As Troppodillians may know, I don’t follow the daily political chit chat unless I somehow get inveigled into it which I usually do at election time and also when debates seem to carry electric cultural significance about something that I have some particular interest in. I wasn’t particularly interested in “menugate” but this story makes it look like an nice little illustration of all that is wrong with our media.
Of course I know that politicians tell flat lies – I’ve watched them do it knowing the truth. But they try to keep it to a minimum because it’s hard to avoid being caught if you tell lots of straight out lies, especially if you do it in public where there are people who’ve got good incentives and motivation to put some effort into proving you’re a liar. So my operating procedure is to assume that most politicians tell flat lies reluctantly for pragmatic reasons if for no other.
And if we believe Mal Brough’s side of the story, that infamous menu was produced by someone else for a joke and was not distributed at the fund raiser. (That would explain why Joe Hockey said on PM that he didn’t remember it – because he didn’t. He hadn’t seen it.) So here are the most likely facts as it seems to me having read the story:
- An ideological low lifer created a menu for a joke.
- He knew it was off and so did not distribute it at Mal Brough’s fund-raiser.
- The press’s front page coverage means that everyone who’s been near the media in the relevant period thinks that Mal Brough’s fund raiser had a low life menu at it.
- Mal Brough has been pretty upset about all this. He’s taken it personally and has vigorously and personally but at least on the evidence not discourteously, sought to clear his name, including with all those who have directly communicated their objection to the menu to him. He’s made repeated personal phone calls when emails have not been responded to.
- Sufficient information has come to light for points 1-3 to be a reasonable interpretation of the facts.
- The media having writ, have moved on. It is not as entertaining to report their own sloppy impatience to get at the truth of allegations as it was to report allegations with sloppy impatience. So everyone thinks that the front page stories and news stories on the tele reflect what happened.
- So only those who pay a lot of attention know that Mal Brough is probably innocent of what he has been accused of and rightly aggrieved.
Fortunately Ben Eltham’s reporting of this in New Matilda gives me enough information to deduce these things. But the article is ‘spun’ the other way. It rehearses Brough’s involvement in trying to do in Peter Slipper, reports Brough’s vigour in personally calling Amanda Boyd to protest his innocence and seek an apology from her (since she was seeking an apology from him). Reports and makes a feature of the story that Boyd found this “weird” and “creepy”.
This is how the report ends:
Brough has claimed he didn’t see the menu. “Rather than going off half-cocked and making statements which I may well have been incorrect on, I said as it was; I had not seen it, I condemned it,” he told journalists last week.
“I’m being linked to something which wasn’t there. It didn’t occur.”
Now it appears Brough is trying to convince ordinary voters of that point with personal phone calls. It’s not clear whether the tactic will be successful.
“Maybe he’s under a lot of stress,” Boyd said.