GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 167
Media Watch Dog returns in 2013 – on the eve of Australia Day – with the much awaited Nancy’s gongs for Remarkable Media Performance in 2012. As from next week, MWD will revert to normal (don’t you mean abnormal? – Ed) with all regular features. Including the most prestigious “Nancy’s Pick of the Week” and Nancy’s “Five Paws Award”, “History Corner” and the amazingly popular “Correspondence” section in which angry readers are foolish enough to write to Nancy’s co-owner and he is wise enough to publish such epistles as an outlet for their pain and angst. Plus, of course, “Can You Bear It?”. Can you bear it?
Since its inception in 2009, MWD has received considerable praise – along with much abuse and criticism. The latter endorsements are particularly appreciated by Nancy. Including, as they do, testimonials from the likes of Mark Latham, Bob Ellis, Mike Carlton and Malcolm (“Gerard Henderson is a f-ck wit”) Farr. Since the number of such references has increased over the years, from 2013 they will be reprinted at the end, rather than the start, of each issue. However, the beginning of MWD each week will remind readers of the who’s who of MWD testimonial providers and where to locate their contributions.
And now for something completely and utterly AWESOME.
NANCY’S GONGS FOR REMARKABLE MEDIA PERFORMANCES IN 2012 IN THE FOLLOWING CATEGORIES
And the Winners are: Jonathan Biggins, Anonymous Age sub-editor, Hugh White, Malcolm Farr, Fran Kelly, Elizabeth Farrelly, The Chaser Boys, Phil Kafcaloudes, Dmetri Kakmi, Guy Rundle, Michael Rowland/Gael Jennings, Bruce Scates, Mike Carlton, Anne Summers, Bob Ellis, Mark Latham and Robert Manne.
● NANCY’S SPECIAL PRIZE FOR INVINCIBLE IGNORANCE
Nominations are: Mark Latham, Catherine Deveny and Jonathan Biggins.
This was a tough one. Really tough – with so many journalists and commentators lining up to exhibit their ignorance.
▪ Former (failed) Labor leader MARK LATHAM made an early bid in his (then) “Latham’s Law” column in The Spectator Australia. The Lair of Liverpool claimed that when he was at university a girlfriend gave him “a prescient book”, Tamara Deutscher’s Not By Politics Alone. Moreover he (falsely) claimed that he had posted a copy of this Marxist tome to Gerard Henderson. Moreover, he (falsely) asserted that Not By Politics Alone offered a “portrait of ‘the other Lenin …the Lenin of work and leisure, geared to his life’s purpose and yet enjoying to the full all the pleasures of a healthy human existence'”.
Clearly Latham did not read Tamara Deutscher’s apologia pro-vita Lenin, since the author depicted Lenin as a doctrinaire obsessive who took little interest in human existence outside of revolutionary politics. In any event, in his contribution to The Spectator Australia Latham seemed completely unaware that Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political thug who initiated the secret police and labour camps in the totalitarian Soviet Union after 1917. The idea that Lenin was some sort of tea-drinking, hand-holding, give-peace-a-chance luvvie demonstrates that the Lair of Liverpool learnt little modern history while a student at Sydney University.
▪ The Melbourne based stand-up comedian CATHERINE DEVENY – who, for a time, was employed as a sit-down comedian at The Age by the former hopeless editor Andrew (“What’s going on chaps?”) Jaspan – threw out a very serious challenge in this category.
Appearing on the ABC 1 entertainment program Q&A on 10 September 2012, the Court Jester of Moreland responded to presenter Tony Jones’ suggestion that Dr Peter Jensen (the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney) should be given the last word on the subject of miracles – as follows:
Catherine Deveny : Go. Go on. Go on, Pete.
Peter Jensen: Okay. Has God shown himself? Yes, I believe he has and I believe he’s shown himself in Jesus Christ. I believe if you want to know, examine his life, examine what he said, examine his miracles and that’s where the big issue is. Come back to Jesus Christ and examine his life, examine what he said, examine what’s around him. I have to say that Catherine’s account of the Bible is as fanciful as a tooth fairy. It’s got no bearing on the reality of the Bible.
Catherine Deveny: You mustn’t have read it.
Only the most ignorant would assert that the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney – who attests to the Protestant faith – would not have read the Bible.
