Last week a Labor MP gave a photograph to News Limited’s Daily Telegraph of a menace who’d poured petrol on himself to gain attention outside Australian Parliament House.
If the citizen photo-journalist had been a civilian, he would have been paid for his picture. Because the MP, James Bidgood, is a fine and upstanding dude, he instead asked for a donation to be made to a charity he nominated.
Perhaps the MP’s first instinct ought not have been to photograph the menace. He undoubtedly regrets it given the savage criticism he received but the real issue here is outrageous media hypocrisy.
The Tele obtained the rights to the photograph in return for a charitable donation, despite a competitor-fuelled furore about whether one of the nation’s legislators should be moonlighting as a citizen photo-journalist.
The left-wing press, who didn’t get the pic despite a competing and higher charitable bid, went crazy, questioning the morality of the bloke doing what they pay photographers to do, intrude on people’s privacy to help tell the rest of us what’s going on in the world.
LIKE PETE AND BOB
The Prime Minister, the perfect representation of media-cycle driven Bob Carr, Peter Beattie in federal form, was quick to drop his fellow Queenslander in it.
The MP quickly followed the directives of the Hollowmen and quickly mea culpa-ed in the House.
The Daily Telegraph was having none of it. The newspaper – part of the country’s biggest news organisation, itself part of one of the world’s biggest media conglomerates – stood by their charitably minded citizen journalist, as they should.
As any decent news organisation would.
HOWE ATTACKS COLLEAGUES AND JOURNALISM ITSELF
And yet in the Herald Sun, one of its own has stuck the boot into the MP, with the poor man’s Andrew Bolt, Alan Howe referring to Bidgood as an “idiot”, “unpredictable” who should be “delisted” (we assume this means deselected). Not to be outdone, Howe then denigrates Bidgood’s Christian beliefs with all the fierce intolerance of a sneering Taliban mullah.
Howe repeats false claims that the MP “tried to sell” the photograph, claims themselves expressly denied in the Daily Telegraph. He declares “as for trying to sell pictures of the poor suicidal chap in Canberra, he should hang his head in shame”.
For all his excitable rhetoric, Howe is silent about the “buyer” and publisher of the pics, his colleagues in the Daily Telegraph. Indeed the Herald Sun also published the picture alongside a story that specifically denies there was any sale. Indeed what happened was that Bidgood told the Sydney Morning Herald – who’d offered a higher donation in return for the exclusive rights to his pics – that he only wanted them published in the Daily Telegraph. Hardly the actions of someone motivated by loot.
In contrast to the denunciations of the left-wing press and Alan Howe, locals in Bidgood’s seat think he’s doing just fine.
The not usually pro Labor Mackay Daily declared a few weeks back “You’ve done a great job, James”.
Fortunately for the marginal seat holder in the far north, the views of Melbourne latte sippers with an unnatural fondness for punishingly high red pants don’t count for much.