By Situation Theatre 18/2/2019
For some years the Sydney Morning Herald has acted as if, Weekend at Bernie’s style, it is still alive as a serious newspaper. Judging by its PR work for the PM in recent days, it’s formally given up the ghost altogether.
Saturday 16th February 2019 will go down in history as the day the SMH was pronounced dead. While many Australians have suspected the death for some time, their absurdly sensationalist headline “People Smugglers Plot To Test Shorten” in combination with a classic of the tabloid hustlers, a shonky builder story, left no one who retains their critical faculties in any doubt about their credentials as an actual newspaper.
If you clung to hope that the hysterical front-page story wasn’t as bad as it seemed, you need not have bothered. Page 12 contained the expanded version of the article which was based entirely on the word of a single so-called people smuggler, who even then maintained that the medical evacuation laws had nothing to do with his claim that some people “will ride a[a boat] eventually I think”.
Buried deep within the article was the fact that the Herald had also interviewed a dozen asylum seekers and refugees in two locations in Indonesia. Just one of those would even consider getting on a boat, but only if a range of difficult conditions were met: “If it is possible, if I have the money, if there is [an opportunity] because I am tired.” The Herald then revealed the fellow has little money so he probably couldn’t anyway, while the other refugees thought the boat journeys were too dangerous. Those interviewed also said the boat turn-backs policy was the key deterrent, one Labor says it will maintain.
Just to make sure we all know the once serious broadsheet is now deader than Monty Python’s parrot, they’ve followed that up today with this editorial…
…which includes this comically defensive line about Saturday’s piece of gutter journalism: “voters need this sort of reporting to help them make their choice”.
I suppose they do, so long as the editors want to cram the choice of Scott Morrison down their throats.
Finally, just to extinguish any hint of residual life in this rotting corpse of a serious broadsheet newspaper, today’s edition featured an opinion piece by none other than Amanda Vanstone, who you may remember from such illustrious career achievements as the Pacific Solution, abolishing ATSIC, and a string of deportation scandals.
Though this will be hard what with former Liberal Party staffers and ministers defecating on its carcass on a daily basis, RIP SMH, 1831-2019.