I’m not even sure why I was seeing the six o’clock TV news on a commercial channel. Past experience has demonstrated only too clearly that what is in the public interest and what the public is interested in are two, distinctly different things. And yet here I was – somehow – plonked on the couch as Kent Brockman dialled up ‘outraged-and-disgusted’ on the facial-expression-o-meter.
“Two hoons have left a path of destruction in an overnight rampage,” said Kent. “The pair escaped police, nanoseconds after officers called off the chase, only to crash the stolen car they were driving into a roundabout”. Hold the weddin’, Judge. Are we talking hoons here, or car thieves? Surely, the telly-prompter should have read: Two car thieves have left a trail of… blah, blah, blah. You get the point.
Since when did being a hoon become a crime more foul than being a car thief? And define hoon. I’ll start you off by defining car thief. It’s somebody who steals cars. Now your turn: What exactly is a hoon, and how did this act of hoonery become more significant than the fact that some poor bastard is, this morning, standing in an empty driveway where their car was sitting last night? And is it not possible that the hoon act was the result of a couple of bobble-heads panicking when Plod switched on the cherries and berries and kicked it down three gears out of a side-street?
Of course, I should know better than to be surprised at the idiocy of mainstream TV news reporting. In fact, mainstream TV anything. You know the stuff. TV shows based on watching grumpy chefs filling their pockets with money while they cook things that (a) I can already cook myself, or (b) I wouldn’t feed the yappy dawg two doors up. And under-paying the wait-staff at their overpriced restaurants in the meantime. Yeah, nah. But then it got worse. Oh yes.
You will, of course, recall the horrendous crash on a Melbourne freeway earlier this year where four police officers were killed doing their job. Yes, how could we forget?
But here’s where it gets stupid: The driver of the car involved in the original stop-and-search on the side of the freeway was allegedly travelling at almost 50km/h over the limit on a busy arterial, was allegedly off his scone on meth, was allegedly carrying ice in his car (the drug, not the beer-and-prawn preservative) was allegedly driving while disqualified and then allegedly taunted a dying officer, videoed her and then shared the video with his allegedly dickhead mates. He then allegedly fled the scene without offering potentially life-saving assistance despite being trained as a registered nurse. Oh, and he was on bail while all this was going on.
So how do the news services refer to him? As the drugged driver? The speeding driver? The disqualified driver? The driver who ran away rather than help a dying cop? The driver who shared his snuff videos? Nope, pretty much every media outlet identified the alleged tool as ‘The Porsche driver at the centre of the tragedy’. FFS.
If I was Porsche, I’d be sooling the lawyers on to the lot of them. What if the bloke had been driving a Camry? Would he be ‘The Toyota driver at the centre of the tragedy’? Of course not. This is just one more example of weasel words and double-speak being used to bring innuendo into a news service that should be factual and unbiased, not emotive and calculated to put a slant on the facts.
Why does it happen? I reckon in the first instance – the People versus Hoons – the broad idea is to further vilify anybody who likes to drive a car. In the second example, there’s a clear intention to make pariahs of anybody who has worked hard and made sacrifices to own a Porsche (by associating them with Old Mate shit-heels) and drive an even bigger wedge between what’s perceived as the haves and have-nots. Mightn’t do much for the art of reportage, but it sure as hell glues the dummies to the idiot-box.