EDITORIAL MONDAY 16.03.09.
I can’t help but wonder why Pauline Hanson keeps coming back for more mistreatment at the hands of both the media, and political opponents. I would have thought that after everything she has been through, including the infamous period of imprisonment on charges which were later overturned, she might have had enough. I would have thought that coming back into politics would have been the last thing any sane sensible person who had suffered such indignities would want to do. But, no. Pauline is having another go. So it should be no surprise that some have decided to shoot her down again.
The purchase and publication of photos purporting to be of a nineteen year old Pauline Hanson in seductive poses and very little clothing has provoked an enormous reaction. But it’s not the reaction that some people might have expected. Overwhelmingly, the public has rallied in support of the besmirched Pauline, doing nothing to harm her public image. In fact, quite the opposite, it seems to have increased support for her. Pauline herself has reacted angrily, claiming that the photos are not of her, and threatening legal action against the newspaper.
Obviously the Telegraph believed the photos to be genuine, otherwise there would be no point in printing them and even less in paying for them. But whether they are genuine or not, does it make any difference to the question of whether it is newsworthy? Is it legitimately in the public interest, or nothing more than cheap sensationalism to sell more papers? To be truly pedantic about it, the proof of that pudding is in the eating. It has prompted this enormous public reaction, it has triggered raging discussion, and here I am talking about it now. So it becomes self evident that there is a level of public interest, even if it is of the guilty furtive kind that is more commonly associated with being unable to take your eyes from a tragedy or a scandal.
In that sense this episode has something for everybody. People love to be indignant, so this offers supporters of Pauline the opportunity to be indignant on her behalf. It offers her detractors yet another chance to be indignant at her, along with the bonus of being indignant at the additional publicity it has generated in Pauline’s favour. It offers the Telegraph both sales and notoriety, while offering the rest of the media the chance to be indignant at the Telegraph for being so scandalous, even if most of them are secretly wishing they had pulled it off. It has provided me something to pass judgment upon, and it even gives Pauline the benefit of increased public sympathy. Heck, she might even get elected! The mysterious Jack Johnson is $15000 better off, and even the lawyers can look forward to a payday. In short, pretty much everyone is better off.
While anyone else might have given up years ago, Pauline is seen as still being willing to stand up and have a go. Australians love a battler, and they love her even more when she’s being pushed around by bullies in the press or in politics. Most Australians still believe in a fair go, and what has happened to Pauline just isn’t fair at all. She might be a politician without a grasp of policy, she might propound opinions without the benefit of comprehension, and she might be willing to speak her mind, no matter how small and narrow it might be, but the injustice cannot be allowed to pass unchallenged. She might be an ill-informed, uneducated, inarticulate xenophobe, but damn it, she’s OUR PAULINE!