Thursday, March 4, 2010
A case of Morning Report misjudging its listeners?
I had to laugh listening to Morning Report today. Interviewing former Children’s Commissioner Ian Hassall about ACT MP David Garrett’s suggestion that parents with a record of child abuse be offered $5000 as an incentive to undergo sterilisation, Geoff Robinson mentioned in an unusually disparaging tone (unusual because Robinson is usually scrupulously neutral) that the lines had been running hot in “Talkback Land” with calls favouring Garrett’s idea. To which Hassall - who peremptorily dismissed Garrett's suggestion as absurd - replied with a barely suppressed sneer: “That’s what you would expect”. The unspoken assumption by both interviewer and interviewee seemed to be that Morning Report played to a morally and intellectually superior audience that was above the crude redneckery displayed by talkback callers. How interesting, then, that when emails from Morning Report listeners were read out later in the programme, they ran strongly in favour of Garrett’s proposal – or at least in favour of having a discussion about it, which seemed to be all that Garrett was asking himself.