Sunday, April 3, 2011

Decline and Fall – Insiders and Donald Trump

A few week’s back when Andrew Bolt was on “Insiders” I let fly a few tweets about him. He didn’t like that, so he had a pretty laughable go at me on his blog.

He was back today. Thankfully for the sake of my day, I didn’t bother to watch most of it – I only tuned in just in time for Mike Bowers and Talking Pictures. The Twitter commentary was actually more antagonistic towards Bolt than even usual, and so it was with great trepidation I watched the replay on iView.

I think Bolt’s opinions are pretty much based on purposeful ignorance and bias. But that’s fine, he’d probably say the same about mine. However, today’s show highlighted what has become more prevalent in his recent appearances – his contempt for the other panellists and even of Barrie Cassidy the host – and the belief that the panellists are there to answer his questions.

I know it is a shock to think that a guy who has a blog on the Herald Sun website, a column in every paper, and who appears regularly on the Today Show, and also on the 7pm Project, as well has a daily gig on MTR that he plugs each day on his blog is not self-effacing, but there you go.

As a long time “Insiders” watcher, I have seen Bolt change how he treats his appearances. For example, in 2007 as the Howard Govt headed for defeat, he would give his view, do his usual thing of repeating things he had already written in his blog that week (his statements are always pretty predictable) but basically engage in good robust discussion.

I disagreed back then with 99% of what he said and thought him a fool, but at least the discussion was mostly interesting, and it wasn’t all about Andrew.

Now he just sees “Insiders” as yet another opportunity for him to run his agenda.

It is boring, it is pointless, and it is killing a show which oddly Bolt decided to make reference to its 10 year run at the end of today’s show – oddly because it seemed again to be more about his appearing on the show for 10 years than the actual show’s length.

It is all very sad because I used to absolutely love the show – even when Bolt was on. Back then I would never miss an episode. Now as a rule I record the show, sleep in and watch it later – if at all. Last week’s I totally skipped. Rather than affection, now I mostly view it with sad pity. image

Barrie Cassidy does not like Twitter, and probably never reads the feeds, but someone need to tell him that Bolt is now laughing at him. And worse, that Bolt is now killing his show. Today, Mark Kenny and Lenore Taylor were treated with sanctimonious contempt by Bolt whenever the topic got on to the Greens or climate change, and if that is now the point of Insiders, then it really is time for it to be put out to pasture. 

Last year Annabel Crabb on Twitter replied to people complaining about Bolt being on Insiders again that “there’s no show without Punch”. And it was true - in the past his different view was borderline entertaining, because at least he would keep to arguing the policy or the politics (mostly that – policy, ain’t a big thing on Insiders). And such a show should have differing opinions.

But now it is just him challenging the others to answer his questions, and sneer at them if they don’t give him a yes or no answer in 10 seconds.

The lack of respect he showed Taylor, Kenny and Cassidy today was enough for me to stop watching. I knew there was nothing new I would learn, and I have better things than watch a guy be rude to other people and then laugh while doing it.

Lenore’s Taylor’s exasperated look to Cassidy after yet another of Bolt’s interruptions and contemptuous remarks, spoke for many of us.

The Australian recently has been running a rather funny little campaign to make it seem like its Sunday morning show on Sky, “Australian Agenda” is shaping the week’s agenda. It isn’t yet, but “Insiders” used to be the show. It was not watched by many, but those who mattered did watch it because not only would the interviews battle with Laurie Oakes’s Sunday interviews for importance, but the discussion by journalists on the show would give insight into how the media was viewing the political battle – and thus what the political parties were doing right or wrong in getting their message across (there’s more to be said about this point, but I’ll leave that for another day) .

Now it is hardly worth watching – rarely is anything new revealed; never is anything learned.

And when Bolt is on, it is not at all worth watching, because Bolt thinks it is all about him. Someone needs to tell Barrie that Insiders is not all about Bolt, but he is a big part of its decline (there’s more to the decline, but I’ll leave that for another day).

