News & Commentary What makes an expert on ABC news’ programs these days? By Fotis Kapetopoulos | February 5, 2018 | The Australian media organisation I go to for most of my political analysis is the ABC. But lately, it feels a tad confused. The ABC’s mainstream news programming seems to be slowly colonised by youthism. Youthism, my word, denotes the ill-conceived actions by institutions to garner youth support and clients, while most youth see through these bogus attempts. If not for the Insiders on Sunday, we may soon be subjected to more colour and movement, shouty politics, beards and tattoos with edgy faux-gonzo camera angles. Or more Q&A, once a great program, now a Punch and Judy show for partisan political gangs. (How we need a renewed Hypothetical!) On Saturday morning, the ABC Weekend Breakfast hosts, Andrew Geoghegan and Johanna Nicholson (pictured above) had Junkee news and political editor Osman Faruqi providing his analysis on the Batman by-election. Why? Batman, an electorate in Melbourne’s north, is shaping as a major battleground between the ALP left and the Greens’ centre. Ged Kearney, the former ACTU president, is being pitted against local Preston resident and Greens’ candidate, Alex Bhathal. That is if Ms Blathal survives attempts by the ‘Northcote Left’ of the Greens to oust her. This by-election may shape the atmospherics for Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten in 2018. Junkee‘s Osman Faruqi’s study of the Batman by-election was what my ancient grains are to breakfast; cardboard. The sitting member, Labor’s David Feeney, resigned because he was caught up in the dual citizenship fiasco. As the ABC reported his resignation, it “put Labor’s increasing struggle with the Greens on its left flank in the national spotlight”. Mr Faruqi repeated the above on ABC Weekend Breakfast. His study of the by-election was what my ancient grains are to breakfast; cardboard. What did he tell us about Batman? He pointed to Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten’s new found, left Green credentials in picking Ged Kearney for candidate and as reported on the ABC, his “hardening stance” on the proposed Queensland Adani mining enterprise. And? He failed to mention the Queensland Government’s support for the Adani mine and the increasingly tense factional contests in the ALP that Shorten is keeping a lid on – for now at least. There maybe good reason for Mr Faruqi to be on Triple J, Double J, ABC 2 and many other programs for young people, but not as a commentator on such a crucial by-election. He needs to know more. So much for being a political junky. He should at least have done some perfunctory research before going onto an ABC news’ program. Or, just said: “I really don’t know that much about Batman”. The ABC is not the public relations arm for Junkee or Mr Faruqi, who also appears regularly on the ABC’s The Drum. The ABC has access to political animals Anthony Green, Laura Tingle, Emma Alberici, or the political polymath George Megalogenis. or why not William Bowe as an on-line editor of Crikey Poll Bludger, who has written a far more interesting piece on Batman. “Batman is also a much harder nut for the Greens to crack than Northcote, as it extends beyond the inner-city hipster belt to more conventionally working-class suburbs around Reservoir in the north.” Impressive as the Greens’ 5.6% winning margin in Northcote may seem, it was only around 1.5% more than they were able to manage in the corresponding booths in Batman in 2016.” A day before Mr Faruqi’s exegesis on the ABC, Michael Kroger, the Liberal Victorian President was accusing the Greens’Batman candidate for being anti-Semitic. If a pop-political commentator is necessary in the ABC’s youthism project, please least pick someone who knows some detail about my ‘burb. “Liberal Victorian state president Michael Kroger said he wanted the party to field candidates against Greens who had been involved in protests and campaigns against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Mr Kroger regards such protests as anti-Semitic activity.” Mr Faruqi failed to factor in the rise of a centrist Green leadership under the smart Richard Luigi Di Natale, who, like, Ms Bhathal is a local. His alma mater is Parade College in Reservoir, the largest suburb of Batman. This wing of the Greens – as undisclosed sources have it and is evident from everything we see – did hard and good work to purge Lee Rhiannon from NSW Greens. Rhiannon’s adherence to BDS and cult-like leadership of the left Greens was a major thorn in the mainstreaming of the Greens into a social democratic-type party. The amount of Hijab wearing women bargaining over Israeli face-care products in Northland Shopping Centre would burst any middle class BDS bubble. The Libs’ Kroger was subtly testing the waters with his “anti-Semitic” charge. Perhaps he was ushering voters to the ALP, given it seems highly unlikely that the Liberals will stand a candidate in Batman. Ms Bhathal and Mr DiNatalle know that if the Greens are to make an impact in Batman they cannot be too Green, or overly connected to the Northcote, middle-class left. There is a hipster/ Green proof fence called Broadway in Reservoir and anything north of that is not socially left, or very Green. Ms Bhathal will need support from the socially conservative Labor voters like older Greeks, Italians, Macedonians, Lebanese, and their ambitious, middle-aged children who are carving up their parents’ 750sq metre blocks for new town houses to be sold at feverish prices. The ALP may play the union card only to find that it falls flat outside the teachers’ union members that live in the affluent bits of Batman. Greens and the ALP will have to play to the centre. So, if a pop-political commentator is necessary in the ABC’s youthism project, please pick someone who knows some detail about my ‘burb. Maybe consider someone from my ‘burb, or even state. Someone young and savvy, (if they must), but at least someone who can offer something substantial about the topic. Photo of Andrew Geoghegan and Johanna Nicholson via Twitter Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn Email About the Author: Fotis Kapetopoulos Fotis Kapetopoulos heads Kape Communications Pty Ltd that runs; Athens Burns Bright and Bite the Big Apple! New York City cultural ecology tours. He was the Senior Multicultural Media and Policy Adviser to Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu. He was the Editor for the English edition of Neos Kosmos, Australia's leading Greek media outlet. He headed Multicultural Arts Victoria, was awarded a Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC Internship and an Asialink Arts Management Residency at the National Arts Council of Singapore.