▪ However, the winner in this category is another comedian – namely the leading luvvie of his day – comedian JONATHAN BIGGINS. In the Good Weekend of 22 December 2012, Biggins wrote a piece titled “12 – The year of living disgracefully” in which he bagged some ten “public figures who made headlines for all the wrong reasons”. The list included paedophile Jimmy Savile, drug taker and compulsive liar Lance Armstrong and Cardinal George Pell, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney. Biggins’ comments on Pell, which are quoted in full below, were replete with errors and made false imputations. Here is what Biggins wrote:
Perhaps a little unjustly, George Pell has had to shoulder the blame for the failings of the Catholic Church. But if the buck stops with the CEO, then as regional manager Pell has to cop it. It’s either him, the Pope or God. And Pell’s attitude has been less than conciliatory – during a Victorian parliamentary enquiry he was accused of having a “sociopathic lack of empathy” towards a family whose young daughters had been assaulted by a priest.
His cause wasn’t helped by the madcap antics of the student body of St John’s residential college at Sydney University, which became the lightning rod for a wider anger against any institution that’s either built of, or has its moral code firmly set in, stone. Mind you, I don’t remember excrement, arson, attempted poisoning and sexual assault as being among the high jinks in fifth form at Billy Bunter’s Greyfriars school, but maybe once you get to university you’re more sophisticated.
The incident added to the Catholic Church’s dismal record for the year, fighting, as it was, growing accusations against one or two (hundred) deviant clergy. The Church’s historical obfuscation and denial of the problem makes as much sense as putting Jimmy Savile in charge of a Mr Whippy van. The priests must now be more anxious about going into the confessional box than those confessing.
So all pervasive was Jonathan “I’m a comedian” Biggins’ ignorance that there were numerous howlers in a mere 28 short lines. Here they are:
– Cardinal George Pell is the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney and, as such, is responsible to the Pope for the affairs of the Sydney Archdiocese. Dr Pell is not the “regional manager” of the Catholic Church in Australia. He is not even the chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference. This position is held by Denis Hart, the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne. Biggins should know this.
– Biggins correctly reported that, during a Victorian parliamentary enquiry, Pell “was accused of having a sociopathic lack of empathy towards a family where young daughters had been assaulted by a priest”. However, Biggins neglected to report that the allegation was made by a certain Anthony Foster one of Pell’s most outspoken critics. And, critics sometimes accuse others of sociopathic behaviour.
– Pell, as Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, is not directly responsible for the antics of students at St John’s College at Sydney University. Moreover, Biggins did not point out that when Pell found out about the behaviour of St John’s College students, he moved to reform the board.
– If Biggins has evidence of arson, attempted poisoning and sexual assault at St John’s College then he should give his evidence to the NSW Police. It is not sufficient to use such (alleged) behaviour in a comedy sketch.
– Biggins’ attempt to link the Catholic Church in Australia with Jimmy Savile – whose alleged crimes were only revealed after his death, even though concerns about his deviant behaviour were known to British police and the BBC during his life, is mere anti-Catholic sectarianism. Whatever its past failures, the Catholic Church did set up two bodies to handle allegations of sexual assaults by Catholic male clergy. The Melbourne Response was established in 1995 by Archbishop George Pell and Towards Healing by Cardinal Edward Clancy in Sydney in 1996 (this was extended to all other dioceses).
– Biggins’ comment that “the priests must now be more anxious about going into the confessional box than those confessing” is meaningless. If Biggins knew anything about Catholicism, he would know that (i) there is no evidence that a paedophile priest has ever confessed his crime to a confessor and (ii) very few Catholics still go to confession.
More ignorant than Mark Latham or Catherine Deveny – Jonathan Biggins wins the “Invincible Ignorance Award” for ignorance in the 2012 calendar year.
● MOST MISLEADING GUARDIAN-ON-THE-YARRA HEADING IN A CALENDAR YEAR OF RECENT MEMORY
And the winner is – whoever wrote the heading to Philip Doring’s article on Julian Assange which was published in The Age on Tuesday 13 December 2012.
JULIAN ASSANGE: THE FUGITIVE – Julian Assange has been trapped in Ecuador’s embassy in London for six months. Will he ever come out? He spoke to Philip Doring.
What a load of tripe. Julian Assange is not “trapped in Ecuador’s embassy in London”. He entered the embassy voluntarily in June last year and he can come out any time he chooses. As things stand, such an exit would require that Mr Assange be extradited to Sweden to be interviewed by Swedish police concerning the allegation that he sexually assaulted two women – who happened to be members of Swedish left-wing political organisations.
If Mr Assange were a right-wing blogger there would be little sympathy for him at the Guardian-on-the-Yarra – especially if he were accused of sexually assaulting two left-wing women. However, when your man Assange is a leftie who prefers dictatorial Ecuador to democratic America or Britain – then he immediately becomes a hero of The Age, the home of the uber-leftist sandal-wearer Michael Leunig.
