Mr Rabbit vs Mr Riley

I don’t necessarily agree with Tony Abbott’s policies, but I don’t think what he said to the soldiers, taken in context, was unreasonable.

Colonel Creighton says of the Digger’s death: “Was it tragic? Absolutely. But we’re all in the knowledge that all the stuff (firepower support) you see here and more was available on the day.”

In response, Mr Abbott says: “It’s pretty obvious that, well, sometimes s— happens, doesn’t it.”

Immediately, Major General Cantwell replies: “It certainly does, yeah.” — AAP report

So they’d been discussing the death of Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney, and whether the troops had enough support on that operation. The conclusion seemed to be that no matter how much support, how good the equipment, how good the planning, sometimes, unfortunately, soldiers die.

It’s an inherently dangerous job, after all.

It was probably a cheap shot from Channel 7 to use the footage — but perhaps hardly surprising, given the release of the full footage under Freedom Of Information had been blocked. Mark Riley must have figured someone had something to hide.

Abbott’s response — the 25 seconds of dead silent seething anger — made the story much, much worse for him. It made it bigger. It made it a talking point around the country.

Any response would have been better. Say you won’t answer the question because it’s unreasonable. Say the original comments had to be taken in context, and explain that if necessary.

It’s like those guys who get filmed coming out of court, and decide to attack the cameras, guaranteeing them a much more prominent place on the evening news.

From the sounds of it, Abbott’s office let him down, and despite Channel 7 giving advance warning as to the nature of the interview, he simply wasn’t prepared for it.

As a commenter on the Herald Sun web site notes: I’m so pleased that Tony Abbott glared at Mark Riley, the normal human reaction would have been to grab Mark by the hair and call him a few unprintable names. Abbott showed his control, and actually had just come from a very emotional session in Parliament where they reflected on the human tragedies in the floods.

Perhaps it’s a plus that he didn’t lose his temper, but then again, shouldn’t senior politicians be prepared to face this kind of stuff?

MediaWatch returned on Monday. I’ll be very interested to see what they make of it.

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8 thoughts on “Mr Rabbit vs Mr Riley

  1. And the Defence minister, Stephen Smith, also agrees with you, saying that Tony Abbott didn’t mean any offence. A rare display of politicians from opposing sides supporting one another.

  2. I’ve only just seen the video of Tony Abbot’s silent response to Mark Riley – and although I’m no particular fan of Tony Abbott I thought his response was an appropriate one. It is a waste of words to answer a fool’s foolish question.

    It’s great to have a media that works to expose the weaknesses and foibles of our political leaders and their policies, but when the media starts acting as though embarassing politicians is an end on its own, then that’s just foolish, and ought to be resisted.

  3. Quite simple really- the Canberra Press Gallery’s darling Princess Joowya is in trouble, so they decided to shift it onto Abbott by going after a non-story! Funny, Seven got the footage on the 17th of January, but only managed to release it on the first day of Parliament! Notice that yesterday, the story was whether Abbott’s comments were inappropriate. As the public overwhelmingly judged them to be of little consequence, Seven and the rest of the media were left with egg on their faces, tried to circle the wagons and defend Riley’s actions. Now today, what is the story? That Abbott stayed silent for whatever period of time, and that proves his unsuitability to be the alternate Prime Minister. Note the rapid change of narrative- something which was a contrived story at best has now caused a media sh!tstorm, one designed to hurt Abbott. With floods and cyclones to recover from, we now have some two bit hack gossip columnist smearing a federal representative so as to push his own ideology.

    This latest piece of drive-by journalism should cast a more scrutinous eye on the rest of the media, which is sadly letting us down through personal and institutional bias!

  4. The impression I got from listening to 774 briefly was that the media was enjoying using a swear word while on the air. Normally they’d be asked to tone it down or it’d be beeped but on this occasion they used it on every possible occasion and then some. I know it’s not a serious word but it’s one they don’t normally use.

  5. The stock in trade for any politician is being able to field any question and return an answer to further their point of view.

    When I saw the snippet of the interview on TV, I was very surprised at Tony Abbot’s inability to handle the situation. A worthy leader of any political party should have chewed Mark up over his inane question. I doubt if John, Paul, Bob or even Julia would have left Mark so unscathed.

    Is there anything more pitiful than seeing a dumbfounded politician?

  6. The commercial media is always looking for sensational stories to feed the prols, this one was a joke if you heard the context in which the line from Tony was said.

    Similarly the NSW media has been running a campaign against Labour, seriously I live here and the current govt is no better or worse that any other state, so why tell their audience that Labour MUST go? I remember being in QLD 6 months ago and Anna Bligh was being hammered every day by the media for reasons that weren’t quite clear.

    Not sure where Andrew V gets his media bias in favour of Labour idea??

    The media here does not serve the public only their moguls and shareholders who have business and personal agendas which are not in our interests.

  7. I agree with @enno. If that was meant to be seething anger, then Abbott ought to work a bit harder on cultivating his seething anger look. From where I stand, it just seemed like he was lost for words. And what’s with the quivering head? Was it meant to signify quivering rage? Just looked like a lot of inane nodding to me.

    In case this comes across as anti-Abbott bias, for what it’s worth, I think the original remark was taken out of context, and the story is a bit of a beat-up. He simply made it worse by his lame response. A single cutting remark to Riley, the sort of thing Paul Keating used to be good at, could have ended the whole thing then and there.

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