Modia Minotaur

Trawling the airwaves to spare you the agony!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sunrise and False Dawn

When Kevin Rudd became Opposition Leader, I expected he would instantly step down from his long-running role on Channel 7's `Sunrise' - or, if he did not, that he would politely be asked to do so. Two representatives of two political parties doing a regular informal discussion is one thing; one of them being the leader of one of those parties is quite different. Nevertheless, Rudd kept his place in the cult-like organisation known as the `Sunrise family' (while its rival, Channel 9's `Today', duplicated the successful formula with a regular tete-a-tete between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott). Holding on to this role was always ill-advised, and now, much like the Paul Gibson controversy (I'm glad I didn't have time to blog that, it was all just too depressing), someone has found a loophole.

A press gallery backlash is common when politicians refuse to make themselves as available as journalists would like. We saw exactly the same thing with Mark Latham, who was notoriously choosy about who he spoke with. The fact that Rudd was always so well known for being at the media's beck and call makes any reduction of access or excess media management all the starker.

Rudd's decision to join Sunrise was always an extremely canny move, as I've said before. It is both easy and foolish to remember that while you might be able to get meaty policy across on the 7.30 Report, the sort of people whose vote will change based not only on your policy, but by whether or not they actually know who you are, don't watch the 7.30 Report. Neville Wran was one of the first leaders to recognise the impact of the mass media, while Paul Keating was the first to use talkback radio as a tool of connection with the public.

However, Rudd's continued participation on the Sunrise show was risky not only because of the potential for such controversies as the one that is currently raging, but for Channel 7 itself - it risked the implied support for one party over another. As for Rudd, the notion of dedicating your early morning media time, by default, to one channel, is quite extraordinary when you think about it. Did the leak about the alleged false Dawn Service in Vietnam emanate from other members of the media from opposing organisations? Almost certainly.

My two predictions for the near future - first, Walt Secord, famous for heavying the media on behalf of Bob Carr and now Rudd's senior media advisor, will be told to change his heavy-handed style, or even ejected altogether in the long term. Second, Rudd will exit the Sunrise family, or at least become only an occasional guest.

8 Comments:

At 10:10 am, Anonymous Guy said...

Spot on with regards to Rudd departing! But it's a bit of a shame really.

 
At 10:27 pm, Blogger Minotaur said...

It is a shame - I'm the first one to applaud any politician who finds a way to speak to their constituents rather than only singing to the political choir of the converted, but the danger that Rudd would be seen to be using the show to further his own agenda was always too great.

I do hope they keep the basic concept though - perhaps with a revolving roster of different Ministers.

 
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