do so in order to cement one’s beliefs and situate viewers in alignment with your view.

My focus will be on the differing perspectives of free to air television, be that: The ABC; Channel 9; Channel 10; Channel 7, and how media ownership influences the structural techniques, common words and phrases, and images that, through repetition, carry connotations aimed to shape the perspective of the viewership.

 

http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s4537372.htm

http://www.businessinsider.com.au/what-your-preferred-news-outlet-says-about-your-political-ideology-2014-10?r=US&IR=T

http://tenplay.com.au/channel-ten/the-project/2016/10/20-5178051877001

The Top 50 Liberal Media Bias Examples

Channel 9 Network

Channel 7 Network

Scott Morrison Debt Crisis

Views Journalism – Political Media ‘Debt Crisis’

Australia’s financial position is often the crux of political debate, with elections being won and lost based on the budget promises of each party in regards to lessening the current budget deficit. In the past week, federal Premier Scott Morrison has come under fire due to a stirring speech he gave about the trajectory of Australia’s financial position, which, if nothing changes, could see Australia’s debt grow to in excess of one trillion dollars, causing Australia to lose its triple-A credit rating and fall into recession. The media reaction to this speech is encapsulated in an article written by Mark Kenny for The Sydney Morning Herald entitled, ‘Debt emergency: Scott Morrison’s $1 trillion horror scenario,’ and a broadcast segment aired on Channel 10’s The Project, entitled, ‘Scomo’s Scare Speech,’  both published on 25 August, 2016. They highlight the differing techniques employed by authors dependent on the medium to achieve similarly persuasive arguments.

Media commentary and reporting on politics is diverse in voice yet very narrow in terms of the language devices utilised in persuasive arguments. Due to the extent to which it is covered by media across all platforms, the similar use of emotive language, the juxtaposition of views, selective use of quotes, unsupported claims, and simple opinion common among political writing is particularly fascinating. It has adopted its own conventions, such as that of a movie genre, whereby the warrant of a piece is either explicated or made obvious in an attempt to appeal to the voters of a particular party in which the argument supports. A comparison of the headlines of the aforementioned articles demonstrates how, despite the formality and overtness of an article tailored to traditional media as compared to entertainment news, emotive language is used to condemn the subject. This positions the reader before they are exposed to the full story, often deciding who engages with the piece and who doesn’t. This is not exclusive but definitely a convention of political writing, whereby the author is not intending to persuade or defend a particular position, but to bolster the support of an already established argument.

By overtly appealing to a particular audience within the headline, political articles often use the lead as an opportunity to feign objectivity, presenting the argument which it is about to oppose, fully aware of the argument they are going to present after the fact. This is why there are often emotive words, selective omission, or passive negative voice evident within the lead. The lead for, ‘Scomo’s Scare Speech,’ introduced by presenter Carrie Bickmore epitomises these conventions with, ‘trillion dollar debt, recession, and lazy young people, they were all in a scary speech the Treasurer gave today,’ containing both passive negative voice, emotive words such as ‘scary’, and the omission of the details necessary for the presentation of objective argument. Having visual techniques at their disposal as well, being broadcast media, presenter Carrie Bickmore is seen shuddering in order to hyperbolise the emotive properties of the word ‘scary’, belying her position and, in turn, the position of her intended audience on the issue. Without the same array of persuasive techniques at the disposal of traditional media, Mark Kenny uses the juxtaposition of a foreboding and somewhat satirical lead whereby Treasurer Scott Morrison is said to ‘warn’ Australia of ‘unprecedented’ woes followed by a second par in which the opposition leader immediately ‘hit back’. The terms that are selectively used by the author are ones that are commonly associated with victims and villains, positioning the reader to be empathetic towards the second argument presented.

Often in traditional media, it is deemed inappropriate to use excessive emotive language. However, Kenny gets around this by selectively including emotive quotes to, in some respects, say what he can’t. Direct quotations such as “first-class wingers and bunglers” along with paraphrasing ‘who spend too much time criticising their opponents and not enough time finding answers to problems,’ give Kenny an air of objectivity and authenticity whilst enabling him to explicate a persuasive view to his intended audience. The Project, however, use different techniques to the same effect, using phrases like ‘well if our Treasurer took a basic look at the latest numbers,’ to imply that his argument is Ill-founded and it should be obvious to their audience. This is where non-sequitur informal fallacies often occur in political pieces. The juxtaposition of arguments from the lead into the second par is often used to expose the flaws of the other persons argument, with the lead providing a brief overview of their argument and the second par giving evidence as to why this is not the case. Both articles, showing that this convention occurs across media platforms, use emotive language, selective omission, and passive voice, as expressed above, to provide what seems like an objective overview of an argument, whilst utilising subtle undertones to place doubt within the audience. In doing so, often the evidence does not even need to disprove the logical grounds of the presented argument, but simply present an argument in a more authoritative voice.

