PP McGuinness, one of the nation’s most distinguished journalists, was a republican before being one was a fashion imperative in the inner city salons of Sydney and Melbourne. Even as a schoolboy, he would cause outrage by not standing for the playing of God Save The Queen in cinemas. Later as a journalist, he astounded readers by the quality and quantity of the well researched commentaries he delivered, sometimes on a daily basis. Contrast that with those who receive an income many who work forty, fifty or more hours per week can only dream of, to produce one or two columns each week, consisting mainly of gossip and tedious repetition. One weekly column in The Sydney Morning Herald is a half page made up of little more than bile and slabs of quotations. Once banned from The Age because of the threat of action by fellow journalists, Mr. McGuinness is now the editor of Quadrant, one of the nation’s most influential journals.
He has written a piece for The Australian of 1`August, 2006. It is on how out of touch the press gallery has been over the decision of the Prime Minister to stay on and lead the Coalition to the next election.
He questions the gallery’s “alleged expertise” in the nation’s politics. He criticises their obsession with such trivia as leadership challenges. He ridicules the way they seek to entrap the Prime Minister into making ambiguous statements about his own plans, about marginal and soon-to-be reversed opinion poll changes, and, no doubt soon to come, the incessant speculation about the date of the next election. What they fail to do is seriously discuss policy formulation, let alone deal with “real policy issues.”Mr. McGuinness says that merely because the commentariat thinks something is an issue, some policy they do not like it is “neither here nor there.” He declares that the media have no influence on the electorate, “no matter how hard they beat up stories or express their own prejudices or hopes”.In two sentences, he delivers the coup de grâce which should finally deflate the ultra republican commentariat : “One would have thought that the press gallery would have learned this lesson long ago, especially since the republic referendum in 1999 when the combined campaigning of all the media had not the slightest success in producing the outcome they wished for. All that happened is the media made themselves look collectively ridiculous and ineffectual.” So next time a gaggle of media personalities decides on something as foolish as this year’s “mate for head of state” campaign, they should remember this assessment from an expert: “ridiculous and ineffectual.” Oh and by the way, Paddy McGuinness remains a republican. And not, it should be said, because of some passing foolish fashion.