Q&A falls victim to ABC’s weary world of wokeness
John Howard's chief of staff Grahame Morris once memorably described the ABC as "our enemies talking to our friends", a neat encapsulation of the irony the public broadcaster's viewers were often high-end A-B demographic types who vote Liberal.
About the same time, another memorable phrase entered the lexicon: "doctors' wives". This was shorthand for once conservative upper-middle class women embracing green-left positions, expressed in the shifts of blue-ribbon seats from lifetime Liberals to progressive independents.
And so the terrifying question came to many conservatives: had the ABC finally succeeded in turning its friends into its enemies?
It's largely a conspiracy theory but like all conspiracy theories it has a kernel of truth, which brings us to Monday nights on the ABC - compulsory viewing for the media and political class and the so-called intelligentsia. Or at least they were.
Like every other weeknight it would start with the straight-as-an-arrow 7pm news bulletin, timed to cater for all those hardworking managerial types who never left the office before six, followed by 7.30 with Leigh Sales - whose painstaking impartiality has resulted in disgraceful attacks by both the hard Left and hard Right.
Then there would be an inspirational battle-against-the-odds on Australian Story and an in-depth expose by Four Corners - once the most vigorous current affairs program in the land.
Media Watch - every journo's natural enemy - followed and finally Q&A, once a robust forum for real political debate. More importantly, it was fun. The problem was the online debate Q&A generated was far from real and was driven by ideologically pre-programmed Twitter activists and their outrage and indignation was duly reported. Conservatives started to refuse to come on while progressives queued up with a clear mission to nail a zinger or a piece to camera to set social media hearts racing.
It became predictable, one-sided and boring. Now Q&A is in a ratings graveyard on Thursday nights, with less than half the viewers it once had. This is not the fault of new host Hamish Macdonald, who is both smart and nice.
It is a sad fade out for a once firebrand show. In the weary world of wokeness the slow death of dullness comes for us all.
Joe Hildebrand is on 2GB Nights with John Stanley on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8pm
Originally published as Q&A; falls victim to ABC's weary world of wokeness