The justifications that are intended to disprove the presented argument in both articles are examples of non-sequitur informal fallacies. The Project’s Waleed Aly presents the argument, after stating that a ‘basic’ look at recent figures disproves Scott Morrisons assertions, that ‘two thirds of under sixty-five year olds pay more tax than they receive in benefits.’ Not only does this justification not follow Scott Morrison’s definition of young people, but, coupled with the vocal emphasis that Waleed Aly places on the word ‘more’, implies that paying more than a one to one ratio of tax as compared to welfare disproves Scott Morrison’s judgement. This is not the case, as the figure groups the highest paying age-bracket of tax along with the ‘taxed-nots’ that Morrison was referring to in his speech. This is similar in Kenny’s article, whereby the justifications of the authors claim against Morrison’s argument, do not logically follow or disprove it. His justifications are quotes from the opposition leader labelling Morrison a ‘whinger’, the fact that the federal government have not prepared the omnibus bill to be reviewed by the opposition, and a former member of the LNP Peta Credlin, affirming that it is wrong that the federal government to not have this bill prepared. All of these justifications, whilst possibly being true, do not disprove, discredit, or attack the logical conclusions behind Morrison’s argument. Likewise, The Project’s justifications that ‘two thirds of under sixty-five year olds pay more tax than they receive in benefits,’ Australia has an ageing population, and an apparent contradiction in Morrison’s argument about not taxing negative gearing, do not logically discredit the basis of Morrison’s argument.

By presenting flawed justifications in an authoritative voice, whilst also having deterred those of an opposing view from engaging with your text by explicating or making obvious the warrant of the article in the headline and the lead, author’s justifications in political arguments become mere distraction from the argument. The author begins to attack the words chosen by, in this case, Scott Morrison, and the connotations of these words to their intended audience, to discredit the person, rather than the argument itself. Through the allowance of broadcast media, The Project utilises images of luxury items, when talking about high-income earners, in order to both distract, but also defame Morrison’s character, attempting to convey to the audience his lack of morals and empathy towards the audience themselves, presumably, young, low to middle-class citizens. Kenny attempts a similar technique in his own text through attributing Morrison to opposition leader Bill Shorten’s assertions that he is simply blaming other people for his shortcoming, ”What a surprise, Scott Morrison says it’s someone else’s fault!”, whilst simultaneously using the justification that his office has not even prepared the omnibus bill for the opposition on time, so therefore he must be unfit to hold any valid opinion.

This form of reporting is largely unfair and misleading, but due to the nature of political media appealing more so to its existing following rather than attempting to persuade those of an opposition view, it has become common practice. However, contrasting these two articles is a good example of how a medium affects the objectivity of a piece due to variations of live-ness and control over the omission or selective use of content in the piece. Kenny’s article, being a formally written piece for The Sydney Morning Herald, allows him the luxury of being able to carefully orchestrate the structure, language, and quotes used to convey his prevailing argument in the most persuasive way possible, establishing his warrant early in the article and portraying his own voice as objective and authentic. On the other hand, The Project, being a mixture of live and pre-recorded broadcast, has limitations on the amount of control the authors have in dictating its content. In the segment, ‘Scomo’s Scare Speech,’ there is a clear distinction between the views expressed in the pre-recorded section as compared to the live interview. Waleed Aly poses an opinion fuelled question at interviewee Sam Maiden in full expectation that she simply agree with his point. He says, ‘On his pitch here, I find this interesting… He’s basically focusing on budget cuts, specifically young people and welfare recipients, but he’s still saying that he wants to give tax cuts to big businesses. It’s a very strange pitch, is he setting himself up for political failure trying to sell that?’. Often discouraged in journalism, this technique of, essentially, providing the desired answer for the interviewee to simply agree with, is used by Waleed in an attempt to direct the interview in his desired direction. Sam Maiden responds in complete contradiction with this view, flipping the entire premise of the segment to give valid justifications for Morrison’s argument. She goes on to say that there is in fact a large proportion of the country that does not pay net tax and that “it is a hard message to sell” because “when people here words like taxed and taxed-nots, people take offence to it,” essentially acknowledging the convention of political media to attack the words used and the connotations that come with those words, in order to influence the audience, providing an unintentional objectivity to the article due to the limitations of control in broadcast media.

An analysis of ‘Debt emergency: Scott Morrison’s $1 trillion horror scenario,’ and, ‘Scomo’s Scare Speech,’ demonstrates the existence of a set of unique conventions in the construction of persuasive argument, across all mediums within political media. The explication of warrants early within an article, the use of emotive language, passive voice, selective use of quotes, and the juxtaposition of views are all persuasive techniques commonly used in political media. The intention of political media is often not to persuade an audience with opposing views, but to support an existing audience specified by the warrant. The headline is often used to explicate this warrant, whilst the lead and second par are used to juxtapose arguments in the guise of authenticity and objectivity. The justifications within the piece often do not seek to deconstruct the opposing argument, in this case, Scott Morrison’s warning of a debt crisis, but to defame the character of that person, associating them with warrants that would not be shared by their intended audience. The objectivity of political media is often determined by the medium used, with the live-ness of broadcast media limiting the control that producers have in structuring a persuasive argument, presenting a slightly fairer, holistic argument.

By Daniel Caltabiano