By Darry Mason
Yes, Miranda Devine is going to be Nice now.
Big viewerships for mostly fictional reality TV shows tell her that Australians, those who watch MasterChef anyway, don't want Nasty anymore. They want Nice.
This change for Miranda Devine comes only a couple of months after she decided, while the charred corpses and ash-only remains of more than 170 Australians still lay amongst the devastation of the Victoria Fires, that "It is not arsonists who should be hanging from lamp-posts but greenies."
Television programmers have discovered the public flicked the switch to "nice" about six months ago, favouring shows which are full of sweetness and light - such as MasterChef, Random Acts Of Kindness and Packed To The Rafters - and rejecting mean, vicious shows, such as Gordon Ramsay's surprise flop Hell's Kitchen or the Chaser's "Make A Realistic Wish" shtick.
The Chaser pulled more than one million viewers last week, up against the State of Origin, for fuck's sake.
And if you think there is any way in the world to link Gordon fucking Ramsay and The Chaser, well, you may as well be wearing a t-shirt declaring "I Am Full Of Shit".
Miranda Devine thinks Kevin Rudd is Nice. So is Wayne Swann. Julia Gillard, too, is Nice.
Malcolm Turnbull isn't Nice, she says, and she'd know, having said the following about Australian survivors of the appalling Cyclone Larry in Far North Queensland, in 2006 :
"...much as we will miss their avocados and bananas on our supermarket shelves, we can live without their whingeing."The "whingers" who she was referring to were mostly young mothers who had been standing in the wind and rain for three days trying to get food and nappies for their babies. They dared to yell at a few journalists and complained that John Howard wasn't doing enough to help them. John Howard understood. Miranda Devine did not :
Five minutes after the cyclone hit, locals were whingeing that "they" haven't come and fixed it for them. Do they not have their own arms and legs?
Now here's some more Miranda "Nice Now" Devine :
Parliamentarians would be wise to follow the next political trend just launched by the US President, Barack Obama - a low-key Prince of Nice - not to follow the 24-hour news cycle. It is a revolutionary concept, and only Obama, with his authority and iconic status, could dare try.
Interrogated by reporters this week about why he waited several days to condemn the violence in Iran he replied: "I know everybody here is on a 24-hour news cycle. I'm not, OK?"
Wow! What a liberating idea for a political leader, not to be enslaved by an endless circus of TV and radio appearances, punctuated by jabbering doorstops. No more treadmill of Radio National Breakfast, Sunrise, 2GB, 3AW, AM, Sky News, The World Today, PM, network evening news programs, The 7.30 Report, Lateline, with and media-monitoring services and the internet's perpetual deadline breathing down your neck all day and night.
She has also started to quote politicians in Alan Ramsay-sized chunks, to pad out the space between the meaningless guff in her column.
This from Miranda "Nice Now" Devine to finish :
That's not an ender for a newspaper column, that's not even a bad Letter To Editor. Hell, it's not even shitty blog post quality. It's the kind of pap someone mutters to you late at night at a party that causes you to wander away, if only to stare at a fish tank.
How liberating to have time free, instead, to actually think about the important business of running a country, rather than delegating it to unelected public servants. Why didn't someone think of that before?
The problem is if people really do want Nice now, and there sure are plenty of Baby Boomer-focused stories trying to be reassuring that Generation Y are actually quite nice, Miranda "Nice Now" Devine has trouble doing Nice.
But maybe she has no choice but to try.
On Friday, she had to suffer the indignity of having the following published in the Sydney Morning Herald, despite the Press Council deciding that her advice to hang greenies from lamposts in revenge for the Victoria Fires was not any kind of hate speech they'd ever heard of :
The article presented, in strong terms, Ms Devine's view that poor forest management practices resulting from "the power of green ideology" were a key driver in the scale and ferocity of the Victorian bushfires that devastated a number of communities and caused large-scale loss of life.
The complainants asserted that the article breached a number of Press Council principles. They described the piece, which was headlined "Green ideas must take blame for deaths", as a highly derogatory polemic capable of inciting some people "to threaten, or even commit, acts of hatred or violence". They took particular exception to the hyperbolic suggestion that politicians seeking to divert attention from themselves could offer a new target for a lynch mob: "It is not arsonists who should be hanging from lamp-posts but greenies."
The Herald acknowledged concerns about some of the language in Ms Devine's column and expressed regret at any offence taken.
In its defence the newspaper claimed that the hyperbole employed by Ms Devine was part of her "robust, lively and sometimes provocative" writing style.
"Lively and sometimes provocative."And yet, and so, Miranda "Nice Now" Devine was born.
Flashbackery : Miranda Devine's column where she raged against the people of the cyclone-shattered people of Innisfail for daring to tell John Howard to Fuck Off when he came to pay a visit, stirred up the local papers of Far North Queensland, and she was poignantly corrected, along with being relentlessly lampooned as a rich Sydney sider, sitting around sippiing Moet while immigrant gardeners worked on the hedges, who had no idea of what they lived through, and what they were trying to rebuild from.
Miranda Devine became, and remains, to the readers of the Townsville Bulletin 'Moet' Miranda.
Townsville Bulletin editor, John Andersen :
Moet Miranda. This nickname absolutely irritated her enough to write the following classic screed in just one of the comments section filled with hilarious mockery at the Townsville Bulletin, back then :
But, if they wanted to complain, so what? They'd just been through hell. They were despairing. They were in varying degrees of shock, but not one of them played the blame game. They were just glad to be alive. Maybe if Miranda had gone to Innisfail and spoken to some of the people who had been 'Larried' she might have taken a different view.
But, gee, why would you leave Cremorne (Miranda's hometown) where you can sip on Moet and watch it on the telly?"
"Your poor excuse for a journalist, John Andersen, has invented facts and verballed me in his column, `Low blow from Sydney'. I do not live in Cremorne. Nor do I have a maid. I did not use the word `hillbilly' to refer to North Queenslanders. And Laotians in Sydney are not consigned to`trimming the hedges and washing the socks of the rich'.The Townsville Bulletin never published a correction, and editor John Andersen was still laughing about the whole thing months later.
"He has concocted a bizarre fantasy that Sydney is peopled exclusively by wealthy people and their immigrant servants, and that I sit around drinking Moet for a living. This fiction appears to have been accepted as truth by some of your more gullible readers. I don't think inventing facts is any more acceptable for journalists in Townsville than it is in Sydney so I expect a correction."