If Sky News presenters have KPI’s linked to starting as many fires as possible then Mark Latham must be hard to beat.
In the past fortnight alone he has lobbed bombs at his colleague Kristina Keaneally, another colleague’s wife, RAMS CEO Ainslie Van Onselen, Wendy Harmer and a school boy. Predictably enough, in each instance, the remarks have been inflammatory.
He described Keneally as the protege of a criminal politician, labelled Harmer “disabled”, mocked Van Onselen and a suite of other women for working towards diversity and questioned a 16 year old boy’s sexuality live on television.
Keneally and Harmer have despatched lawyers. Politicians are lining up to condemn his treatment of the Sydney High School Student who he suggested was gay.
As the Herald Sun’s political reporter Rob Harris put it: no target is is too small or vulnerable for Latham.
No target too small or vulnerable for that fearless and courageous Mark Latham https://t.co/IHZycKa0YW
— Rob Harris (@rharris334) March 28, 2017
That enormous sigh you just heard? It was me. And it was more of a groan.
It pains me, genuinely, to devote these words to him.
Not just because it is disheartening to consider he – and his base commentary – remain firm fixtures in the public realm despite his persistent, personal, vicious and baseless attacks on Rosie Batty, Elizabeth Broderick, Cate McGregor and Lisa Pryor.
Not just because there is a distinct possibility that these little fires – which are stoked every time someone comments – are actually part of the reason Latham finds regular employment.
The overwhelming reason writing about him pains me is because I am quite certain that is precisely what he wants.
If he can’t capture attention with genuine insight, which the reported ratings of his Sunday program suggest is the case, why not throw out a series of offensive remarks and see how many fires he can start? It’s shameless but it’s tried and tested.
For all of his grandstanding against the PC-brigade who he says are all too readily outraged, it is actually Latham who cannot resist outrage. He needs it to bask in.
And therein lies the dilemma. How to respond to flame-throwers?
It is evident Latham has no interest in participating in any meaningful debate. He is committed to his schtick regardless of who it hurts and how it hurts them.
To blatantly and unashamedly objectify two female politicians and then bask in the global controversy that followed? To then use today’s paper to boldly declare those who didn’t like it to ‘get a life’?
— Daily Mail U.K. (@DailyMailUK) March 28, 2017
It’s hard to conclude it wasn’t a blatant grab for attention.
It’s much harder to know what is the right response to people and papers set on being intentionally inflammatory.