I am seeing a trend that I don’t like. Journalists are letting politicians get away with avoiding topics. Not all journalists, but there seem to be more every day. Take this example. Liberal senator Michael Keenan was asked if it changing eligibility rules for bushfire relief, and depriving some people of payment, was a cruel decision in the midst of the current bushfire crisis. The response from a spokeswoman for Mr Keenan said the determination was signed as soon as possible to ensure funding could be allocated to the people who needed it the most.
Now you don’t have to be a genius to work out the question was not answered. The spokesman ignored the question and made a statement that had nothing to do with the question. It was reported in a number of media outlets. Why didn’t the journalist say “But you have not answered my question. I will ask it again.”? It is just sloppy journalism to accept that answer.
One approach I would like to see, particularly on TV interviews, is that after a politician has avoided the question two or three times, the interviewer would say “Well it seems you will not answer the question, so we must assume you have something to hide regarding ….. Let’s move on to another topic.”
Another approach is to say “I didn’t ask you x. I asked you y.” For example “I didn’t ask you about how quickly you could pay bushfire relief. I asked you why you changed the rules during the crisis.”
Leigh Sales does put people on the spot at times. Kerry O’Brian was a master at the task. Unfortunately many others fall well short. Maybe they need some debating training. Come on guys. Lift your game.