entertainment

Annabel Crabb deserves a hug, not abuse, for humanising our politicians.

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.

Here are some of the headlines about the fifth series of Annabel Crabb’s ABC TV show. Junk Food Journalism: Why Annabel Crabb’s Kitchen Cabinet Is Toxic; Recipes for racism? Kitchen Cabinet and the politics of food and; What’s on TV Wednesday: Kitchen Cabinet is good but may not be good for you.

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.

annabel malcolm
Annabel Crabb with Malcolm Turnbull in 2013.

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.

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annabel and scott morrison
Crabb with Scott Morrison.

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.

“At the moment I’m being absolutely slammed with messages from people saying, ‘How dare you sit down with Scott Morrison, what about the people in Nauru,’ and so on. But politics is a spectrum of people. It’s full of people you either think are fantastic or you can’t stand, depending on your viewpoint. And that is what it should be, that is what a democracy is.

“No matter how big a bastard they are, they all have private lives and dramas and the dramas that they’ve had do, in my experience, really mould them not only as people but as decision-makers. And that’s good stuff to know about,” she said.

pyne and albo
Pyne and Albo: people.
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Kitchen Cabinet isn’t a purely journalistic format, she told Mamamia. It straddles the line between journalism and lifestyle programming.

“You’re not putting your foot on their throat and saying, ‘Yes, but what about your hypocrisy in this area,’ or whatever,” she said.

Had Crabb’s show been about her barging into politicians’ houses and grilling them on their past misdemeanours as they cook her dinner, she’d have gone hungry long ago.

The political journalist and commentator tonight heads to the Top End to break bread with Labor Senator Nova Peris.

Watch Annabel Crabb on Kitchen Cabinet with Nova Peris… Post continues after video.

Video via ABC

They’re going to talk about Peris’s incredible sporting career, her thoughts on parenting, her political hardship and what she thinks about racism in Australia.

Oh yeah, and they eat a magpie goose.

It’s at 8pm on ABC1. We’ll be tuning in.

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