Episode 45 is online, Peter Costello!

Screenshot of Stilgherrian Live episode 45, showing Pong playing with his hair

Episode 45 of Stilgherrian Live, the Fame Edition, is now online for your viewing pleasure.

I was surprised that the Swine Flu Panic didn’t win “Cnut of the Week”. T’was only second place (28%). Jim Carrey (for suggesting vaccines are the real worry — yes, when I want advice on epidemiology I’ll ask an actor) was equal third place (20%) with cockroaches who refuse to die when confronted with a veritable tidal wave of insecticide.

Does than mean Jim Carrey is a cockroach? That’s a shame. It means I can’t poison him.

Photograph of Peter Costello as Cnut of the Week

Our winner, on 32% of the vote, was Peter Costello, who still refuses to shut the fuck up about… well, I just wish he’d shut up full stop. Go away, Peter.

The program also contained an unusual use for a cocktail shaker. It has to be seen to be believed. Although that may be over-selling it.

Congratulations to Jason Appleby, who won a t-shirt for his efforts at nominating the Swine Flu Panic, thanks to our new friends at King Cnut Ethical Clothing.

Episode 39 is online, with a gnome

Screenshot from Stilgherrian Live episode 39

Episode 39 of Stilgherrian Live is now online for your post-facto viewing pleasure.

After so many fine nominations for “Cnut of the Week” it was difficult to pick a shortlist, but I applied my arbitrary judgement and narrowed it down to: Peter Costello (final score 8%) for refusing to understand that he is yesterday’s man; rugby player Brett Stewart (11%), recently accused of sexual assault; rugby players in general (36%); and our winner, Anna Bligh (44%), whose political campaign website for the Premiership of Queensland doesn’t list an email address or even a contact form, and who uses Twitter but doesn’t respond in any way.

You’d think that after the success of Barack Obama’s online campaigning, they’d get themselves some sort of clue — especially given the string of Obama advisers giving speeches here recently like Ben Self and Joe Trippi. But no.

Continue reading “Episode 39 is online, with a gnome”

On political reporting

Crikey logo

Crikey‘s Bernard Keane has written a magnificent 2000-word wrap of the year in Australian politics, 2008: Dashed dreams and mouldy political compromise. Every sentence is worth reading — but especially his observations about the links between politicians and the media.

Politics is more or less based around people of high principles and good will discovering that the obtaining and exercising of power involves doing bad things, distasteful things, amoral things, involves unpleasant trade-offs and not just the famous half-loaves of compromise but stale, mouldy crusts. And it’s all the more that way because its symbiotic partner, its Siamese twin the media, dislikes complexity and nuance, in favour of the same simple narratives, repeated with an ever-changing cast of characters but the same plots and moral lessons over and over again. That’s what sells. And what gets votes.

It’s the media’s job, or one of them, to make much of little and it has done that expertly for much of the year, as it does always. History suggests that, barring incompetence on an inordinate scale, Labor will be in power for several terms, but that’s not going to attract many eyeballs. Instead, the most minor political events are forensically analysed, with each tiny feature placed under the microscope so that it looms large to the viewer despite its irrelevance. Recall The Australian’s concerted push for Peter Costello mid-year, undoubtedly motivated not just by a sense of mischief-making but by the moderate inclinations of the obvious alternative to the failing Nelson. After more than a year on the backbench, not a scintilla of evidence has emerged that Peter Costello ever intended to do anything other than what he said, which was to remain on the backbench until he found a job outside politics. And yet we — as in all of us — devoted many pixels and column inches to his imminent ascension, or the unlikelihood thereof.

Afterwards, we forgot all about that, and probably hoped our readers did too.

Never forget the media has a vested interested in convincing you something is happening even when precisely nothing is happening — indeed, particularly when nothing is happening. It is thus wise – and I’m possibly not telling you anything you don’t already know here — to retain a strong scepticism about all political reportage and analysis, no matter the source. We’re all selling something.

OK, I’m biased. I write for Crikey every now and then. But this is why I’d buy it anyway.

Episode 26 online!

Last night’s episode 26 of Stilgherrian Live is now online for your viewing pleasure.

In a disorganised episode which started late thanks to Art — I’ll write more about that later — former Treasurer Peter Costello was voted “Cnut of the Week”, narrowly beating controversial Thai prime minister Samak Sundaravej (สมัคร สุนทรเวช) and journalist Mark Day for his backward-looking story Blogs can’t match probing reports.

There was also an impromptu interview with Crikey cartoonist First Dog on the Moon wherein we discuss, inter alia, deputy opposition leader Julie Bishop and rabbits.

Episode 25 online!

Stilgherrian Live Delta episode 25 opeing title screen

Yes, Stilgherrian Live has returned, and last night’s episode of Stilgherrian Live Delta, episode 25, is online for your (re)viewing pleasure.

I was grumpy because we started 40 minutes late. A technical fault at Ustream prevented people hearing the audio, so we just had to wait. I’m not good at waiting. I was rude. Sorry.

Still, when we finally got on air I introduced “Stilgherrian’s Street View” and pondered the ideal 8-person orgy. People chose the striking Fairfax journalists as Cnut of the Week, the clearest winners ever, beating Glenn Milne and the strange cheer squad at The Australia who want Peter Costello to lead the Liberal Party, and US Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

There was also Sheena Easton. Twice.

Have a squizz and let me know what you think!

Wayne Swan’s “Yes Minister” moment

After he’d given the Budget Speech to parliament last night, Treasurer Wayne Swan was interviewed by the ABC’s PM program — where he delivered what I think has to be the best line of the night.

Swan was explaining that unlike his Liberal predecessor Peter Costello’s Future Fund, which was never spent on anything, Labor’s future funds would be spent on “contemporary” infrastructure needs. Journalist Mark Colvin asked how they could still be called future funds.

MARK COLVIN: I mean, if they’re not for the future, what are they for? Why aren’t they just government spending?

WAYNE SWAN: No, no. You’re confusing the name Future Fund with a fund for the future.

Yes, I can see how he’d be confused…

[Update 10.30am: Here’s the relevant piece of audio.]