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May 27th 2016 print

Christian Kerr

Five More Weeks of Antic Dancing

Yesterday, as the press gallery's intrepid watchdogs inform us, the Prime Minister looked closely at a sweet potato. There, that's your election coverage -- not to mention an excuse for reporters to avoid picking over matters of genuine and weightier importance

red slippersJournalists love election campaigns, which absolve them of any need to find their own stories. They’re all laid on for them, like a hotel buffet. Sure, sometimes they’re a little tepid. Sometimes they’ve been sitting there too long. On other occasions it is best not to look at the ingredients too closely. But a story is a story is a story. Particularly when it’s just there and waiting for you, the reporter, to come along and do what is expected.

Or so it was until this campaign, which Mark Kenny in the Fairfax papers today denounces it as a “turgid affair”. On ABC News 24 this morning Barrie Cassidy complained that it was marred by “exaggeration”.  Virtually everywhere else the big stories appear to be that the Prime Minister handled a raw sweet potato and Jacqui Lambie used the word “arsehole” (and worse) to describe Cory Bernardi. This mix of pontification and piffle suggests the media may no longer be revelling in the election.

The usual five-week election slog is fine. But it won’t be five weeks until polling day until tomorrow. This long slog … any distraction, please. Any break. Any relief.

The realisation is dawning that we’re not even halfway through. And the fear is rising. Is this the political equivalent of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Red Shoes?

“Dance you shall,” said the angel with the bright sword, “dance in your red shoes till you are pale and cold, till your skin shrivels up and you are a skeleton! Dance you shall, from door to door, and where proud and wicked children live you shall knock, so that they may hear you and fear you! Dance you shall, dance—!”

But she did not hear what the angel answered, for the shoes carried her through the gate into the fields, along highways and byways, and unceasingly she had to dance.”