I know this won’t make a lick of difference, and I’m guessing the ABC don’t care about the impact Bolt has on the show. In reality having Bolt on is a nice cover for Mark Scott when he fronts up at Senate estimates and needs to counter claims by Eric Abetz that the ABC is biased to the left.

I am obviously from the left, but with regards to “Insiders”, I’ve left as well. To be honest, I’m not even that sad about it – sleeping in on Sunday is pretty good really!


Over in America things are getting fun with the Presidential election. A plethora of Republican Party non-candidates are circling around trying to decide whether or not they will officially enter the race. Most of them seem to be more interested in appealing to the right wing of the Republican Party than the centre. That may be great for winning the nomination, but it’s pretty terrible in term so winning the election.

The most bizarre of these non-candidates is Donald Trump. Trump, who it is pretty obvious will not run for election at all – as if this guy is ever going to do anything that won’t make him money – has decided to boost his credentials by bringing up the “birther” argument – namely that Obama was not born in the US and thus cannot be President. It would be funny if it were not so sad. But even in the sadness there is the laughs – and there are plenty in this interview with right wing talk show host Laura Ingraham.

Apparently Trump thinks it is odd that someone puts a birth notice in the paper announcing the birth of their son!

By the way – here’s Obama’s birth certificate:


Trump may have ok polling in media polls, but Real Clear Politics isn’t even including him yet in its summary of polling of potential candidates. My guess – he’s a joke candidate who is just trying to beef up his profile in order to make some more money, because well, that’s what he’s done for the last 30 years. 

Jon Stewart of course has been having lots of fun with it all – referring to the place the right wing republicans are trying to appeal to as “Baseistan”. At least here’s one show that’s certainly not in decline


Anonymous said...

I completely agree with your views about Insiders and that disgraceful little man - Andrew Bolt.

Like you, I used to find Insiders a quality program formed around analysing the weeks' political events. Now it's become a sad little whinge fest.

As for Andrew Bolt, his utter contempt towards the other panelists, in today's show, was disgraceful. When he didn't get the answer HE wanted he huffed and puffed, and sat there pouting and sulking like a two year old.

Bolt is nothing more than a bile filled, hate monger.

Niall said...

On the issue of "Insiders" I felt pretty much the same. Bolt has no place on Insiders if he's going to overtly attack anyone & everyone who isn't aligned with him,his views or his politics. It's bas enough Piers Akerman has to embarrass himself at every appearance, but that's at least entertaining. Boilt this morning was simply downright aggressive, obnoxious and intolerant. Unbefitting of a Sunday morning current affairs show in my view.

Sonia said...

It is a hard habit to break. Even when I know Bolt is on I cant help but watch and I do love Lenore Taylor. Something has to change. It is becoming very predictable but I still find it better than Australian agenda.

Anonymous said...

without insightful debate & discussion, Insiders is a wasteland - pity.

long stopped reading/watching Bolt as he doesn't present arguments with measured depth.

Unknown said...

I agree about Andrew Bolt. I really didn't like how he was acting towards the other guests and laughing at them, not giving them enough time to respond with their opinion. Very rude. I've pretty much said to myself that if Andrew Bolt appears on some show - I will switch to something else.
I don't need to see his ignorance and vitriol anymore (and he seems to be going where Glenn Beck has gone). I feel the same towards Piers Akerman - he carries on just as badly as Bolt.

Seeing the Jon Stewart spot at the bottom made me think, why don't we have our own version of that show? Covering our politics etc? I was thinking the chaser guys would do a good job on that ;)

James In Footscray said...

I actually thought Bolt was losing it today. It was indeed rude, but also almost maniacal. We even had a conspiracy theory about Gillard's use of the word 'family'. Quite bizarre.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Insiders has lost its edge. I don't think it's Bolt, though. I only disagree with about half of what he says.

No, I think Insiders has become tired and trivial. It reflects the general decline of the standard of our political life. Seriously, who wants to listen to a bunch of journalists' opinions?

