Tue. May 14th, 2024

Image from au.news.yahoo.com (Photos sourced from Twitter/AAP)

This post was originally published on The Australian Independent Media Network on 12th May 2022.

A photo says a thousand words, and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese’s decision to appear alongside Alan Jones has brought about an onslaught of questions about where Albanese’s priorities ought to be.

The fiery discussion ensued following Albanese’s Twitter post of a photo alongside outspoken and controversial radio commentator Alan Jones.

Child abuse survivor and advocate Grace Tame set social media on fire for a comment aimed at Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese.

Tame had only to caption the image “Side eye SIDE EYE” for a wave of comments to appear criticising Albanese for the photo.

One Twitter user posited

“I find it hard to understand why Albo would post this picture on Twitter. Surely he knows that his supporters on here are not exactly big fans of Alan?”

Another argued

“You don’t include male abusers and abuse enablers in any plan that involves the betterment of women.”

These comments were to be expected, given the toxic language Jones has utilised over the years. However, some commenters were more forgiving of Albo, arguing that the appearance was necessary.

The broad-church argument has often been invoked by both political sides in order to convince the public that neither the left or the right takes priority.

One user argued that

“To achieve your plans for the betterment of women, sometimes you have to use all the media outlets you can just to persuade that particular audience to vote for you! Forget the face, it’s listeners you need for their vote. Albo is on your side but he needs to work audiences”.

The both side-ism argument when entering into debate, whether it be through journalism, politics or activism is all too often relied on in instances when seeking power.

Yet, when power is achieved, a side is taken and a strong stance on an issue is often cemented.

Here we have a prime example of a progressive Labor leader attempting to remedy the mistakes of the last election by leaning towards so-called moderate campaign strategies.

Bill Shorten’s failed 2019 election bid saw a bold, progressive and fair policy platform rejected by voters.

Media and political commentary will have you believe that this rejection was in response to the policies themselves. Therefore, Labor’s shift in discourse and attempt to appease more moderate and conservative voices is surely an effective way to ensure election victory.

However, the issue is far more in the delivery of the message than the policy themselves.

Labor could have won the last election with a better strategy, not weaker targets and policies that are currently promoted.

But they faced a wave of media bias and attack dog politics consumed by voters.

So maybe Albanese’s cosying up to Jones can be seen as a method for Labor to get media onside, to promote their agenda in an increasingly monetarised political sphere.

Let’s suppose that line of argument has significant merit. It would need to rely on a number of factors.

Firstly, that conservative media will bend to support the left if their ideological beliefs are supported.

Secondly, that voters who consume conservative media have the potential to be swing voters and vote Labor at the ballot box.

In an ideal world, where the media represent the Liberalism ideal of a ‘marketplace of ideas’, this would be an excellent line of campaigning to pursue.

However, media-public relationship does not actually work like this.

Swing voters are unlikely to consume media from primarily right or left-wing mediums.

Indeed, these voters are often more inclined to gain their election knowledge from the more nuanced bias of commercial news and media outlets.

Albanese’s decision to appear with Jones therefore does not demonstrate Labor’s seemingly new stance of supporting the ‘marketplace of ideas.’

Indeed, the very argument is far more aligned with that of the Liberal party and their fellow free-speech warriors.

Labor supports fair, honest media, however as many interested in political communication and media bias are aware, this has not generally equated to having photo ops with media who back the opposing side.

As journalists (or budding journalists like myself), we must strive to be unbiased and fair in our reporting or commentary on news and current events.

However, to suggest that there is no ideology behind our words fails to take into account the simple fact that everything is political.

Jones and even the ABC have demonstrated this, having campaigned for and against government policies.

For Albanese to appear alongside a media personality who has promoted ideals in complete opposition to what he says are his core ideals could be an attempt to persuade undecided voters.

The clock is ticking to tell if this tactic will be successful.

By Melissa Marsden

Melissa Gillian Marsden is a passionate advocate for social justice and a self-confessed political junkie. After being diagnosed with with a life long, life threatening medical condition six weeks after birth she knew from the beginning that fairness and equality are notoriously contested and complex issues. Read more on my 'About Me' page.