Saturday, February 17, 2018

Barnaby Joyce scandal proves that carnal Canberra is like hypocritical Hollywood

You've probably heard that line: "Politics is showbiz for ugly people." It's so true, and in several ways. Hypocrisy, for example, is rife in both Canberra and Hollywood. And it relates to many of the same issues.

Then there's the common obsession with sex. Makes perfect sense. Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac, after all. (That quote is attributed to Henry Kissinger. And he would know ... If you looked like him, you'd prolly need some kinda "drug" at your disposal to make hot women wanna shag you, right?)

And with sex comes gossip. Seems like Canberra "insiders" spend as much time talking about who's humping whom as they do about more edifying subjects such as economic and cultural policy!

Sam Dastyari's tweet about Barnaby Joyce and Vicki Campion was a perfect illustration of this obsession. And it was eerily similar to screenwriter Scott Rosenberg's Facebook post about Harvey Weinstein.  

Obviously there was a big difference between the two cases in that what Weinstein was up to turned out to be utterly heinous. (Rosenberg was referring to his well known general skeeviness, BTW. Sounds like he didn't know of any actual rapes until the gruesome details hit the headlines.) The goss about Barnaby, OTOH, was that he was schtupping a staffer and had gotten her preggers. While obviously this was a consensual arrangement it was still considered scandalous by most people who knew of it.

That said, the #MeToo angle has been conflated with the Joyce narrative, with allegations that he drunkenly pinched a woman's bottom a while back. (I'm always skeptical about historical claims like this. You think, why are they being aired now? If telling journos is justified presently, why wasn't this done back when the acts were supposed to have occurred. They tend to make the accusers look more like opportunists out to cause maximum reputational damage than genuine victims seeking justice.)

In any case the thing I find fascinating about both these scandals is that so many people in a professional and social scene can yabber away endlessly among themselves about very private details of a public person's life while managing to keep them completely hidden from the wider world. And many of these people are journalists, remember.

Sure, now the whole world knows what a monster Weinstein is, and all of Oz is aware of Joyce's dirty linen. It's as if insider tales like this need to reach a critical mass before they explode into the public arena.

And what factors go into that process? God only knows ... But they do seem pretty arbitrary, and relate to who has the most power and influence at any given moment. In the case of Weinstein it looks very much like Hillary's loss to Trump was a major factor.

The liberal establishment he'd been so suppotive of for so long had been dealt a yuuuge blow. Thereby substantially weakened, it could not offer him the protection from exposure it did in the past. MSM journos, previously terrified of losing their jobs -- or worse -- for crossing the seriously connected Tinseltown "Mr Big" became emboldened enough to finally report on his vile behaviour.

And why did the Joyce saga only surface in the meeja recently? Can't be that journos were ambivalent about it. Seems that most, if not all members of the Canberra press gallery long thought it was newsworthy.

Some on the Left have said that there was an eeevil right-wing cone of silence put in place to make sure Joyce won back his seat after his citizenship woes. But then why didn't Fairfax or the ABC report on it? The Daily Tele was the first major outlet to break the story, as far as I know. And from what I've read they sat on it because they didn't have enough hard evidence to justify publication.

Well, whatever forces were actually at play in this case, there are no doubt many more scandalous Australian political tales that only those in the know are gossiping up a storm about -- just like in Hollywood. One or more of them will eventually become public knowledge.

Why some are chosen and some are overlooked seems to me to be at least as intriguing as the tales themselves. 

UPDATE: Another example of mainstream media and political establishment keeping a scandalous secret, this time from the United Kingdom:

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