When did media conferences have to become a love-in with the government?
Media conference by Facebook has become standard during lockdown - and earlier during the 2019-20 bushfires. And woe betide any journalist who asks a hard question, or one that just doesn't suit Chief Minister Andrew Barr.
Cue the angry face emojis from the audience watching at home as they demand during the live Facebook stream that any journalist upsetting the Chief be silenced and kicked out.
Really? Is that what you really want?
These daily lockdown media conferences are being held to distribute important, community safety information. Yes.
But they are also being held to test and question the decision-makers - to demand some transparency around the rationale keeping more than 460,000 Canberrans locked down.
Difficult, uncomfortable questions should be expected at these gatherings - not just a jocular, collegial back-and-forth.
We're not at some polite tea party. Journalists are not there to get "likes" or be Mr Barr's friend. [There were similar indignant outcries from some Canberrans watching from home when any journalist dared to question the response to the 2019-20 bushfires, a disaster in which preparedness shortcomings were eventually revealed.]
Anyway, just who at home is getting upset about these questions at the COVID media conferences and why?
Could the people sending off the angry emojis while watching the Facebook-streamed media conferences perhaps be happily ensconsed at home on fully paid "COVID leave", with Netflix and UberEats at the ready, doing their two hours of exercise with the dog, with no pesky kids to worry about or maybe an au pair to do the home schooling? Life can indeed be grand in lockdown.
Maybe the people not so happy with lockdown are those who can't earn an income. Whose children are suffering from forced social isolation. Whose mental health is on a precipice. Who are utterly heartsick not being able to see their grandchildren, even if they are double-dosed. Who are on the verge of losing a business they have poured their heart and soul into.
Wednesday's media conference saw Sky News reporter Tom Connell come under fire from the mobs at home.
Connell wanted to know this: if the ACT is due to hit a 70 per cent double-dosed rate on October 8, while the milestone nationally is likely to be reached on October 28, is the ACT going to remain under lockdown for an extra three weeks?
Mr Barr answered that the ACT would be in lockdown until October 15, and beyond that it was basically "watch this space".
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That first exchange between Connell and Mr Barr lasted all of 35 seconds, but Connell was not allowed to ask further follow-up questions until later - because, according to Mr Barr, that's the "Sky News approach to journalism" and there are "other journalists here entitled to ask a question". He had to wait his turn.
Turns out the next question was about the same thing - vaccination rates and how they relate to opening up.
It is entirely reasonable to ask for more clarity on what certain vaccination levels mean. We have been implored to get vaccinated. We have been. We are. Now what? What does 70 per cent vaccination look like? What about 80 per cent?
Will the goalposts be shifted again and again?
Mr Barr has said the ACT will likely gradually open as national average vaccination rates reach 70 per cent in mid to late October and 80 per cent in early to mid-November.
"Gradually open" allows for all sorts of caveats.
This is not to undermine the professionalism of local journalists who have attended the media conferences day in and day out and reported the grind of facts and figures, serving us all.
But sometimes a Leigh-Sales-crashing-a-Dan-Andrews-media-conference kind of thing is good to shake it up, to cut to the quick of what is actually happening here.
Mr Barr has been praised for his steady, clear delivery in the media conferences and his statesmanlike leadership. That is certainly true.
And it was actually very moving when a WIN-TV reporter asked Mr Barr on R U OK? Day if he was, indeed, OK.
Politicians are human. Mr Barr has had very little respite from rolling disasters - hailstorms, bushfires, COVID. He has stumped up to every media conference. It must feel exhausting.
But, even if he does hate journalists, he must still be ready to answer all the questions. Even the ones he doesn't like.
- Megan Doherty is a Canberra Times reporter.