When the stuff about Kevin Rudd’s heart broke I thought ‘well here we go again’. A bit of quasi dirt. Now it seems like a reasonable assumption that the government knew of the revelations and encouraged them. Of course it’s entirely possible that they didn’t. But on form you’d have to say it was a question worth asking.
Being surprised at how lacking in aggression the ALP has been when one cooked up scandal after another is paraded through our media I was pleased that they got stuck in – with Ministers other than Rudd asking the Govt to deny their own involvement. Perhaps it was predictable that the Government would feign outrage.
Still I was amazed to see the news coverage that began with ‘smears’ in Federal Parliament. The ‘smear’ the headline was talking about turned out to be the ALP’s ‘smear’ of the Government in asking questions of their knowledge of the whole sorry business. The news footage was of Howard and Costello and a few others being outraged at the ALP’s ‘smearing’. Indeed, the idea that the ALP leaked the story itself to divert attention from something else was also leaked.
Christian Kerr’s ‘he said – she said’ account of this goes like this:
[N]either side looks particularly good after yesterdays uproar. Ministerial minders were pushing a ridiculous line that Labor leaked the story of Kevin Rudds heart procedure to kill the tax slip story.
But Labor did itself no favours. Kevin Rudd handled the heart story well when he joked yesterday morning that Arnold Schwarzenegger has had the same surgery. Then he went a bridge too far, raising allegations of a smear campaign. The Government fought back. And by the end of the day we had seen the Labor leader lose his cool.
A hard played game ended up in a nil-all draw.
So there you have it, a story summed up entirely in terms of how it all went down, and in complete disregard for what the likely truth of the matter was. As far as I can see, the matters that go to the substance are
- Did the government know or and/or orchestrate the leaking of details of Kevin Rudd’s heart operation?
- If not, did the details emerge as a result of actions authorised by or known by coalition operatives?
- In the light of what we know or don’t know, was it a reasonable thing for the ALP to ask the coalition questions about their knowledge in parlilament and also to accuse it of doing so, on the basis that it is the kind of thing they might well do?
Why is this a ‘bridge too far’? Beats me.
Reading for the day – Paul Krugman on why this shallow reporting is often highly biased reporting.