The death throes of the Fairfax mastheads make for gruesome viewing, yet are strangely captivating. One never knows what will happen next.
Take this afternoon. The main Fairfax websites reached a new journalistic low. As part of their never-ending clickbait frenzy, they grabbed a handful of words from a speech delivered that lunchtime, a dismissal of bien-pensant orthodoxy, and ran them in a headline as if they were harsh dismissal of the speaker in a bid to drive hits with some controversy.
That the subject of the misrepresentation was our second-longest serving prime minister, John Howard, didn’t matter. Indeed, it only helped the cause — as while many of them were yet to begin primary school when he moved to the Lodge Age journalists and their new target demographics all know that John Howard is very evil. Very evil indeed.
The former PM had been speaking at the National Press Club where, in response to a question, he said he’d like to see more women in politics.
“But,” he continued,” I don’t think you will ever sort of have a 50/50 thing because it is a fact of society that the caring role, whatever people may say about it and whatever the causes are, women play a significantly greater part of fulfilling the caring role in our communities which inevitably places some limits on their capacity.”
Warming to his theme Howard added: “Now, some people may say, ‘What a terrible thing to say’.
“It is not a terrible thing to say, it just happens to be the truth, and occasionally you’ve just got to recognise that and say it.
“The mainstream should not be too timid to say things occasionally.”
Typical Howard, in other words.
But how did Fairfax portray the episode?
It used the former PM’s own words on its websites as if he’d been attacked amid some raging controversy sparked by the remarks in a bid to drive traffic:
And that, dear reader, is what passes for quality independent journalism in this country. That and the ABC.