It was an interesting discussion on Radio National Breakfast this morning about the matter of the public's right to know about Barnaby Joyce's affair.
Fran Kelly indicated that lots of listeners were very angry that it had been not been reported on by most media during his re-election campaign.
Of the panel of journalists, one went with "well we did try to investigate it and couldn't confirm it", one went with "really, it was a personal matter that we don't like to touch" and one went with (I'll paraphrase) "this is absurd, of course the public has a right to know if a Deputy PM facing re-election in a by-election that could bring down the government has done something that would be controversial in any workplace - got a staffer pregnant. Journos just didn't want to upset the convenient compact they have with politicians."
I'm with option 3.
As for the "we did try to investigate it" - some have linked to how the Inverell Times asked questions of Joyce's media office specifically about the status of his marriage and why he was being asked in public places about his mistress. The paper was fobbed off. Nice to know someone made at least a token attempt - but come on, as
Caroline Overington (option 3 above) argued, as if journalists really interested in this
couldn't get to the bottom of a rumour that so widespread.
Also, the other female journo on today who said "we did try to investigate" claims that journalists had in some cases not just been fobbed off, but been lied to.
That should be news itself, if true, but is the story of lies to cover an affair also not being reported because of the mutually convenient pack between politicians and journos?
Of course politicians on both sides are running with the "it's a private matter" line - they have a great incentive in the keeping the compact of not reporting on infidelity no matter the circumstances - given it almost certainly happens to a higher extent in both their professions than it does in the general public.
I'm glad to see that I'm not the only person thinking this is a clear case where the general principle of avoiding unnecessary interest in personal lives has been taken way too far in this case.