Mathew Mackie

The Bolt cancellation: What’s left doesn’t make it right


Approx Reading Time-10With The Bolt Report apparently cancelled by Channel Ten, TBS Editor Mathew Mackie believes we have lost an important voice in the argument.


As the curtain was pulled back to expose the Wizard of Oz as a fraud with a magnified voice, so it went yesterday when Andrew Bolt, a good man – but a bad wizard – was kicked out of the Land of Oz…tralian political commentary.

Even if the cancellation of The Bolt Report is not absolutely confirmed, it’s absolute enough.

Adios, Bolt.

If he can’t find a home at Ten, the doors at Seven and Nine will now presumably close on him a la Diane Keaton, for, in applying basic TV logic, it makes sense. Why take a chance on a format that has already failed?

Bolt is at his best rattling his own cage, one where the cameras roll and whatever lyrical bombs pass through his lips is the show. He could never exist on a panel; if he did, in what capacity would that be? The Red Symons of political discourse? Banging the gong, scribing a generous low mark to the camera, gloomy-eyed, as the host undermines his existence with the knowing smugness of a Daryl Somers-esque zinger.

“Oh, Andrew.” *wah-wahhhh* *look to camera*

Bolt can only exist in his current form. He is who he is. If 9 and 7 are out, and the ABC and SBS sit on the far side of that political minefield, what’s the next destination? And yes, he’ll still have his column (and potentially an ABC doco), we can probably assume that the high watermark of Andrew Bolt has crashed against the concrete wall of political discourse and broken back.

So, we should be pleased, right?

Yeah, but also nah.

To a number of Australians, Andrew Bolt makes sense. To those who feel indifferent toward the truisms spouted by the Waleed’s, the illegals and the unwashed undergraduate conversational Unabombers, Bolt is the valve – or at least an umbrella – to huddle under.

As a side note, for those who walk the fence (or flirt with nihilism) like me, we will now have to witness the marginalisation of the Aly vs Bolt squabble. Which is a shame. A complicated shame.

As Doctor Evil said to Austin Powers, the same could be said of the two verbal pugilists.

Both are antagonistic forces, hell-bent on melting the polar opposite of the other. Two who are (seemingly) not willing to play games in favour of cutting through the derma of policy and into the bleeding crux of the issue. That sort of moxie and can-do Australian grit plays well on both sides. As Bolt could be Waleed Aly of the Political Right, Waleed Aly could be the Bolt of the Left. I was looking forward to them reaching some sort of respectful impasse.

But. The real harm of Bolt’s platform collapsing is set to be felt by those who stood on it. They lose his magnified voice. Where do they turn? The Internet? Maybe. The Internet is made for political fisticuffs, but the initial combatants swing at those surrounding them, regressing into an all-in brawl, as the original point is lost in the violent din.

Bolt, for all his purported crimes against common sense, was loud. And clear. He voiced his topics with an absoluteness, and the merit of said topic depended on whoever’s ears it met. Bolt’s voice was the sound of the Ice Cream man’s dingly bell. It dragged those from lounge rooms to chase him down the street to purchase his wares, as it did those who didn’t like the particular flavour he was selling, so they brought rocks instead.

But, whatever the intentions, they still followed him down the street.

While we may laugh smugly at the demise of Bolt, shirts buffeted by the changing winds of political discourse now at our back, spare a thought for those on the right who are going to be left behind. Those who now gaze over the landscape of political discourse (now that Mt Bolt has fallen into the sea) seeking a new peak to yell off, but only seeing a plateau. Where do Bolt’s refugees go? Q&A? If you thought “good riddance” while reading the previous sentence, tsk tsk. Why, anybody can have a brain; it’s a very mediocre commodity.

If we choose to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, and we can, we still must remember: I’m not saying that Bolt is right, but the right to be Bolt is right.

That’s Australia.

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  • Rainer the cabbie

    Thanks Richard, looks like we agree to disagree. Still, having followed politics and media for some time I can’t help but think that the dumbing down effect we’ve experienced for a fair while now was not a positive trend.
    Being a psychologist, trained in what perception does to people’s minds and action, you must realise that the Bolt right wing media wing ( he is certainly not alone ) took issues that were complex and painted them into a black and white picture, disregarding the complexities that are embedded in most developments. This has nothing to do with corporate greed, maybe a psychopath that takes some satisfaction in achieving an outcome, but definitely not all that good for business.

    Not that I mind, everyone deserves a voice but history is full of examples where this type of information caused massive disruption to peace and the well being of Nations. So please excuse me when I think this type of opinion can thrash away as much as it wants on social media but to give it a national voice will only end in tears.

    Thanks for the dialogue Richard, I wish you all the best.

  • Richard

    Rainer the cabbie, I am not in any way a bolt fan, but I understand that the complexities of our society cannot be just segmented into what makes you comfortable. Claiming a view that differs from yours is because the people are ‘too lazy to think’ or ‘manipulated’ is actually the ultimate of uninformed self righteous attitudes. As a psychologist, I endeavour to understand why people formulate belief systems about themselves, about society and yes, about politics – and I have learnt it’s not just because they are manipulated by corporate greed, propaganda and all that bullshit people try to cry out about on the internet. So to get defensive and suggest this article is defending Bolt is so off the mark and sounds like you are just on a very popular bandwagon in today’s political climate. Sorry mate, can’t agree with you. All the best, Richard.

  • Rainer the cabbie

    Not too sure what a “socialist climate” does incorporate.
    If it’s calling a spade a spade as opposed to manipulating complex problems into simple “opinion”, spoon feeding people that are too lazy to think with a point of view, than yes, give me socialism any day.
    I agree with you that all type of conversation should take place in a democratic society, it’s a vital part of our system. Still the new conservative narrative that has been practised for the last decade has thrashed the conversation into sound bites that appeal to people with an uninformed self righteous attitude.
    Not that I mind, but seeing this trend become the mainstream was a dangerous idea, so again, good riddance to Bolt and his social media writings that crept into broadsheets and television shows, where that type of information did more damage than good.

  • Richard

    Maybe you didn’t understand the article Rainer the cabbie but if you look at the current political climate there is most certainly a place for conversations that you might not agree with. Maybe you prefer a socialist climate but that is not what Australia is. I disagree that Bolt ‘only inspired hatred and ignorance’ in fact I think that there is a real chance he actually did more for the left by way of pointing out the hollowed uselessness of the far right.

  • Rainer the cabbie

    No one silenced him, fact is his ratings went down the bolt hole so the networks dumped him. This is a sign of the times, an Australia where dumbed down arguments that only inspire hatred and ignorance are as old as Bronwyn Bishop and as outdated as an Abbott three world slogan.

    Someone tell the TBS editor, quickly, these dudes are dead and there’s no need defending one of the worst instigators of political malice this country has ever seen. GOOD RIDDANCE.

  • Richard

    No one is more of a fan of Waleed than me, but silencing the views of Aussies you hate is wrong, even if its a turd like bolt.