● MOST BOLD PROPHECY FOR 2013
Step forward HUGH WHITE, Professor of Strategic Studies at the Australian National University. On Boxing Day, just after the turkey roast and pudding had been removed – along with the empty bottles – The Age ran a piece by the learned academic which commenced:
This is how wars usually start: with a steadily escalating stand-off over something intrinsically worthless. So don’t be too surprised if the US and Japan go to war with China next year over the uninhabited rocks that Japan calls the Senkakus and China calls the Diaoyu Islands. And don’t assume the war would be contained and short.
So Professor White soothsayer believes that there will be a war between the United States/Japan and China in 2013. Really. Could this be true? (Well, anything’s possible. But remember that in March 2005 Hugh White predicted a war between the US and China over Taiwan. See MWD Issue 138.)
● MOST POIGNANT AFTER-LUNCH INTERVIEW BY A MEMBER OF THE PARLIAMENTARY PRESS GALLERY
This year there was one stand-up/fall-down winner in this category. News Limited’s er-ah MALCOLM FARR, no less. Who could forget Malcolm Farr’s absolutely outstanding interview with ABC 702 Drive Time host Richard Glover as Farr ummed and aahed his way through an after-lunch report on something or other? See MWD 164 (Perhaps Mr Farr could – Ed.)
● U-TURNER OF THE YEAR
Like Nancy’s co-owner, FRAN KELLY was born and baptised a Catholic. So, being of a certain age (albeit not quite such to match Nancy’s male co-owner) Ms Kelly knows a thing or two about confession and penance and absolution and so on.
And so it came to pass that the leftist activist Fran Kelly – who presents ABC’s Radio National Breakfast each morning – confessed to Tim Elliott (in the Sydney Morning Herald confessional box) on 13 March 2012 that she really is an activist – a view which Nancy’s co-owner had long held. This is how Elliott reported his interview with Kelly:
Radio is actually Kelly’s second career. She came late to journalism, at 29, and cheerfully admits to having had no training, apart from volunteering at the community radio station Triple R. “What I am really am (sic) is an activist,” she says.
And so she was. And so she (still) is. Except that – according to ABC managing director, the nice Mr Scott – the ABC employs no political activists. So it came as no surprise that, before the cock had crowed very much at all, Fran Kelly was telling anyone who would listen that she was not really an activist at all and that her days on the extreme left radio station Triple R were a thing of the past.
The Crikey newsletter’s Matthew Knott reported that Fran Kelly regretted saying on Insiders on 19 June 2011 that she firmly believed that “a price on carbon is the way forward”. This is all very well. But all it means is that Fran Kelly regrets having revealed her political position on carbon pricing to Insiders viewers.
There was yet more regret. This is how Matthew Knott reported Fran Kelly’s post-Tim Elliott interview position:
While we’re on regrets, Kelly has another: describing herself to the SMH last year as an “activist”. It’s a quote the nation’s nitpicker-in-chief Gerard Henderson regularly uses as evidence of impartiatity [sic]. “Once you become a journalist you can’t be an activist; you can’t join protest movements” says Kelly who was involved in the feminist movement and marched in anti-nuclear, environmental and Aboriginal rights rallies in her youth. “I’m not an activist now. Now I’m a journalist. My aim, always, is to be fair and balanced”.
So how about that? According to Crikey’s Matthew Knott, to report what Fran Kelly said about herself is an act of a nit-picker. Surely not. Fran Kelly said in March 2012 that she was a political activist. When her true-confession was quoted by Gerard Henderson and others, Fran Kelly quickly changed her position and declared that she was not an activist.
Well, as Mandy Rice Davies once said concerning John Profumo: “He would, wouldn’t he?” It’s much the same with Fran Kelly. When drinking Pinot with Tim Elliott in March 2012, Fran Kelly declared that she was an activist – she was simply telling the truth. When, half a year later, Ms Kelly told Crikey that she was no longer an activist, she was simply saying what nice Mr Mark Scott would expect her to say. Well she would, wouldn’t she?
That’s why Fran Kelly is the unchallenged winner of the 2012 “U-Turner of the Year” award.
● TOPS FOR LACK OF SELF-AWARENESS
This year’s gong for lack of self-awareness goes to Sydney Morning Herald columnist ELIZABETH FARRELLY who commenced her opinion piece on 18 October 2012 as follows:
Just about everyone I know loves Malcolm Turnbull. This is especially weird since my sample, though broad and random – Greens and Christians, professionals and hobos, poets, Buddhists, anarchists, atheists, engineers and random regenerates – takes in few Liberal voters, if any.
Dr Farrelly (for a doctor she is) believes that her friendship group is “broad”. Even though probably not even one votes for the Liberal Party. In the 2010 election, about half the electorate supported Julia Gillard and Labor and about half supported Tony Abbott and the Coalition. Yet, Dr Farrelly does not appear to know anyone who voted for Tony Abbott. How about that?
