When Hamish MacDonald’s new program The Truth Is first came out there was a lot of hype. On the night I noticed a lot of tweets congratulating him on it and his journalism.
Admittedly I avoided it. I thought to myself do I really need to watch another educated, white middle class man telling me how the other half live?
Well apparently so.
I caught up with his first episode recently online and while there were parts of it I thought were well done, I couldn’t help but dwell on the contradictions.
The first half of the show featured a sniper school in Arizona. So what I thought began as a story about how accessible military might is to the average American, soon became a piece on PTSD.
While I will be the first to argue PTSD is an important subject to explore. Do we need to go to a sniper school in the States to do that? As Crikey has shown in recent months, Australia has its own PTSD crisis the Australian Defence Force is struggling to deal with.
By the time I finished watching this episode I felt let down for all those Australian Defence Force personnel. I’m sure there are many out there would relish the opportunity to share their story with an Australian audience.
Or was this all just an excuse to brandish a gun and learn how to be a sniper?
The second part of the program took a look at Chernobyl 27 years on. This now ghost town has its own thriving tourism but Hamish wanted to go deeper than that, he wanted to find the people still there.
And he did. He revealed some colourful characters and for his hardcore fans, you get to see more of Hamish you could have wished for. But again there was a great missed opportunity and it was one Hamish continuously alluded to.
Chernobyl is still a risky place to live and work. It is not safe, Hamish acknowledges that by being skeptical of drinking home made vodka made from potatoes grown in the area. However by the end of the piece he does a speech that nuclear isn’t that bad after all and maybe we are just scared of the hype.
Really? Why don’t you ask that of the families of the almost 4,000 people who died there Hamish?
Clearly you can see the intentions of this show. Bringing world stories to an audience who would not necessarily engage with them. That’s a noble task, but sometimes the lines are blurred and you wonder are you just watching a frustrated foreign correspondent finding an excuse to get out of the studio?