All the world’s a tabloid magazine

For the past week, one could be forgiven for thinking that the most pressing issue on the Australian socio-political agenda was not parental leave, the outcomes of the Henry tax review, or climate change. The Michael Clarke/Lara Bingle saga has been blown up by the local media out of all reasonable proportion. It seems that one can not pick up a supposedly serious newspaper, or tune into a supposedly serious news service at the moment without having the latest third-hand gossip about the story thrust in one’s face.

I don’t want to speculate on the status of the relationship between Clarke and Bingle, because, let’s face it, we’ve had enough vacuous speculation already. What is clear, however, is that the two should be given some privacy and some respect, and not treated like two pieces of meat for the milking by the media. So-called journalists are no doubt, even as I type, still parked outside the couple Bondi’s residence, hoping for a glimpse, an angry gesture, or a sign of some kind, like vultures swooping on a bleeding animal. Federal Minister for Sport Kate Ellis probably did not go far enough in her condemnation of the media’s handling of the saga, in my view, but in general I think her comments are on the money:

The minister said she found it ”really interesting” to have watched the public debate about the Test cricketer’s decision because “in any other job in the nation you want people out there when they’re focused, when they’re at their best and when they can deliver, and if they’re not going to be at that point, then it’s probably a responsible thing for them to say, ‘I need to sort myself out. I need to deal with my priority issues at the moment and then get back and give them my all.’ ”

Insisting there had been too much public focus on the relationship, Ms Ellis said she hoped ”we can see Michael Clarke happy, on the cricket field, representing Australia and doing very well, and … frankly, that I can read a little less about their love life.”

Frankly, I would like to hear a lot less about their love life. I suspect I’m not alone.