The inner-city based Elizabeth Farrelly went on to condemn those Australians who take “pride in our big houses and footy scores” and to praise those who believe in “climate change, bike-lanes, gay marriage [and] anti-censorship”. In other words, down with commercial sport and long live (taxpayer subsidised) solar heating.
In her SMH rant, Elizabeth Farrelly expressed her “love” for Malcolm Turnbull. Wonderful. It’s just that she lacks the self-awareness to understand that there are some Australians who are climate change sceptics, live in big houses, watch the various football codes, detest bike-lanes, oppose same-sex marriage and see a case for censoring excessive violence and pornography. It’s just that they do not live on or near any bike paths.
● TOPS IN THE MEDIA DEATH-WISH STAKES
The media is anything but dead in Australia – particularly the taxpayer funded ABC and the taxpayer subsidised SBS. However, sections of the commercial media are experiencing problems. In view of this, it was a surprise to hear individuals who earn money in the media bashing their own profession.
MARK LATHAM put in a direct bid to win the “Tops in the Media Death Wish Stakes” gong. Writing in his regular, paid fortnightly column in the Australian Financial Review on 6 December 2012 – under the title “The joke that’s journalism” – the former failed Labor leader experienced the hope that, within a decade, newspapers and TV news bulletins will be extinct for the sake of democracy – adding:
Hopefully a decade from now, newspapers and TV news bulletins will no longer exist, having gone the way of record players and typewriters.
Yet, the Lair of Liverpool’s pitch in this category was rejected by MWD – since he is the recipient of a taxpayer funded annual superannuation hand-out to the tune of $78,000 (fully indexed). In other words, Mark Latham can live without payment for newspaper columns and TV appearances when he is in his sixties – since he will always have the taxpayer to rely upon.
So this year’s award goes to THE CHASER “BOYS” (AVERAGE AGE 373/4) who commenced “The Hamster Wheel” on ABC 1 on 14 November 2012 as follows – before resorting to familiar anti-Catholic sectarianism in their error-filled account of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Let’s not digress. Here is how the show commences:
Chris Taylor : Hello
Craig Reucassel : Hello. Good evening. And welcome to the gripping season finale ofThe Hamster Wheel when countless victims of abuse finally got the news they’ve been waiting for.
Chris Taylor : Yes. For too long this country’s been turning a blind eye to the problem. But now, hopefully, the pain will stop and the healing can begin – with the announcement that Channel 10 has finally cancelled the Breakfast Show.
Wild cheering from the audience. Many laughs from the Chaser “Boys”. It was LOL time.
What fun. Channel 10 had just announced the termination of the Breakfast Show – with the resultant dismissal notices for presenters, journalists and production crews alike. But the taxpayer subsidised Chaser “Boys” on the taxpayer funded ABC payroll thought that job losses in the commercial media were a hoot. A real hoot.
Earlier in the year, the lead Chaser “Boy” JULIAN MORROW called for the end of printed newspapers – particularly the Saturday editions which he believes are too long. Never mind the job losses in the journalism and print industries.
● MOST BRILLIANT EXCUSE FOR GREENS’ BEHAVIOUR – OR THE VERY BEST (READ WORST) OF “CAN YOU BEAR IT?”
This was a highly contested area. But in the final analysis, ABC Radio Australia personality PHIL KAFCALOUDES won easily.
Earlier in the year a MWD reader emailed from New Guinea advising about the left-wing interpretation of Australia provided to listeners of Radio Australia. MWD does not monitor Radio Australia but does see your man Kafcaloudes performs on ABC 1 News Breakfast program.
On 14 August 2012, Phil K. discussed the release of the Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers which essentially recommended that the Gillard Government revert to the policy on asylum seekers enacted by the Howard Government. The Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers was particularly concerned about the drownings at sea of asylum seekers seeking unauthorised entry to Australia.
Phil K commented on a report by Dennis Shanahan and Joe Kelly in The Australian that 338 asylum seekers had drowned between the Gillard Government’s decision not to change its asylum seeker policy in October 2011 and its backdown in August 2012.
During this time the Coalition in opposition advocated a tough line on asylum seekers to discourage unlawful boat arrivals with the inevitable occasional drownings. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen had also adopted a tough line in Cabinet but had been overruled by a majority of his colleagues. The rest of the Cabinet had agreed to proceed with the Malaysian solution which was found by the High Court to be unconstitutional. In other words, all political parties – except the Greens – had called for a hard-line approach to unauthorised boat arrivals.
Even so, Phil Kafcaloudes managed to get the Greens off the hook on this one. Let’s go to the News Breakfast transcript:
They [The Australian] also make the point that it’s a bit of a slap in the head as well to all parties involved, except the Greens, that 338 people died between the time of that High Court decision and now. So, you know, they’re saying: “Why did these people have to die? Why didn’t we make this decision before?”
