The Media Continues to Disgrace itself over the Bushfire Crisis

“Freedom of the Press, if it means anything at all, means the freedom to criticise and oppose.” – George Orwell

We have a problem in Australia, and that problem is the media.

Channel 10’s The Project showed its audience an edited clip of Scott Morrison, the Australian prime minister. The clip showed a woman telling Morrison, “You’re not my prime minister”, quite an embarrassing comment for the embattled leader.

The problem? The clip was cut short, failing to show the woman explaining that she is English, and hence Boris Johnson is her prime minister. The Project was forced to apologise, claiming significant parts of the clip were “inaudible”.

Despite The Project having form when it comes to editing clips — as Cassie Jaye found out when she was interviewed — Waleed Aly and his cohorts saw fit to do it again, to again lie to Australians.

Before The Project’s edited clip, further controversy was courted by the Greens. Larissa Waters nodded along as Sherele Moody, an anti domestic violence advocate, claimed firemen returning home were likely to abuse their wives. Moody cited research that focused on the aftermath of the Black Saturday fires, research that did not specifically focus on firemen.

The problem? The Conversation — a news website funded by New Zealand and Australian universities & state and federal governments — published an article backing Moody’s claims that domestic violence rises in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

The research repeatedly cites The Duluth Model, under which it’s thought men abuse women to exercise power and control. The Duluth Model is heavily used in Australia despite completely ignoring female perpetrators of domestic violence, studies that show women initiate violence as often as men, and any other factors such as drugs and alcohol.

In short, any study citing The Duluth Model is ideological, not factual, yet this narrative is clung to for dear life by many in the media. No wonder more than $700 million has been spent without the expected results.

The Conversation article even admitted that men are three times more likely to die because of a bush fire. And the article failed to mention the vast majority of people risking their lives to fight the fires are men. Apparently this activism is what passes for “journalism” by the two lecturers and one professor who wrote the article.

What’s more is that the media don’t understand the Australia’s federal model of governance.

Scott Morrison is not responsible for the initial response to fires; each individual state government is responsible. Each state government funds and operates emergency services (including an air fleet), regulates and helps organise regional firefighting, prepares emergency response plans, and hence leads the initial response to bush fires.

The federal government funds and operates the National Aerial Firefighting Centre, provides additional funding to state governments, and can deploy the military.

State governments are best placed to deal with issues specific to each individual state. This is the entire reason behind the federal model: Voters are more able to hold state governments to account since voters inherently have more knowledge (and incentives to know) of issues that are closer to home, and state governments are better placed to provide services for a similar reason (proximity).

Granted, Morrison’s Christmas holiday was poorly timed — although state governments must lead the initial response, as stated — the media has failed to grasp the fundamental structure of Australia’s political system.

Even when Morrison released a video showing Australia what the federal government would do to tackle the fires, he was again heavily criticised by the media… for doing exactly that for which the media had asked. I’d understand if it was the timing that was criticised; however, this simply wasn’t the case.

We have a problem in Australia, and that problem is the media.