The problem with politics

By Ruth Limkin

A free and open media is essential to a democracy.

A frivilous and opinionated media, on the other hand, is an embarrassment to democracy.

Sometimes I wonder if the biggest problem with politics is the media. More precisely, is it the media spin that so often happens, and which politicians find themselves preempting, that serves to turn politics into a competition of personalities rather than policies?

Today’s attempts by Channel 7 reporter Mark Riley to score political points by using the death of a soldier was a shameful and disrespectful thing to do. I watched both the video of Abbott in Afghanistan and the video of Riley ‘exposing’ what he said. For Riley to suggest that Abbott was making light of the death of an Australian soldier seems disingenuous at best, and disreputable at worst.

Journalism like this is the type of media stunt that forces politicians to think, rethink and so often resort to spin rather than straight talk.

It also means that politicians and their personnel are having to respond to issues which are little more than distractions, rather than policy, planning and issues of substance.

In all of this, a young widowed mother is forced to have her loss made the subject of headlines and angst.

Regardless of political leanings, we should collectively condemn this reporter’s and producer’s lack of respect for our fallen diggers, and the families they leave behind.

No media beat up, and no political point scoring, is worth that pain.