Phil K just made this up. The Australian report did not exonerate the Greens for the policy failure which had the unintended consequences of hundreds of asylum seekers drowning. In fact, the Greens’ policy of on-shore assessment of asylum seekers, if implemented, would lead to more boat arrivals – and more drownings – as asylum seekers seek to reach the Australian mainland.
Yet, according to Phil Kafcaloudes, Labor, the Liberal Party and the Nationals were all responsible for 338 drownings – while the Greens bore no responsibility whatever for the tragic deaths at sea.
As the saying goes, can you bear it? (Eh, no – Ed).
● TOP RATIONALISATION OF PETER ROEBUCK – SEXUAL PREDATOR – IN A 12 MONTH PERIOD
With a little help from the “Guardian-on-the-Yarra”, writer Dmetri Kakmi took an early lead in this category and was never headed. Indeed, he won in a canter.
Writing in The Age on 4 January 2012, Dr Kakmi said that Roebuck’s habit of caning young black men on their bare buttocks – and then personally inspecting the resultant welts – was an act in which “both parties receive temporary benefit”. Really. Dmetri Kakmi went on to suggest that “Roebuck might still be alive if people did not frown upon homosexual relations”. Then he concluded that Roebuck’s apparent death by suicide “can be placed at the feet of society that limits the most natural thing of all: human sexuality”.
In other words, don’t blame Roebuck for the acts of a sexual predator against young, poor, black men. According to Dmetri Kakmi’s views, it’s all society’s fault.
● MOST ACKNOWLEDGED ATTEMPT AT (MARXIST) HUMOUR
Nancy just loves the Ernies – in which a group of leftie sheilas – led by former NSW Labor parliamentarian Meredith Burgmann – award gongs each year, in the NSW State Parliament, for overtly sexist behaviour.
It is a matter of record that only conservatives tend to win Ernies. Which, no doubt, explains why GUY RUNDLE, Crikey’s stream-of-consciousness-at-large commentator, got off the hook this year.
This is what Mr Rundle wrote in Crikey on 19 July 2012, when referring to President Barack Obama’s brief singing of I’m So In Love With You, while on the campaign trail. Guy Rundle, Australia’s funniest Marxist comedian, described this Obama event as :
…a moment that had every woman in America educated above a bachelor’s degree looking for a bathroom to change their panties.
How sexist (and grammarless) can you get? Well, apparently, not sexist enough to win one of Dr Meredith Burgmann’s (for a doctor she is) Ernies. And how funny that Guy Rundle holds the view that only educated women with a second degree get excited about President Obama.
● TOP MAURICE NEWMAN SEGMENT IN THE YEAR OF THE SNAKE
As MWD readers will know, this (hugely popular) segment is devoted to former ABC chairman Maurice Newman’s suggestion that a certain “group-think” might be prevalent at the ABC – and to ABC 1 Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes’ certainty that no such phenomenon is extant within the public broadcaster. See MWD passim.
There were so many (taxpayer funded) contestants for inclusion in this segment that the winners only really nailed it late in the day. The victors prevailed on 20 December 2012 with a stunning performance by Nancy’s favourite media segment – namely the “Newspapers” section of News Breakfast on ABC 1. KARINA CARVALHO and MICHAEL ROWLAND were in the presenter’s chair and the guest was the fashionable leftie – and former ABC staffer – GAEL JENNINGS. It soon came to pass that this was very much an (Aunty) family affair where everyone agrees with everyone else.
It was not long before Mr Rowland told viewers that he – yes he – had been “pretty irked” by an article in The Australian that very morning. He then handed the issue to Dr Jennings (for a doctor she is) who then defended the ABC against a criticism in The Australian concerning comments made by ABC reporter Robyn Williams – of the Radio National Science Show – about former ABC chairman Maurice Newman. How frightfully inbred, in a very ABC sort of way.
Here’s how the discussion commenced:
Michael Rowland : Alright, now this is a subject, I’m glad you’ve raised –
Gael Jennings: Mmm! Very courageously raised, you’ve gotta say.
Michael Rowland : – An article on the front page of The Australian, because it’s got me pretty irked this morning over here
Gael Jennings: Yes, well I think it’s a very cheeky report. It’s on the front page of The Australian, which has a vested interest in reporting this story. And it actually dares to say – and I’m going to have to put my glasses and read it because I was so interested…
In a long monologue, Jennings said that it was quite okay for Robyn Williams to link skepticism about human induced climate change (which is not a crime) with paedophilia (which is a crime) when criticising Mr Newman’s comments in the climate debate. Michael Rowland briefly interrupted Dr Jennings’s rant to issue an approving “Yup”.
