While I had a kindling interest in politics before finding the Friendlyjordies channel on YouTube in (I want to say) 2014? It was through him I heard about Noam Chomsky, and from that bizarre link I stumbled into anarchism and that minor interest became a greater focus as the years went by. Created by Jordan Shanks, the Friendlyjordies channel has been a counter to the mainstream media narrative here in Australia, with the clear aim of showcasing Coalition failures and giving a platform to the usually neglected or misconstrued Labor Party (with, you know, actual evidence to support his claims and views). It’s been a long ride, but he’s getting too big to ignore.
I’ve interacted with Jordan a few times, having been to one of his live shows and through comments online. On one occasion he accused me of repeating Greens’ talking points while ignoring the point of my criticism of Queensland Labor at the time, regarding anti-protest laws that could be weaponised by a future LNP government, which is a real fear in this State after the 2019 Federal election kept the Coalition in power despite… everything. Minor disagreements (which are to be expected in any shade of politics) aside, despite my anarchist leanings I have always been in full support of his views regarding Labor.
Every political party can do better, but there is irrefutable evidence that a Labor government is more beneficial to the Australian people than the Coalition, in all levels of government and in pretty much every aspect of government. I, along with others, may point out shortcomings in Labor policy, but division and petty factionalism helps no one. I was more amused by the aforementioned accusation than anything, and it hasn’t stopped me from agreeing with pretty much every argument put forward by Friendlyjordies.
His work is extremely important, both as an independent platform advocating positive change and as a growing media influence countering the mainstream media drivel. Australia’s media has been crippled terribly, with Murdoch having a stranglehold over the national narrative, the ABC being subdued and transformed into a Coalition lapdog, and once worthwhile Fairfax mastheads like the Sydney Morning Herald falling to corporate influence and ultimately being bought out by commercial media (Nine, in that case). There are few voices in this country that don’t, in some manner, parrot the same general message – vote for the Coalition. Even if it is never explicitly stated (although at opportune moments, it is).
Friendlyjordies, The Juice Media, Independent Australia, Michael West, to a lesser extent the Guardian, and various other independent journalists and/or voices are the growing backlash against this media monopoly. And it is working. In one of his more tragic series, Friendlyjordies got mention in the Daily Mail for his commentary on the Bachelorette. Obviously don’t have stats, but I’m sure that gave him a fair bit of exposure his political content alone could not have achieved. Most recently, a “YouTube comedian” was mentioned on 2GB and Channel 7.
His name, to my knowledge, was never even stated, but that fact that he is being indirectly attacked by the mainstream media due to his interview with the NSW Labor (Opposition) Leader, Jodi McKay (who replaced Michael Daley after a successful media hitjob destroyed his election chances last year). The 40-minute interview had detailed arguments and facts denouncing LNP policy under the Berejiklian government, the most damning being the leadup to and handling of the bushfire crisis, resulting in the deaths of over 1,000,000,000 animals, all alongside other environmental screw ups like the Murray-Darling and excessive land clearing. Also, it is worth noting that there are still people homeless from the fires… 6 months later. What a lucrative contract for such a slow job.
Nothing in the interview was inaccurate or flawed, but the facts weren’t what the media focussed on when covering it. Not only did they not name Jordan or his channel, they did exactly what he, his audience, and keen media critics predicted. They manipulated the narrative. Friendlyjordies has already made a response video that goes over how, but the main points are worth acknowledging. Out of the entirety of the interview, the “important” part was the accusation against Gladys Berejiklian having been responsible for the ecocide in her State, the “#KoalaKiller” nickname that Jordan gifted her.
Despite Jodi McKay’s evidence to support her claims, the media ignored it and in turn claimed it was a terrible and baseless thing to slander the Premier with. Rather than explore the points made by McKay, they got a dismissive response from Berejiklian herself who said she had more important things to worry about – probably which koala habitat or stadium/museum to tear down next.
By selecting choice snippets of the interview, omitting the interviewer entirely from the story, and giving a sympathetic voice to the corrupt Premier in question, this is a clear, textbook example of the mainstream media’s distortion of reality. Chomsky and Herman’s Manufacturing Consent, despite being an 80’s study of American media, is prescient today all across the West. I have no doubt in my mind that viewers and listeners of the programs that aired this pathetic “reporting” wound up thinking McKay had stepped out of line.
But even this hack job is extremely important, because it marks a milestone for Friendlyjordies – his influence is growing too big to be ignored in the mainstream. First he scored an interview, or a fangirl session, with Kevin Rudd, and now he’s spoken with a sitting Opposition Leader on current issues. Progress has been slow, but his stated goal has been to create an audience larger than the commercial news stations, and if they’re actively trying to dismiss his work then they must be fearing his success.
Jordan has previously said he’s turned down offers to appear on TV because they always script and edit things to such a degree that it is useless to even try. So he made his own platform with no restrictions – if you can’t be on the news, be the news. That a “YouTube comedian” can do it better than most outlets should tell you all you need to know about the state of the media in this country. One can only hope the day he himself becomes “mainstream” is not too far off, because once he’s too big to ignore, he will only gain more of a reputation.
It will be, as it has been for years, fascinating to where he will end up. Even a solid structure can only take so much from the wrecking ball that is independent voices – we all have a role to play. Let’s make it count.
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