Perhaps a show focusing on policy rather than politics would be better. A host who isn't an ex-Labor staffer would also be a plus. I vote for George Megalogenis.

SM said...

Likewise what was once unmissable viewing is now a sad reflection of it's former self. I think the ABC has become obsessed with the claims of bias & has fallen into a dualistic mode or discussing everything. I think you right tho the ability to counter the claims of one horrible little man by having another similar person on several shows is a poor service to the country by the national broadcaster. They'd be far better off just taking certain knickers on publicly, deliberately and intentionally.

Vale Insiders, you have died yet the corpse still seems animated.

lapuntadelfin said...

I'm with Anonymous. It's time for Barrie to go.

As a Chair, he is past ineffectual. As a former Chair, I watch with disbelief as Cassidy struggles when voices that need to be heard ask to be heard. A new face might regain some respect and instill some respect.

As for Bolt, he is like many whose ignorance has gathered pace. He is what he is. He can be controlled, if only his voice is diluted to the same level as others.

Vale, Insiders

Seamus said...

[Long time reader, first time caller]. I've been switching off as well, though this morning for the first time in ages I was there at the start and, sure enough, caught Bolt interrupting Lenore Taylor repeatedly.

At which point I just figured same old same old, switched off the telly until I could come back to the Talking Pictures segment.

Getting a bit sick of the "insiders" angle, truth be told. Not really learning anything new from the program anymore.

Anonymous said...

Thank God for Blogs like this is all I can say. Twitter/Blogs is the new media and its free. What Bolt did today was to hammer a nail into the coffin of what was a good Sunday Morning get together of generally opposing views which offered a good insight into the workings of the media and Government. But today, Insiders/Bolt did my head in. No more for me.

P.M.Newton said...

The job description of a professional journalist involves striving for objectivity and impartiality in the process of researching, investigating and reporting.

Like all good intentions, success is variable.

However, of late I have been wondering how, as professional journalists, those invited on to Insiders feel about sharing the couch with party shills and shock jocks?

It wouldn't matter if it wasn't part of an explicitly stated policy of providing "balance." Are journalists like Taylor, Crabb, Farr, Megalogenis, Tingle et al, seriously meant to be left leaning mirror images of Bolterman?

If I was a journo, who prided myself on trying for objectivity then I'd feel that my integrity and professionalism was being smeared by being asked on to a show to "balance" Bolterman.

The ABC has allowed itself to be dragged down to a reductive and not particularly interesting dead end.

It's impossible to "un-invite" the Bolertmans now, without being accused of censorship. So why not invite a real left wing shill so they can talk over each other, loudly, without any reference to facts.

Of course, it would mean relegating the "journalists" to a segment like Talking Pictures, but these are the sacrifices you make in the quest to "balance" the "unbalanced."

Hillbilly Skeleton said...

I despair, I truly do. Insiders cocks a snook at its Centre Left audience by having Bolt on again to push his garbage at us, and Barrie Cassidy continues to carry out his vendetta against anyone who dares criticise him by antagonising us with Bolt. What have we done, by wanting to support the Centre Left politically, that deserves such spite from the employees of the ABC?
Of course, the commercial channels are worse. Channel 9 openly supports the Coalition now. They have Tony Abbott on his own on the Today Show weekly, and Coalition MPs on whenever they want to be, plus Andrew Bolt as a regular, without any balancing pov from other journalists, unless they are also Right Wing Shock Jocks. If they do have a government MP on they mock them openly and condescend to them and ask them questions arrogantly. Not to mentiion Channel 7, which tonight classed as an 'Exclusive' the latest smear on Asylum Seekers and the government's help for them delivered by Scott Morrison. It was a beat-up about how much it costs the government to bring Asylum Seekers to the mainland by plane. So what? That's what they must do if the Christmas Island Detention Centre is full, or if they have been granted Asylum.
As I said, I am beginning to despair that this country can ever find its soul again, when it is relentlessly being fed a diet of hate-mongering and Yellow Journalism, in order to benefit the Economic Elites and the political party that represents them.

