Annabell Crabbe interviewed Ricky Muir in the most recent addition of Kitchen Cabinet. It was excellent television and the shy and politically inexperienced Muir came across very strongly as a really decent bloke who has survived despite a pretty rough upbringing.
The program would have done no damage to his political reputation. In fact, it probably enhanced it.
Recently, Crabbe wrote an article in The Age defending her program against claims of political bias including being anything from an idiotic fluff-head to a Nazi apologist to a stain on the name of journalism.
TV reviewer Ben Pobjie summarised the argument in The Age “What a government minister is like at home – or in the kitchen – is irrelevant to the country: what matters is what they do. And the more we get to know them personally the more we fall for the lie that ‘what they’re really like’ is important.”
Crabbe wrote that: To observe such a person in their own environment offers – in my view – some useful information about how they might behave outside it.
Our democracy is big, vigorous and free. I treasure it. And I think there’s more than room enough to allow for a few pockets where conflict isn’t an obligatory part of the equation.
So the basis of the claims were that she presented politicians in an extremely favourable light and presented a persona that was far from the political animal that we normally saw. This is probably true in her interview with Scott Morrison who was immigration Minister at the time but not true of her interview with Malcolm Turnbull before he was prime minister.
Crabbe agreed that the politicians we saw on her program were often quite different from the politicians we saw in Canberra but she argued that this was the point of the program to show another side of the politicians away from the pressure cooker of federal politics and that the more we know about politicians the better we will be informed as voters.
But everybody who is interviewed appears to come across as a warm and friendly human being and that is certainly not always the politician that we see in parliament, particularly in the case of people like Bronwyn Bishop, Scott Morrison, or Christopher Pyne. Crabbe does present a flattering image.
So, is it politically advantageous to appear on Kitchen Cabinet and get your image slightly airbrushed?
Well, no one has come out of the program looking bad so it’s probably an advantage to be given the rather friendly and relaxed atmosphere of Kitchen Cabinet rather than the more aggressive environment of current affairs programs.
So here’s a little montage of the people that Crabbe has interviewed recently.
The sample is just that: a sample but it does seem to indicate that there is a healthy preponderance of coalition MPs. Perhaps they are better cooks.
And while Annabel Crabbe may maintain (and with reasonably good cause) that she is politically independent, being interviewed for Kitchen Cabinet is certainly the equivalent of a free kick inside 50.
And it could be strongly argued that Ricky Muir’s chances of re-election have been greatly enhanced by his appearance on the program.