Gael Jennings continued. She even told viewers that The Australian had been “incorrect”. Her interviewer soon agreed – and commenced his own editorial. Let’s go to the transcript again:
Michael Rowland: I just find this campaign by The Australian against the ABC tiresome. It’s been – there’s been successive stories now this week, we had The Australian regurgitating the thoughts of our former chairman Maurice Newman earlier this week about quote unquote “climate change group-think”. I have been with the ABC for 25 years, I have never been told what to report – certainly about climate change. I have never been accused by any group-think; I don’t even know what that means.
Gael Jennings: Exactly, and rather the opposite, in my case, when I was on radio I was getting a lot of pressure to put on, you know, creationists when we were talking about evolution and things like that so, it’s just and it’s found to be not true.
Michael Rowland : Yup
Yup, that sure was a wonderful exchange. Apparently young Mr Rowland does not understand that group-think exists when no one needs to tell you what to think. Rather the intellectual fashions are so pervasive that a person goes along with the culture of an organisation without any instruction. Indeed, the defence of ABC reporter Robyn Williams by ABC presenter Michael Rowland with lotsa help from former ABC staffer Gael Jennings and concurrence by ABC presenter Karina Carvalho, demonstrates the group-think which is prevalent at the taxpayer funded public service – on such issues as human induced climate change, George W. Bush, same sex marriage and so on.
Maurice Newman: 7
Jonathan Holmes: Zip
● “GIVE WHITE FLAGS A CHANCE” AWARD
On Anzac Day 2012 – The Age ran its predictable “they-all-died-in-vain” lament by a left-wing academic. At the going down of the sun on the eve of 25 April, Age readers anticipate some anti-war rant by a leftist academic the following day. And in the morning, they invariably experience it.
This year’s lecture was delivered by Monash University academic BRUCE SCATES on The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra’s Opinion Page. He focused on Gallipoli but used the occasion to rail about “the futility of war”.
In a poorly written and repetitive piece, Professor Scates failed to address the issue of what should have happened when the Kaiser’s militaristic regime marched through Belgium in 1914 with the intention of conquering France.
Presumably in Scates’ view – since, to him, all war is futile – the leaders of Britain, France, Russia along with such nations as Australia should have given the Kaiser Wilhelm what he wanted. In which case, the Kaiser’s war certainly would not have been at all futile – since Germany would have won and gained possessions in Europe, Africa and the Pacific.
Scates went on to allege that the political leaders in 1914-1918 engaged in a “Great Lie” since they said that the Great War would be the war to end war. Apparently he believes that it was a “lie” not to anticipate in 1918 the likes of Hitler and Stalin some two decades later.
That was Anzac Day 2012 – as seen by The Age. On Remembrance Day 2012 – The Sunday Age gave the learned professor (yet) another run. The occasion was 11 November 2012. Once again Bruce Scates wrote a repetitive piece in the they-all-died-in-vain tradition.
In 1918 the Australian Imperial Force played an important role in some of the greatest military battles of all time as the Allies broke the German Army on the Western Front. But Scates said nothing about this. Rather he focused on four AIF members. One returned to Australia and murdered his wife and daughter before killing himself. The second contracted VD and committed suicide on his return home. The third also committed suicide when back in Australia. And the fourth died of war related injuries in 1926. That was it.
Bruce Scates repeated his “Great Lie” travesty which he had run on Anzac Day and said that, when observing the centenary of the commencement of World War I in 2014, we should not focus on the positive stories but should “dredge up those horrific cases of murder-suicide”. Except that, in his article, Scates only came up with one incident of murder-suicide.
And here’s the point. Professor Bruce Scates chairs the Military and Cultural History Group of the Anzac Centenary Program – yet he apparently believes that Nazi Germany’s military aggression should not have been resisted – since we need to acknowledge “the obscene cost of war”.
● MOST COMPREHENSIVE CAPTION STUFF-UP
What a wonderful tribute to sports broadcaster Tony Charlton in The Age on 14 December 2012. And what a wonderful photo of former Australian Test cricket captain Ian Johnson in 1957, which illustrated the obituary by Peter Hanlon and Michael Gordon. According to MWD’s research, this howler has not been corrected.
Here’s what The Age declared was a photo of “Tony Charlton on the roof of Victoria Park” [Collingwood’s homeground] in 1957. The man in the middle is clearly Ian Johnson. And the ground looks like that of Richmond – not Collingwood. Moreover, it’s unlikely that the year was 1957 – since, according to The Age’s obituarist, Tony Charlton was working for Channel 7 – not Channel 9 – in 1957. Otherwise it was a great Page 4 news story.