Andrew Elder said...

The whole idea of 'Insiders' is that politics moves on calmly from one week to the next.

When something disruptive occurs (e.g. the downfall of Rudd), the inadequacy of the show to explain it becomes clear.

Sunday morning is also the time to start asking questions about the status quo (e.g. "Oh, that's typical of Swanny" - well, why? What about that last time? Can we do better than that? etc.).

Gerard Henderson used to appear like a frightened little rabbit on that show, and while he's quieter than Bolt he's become no less contemptuous. The show is vulnerable because it has no sense of itself. It still has to import gravitas from Paul Kelly ("well Barrie, if the government does not succeed it runs the risk of failure") whereas you'd think it would have its own by now. After Cassidy interviews someone the other panellists mince around trying not to say "here's what I would have asked". You can say that Cassidy and the show should push back on Bolt, but from what basis?

I agree with the notion that insider journalism has become exhausted. The only real alternative is to beef up the politics reporting capacities of particular issue-based areas, and then work out some way of bringing a focus on politics for politics' sake. If there's one thing more pointless than letting 'Insiders' dribble on, it's tinkering with it a bit and pretending it's somehow all new.

keepitcivil said...

Hey Grog, just watched some of that, and it was everything you described. The way in which he, like many others on the right, complains about left-wing bias in particular is just ridiculous.

BTW, what do you make of Lenore's reaction at about 4:05 in to this clip? (
Does she call him a "f*ckwit" under her breath? I think she might

Anyway, great blog, keep it up!

Hydro Food said...

When we do finally have a carbon tax, and the sky hasn't caved in, and the rest of the world is doing pretty much the same, Bolt on his soapbox is going to be even more pathetic that he is now. I'm looking forward to the day when the entire world has moved on and just left this bloviating blow hard way behind.

And yes, Insiders is tired, and letting people like Bolt use it to vent his considerable spleen doesn't make it any better.

Greg Jericho said...

no keepitcivil - she says "oh for pity's sake". She actually did keep it civil!

NotZed said...

Gave up on insiders some time ago - not that I watched religiously but i'd grab it from time to time. But by the time I gave up I realised it was mostly just a show to discuss the headlines in The Australian over the past week (along with the predictable foaming at the mouth of the resident akerman/bolt loon). This is unfortunately what many blogs do now.

Perhaps it was the show design but it also seem to be a show about journalists for politicians rather than a show about politicians for the general public. Sums up most of Crabb's stuff too. In the end it's just dull.

Laurie Gaffney said...

Well, I turned "Insiders" off months ago. Yes I suppose it would be interesting to hear the observations of Lenore Taylor or Dennis Atkins or Laura Tingle - or - well, many others on current political affairs (if they could get a word in edgewise)but not at the expense of grinding down a perfectly good set of molars! I'd rather read their columns.

I reckon the show's unsalvageable anyway - just plain awful anchoring and moribund format. What beats me is why decent journalists put themselves through the obvious travail of appearing on it, and why otherwise sane people put themselves through the agony of watching it.

The best thing Mark Scott could do would be to turn the time slot over to Mike Bowers - I reckon we'd all be back like a shot.

Anonymous said...

Disagree. Bolt is good value. Without him there'd be unanimity. He sticks it to 'em and you don't like it. He was right to pursue Lenore Taylor. She couldn't admit that she didn't have an answer and no one does - and that's Bolt's very telling point.

Craig said...

Just adding to the chorus here; others above have already said most of what I would.

Bolt's endless spouting of denialist talking points is annoying enough already; Bolt talking over the top of the other panelists for the whole show (with Cassidy doing nothing to stop him) makes the entire exercise pointless and dull.

I turned down the volume and picked up a book halfway through; this is becoming an increasingly common event. Insiders used to be worth getting up early for, but this is no longer the case.

