Let’s assume that Bevan Shields’ brain is perfectly capable of clear, logical and fair-minded thought.
That’s something we should all admire and expect in the brain of someone who edits one of Australia’s top metropolitan dailies, right?
The question therefore needs to be asked then of the editor of The Sydney Morning Herald: what happens to Shield’s clear logical and fair-minded trains of thought as they travel mentally through a network of nerve endings and sparky synapses to his typing fingers or his mouth as it hovers over a tape-recorder?
Why do those trains of thought get derailed so easily on that carriageway to outward expression? Why is that method of thought transference so unreliable? Weathered ballast? The lines old and buckled?
Is it much simpler than that? Is Shields a narrow-gauge kind of thinker. His thought processes just not up to 21st Century standard-gauge rationalisation?
The Bug has observed this problem over time and there was no better example of it in his responses to gossip columnist Andrew Hornery’s “come-clean-or-we’ll out you” 48-hour edict to Rebel Wilson last weekend.
Shields’ first response was worrying and mystifying in equal measure. Anyone trying to decipher it might at best come up with this summary: Andrew’s piece was fine and even if I would have considered becoming involved in it as editor, which I wouldn’t have, I wouldn’t have done anything anyway.”
A few days later as anger grew over Hornery’s Private Sydney piece – both on social media here and media abroad and within SMH ranks – Shields’ thought-process pathways improved and he saw and wrote about the error of it all. The post was removed and Hornery also penned a sorry piece.
Shields is not new to this sort of muddled, mindless thinking. A little while ago, he demanded that his staff call a city-rail stoppage for what he saw it as: a strike by train crews and other workers. Any of his staff who had the barest of knowledge of industrial relations in general and that ongoing Sydney industrial situation in particular were not at all pleased.
Shields was forced to back down.
The Bug first spotted Shield’s faulty mental pathways a while ago when he penned a piece while still just a senior writer and not yet thrust into SMH editorship glory.
Shields roused at a rival organisation’s scribe for taking the mickey out of Michael McCormack for some silly comments over Pacific island workers.
Unfair, typed Shield’s fingers, blissfully unaware of what thoughts had started their journey up there in his brain. Read all of McCormack’s comments and it was terribly unfair to have a go at him, Shields railed!
The Bug checked the entire interview McCormack had given. The other scribe had quoted the Nationals leader perfectly.
There were either two Michael McCormacks out there – a troubling thought, indeed – or Shields’ mental railroad had wrecked his original clear, logical and fair-minded appraisal of those events completely.
What Shields had seen and heard, along with the rest of us, suffered an horrific, massive derailment as those messages sparked and fizzed their way along that interconnecting system of railroads transporting logical thought to its chosen exterior form of expression, with countless word wagons jackknifing and shuddering off the tracks and the few that made to their final destination a complete mishmash and misreading of events.
Of course, there is another explanation; namely, the very slight possibility that there’s nothing at all wrong with Shield’s internal system of thought-transference.
He might just be a dreadful, rightwing arsehole whose immediate thoughts are perfectly translated into the written or spoken word and who then hangs on for as long as possible and only backs down if absolutely necessary.
And luckily for Shields, that might just be a media-management technique that has the total support of Peter Costello and others in the Nine Entertainment Co. boardroom.