Australia’s obsession with the US is getting out of hand

Jul 3, 2024
Australia Flags in puzzle isolated on white background.

Australia’s obsession with every little political twist or swing in the US seems to grow with each day, with the latest event to gain saturation coverage being the first presidential debate of the current American political cycle.

The event was shown live on the public broadcaster, though it is highly debatable whether an Australian audience, and especially the types who watch the ABC, would tune in to watch two aged white men indulge in a mediocre exchange which ended up being mostly white lies.

But one does not have to wait for such an event to get an idea of the obsession with things American – the ABC has a weekly program Planet America which provides gossip and interviews that not even Americans would bother to watch if it screened in their own country.

One could argue that, as the US is a major Australian ally, the scale of coverage is justified. But most of what is broadcast verges on sycophancy, with broadcasters acting as insiders would, rather than as journalists would.

Had there been a flood of advertising tied to the US, then the tsunami of coverage could be justified, though not on the ABC. But this simply isn’t the case, else commercial channels would be screening the debates.

The Murdoch-owned media covers the American political scene mainly because its owner is an American and uses his media organs to drive his own interests in the US – as indeed he does in every market in which he operates. And that’s about 70% of the media in Australia.

This means Nine Entertainment, the next biggest media company, has to offer something similar coverage-wise as it has to compete with Murdoch’s media organs. And that becomes a procession, with smaller publications also forced into line.

How does this serve the domestic Australian audience? There are far more important issues than the flood of American news porn that could be dealt with intelligently if TV channels were interested in being a little different and trying to attract viewers who dislike this flood of red, white and blue American rubbish.

But that seems to be something that is in the too-hard basket and not something that generates the most profit. While it is true that no commercial operation can stay in business unless it generates a profit, that is not the end-all and be-all of the news business.

There are countries in Australia’s neighbourhood, like China and Indonesia, which get little or no coverage. China is covered only when there is something negative to be reported, and as for Indonesia, when was the last time you saw anything about this country on any Australian TV channel? These are countries that will have a much bigger impact on Australia’s future than the US.

In a series of three well-argued articles recently,  Joseph Camilleri, Emeritus Professor at La Trobe University in Melbourne, detailed how the sun is slowly setting on the American empire even as China slowly grows more and more powerful.

Camilleri describes the circumstances surrounding the conflict in Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas stoush in Gaza and the extent to which they have contributed to reduce the American influence around the world.

We see nothing even approaching such coverage in the flood that emanates from our own television and print media; most of it is pro-American hype as though Australian media was doing the job of a PR agency for the Americans.

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