Clem: he didn't "pursue" Lenore, he shouted her down. And his "point" was moronic to begin with: see for a simple explanation of why.

Anonymous said...

The ABC are on a winner with Insiders when they give Bolt a run and they know it. Just look at Twitter and it is obvious that those who can't wait to spruik their indignation about bias and ignorance and declare their intention never to watch again will be the first to saddle up next time to again be outraged! Exhibit A: the author of this blog!

Anonymous said...

I didn't watch and had I have tuned in and seen Bolt was on the panel I would have moved straight on to something else.

Having an opinion is fine, everyone has one, but the manner in which Bolt conducts himself is downright pathetic. He's a borderline lunatic with delusions of grandeur.

Anonymous said...

...why don't they just give Andrew Bolt his own show, opps they have - it's called Insiders.ABC sunday mornings.
Gives people with a 'thinking'mind an excuse to sleep in.

Ron E Coote said...

Obviously something is missing in the title of this blog...
Sanctimony. Endless, drivelling, communal sanctimony.
Unlike you lot, I'm capable of NOT watching something I don't like.
So I won't be back, and there won't be any neurotic, hand-wringing, outrage that there are people in the world with different opinions to my own.

Mortisha said...

It looked like Bolt is heading for his own "Glen Beck" moment. Wait til he starts dragging a chalkboard to Insiders.

Elbogrease said...

You got it Greg. Bolt has managed to put me off my favourite polly show. Milne, Ackerman, Savva and Henderson can at least be polite.

ernmalleyscat said...

Insiders, like Q&A, succumbed to Colosseum type conflict-as-entertainment a while ago. Pointless.

I agree that it is much more worthwhile to read the views of the truly informed and insightful journalists and bloggers without the interruptions and tantrums.

I worry for Andrew Bolt. He seems to have got himself into a dangerous situation where, to get the adulation of his blog readers that he craves, he has to be more and more reviled by those he and his followers hate.

Thus he spends most of his time in the public view not actually arguing issues, but making sure he will attract condemnation that he can use for more baiting.

He will send himself mad.

Thirdborn said...

The show was embarassing for Barrie on the weekend - Bolt was simply too aggresive for a Sun morning. Someone has to go, either Bolt or Barrie - either way, one of my fav shows has been ruined.

I see you've got under the skin of Bolt and his loony supporters as well. Don't be dragged down by them.

Anonymous said...

Simple - Howhard has won. The ABC as a whole used to be a place where facts ruled - but then I'm over 50. The idea that we have to "balance" facts with opinions that simply say "the facts are wrong" is the death of intelligence.
I save myself the agro of seeing biased d-heads like Bolt by not bothering with the insiers when he's on.(easy to do - Background Briefing is on) Akerman, milne etc can still make me watch because they do attempt civil debate. I used to read Bolt's blog and find out stuff - but when all of it is rubbish why waste valuable time.
I also used to podcast the insiders. It's now just a sad travesty of a good idea ruined.
Thank goodness for Grog, Peter Martin, Andrew Elder, Possum, Quigs, David Stern etc we can learn something and decide for ourselves.

Sonia said...

Just reading Bolts blog (it was forwarded in a tweet). He claims Lenore told him to piss off!!! I find this hard to believe although i'm sure she wanted to .If I had the stomach for it I would watch again but sadly I cannot

troy said...

My god how the left scream with rage when someone has a different view to there own. I disagree totally, Andrew makes the show and without Andrew there would be no debate because everyone else on the show would agree with each other. By the way, there is a world outside of the ABC, where people dont sit around sipping lattes and whinging whats wrong with the world!

Anonymous said...

All Bolt does is whinge about stuff. Good to see he's been sacked from the show.

It's not about somebody having a different point of view. He can say whatever he wants. The problem people from both the left and the right have with Bolt is he won't let anyone else have their point of view. Talking over others and interrupting is not debating. It's the mark of someone insecure with their own point of view and a fear of others showing them up.

But anyway, he's gone now and the show will be better for it.

Anonymous said...