● MOST EXAGGERATED COMMENT/WORST PREDICTION CATEGORY
There was much competition in his area. The short list consisted of:
▪ Sydney Morning Herald columnist PAUL SHEEHAN, who commenced an article on 9 January 2012 with this beauty.
If you enjoyed a cup of coffee this morning, it might interest you to know that it took 140 litres of water to produce that cup. [Gee. Perhaps your man Sheehan likes a big mug. – Ed].
▪ Age religion editor BARNEY ZWARTZ, who commenced his column on 2 January 2012 as follows:
The treatment of former Toowoomba Catholic bishop Bill Morris, sacked last May by the Pope, shows that the Inquisition is alive and well in the Catholic Church – only the rack is missing. [Perhaps Mr Zwartz had a 140 litre cup of coffee in the morning before writing this tosh and it put him off his game. Just a thought – Ed].
▪ Commentator SUSAN MITCHELL, author of Tony Abbott’s A Man’s Man, who wrote in Crikey (10 October 2012) on the morning after Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s attack on Abbott’s as a misogynist:
Yesterday our world changed.
Go on. But the clear winner for 2012 in this category was none other than Abbott-hater MIKE CARLTON. Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald on 21 July 2012 Mr Carlton came up with this false prophecy:
It is too much to expect Gillard to resign. When the numbers have been counted, there will have to be a tap on the shoulder in the way the late Senator John Button told Bill Hayden that another drover’s dog was wanted. I’m guessing late August.
That was late August 2012. Ms Gillard is still Labor leader and prime minister. Mike Carlton is still pretending to know the inner-workings of the Labor Party.
● MOST VALUABLE COMMERCIAL PLUG ON THE ADVERTISEMENT-FREE ABC
This was no contest. No one, but no one, could challenge the RICHARD AEDY interview with feminist ANNE SUMMERS on the ABC Radio National Media Report on 7 December 2012:
The first question set the scene:
Richard Aedy: A new publication has hit the streets this week; actually it’s hit the screen. It’s called Anne Summers Reports. It’s online only and the woman behind it is the long time journalist author and commentator, Anne Summers. But what is it exactly?
Whereupon Dr Summers (for a doctor she is) launched into a long plug for her Anne Summers Reports. She reminded listeners that she won a Walkley in her first year as a journalist. Summers also declared that her name is “associated with good writing, good reporting [and] good investigative journalism”. Then the learned doctor announced that she was going to fund Anne Summers Reports by asking a lot of people for a little bit of money. Let’s go to the transcript:
Richard Aedy: How urgently do you need it? Because I know the next – the first issue is out. The next issue is out at the end of January. Do you need money to come in to put that issue out or what?
Anne Summers: Well, I certainly do, and money is coming in. I’ve been absolutely thrilled by the extent to which people are sending in, you know, hundred dollar donations and some even greater than that. And, you know, the more of that we can get, the more certain the future of the magazine is. So we hope that you, as a person who maybe can afford a hundred dollars, or a thousand dollars, or ten thousand dollars, would like to support us going forward.
Richard Aedy: That’s an ambitious last phrase—ten thousand dollars.
Anne Summers: I don’t think so.
Richard Aedy: You think that somebody will really put their hand in their pocket and say, here’s ten thousand dollars Anne.
Anne Summers: I’m hopeful that there will be some high net-worth individuals who will think it worthwhile to put in much larger sums than that. I am very hopeful of that.
How lucky can you get? A free plug on ABC. All up it was a good year for Anne Summers. She was voted the second most influential woman in Australia in the Daily Life poll – just behind the Prime Minister. Justice Virginia Bell, Justice Margaret Beazley, the Governor-General Quentin Bryce, Gail Kelly, Catherine Livingstone, Senator Christine Milne, and Gina Rinehart did not rate a mention in the top 20.
● THE BEST OF WHAT I KNOW ABOUT WOMEN IN 2012
Nancy, being a Sheila with a raised conscience, just loves reading “Hindsight ” in the Sunday Life – particularly the “What I know about… women” section. Nancy was able to obtain an exclusive interview with BOB ELLIS, the False Prophet of Palm Beach. It is remarkably similar to Ellis’ interview which was published in Sunday Life on 19 August 2012. Here is Nancy’s profile of Bob Ellis following her interview with the Failed Prophet of Palm Beach:
My mother, Elsie, was a highly neurotic Seventh Day Adventist deaconess – who, none the less, was not particularly religious. She used to try and kill my father (Keith) every morning, every night and frequently during the day. She drove a car at him once. Another time, a tank. Or was it a Lancaster bomber? It’s complicated. Prove that I lie.
In view of this, some cynics wonder how I came to be born. It’s complicated. But I reckon that one night Elsie tried to kill my father Keith following an act of seduction. In post-coital mood, Keith was inclined to smoke. Elsie offered him a back-firing flame thrower disguised as a large cigar. But it didn’t light. And so it goes. Most murderers get born. I was born for murder. So it didn’t go (off).
