“I have not come to praise Michelle …”

Andrew Elder has written a critique of Michelle Grattan’s career. Overall I think it is very good.

For Grattan, politics was something that took place within one of two buildings in Canberra. Outside the building was a continent, several excluded-for-immigration-purposes islands and a world that acted as passive recipients of whatever came out of the particular building in use at the time. From inside that building came announcements, largely unconnected to policy developments in that area or to self-interested lobbying efforts, and almost never followed up as to their effect in the country beyond. Wash, rinse, repeat, for four decades.

For people who do follow politics closely – and who are avid readers of Fairfax publications – Grattan’s offerings were thin fare. It may be true that if Tony Abbott does not succeed he runs the risk of failure, but there is more to it than that. She had a wealth of experience to draw upon, yet she set it aside in favour of formulaic reporting of the same old same-old, trying to make it sound fresh and exciting and mostly failing. Her daily journalism is an odd combination of grind and hype: each article stands like a bowl of tepid porridge with a lit sparkler stuck into it.

Grattan never attempted the High Road of Big Themes, like Paul Kelly and Peter Hartcher. She did not attempt to collect wacky anecdotes (books which are, in effect, the author’s Greatest Hits reel) like Laurie Oakes. She reported what was in front of her and was incurious about how taxes brought into the capital were expended in the delivery of public services, and how the delivery of those services framed how politicians were perceived, and how politicians thus perceived went about the communities that they supposedly represented. Her pronouncements and predictions on Fran Kelly’s Radio National show had no value at all.

That’s probably all true – but also a tad unfair. Michelle Grattan isn’t alone in those failings.

Leading Australian journalists are almost all into discussing political strategy and/or on a drip from one of the political players in Canberra.

(HT: Charles via Facebook)

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25 Responses to “I have not come to praise Michelle …”

  1. johno

    It had to be said. Really, she wasn’t that good. Well done that man.

  2. Rodney

    Michelle Grattan, the most boring woman in the world.

  3. Jim Rose

    she was a boring writer.

  4. Leigh Lowe

    each article stands like a bowl of tepid porridge with a lit sparkler stuck into it.

    What an apt description of Grattan’s daily serving of top ‘n tailed ALP talking points.

  5. Leigh Lowe

    Oops …. Server lock up then multiple posts accepted.
    (Is blog stuttering covered by the NDIS?)

    [Fixed that. Sinc]

  6. Rabz

    Even when I used to read Fauxfacts I never once remember reading anything by Mrs Magoo.

    At least barkin’ betty was entertaining in a “look, a train crash” kind of way.

    Mrs Magoo was just plain ol’ boring.

  7. michaelc58

    To my unskilled ear, she sounded like an unashamed Labor cheerleader most of the time and an apologist the rest, always predicting a Labor spring.

    The story yet to be told is how a press gallery can fell in love with a crook union lawyer and a bunch of union thug friends and help elevate that lawyer to prime ministership, while not just incurious about the lawyer’s shady past from communism to union fraud to bed hopping to the top, but actually running interference.

    An epic fail of their profession, in trying to morally shape instead of reporting and challenging events.

  8. blogstrop

    Further proof, if you needed it, that our budding journalists are most likely to be badly influenced by people like Ricko, Grattan and Simons, and that academe is, like the ABC, a bolt-hole for too many of the left species.

  9. She’s a microcosm of everything that’s gone wrong at Fairfax – a bunch of old lefties with nothing useful to say but guaranteed tenure regardless. Trouble is, she’ll be replaced by some Brunswick vegetarian. Come back, Michelle! All is forgiven!

  10. The whole article is interesting. He has some words of praise for Michelle – meticulous in her fact-checking and kind to younger journalists, for instance – but his main criticism in fact seems to be she was too hard on Julia Gillard.

  11. Rafe

    An unashamed Labor cheerleader who was careful not to make mistakes within her narrow range of interests and cultivated younger journalists.

    Not alone indeed, is it supposed to be a saving grace that the equally obscene Oakes collected jokes?

  12. Grattan has long had complete disdain for ordinary people and their suffering.

  13. Alfonso

    There was the daily reminder, “her pronouncements and predictions on Fran Kelly’s Radio National show had no value at all”.

    Michelle, was the dullest of the Labor cheer squad who had not one original insight in her career, which over so much time is nearly a statistical impossibility.

  14. H B Bear

    Anyone expecting anything of value from a discussion between Mrs Magoo and Our Fran clearly has no familiarity with either of their work.

  15. Honesty

    Not so much as “tepid porridge” as a cup of cold sick. I would listen to the Fran and Gran podcast at the end of the day to see how the ALP talking points went. There was zero insight very single time.

  16. Up The Workers!

    Many moons ago when I was studying at the R.M.I.T., all in my class were doing poorly at the subject of “Politics”. Then one day somebody found out that our tutor’s full-time job was “Principal Private Secretary” of Victoria’s then A.L.P. Opposition Leader.

    We started writing ludicrously left-wing garbage assignments and we all passed with flying colours. We got the marks, but it left a foul taste in the mouth.

    I suppose that’s how “journalism” studies are conducted these days (and probably have been for the last 30 years).

    I can’t see how Mrs Magoo’s re-animation as a lecturer in A.L.P. propaganda (aka “journalism”) is going to improve things.

    For that matter, what credentials does she have to get such a position? Her propaganda scribblings were done in obscure, utterly unread wastes of newsprint put out by the Fauxfacts organization. More people read the backs of parking tickets, than have read anything put out by Fauxfacts in the last 50 years.

  17. A personality like a bowl of tepid porridge with a lit sparkler stuck into it.

    Stealing that little sucker…

  18. twostix

    Err according to the commenters over there Grattan’s a “bitter old conservative” who hates Julia Gillard.

    It’s weird, is there anyone on the left that other leftists will admit is a leftist?

  19. MACK1

    Gossip is the word – the entire Canberra press gallery reports only gossip. As one example, if you think of all the discussion of immigration in recent years, including boat people and the apparent lack of integration of some new arrivals, show me one example of a report which actually tells you what our migration policy is. Who do we let in, from where, how many and using what criteria? A complete void. No facts, no data, no analysis of the pros and cons of various alternatives. They just produce lightweight chatter.

  20. m0nty

    Now there’s a blog I never thought I’d see linked favourably in a Catallaxy Files OP.

  21. Clancy of The Underpass

    For services rendered to journalism, I’m going to do a sculpture of Michelle Grattan. I’m just waiting for the dynamic lifter to be delivered.

  22. Huckleberry Chunkwot

    Now there’s a blog I never thought I’d see linked favourably in a Catallaxy Files OP.

    Just a quick drive-by post on a relatively obscure blog on catallaxy.
    Get over to the O/F and face what is coming to you m0nty you coward.
    I can’t believe that you haven’t had the balls to come here since Monday’s Newspoll. Pathetic.

  23. henry

    Is Paul Kelly any better ? Hell no. Thank God for Bolt.

  24. Twostix, re: lefties thinking Grattan is a righty. Seems they can’t forgive her for writing some mean things about Peter Slipper. Just as folks here can’t forgive her for writing some nice things about Rudd or Gillard. Personally I couldn’t give a crap either way 🙂

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