It’s said that crises bring out the best and worst in people. In the case of the legacy media, it’s brought out almost nothing but the worst.

A social media meme sums it up best:

How the legacy media deal with a crisis. The BFD.

What’s worse is that the so-called ‘quality’, taxpayer-funded media are the worst offenders. BBC panels have featured journalists scoffing at expert guests and defending panic-buying. Legacy media pundits across the board have been using the pandemic as just the newest excuse to screech “Orange Man Bad!”

The lack of maturity and common sense from some journalists covering the coronavirus pandemic has reached fever pitch. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, quite rightly, used an appearance on the ABC’s Insiders to suggest people listen to medical advice rather than pronouncements from “armchair” experts, particularly citing 10 Network’s Peter van Onselen, who also writes for this newspaper.

Hunt is right. The behaviour of many journalists in pointscoring, adding to confusion and seeking gotcha moments is extraordinary.

It is as if they are so used to one-upmanship that they have no concept of a real national crisis.

Even worse than their hysterical fear-mongering is their completely disproportionate sense of self-regard. Nowhere is the legacy media’s undeserved egomania more obvious than at Australia’s billion-dollar taxpayer-funded boondoggle, the ABC.

ABC television host Yumi Stynes tweeted that people should keep their children home from school, issuing instructions she thinks should come from government. Van Onselen, too, has been busy tweeting his health advice. We are seeing Twitter dumb down crisis management in the same way it has cheapened politics.

On Saturday night one of the ABC’s stable of comedians-cum-political commentators, Charlie Pickering, tweeted that he was proud to be part of the ABC because it was “filling the void with some certainty and trust”.

The reason for this public burst of pride was contained in a YouTube video he attached.

[…]So Pickering was proud to be part of an organisation with an annual $1.1bn taxpayer-funded budget that was capable of producing a one-minute promotional video three months into a global crisis. The video came 47 days after Australia’s first infection and 12 days after our first fatality.

A roster of ABC journalists were similarly ridiculously carried away with hubris at this piss-poor effort at the same time as they berated the government.

On Saturday morning Q&A host Hamish McDonald tweeted it was “completely bewildering that still at this stage Australia does not have a mass public information campaign” on the pandemic. Rowland tweeted the same day, “Where is the coronavirus public health campaign?”

Try pulling your head out of your arse, Hamish, and, just once, peering beyond the confines of your inner-city Sydney echo chamber? The Tasmanian and commonwealth governments have been putting out regular bulletins and updates.

The public health advertisements were already airing; they began on commercial radio in Sydney on Friday, the very day Labor was complaining. This was 24 hours before those ABC tweets wondered when they would start. Over the weekend, video versions were revealed.

[…]With daily factual updates available on www.health.gov.au, almost daily media conferences from the Health Minister, Prime Minister and Chief Medical Officer, and myriad other health experts available to discuss these issues, could any publicly funded journalist really claim there was a lack of information about an evolving global health crisis?

If there is a lack of information, doesn’t it demonstrate the media was either failing at its task or desperate to make pathetic partisan points at a time of genuine crisis?

Pretty much the only reason the government would need to spend additional taxpayer money on a public information campaign in this unprecedented age of digital communications, is because the media, especially the publicly-funded media, might be incapable of circulating dispassionate and useful information.

In George R R Martin’s A Game of Thrones, Ned Stark tells his son that the only time a man can be brave is when he’s afraid. There is a tidal wave of fear surging from the sewers of the legacy media right now, but almost zero level-headed bravery.

At a time of genuine national crisis, we deserve better.

We pay more than a billion dollars in taxes and all we get is the lousy ABC.

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