Katherine Deves and trans sport – Media Watch – Media Watch

But his partisan parrot made headlines again last week when The Guardian got hold of a leaked tape:

Sky News host Paul Murray in a swearing anti-Labour tirade to the audience ahead of the Peter Dutton interview

– The Guardian, May 12, 2022

To be fair, Murray’s preparation for a live audience in Brisbane wasn’t all that different from what you get on air, except for the swear words:

PAUL MURRAY: …Mark McGowan has a fucking poodle like Albo.

– The Guardian, May 10, 2022

But maybe he wouldn’t even say this about transgender swimmer Lia Thomas if he knew he was taped:

PAUL MURRAY: …a sheila with a penis was swimming faster than a bunch of women without a penis; who has a girlfriend with a vagina; but she’s a lesbian. Welcome to 2022, people. Welcome to 2022.

– The Guardian, May 10, 2022

Yeah, it’s Murray’s job to keep the revival at bay.

And it’s the one he shares with barrister Katherine Deves, the transgender-obsessed Liberal candidate trying to win back Tony Abbott’s Warringah seat and which made the front page of Friday’s Sydney Morning Herald:

Tearful Deves defends the right to speak her mind

– The Sydney Morning Herald, May 13, 2022

In many ways, Katherine Deves has been the soap opera of this campaign, the leader of a cultural crusade that never quite won voters over to the flag. Or so it seems.

Strongly defended by the prime minister who chose her, she has been criticized by moderate liberals, who fear her dissenting views will lose them their seats.

Since the start of the campaign, the conservative media have tried to cast her as a champion of women’s sport standing up for silent Australians, with Tele giving her this front page:

DEVES EXCLUSIVE

THEY ARE ALL WITH ME

– The Daily Telegraph, May 2, 2022

And a small army of commentators on Sky also made their case:

ROWAN DEAN: You are a person who stood up relentlessly and said “save our sport, save our girls, save our women”. You are the ideal candidate for the Liberal Party.

– Outsiders, Sky News Australia, February 13, 2022

But it’s not just women’s sport that Deves has been hissing, as we found out last month when Samantha Maiden published this story on News.com.au:

… Katherine Deves, has apologized for describing trans children as “surgically mutilated and sterilized”.

Ms Deves has issued a public apology for the language after news.com.au revealed she had deleted her social media accounts, including posts saying she was ‘triggered’ by the rainbow flag LGBT sky.

– news.com.au, 12 April 2022

And soon after that startling revelation, Sam Maiden offered several more: that Deves compared trans activists to Nazis and sex offenders, linked the trans community to serial killers, suggested gender dysphoria was an autism mal diagnosed and called a surrogate birth to American gay politician Pete Buttigieg a ‘human rights violation’.

It was crazy stuff. But the Prime Minister was happy to defend her, at least against calls for her resignation:

SCOTT MORRISON: She crossed the line and she recognized that…

But what I won’t allow, what I won’t allow is for those looking to undo Katherine just because she has a different perspective than them on the issue of women and girls in sport . I’m not going to indulge in that…

– ABC news channel, April 20, 2022

And so a culture war was declared.

And the media—which arguably had bigger issues to address, like affordable housing, fixing elder care, or tackling climate change—rushed to the front lines:

STELA TODOROVIC: Ms. Deves, I was just wondering if we could ask you a few questions?

JOURNALIST: Are you transphobic?

STELA TODOROVIC: I rushed her into an elevator to escape the cameras.

If you win the seat, you’ll have to answer a few questions, Mrs. Deves.

– Ten News First (Sydney), May 1, 2022

Deves spent several days dodging the media this way. And when she stopped for an interview, it was to introduce herself as the victim:

JANICE PETERSEN: …I’ll meet you in a secret place. You have withdrawn from your family and your home. Why is that?

KATHERINE DEVES: I received death threats. I had to involve the police and the AFP. My safety was threatened.

– SBS News, April 25, 2022

That was three weeks ago, after which Deves returned to the ground.

But last week, the Prime Minister was defending her once again. And not just in women’s sport:

JOURNALIST: … did you talk to him about the language? Have you spoken to Katherine Deves?