My mother was clinically mad. Bonkers. She drank like a drunken sailor, wrote dreadful plays which hardly anyone watched, screwed around and threw up on expensive carpets. Whoever would have thought that Elsie was my mum? I reckon that if Elsie had lived she would have become a blogger like me. Prove that I lie.
Sure, I appreciated the small inheritance which this mad woman left me a decade or so ago. It helped me fund the first (and only) child support payment for that off-spring who was conceived in a hotel room during a Sydney Writers Festival. You know the story. I went on ABC Radio 702 and explained all the details at the time.
Truth is that I have known many women – in the biblical sense. In fact, I found that the Bible could open more than doors where young women are concerned. “Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you” certainly worked for me.
My mum didn’t really tell me what women were all about. For a while, I thought that they were all foul-mouthed, shrieking violent bitches – just like Elsie. I was lucky to escape Elsie. And particularly fortunate that she never disinherited me.
I fell in love with lots of girls at university. As I get older, I tend to write about this. I commented recently about how I had an affair with a playwright’s wife. Also, I recently confessed that I had an affair with Charmian Clift – probably five affairs. Perhaps six. Who’s counting? Well I wasn’t then since this was a time in my life when I could not even calculate the number of half-empty scotch bottles in my coat pocket. I’m a half-empty man. Prove that I lie.
At university, I proposed a lot. A typical approach was: “I’m Bob. Will you marry me?” Some people laughed at my style. But it worked with my beloved Anne – who I refer to as “my present wife of 43 years”. In my day, you got sex by proposing or marrying. Some people paid for it – but I never had any money – not until Elsie died.
These days I know that women want to have children. They don’t enjoy or even want sex. This I know. I did a survey with 1112 women and 98.5 per cent said that they did not enjoy congress. Not now, not ever. The other 10 per cent, I think it was, refused to open the door when I came knocking with my calculator.
Women have been made confused by the merchants of glad – along with the foolish notion that they can have it all. They can’t. Someone’s got to pay the bills. These days there’s a kind of feeling of horror that women undergo now in relationships when the bloke walks out and leaves them scrambling around wine bars to find someone to impregnate them. In my day, there was always a literary festival and the possibility of booking a hotel room – even if the act of paying the bill was not consummated.
My wife Anne is wonderful. When not warding off my creditors, she defends me against the allegation that I am a sexist, false prophet who kisses and tells about the women in my life. Anne is just wonderful. For a woman. So much better than Elsie.
Bob Ellis’s latest play And so it (still) goes: On the run from Palm Beach Debt Collectors plays at the Palm Beach Female Toilets until it ends prematurely.
● MOST CONVENIENT MEMORY LOSS
Writing in Crikey earlier this year, former (failed) leader MARK LATHAM defended his 2001 run-in with Sydney taxi-driver Bachir Mustafa – in which Mr Mustafa’s arm was broken. Last June, the Lair of Liverpool told Crikey readers that in this punch-up he “fought bravely in defence of taxpayer funds”.
Mark Latham finally wins a MWD award. As the Daily Telegraph demonstrated on 22 October 2001 (see below), Mark Latham wanted to go the long way home while Bachir Mustafa chose the short way. So it was the taxi-driver who was trying to save taxpayer funds – and the taxpayer funded Mr Latham who was engaged in wasting taxpayers’ money, while returning, tired and emotional from yet another dinner in honour of Gough Whitlam.
● THE “DID I SAY THAT?” AWARD
This year’s stand out winner in this category is Professor ROBERT MANNE.
On his blog (23 January 2012) which appeared on The Monthly’s website, Manne wrote that Julia Gillard was “the least impressive prime minister since Billy McMahon”.
Then, lo and behold, the Robert Manne outburst obtained page one coverage in The Sunday Age on 5 February 2012 as the La Trobe University academic told journalist Misha Schubert that he did not really mean when he actually said. Here’s how The Sunday Age reported the saga:
When Tony Abbott, at the National Press Club last week, invoked academic Robert Manne dismissing Julia Gillard as ”the least impressive prime minister since Billy McMahon” last week, the Liberal crowd laughed loudly….
Manne didn’t intend a literal comparison with McMahon, the jug-eared figure of mockery once described by The Australian as “the most publicly vilified prime minister in Australia’s history, portrayed as inept and indecisive, cruelly caricatured, and literally slandered in every pub and living room in the nation”. Nor did Manne mean the worst, mindful of the damage, he argues, John Howard did to the country.
Robert Manne went on to tell Schubert that Julia Gillard had been an impressive leader. So there you have it. Or not.
Until next time.