In case you missed it, on Sunday the Barnaby Joyce baby saga gained a spectacular second wind.
The former Deputy Prime Minister there remained “a bit of a grey area” regarding the paternity of his former media advisor Vikki Campion’s unborn baby.
Though Joyce left his wife and four daughters to be with Campion, even resigning as leader of the Nationals because of the controversy that surrounded them, he curiously claimed journalists did not ever confirm he was the father of the baby before making Campion’s pregnancy public.
(Since his comments were published, The Daily Telegraph’s Sharri Markson released emails she wrote to Joyce’s team prior to breaking the story, asking if he was the father of the baby. Others have also pointed to Leigh Sales’ interview with Joyce on 7.30 last month where she also asked, explicitly, if the child was his.)
The comments were met with disbelief that quickly manifested into outrage.
Why is he still talking?
What good do comments like these do?
Oh, and: How dare he?
Soon came the public commentary on Twitter and later, the op-eds. The overriding and impassioned thread was this: Get out, Vikki. Get out now.
What many omitted, of course, was this: “His comments were volunteered on Saturday at his initiative with Ms Campion present for some of the interview.”
Ms Campion was present for some of the interview. As a former News Corp journalist and media advisor, 33-year-old Campion knows how the industry runs. She knows how grabs and quotes make a story, she knows which parts of a story make news.
This doesn’t excuse Joyce’s actions, nor does it quell the bizarre nature of the interview.
But bringing Vikki Campion into the fray by telling her to “get out” passes unnecessary judgement on her actions and her agency. It runs on the assumption she had no idea what was planned for an interview she herself sat in. For a former media advisor, that would be rare.
It feels like concern trolling and the implications are subtle.
The Mamamia Out Loud team discuss Australia’s new Deputy PM. Post continues after audio.
Barnaby is a “pig“, so Vikki should get out. But to assume Vikki Campion needs sympathy would be to assume she has no power.
We have no real insight into the complexities of their relationship, no ability to see the ins and outs of their partnership. We don’t know their plan. We know nothing of their love.
Being alarmist about Campion’s need for rescuing downplays just how much Campion knows about the father of her baby and the media. And for both, she knows a lot.
If Vikki Campion needs to get out, she’ll get out. It’s not for us to tell her what to do, where to go and how to act.