SCOTT MORRISON: … had the opportunity to talk to him about …

JOURNALIST: Do you want to talk to her about what she said?

SCOTT MORRISON: I’m sure we’ll get a chance to talk. I am not a surgeon and therefore rely on the head doctor…

– Sky News Australia, May 10, 2022

But why was Deves’ perspective on transgender children making headlines? Because Sky’s Chris Kenny tracked her down and she backtracked on her original apology:

CHRIS KENNY: Katherine, Chris Kenny.

CATHERINE DEVES: Hello.

CHRIS KENNY: Nice to meet you. We have never met physically before.

KATHERINE DEVES: No, we haven’t.

CHRIS KENNY: I’ve done a few TV interviews but I’ve never met face to face.

KATHERINE DEVES: That’s right.

CHRIS KENNY: You’ve been pretty tough to catch up. The Liberal Party doesn’t seem to want us to do interviews with you.

– The Kenny Report, Sky News Australia, May 9, 2022

And maybe you can see why. Especially since Deves told Kenny she stood by what she said:

CHRIS KENNY: So you’re not really apologizing or backing down from that language?

KATHERINE DEVES: Well, I apologize for how people may have perceived it…

– The Kenny Report, Sky News Australia, May 9, 2022

But were the liberals really trying to stifle it? Not according to former Liberal Party staffer turned government critic Niki Savva, who dropped this tidbit in her Sydney Morning Herald column:

According to three New South Wales Liberal sources, Deves’ campaign is now being run from the Prime Minister’s office…

… Deves’ Sky interview retracting his apology was staged to resurrect the issue, with the Prime Minister counting on a question about it at his press conference the next morning.

– The Sydney Morning Herald, May 12, 2022

This is of course what happened.

However, the Prime Minister’s Office denied running the Deves campaign. And Kenny dismisses any idea that it was used as a prop:

CHRIS KENNY: …I found out on Monday where Katherine Deves was going to be at the pre-poll and we got there and interviewed her on the sidewalk as you saw…

But the pathetic conspiracy theorists of the green left media are spotting another diabolical conservative plot.

– The Kenny Report, Sky News Australia, May 12, 2022

There’s another theory, of course: That Deves conversation with Kenny — and his tearful Herald front page — was simply a candidate out of control.

As Sam Maiden told RN Breakfast on Friday:

SAMANTHA MAIDEN: …her campaign team openly told reporters that they had a “going rogue” quote/non-quote strategy. And what that means is that they believe they were silenced early on by Liberal Party HQ…

And so her campaign team is actually encouraging reporters to come down to Warringah and bounce her…

And that is what is happening.

– RN Breakfast, May 13, 2022

Somehow, the headlines made the headlines.

But is transgender sport a defining issue for Australians, as the Prime Minister claims?

Not according to a Guardian/Essential poll, with voters ranking him eighth below the cost of living, health care, jobs and climate change.

And not according to the ABC’s David Speers, who told RN Breakfast:

DAVID SPEERS: It’s not a frontline problem among voters I’ve encountered wandering around the marginal seats…

PATRICIA KARVELAS: Nobody talked about it?

DAVID SPEERS: …over the past five weeks. Nobody.

– RN Breakfast, May 13, 2022

Yet, it seems that this is a subject on which the Prime Minister wants to fight.

He was the one who picked Deves for the job and knew how important the issue was to her. And he said his views on trans kids and fairness in sports — and his right to voice them — send an important message to voters:

SCOTT MORRISON: …I think Aussies are tired of having to walk on eggshells every day because they may or may not say something one day that’s going to upset somebody.

– Sky News Australia, April 20, 2022

But did this culture war ever start? In the media, the answer may be yes, given leaders are asked questions like this:

DEBORAH KNIGHT: …how do you define a woman? Mister Albanian?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: An adult female.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: An adult female.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Yes.

DEBORAH KNIGHT: Mr. Morrison?

SCOTT MORRISON: …adult, member of the female sex.

– 60 minutes – The great debate, Nine Network, May 8, 2022

But did voters harangue politicians about it? Did it ignite them? Not as far as we know, despite the media and prime minister’s eagerness to have him front and center.

All in all, it was a strange diversion from the main battles of this campaign.