Frontline #

For detailed analysis go to:  link

Introduction to Frontline #

The Frontline series is a send-up of current affairs programs such as A Current Affair, Sixty Minutes or Today Tonight.  As a satire it shamelessly imitates, parodies, subverts, exaggerates and ridicules the infotainment industry.  Mike Moore, coiffed, manicured, air brushed with cosmetics, parodies Ray Martin or Mike Willesie.  From the opening montage with its rapid upbeat  urgent music, through to its high packed melodramatic, often ironic endings, with the shuffling of papers and the pensive“mmmm…”  the presenter, Mike Moore,  like an actor, everything written for him, even down to the nods and winks is caricatured as articulate, well-informed and knowledgeable. It is only the exposure of the back room scenes that reveal a gentle mockery of the clichéd artificiality of the façade, the hollowness of the pretence.

The realism of the series  had many people fooled; they initially thought the show was for real.  This verisimilitude was accomplished by using hand held cameras with grainy footage, stereotypical characters; a tough hardnosed producer, (Brian Thompson) glamorous ambitious female reporter (Brooke Vandenberg) contrasted with a tired, experience cynical investigative journalist (Martin di Stasio) and a well groomed slick host (Mike Moore).  Other deceptive but credible features include imitations of real news stories together with “live” re-enactments and references or allusions to real events (Sieges, Logies, Burkes Backyard, The Great Debate) and actual people ( Cheryl Kernot, George Negus, John Clarke, Bert Newton, Ann Fulwood…) These true to life performances blur the lines between life and fiction.

Tabloid journalism (popular, mindless, and glossy) tends to sensationalise daily, pedestrian local issues.  Often an alarmist, provocative or inflammatory approach is taken.  The issues tend to be trivial ones that ordinary people can relate to.  Human interest is paramount.  Seldom are programs aimed at uplifting or edifying as only 10% of the population is politically engaged, rather program designers pander to the masses, dumbing down the stories to the lowest common denominator to appeal to as wide an audience as possible to maximise ratings.   If possible these media beat-ups will try to whip up hysteria and can create an artificial state of frenzy with plenty of heat but little light.  It is no surprise that Emma spends a lot of her “research” time looking through glossy tabloid magazines and tabloid newsheets for topical issues.  Frontline is shallow, petty and trivial in trying to enlighten the masses, it merely titillates them to improve its ratings and acquire more advertising dollars for the shareholders.

Image or perception is everything, notice how often the main presenters fuss over their grooming to “look” glamorous esp Brooke and Mike’s cosmetics.

Roger Ailes  - Fox News #

Ailes managed to take tabloid journalism to new lows.  

The following is a precis of Craig Mathieson’s review of ‘The Loudest Voice’ – Roger Ailes:

It is a portrait of a television savant, a man who debased the political landscape of the country he professed to love, who is right wing, paranoid and fat. The show (streaming on Stan) refuses to step outside the boundaries of Sherman’s book and subsequent reporting, allowing for neither artistic shading nor contradictory perspective. It is determined to be, in a reflection of Fox News’s former motto, “fair and balanced”.  Ailes soon abandoned that doctrine, becoming a partisan for the extreme right.  He claimed people turned to the news, not for information, but to be entertained, so truth was no longer relevant. 

He believed in giving people what they wanted – even though they didn’t know they wanted it.  It was Public Interest journalism versus what the public could be persuaded to interested in.

Ailes demanded autonomy and Rupert Murdoch allowed it because the profits are bountiful.

David Stratton writes: Ailes is a smooth talker, exuding charm in a paternalistic way but ruthlessly and unashamedly implacable in his political convictions.  He was a demagogue who did not hesitate in using mind control and any other persuasive skulduggery he could lay his hands on.

He abandons journalistic procedure, sexually harasses female staff and spouts extremist catchphrases. President Obama, he assures dinner guests, is actively building “a socialist police state”.

The sheer scale of Roger Ailes’s wrongs defies the medium of television.