After four long years, Channel Ten has reportedly canned Andrew Bolt's Sunday morning television show The Bolt Report. It's fair to say that pretty much nobody is upset about this decision—apparently not even Bolt himself, who has taken to his Herald Sun blog to deny any bad blood.
Not to put too much of a hyperbolic spin on it, but The Bolt Report was an embarrassing stain on the fabric of Australia's political journalism; a televised controversy machine designed to rile up progressives and unite far-right conservatives. Really, it only existed to create outrage-worthy YouTube clips and political fodder for your dumb buddies on Facebook.
The Bolt Report was deliberately incendiary, often racist and/or misogynistic, and sometimes unintentionally surreal in tone. Bolt's odd onscreen habits only added to this—he'd nod and smirk at the camera, speaking slowly and emphasising random words. It was as though he was trying to distract from the fact that very little of what he was saying made logical sense.
As you mourn for the show, you might like to look back on some of The Bolt Report's best moments:
- There's the time when Bolt criticised Julia Gillard for calling out Tony Abbott's misogyny in Parliament ("Gillard screamed sexism - what else has she got to say for herself?")
- When he advocated for loosening up the Racial Discrimination Act on the grounds of free speech ("Australians should not be muzzled by judges and tribunals who think they know better than the rest of us what we're allowed to say and who should say it")
- Or espoused his learned opinions on whether or not Islam is compatible with Australian values ("Is it time to restrict Muslim immigration until we can better assimilate those we have already?").
The best moments of Bolt Report were those rare ones in which Bolt invited a "progressive" guest onto the show—say, a climate change scientist or a Greens party member—and then cheerfully attempted to discredit their articulate, nuanced opinions with a diatribe of catch phrases. This had the tendency to backfire in unintentionally hilarious ways, as when Bolt interviewed a surprisingly suave Richard Di Natale.
The Bolt Report's days have been numbered since last year's federal leadership spill. Bolt was a vocal supporter of Tony Abbott as Prime Minister and has never warmed to Malcolm Turnbull. When he doesn't feel comfortable supporting the Liberal Party on air, he doesn't have much else to talk about. Not even Andrew Bolt can fill an entire hour of programming with stuff against the ABC's lefty bias.
Happily for some, Bolt's opinions will live on through his notorious Herald Sun column, and an upcoming Screen Australia-funded ABC documentary about Indigenous constitutional recognition. He will co-star with NSW Deputy Labor Leader Linda Burney, whose views on the issue totally oppose his own (hint: Bolt doesn't support constitutional recognition, Burney does).
Whether or not you're happy about Bolt continuing his reign of terror on air, the fact he is returning to his ABC roots (before The Bolt Report, he was a notorious panelist on Insiders) is good news. The documentary format will force Bolt to contend with perspectives other than his own in ways that don't make him look quite so dogmatic.
Die-hard fans can still cling to the hope that another network will pick up Channel Ten's sloppy seconds. Some have touted Sky News as a new home for The Bolt Report and Bolt himself has been coy about the show's future.
Let's be optimistic though, it's surely time to say goodbye and lay The Bolt Report to rest. While we wait for final confirmation of the show's demise, pour one out for Bolt and the golden era of political trash talk that was. Never again.
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