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If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen

Thomas Jefferson

Given a choice, Thomas Jefferson said he’d choose the press over politicians.

A lot of journalist have today been quoting Thomas Jefferson while covering a story about the latest politician to bag the media.

The ACT chief minister, a position not known to have been occupied by some of the nation’s brightest minds, was recorded as saying he “hated journalists’’ and he thought Canberra’s local newspaper was a “joke’’.

Andrew Barr is his name; remember it because no doubt he is destined to become another footnote in the pages of political history.

Now back to the third president the United States and what he said more than 200 years ago, and which today became cannon fodder for Aussie media startled by the beastliness of the chief minister.

But that’s not all he said or wrote; he added: “But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.’’

Going from the sublime to the ridiculous, the chief minister tried to argue that’s what he was saying – that very few people read printed papers these days.

What I found in more than 40 years in newspapers and in online journalism was that few politicians are so thin skinned that they take on the media in such an aggressive way.

There have been plenty of angry phone calls, including from ministers in Canberra, demanding to know if I had lost my marbles.

Of course I have upset a few people over the years, it’s the nature of the beast to call it as it is.

Obviously we bred our politicians more civilised in Macarthur, because so long as I agreed to sit down and hear their complaints we inevitably agreed to disagree, shook hands like gentlemen and got back to doing our jobs the best we could.

But I fear we are coming to the end of the era of politicians who are clever and savvy enough to grasp that in the long term having an independent and sometimes critical media is a good thing for all of us.

Unfortunately now we are seeing more and more mediocre people in politics, who see it as an easy career path, but who spin out of control at the first sign journalists don’t praise them as geniuses.

And obviously none are educated well enough to be acquainted with the phrase usually attributed to another great US president, Harry S Truman:

“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.’’







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