The first four seasons of Annabel Crabb’s Kitchen Cabinet aired on ABC to warm reviews, but with the fifth, which began screening in late October, the response hasn’t been as sweet.
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SMH columnist Ben Pobjie has her “acting as a bonus PR arm for Australia’s parlimentarians”.
Amy McQuire of New Matilda is convinced Kitchen Cabinet promotes the “insidious spread of propaganda, soft interviews with hard-line politicians who wield enormous power over the lives of the most vulnerable, is sold as a fun, light-hearted look into the lives of the people we elect” and labels her a “sycophant”.
Crabb’s is a “ridiculous, sickening show”, writes McQuire.
For the uninitiated, the program features Crabb visiting politicians in their homes, homemade dessert in hand, and talking with them as they prepare a meal. The format shows politicians in their home environment and the questions seek to uncover who they are as opposed to what they do.
Critics of the show don’t appreciate the way Crabb’s show humanises politicians, as though somehow they are not human, or that their experiences as humans do not shape their political decisions.
It’s never been about hard journalism or asking the hard questions — her mate Leigh Sales covers that aspect on 7:30.
Much of the criticism came with the first episode of the new season, in which Crabb dined with former Immigration Minister Scott Morrison who, we discovered was a child actor and a Tina Arena obsessive. He’s also a man whose policies pertaining to asylum seekers were called “the most inhumane, the most uncaring, and the most selfish” of all developed countries, by former PM Malcolm Fraser.
Many also baulked at her dumpling-making interview with political foes and unlikely comedy duo Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne. Well, let’s face it, mostly Pyne.
Mamamia spoke to Crabb the day the new series aired, and she seemed to anticipate this backlash.
“The truth about the program is that it is a really benign format. Politicians are usually happy to cooperate because we’re not trying to catch them out or attack them. In my view, if you go to someone’s house you’re polite to them,” she said.