February 1, 2013
“Do you love yourself?” This was the first question I was asked in an interview by lefty journalist Sally Neighbour.
I knew then that the end result wasn't going to be pretty. What prompted the question was a quip from my wife that “the success of our marriage is that we are both in love with the same man.” It was a line I have used on many occasions and has always brought a laugh. After all, we need to be able to laugh at ourselves.
But what brings mirth to the mainstream is used as conservative poison by many in our media ranks. It seems that some are so infected by their own agenda and bias that they are unable to report with integrity on the subject matter at hand.
In the case of Ms Neighbour, her poisonous profile of me for The Monthly magazine translated my reading of fiction novels for entertainment as being “shallow”. And, of course, Ms Neighbour was aided and abetted in her caustic assessment by more than one anonymous ‘senior Liberal’ providing the quotes that legitimise the agenda of the journalist.
In the words once quoted by Niki Savva, ‘in this town you’re either a source – or a target’.
The mainstream media now seem so infected by left-wing bias and are briefed relentlessly by those opposed to conservatism that conservatives are at a decided disadvantage. As one of the more vocal critics of the progressive agenda, I seem to be a particular target.
My meeting with Dutch politician Geert Wilders was supposedly grounds for my sacking, but the embrace of Hugo Chavez by Labor and Greens politicians received little criticism from the media.
My condemnation of Peter Singer’s abhorrent views becomes international news, but Singer receives a Companion Order of Australia and is repeatedly given a friendly platform by our national broadcaster.
The Prime Minister’s Cabinet Secretary, Mark Dreyfus MP, writes an article that compares Tony Abbott to Nazi war criminal Joseph Goebbels and it is printed without criticism. What outcry would have occurred if a conservative politician had written something similar?
You can read stories about “very right-wing Liberal senator Cory Bernardi” or “ultra-conservative MP Cory Bernardi”. That doesn’t bother me, but it’s the double standard that I wonder about: how often do you see Greens senators described as ‘left-wing’ or ‘ultra-radical’ by the mainstream media?
I could go on...and on...and on. Whether it be about climate change, illegal boats, the right to life or Islamic extremism, the media love to expose conservatives to derision and ridicule.
I have often wondered why this is. Surely personal animus can't account for all of it.
There are a few reporters whom I know to be left-leaning but still play a straight bat. Sure, they will share their opinion, but one can rely on them in the main to be accurate in what they record. For others, truth is an inconvenience in their quest for a story to further their own agenda.
Whilst legal proceedings prevent me from commenting on the most recent egregious case in point, it is time that conservatives defended themselves.
For too long conservatives have relied on the righteousness of our arguments, not being overly bothered by the misrepresentations of the left. Alas, that is why the left is winning the media war.
While we claim virtuousness as an asset, they use it as our greatest weakness, knowing that many of their misrepresentations will mostly go unchallenged.
And yet, despite the plethora of left-biased media, the Australian people seem to have it sussed. Many Australians don't buy most of what is peddled through the leftist press. Instinctively, they knew the alarmist global-warming rhetoric to be a con. They know that redefining marriage is, at best, a fifth- rate issue and nothing like a priority, and they know that the growing challenges to our culture are grounds for concern.
Of course, little of this is reflected in much of the mainstream media and, regrettably, it is too rarely reflected by our political class. Too many are so captured by the desire for media approval that they neglect to actually engage in the battle of ideas. Instead, they prefer to reflect the prevailing orthodoxy in an attempt to gain some minuscule personal advantage.
It is a weakness that the leftist media repeatedly take advantage of. The mad ravings of the Greens are deemed sacraments of the new religion of political correctness whilst the common sense of the conservative is reported as controversial and outrageous.
One could excuse commercial media for pursuing such an agenda; after all, success will ultimately be defined by audience and profitability. However, when the greatest bias is so often demonstrated by the $1 billion-per-year taxpayer-funded ABC, we should be very concerned.
The ABC has no commercial obligations aside from complying with its own charter. Not surprisingly, one of the favourite (but futile) pastimes for ABC watchers is to play ‘spot the conservative’.
Flagship programs like Q&A have a left-wing host and, typically, a preponderance of left-wing guests flanking the solitary sacrificial conservative, whose blood is lusted after by both host and audience.
Sunday morning’s Insiders features more groupthink with an occasional conservative tosed into the mix as the subject of a three-on-one battle.
When pressed about this clear bias in Senate Estimates, ABC boss Mark Scott said it was difficult to identify who was left and who was right. Difficult for him maybe, but not so tough for the rest of the country.
For conservatives, it can be frustrating and dispiriting to be faced with a seemingly endless barrage of hostility. It goes some way to explain why so few conservatives are prepared to stick their head above the parapet for fear of having it shot off. But it also illustrates why it is so important that we all support those who do.
Without the Andrew Bolts, the Piers Akermans, the Miranda Devines and the Gerard Hendersons, we would have very few advocates in the media.
Regrettably, in political life there are a limited number prepared to advocate what the media deem unfashionable. I can understand why; conservative advocacy comes without a personal cost. However, without the few that are prepared to stand for conservative principle and values in a hostile environment we would simply be abandoning the political field to the populist left.
The implications of that would be damning for us all.
Cory Bernardi represents South Australia in the Senate. He has just launched defamation proceedings over a story that was the subject of a Quadrant Online post,
The Quadrant Book of Poetry: 2001 - 2010
edited by Les Murray