Bolt has quit Insiders today. Now I might even bother to watch it again.

Anonymous said...

It does the show no favour to have Bolt in as an antagonist. It's not a reality show and quality debate involves more than getting on a shop box and talking down to and aggresively at others. We seem to have reached the place where our on screen political programing is every bit as poor as our print media. There is some talk of Bolt getting his own show on Ten which will, if it happens, only go to prove my belief that Ten is becoming little more than a pathetic carbon copy of Nine and Seven. Andrew Bolt is rude and it's a rudness that obviously comes from a sense of entitlement. His doesn't have to argue or debate his opinion to some, I'm sure he considers, lesser minds. He is rude, obnoxious and often wrong. That's probably why he seems so aggressive in his question asking. It takes the focus of debating his opinions. Attack is the best form of defense particularly if your arguments are so often proven to be as factually flawed as his.

Anonymous said...

What's the bet Their ABC will replace Bolt with a(nother) shock jock. Alan Jones, for example, Steve Price or some other right wing extremist.

You heard it here first.


jez said...

Cuppa, a friend has just suggested that Tim Blair might come off the bench.

Meanwhile, in memory of LaBolta, how's this for a blast from the past...

Doug said...

He won't be missed. As I understood it, the Insiders was supposed to be an impartial, dispassionate, disinterested, critical analysis of the politics of the week's events.

Cassidy lost control of it some time ago. Perhaps he knew it was Bolt's last shot this week and that is why he let him take over yet again.

After Bolt's previous turn, I wrote to the show asking why, if we were going to be subjected to political argument rather than analysis, we had to watch the monkeys rather than the organ grinders (no reply of course - the media only has the last word when it is public). I said if Bolt was on then my set was off.

This week I saw him sitting smirking and wondered if he had been directed to rein it in. However once he got started on Lenore Taylor, I hit the off button. Had I been her, I'd have stood up, told Bolt to shut up and listen, told Cassidy he should retire because he has nothing left in his locker, and walked off the set. At least that would have given them some ratings. I am over the show - like Cassidy, it has reached its retirement age.

Anonymous said...

With regard to the "balance" thing, are we to infer from the insistence of the show's producers that those journalists who appear who are not right wing must be left wing? Is that how it works? If you are not declared right wing then you must be left wing, and so the ABC has to have a right winger to "balance" things? Might it not be possible to have panelists who are neither right nor left - just independent?

Anonymous said...

This is worth reading

Notus said...

The US style shout journalism has been on the increase at the ABC for some time.
I would like to know who has decided to take our public broadcaster in this direction.
Sure parading the village idiot can be entertaining for the morons who normally watch commercial main stream media (MSM) but this is not good enough for the ABC.

Anonymous said...

I think that the problem with the Blots, Akerpersons, Milnes and Henderoffsprings are that they are not real people. They are caricatures of right wingers. Is this the best that the ABC can do to achieve balance? Or is it the ABCs contention that there is no-one in the media pool who can present a rational, believable, right-of-centre argument to the Australian public?

Barrie Cassidy should pass the baton to someone who will exercise some control over the dills that he has to deal with. He obviously has no idea.

As for Paul Kelly, what a total waste of space that guy is. Whenever he is announced, I say to myself "Beauty Paul, sing us a song." Instead, we get some broken down hack masquerading as one of Australia's best know singer-songwriters.


Liza Kingsley said...

Wow. You people are all so wrong. Andrew Bolt is the sole reason that Insiders is as popular as it is. It is so refreshing to hear from someone who doesn't just follow the pack the way Lenore, Laura, David and Barrie et al do. They are all so goddamed boring and whiney. I am not in the least political and I watch the show simply to see Bolt in action - he is like some kind of BS destroyer on steroids. I love it and loved seing Lenore squirm on Sunday when she was completely outgunned. Bolt was on fire and can't wait for him to have his own show.

Brett Donald said...

Wow, so they sacked Andrew Bolt on your advice? The ABC is in the palm of your hand!