At 7.13am on Monday an email from the Prime Minister’s Office landed in the inboxes of journalists right across the country.
That’s not unusual, except this email wasn’t a head’s up that Scott Morrison was about to go toe-to-toe with Alan Jones on 2GB, or don a hard hat and head to a factory that showcases the ‘backbone of Australia’.
It wasn’t a transcript of a press conference from yesterday that reminded you of why a morning coffee was needed, or a press release talking up a re-announced policy.
No, this email was never intended to find its way to journalists, at least not in the format it was delivered.
Instead, the 8,203 word email was intended to be sent to ministers and staffers – a Hollywood-style script designed to ensure everyone stayed ‘on message’ when dealing with the media throughout the day.
Everything from the drought to immigration, banks, welfare and Gladys Lui was covered, on one hand showcasing the wide range of topics the government deals with on any given day, and on the other showing how our politicians are scripted sheep who proudly toe-the-line.
I’m not sure what happens if you go off script, but I can only presume you line up at the end of the day, bend over and accept your whipping.
Nobody should really be surprised that this stuff happens, although I’m sure the length and detail involved in the briefing raised a few eyebrows.
It is a shame however that we’ve reached such a point where we need to script almost every word that comes out of the mouths of our politicians, almost robbing them of personal opinion, empathy or legitimate conversation.
Perhaps it is no real surprise, however. After all, we have become so soft and sensitive that the outrage brigade would likely be offended should there be a move outside the accepted lines.
Case in point, earlier this week Scott Morrison was in Fiji where he ran the water for the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII rugby league team and was spotted chugging a beer in the stands.
The snowflakes were disgusted, and the boring ‘we need content so we’ll run anything’ media jumped on board.
We say we want our politicians to be more real and less scripted, yet when we get it, we demand them to be less real and more scripted.
Is it any wonder 8,203-word briefing documents are sent out so regularly?
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 15 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.