Social Issues

Press in the Palm of Hanson’s Hand

The redhead is back in the political ring thanks to the media writes mikiashanti.

For Pauline Hanson there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Her image as a so-called ‘Aussie Battler’, has been popularised by negative media coverage, allowing her to make her political resurrection. The constant sensationalising of Hanson’s bigotry must stop as it has only garnered her more support and given her celebrity status.

Hanson’s allure for journalists is obvious. They just add water to her controversial statements to get instant headlines which the pubic feasts upon. When Pauline Hanson made her political debut in 1996, journalists constructed ‘Hansonism’, which symbolised “political myopia, outback bigotry and small-minded racism.” (Louw & Loo, January 1997) In a nutshell, they gave Hanson her own brand of bigotry on a silver platter.

Since then, ‘Hansonism’ hasn’t changed much. Hanson now warns that are being “swamped by Muslims” instead of Asians, and headlines like ‘Pauline Hanson’s First Press Conference as A Senator Was INSANE’, (Huffington Post, July 2016) are spewed on the front pages of every newspaper. A new decade, a new minority group being further marginalised and a new political slogan being popularised by the media.

Journalists have abandoned unbiased and professional reporting in favour of mockery and sensationalism. In their mission to construct Hanson as Australia’s answer to Donald Trump they have stopped lower than imaginable. In 2009 the media salivated over Hanson’s ‘nude photo scandal’. But the photos were of another woman. Now we see childish headlines like engorged with exaggeration like “Nostalgic Queensland: The murder of Pauline Hanson” (The Courier-Mail, September 2016). This distortion of the truth is absolutely deplorable.

The media asks us the ludicrous question “Marriage equality plebiscite a good idea? How about one on redheads” (Sydney Morning Herald, September 2016). But laughing at Hanson’s most notorious statements does not help our dire situation. Yes, she has ridiculous opinions. But it’s not enough to simply state that. None of these articles actually debunk her beliefs. They just provide more free publicity for Pauline.

Even more sickeningly, some journalists have taken a sycophantic approach to reporting Hanson.  Recently, the Courier Mail absurdly dedicated an entire article to a One Nation supporter who likened Hanson to Nelson Mandela. The Today Show got in on the disgusting act by circulating a meme which echoed this comparison.

“Incredibly, Hanson has become a quasi-celebrity and cult figure in our debased culture where she has featured for years on many TV shows. In this campaign she was the beneficiary of truckloads of soft free media time and interviews based on the fraudulent excuse that she says what many people think.” (The Australian, July 2016)

In fact, Pauline’s 2004 appearance on Dancing with the Stars made her an instant celebrity and was “so ripe for attention that if I ran The Sydney Morning Herald over the course of her appearance, I would have changed the paper’s name to The Sydney Morning Hanson.” (SBS, July 2016)

Hanson’s several appearances on the morning show Sunrise also made her a household name. We can all personally thank Sam and Kochie for providing her with a mainstream platform to spread her radical “Hansonism” and paying her for the privilege.

But we’re the ones who truly paid the price. Pauline Hanson’s party, One Nation, managed to snatch 4.3% of Australian votes in the recent election (New Matilda, September 2016), miraculously transforming her from a figure of public ridicule to a figure of public ridicule who secured four seats in the senate.

The amount of people who find Hanson’s political snack pack palatable is unsettling.  62% of the country agrees that “she speaks for a lot of ordinary Australians” (New Matilda, September 2016). This ‘Australian Battler’ persona was created when Hanson identified herself as “a mother of four children, a sole parent and a businesswoman running a fish and chip shop”. (Ustinoff, November 2005) and negative media coverage only fed into it.

In the 90s Hanson was treated to her very own tribute drag queen called ‘Pauline Pantsdown’. Her impersonator, Australian satirist Simon Hunt, released the outrageous song ‘I don’t like it’, named after Hanson’s infamous catchphrase. You would expect this ridicule to make people see Hanson as a joke. However, it made the public view her as a martyr who would sacrifice political correctness for the sake of the ‘average’ Australian.

As said by former Prime Minister John Howard, “To sort of put her in a special corner is stupid and all it does is enhance her position. I mean, I watched this debate back in 1998 and 1999 and the more she was attacked, the more popular she became, because those attacks enhanced her Australian battler image” (Sky News, 7 July 2016)

It was recently exposed by the media that sections “of her party’s policies on Halal certification, sustainable development and medical cannabis have been copied off Wikipedia” (ABC, July 2016). She once asked an interviewer to “please explain” what xenophobia meant. Her incompetency and lack of articulation should discredit her as a serious politician.

But they don’t.

Instead, all of these inadequacies enhance her ‘realness’ and ‘relatability’ in the eyes of those disillusioned with the major political parties. Thanks to her image as a straight-talker and crusader for the everyday man, Pauline has amassed a cult following of Australians who desperate for ‘a fair go’. They have been brainwashed by the media to see her as a viable alternative to the Coles and Woolworths of politics.

The woman herself said, “It’s the media, it’s like they see me as a punching bag. ‘Let’s have a swipe at her, let’s have a go. Oh, let’s sensationalise the story. We’ll use Pauline Hanson, all the tags that are associated with it.’ “Well guys, I’ll tell you something: I’m not interested and neither is the public.” (Sydney Morning Herald, July 2016)

And for once, she’s right.

The media circus must stop. Her bigotry isn’t funny and we can’t keep joking about it. All this will do is provide her with more publicity and reinforce her repugnant beliefs. The constant rhetoric of the racist redneck is unhelpful. Journalists must voice their opinions in a reasoned manner and present logical arguments against her. They cannot treat simply Hanson as a freak show. Hilarious headlines make us laugh for a few seconds, but Pauline and her supporters will be the ones laughing when ‘Hansonism’ gets even bigger.

So the next time you see an overly sensationalised article or interview, say “I don’t like it” and ask the media to “please explain”. Journalists must be held accountable for their reporting. We cannot jeopardise the future of our nation.

Do you want Pauline as your Prime Minister?

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