GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 170
15 FEBRUARY 2013
See the end of this week’s MWD for details of much appreciated comments on/endorsements of Nancy’s work by Jonathan Green & Michael Rowland, Malcolm Farr, Bob Ellis, Tom Cowie, Mike Carlton, Mark Latham, Robert Manne, Marius Benson, James Jeffrey, Andrew Crook and more besides. Well done chaps – and lotsa thanks.
THIS WEEK – READ ALL ABOUT:
● Stop Press: Malcolm Turnbull Relatively Happy but ABC Remains a Conservative-Free Zone
● Maurice Newman Segment: ABC Group-Think Aplenty re Benedict XVI
● A Linda Mottram Moment: On Pope Benedict XVI as Divisive
● Five Paws Award: Step Forward Cassandra Wilkinson, Miranda Devine and Scott Stephens
● Can You Bear It? Comrade Alex Mitchell Returns to the Barricades With a Bad Memory; The Search for Literary Grants Continues
● Nancy’s Pick-of-the-Week: Christian Kerr’s Reflections on The Global Mail; the “forthcoming” Guardian Down Under; Greens Activist Graeme Wood and More Besides
● The Mysterious M – A Centenary of Post-Publication Proof-reading
● Phil (Call me Fool) Kafkaloudes’ Comedy Stint on News Breakfast
● Great Media Predictions: The Canberra Times on the ACT Liberals
● History Corner: Warwick Hadfield Defames the Late John Wren and Good Old Collingwood
STOP PRESS – THE ABC: STILL A CONSERVATIVE FREE ZONE
Last night Opposition Communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull appeared on ABC1 Lateline program. It was not long before presenter Tony Jones asked Mr Turnbull about the public broadcaster, funding and all that.
Malcolm Turnbull was broadly supportive of the ABC. But he acknowledged “it does have some flaws”. Moreover he emphasised that “the ABC’s management has to be aware that it has an obligation to its owners, the Australian people, to run this vast enterprise…as efficiently, as cost effectively as possible.
Asked about what some call bias and others group-think at the ABC, Turnbull replied that “if the ABC is not being fair and balanced, then that is an issue that should be addressed by ABC’s management”.
Good point. In recent times discussion about a perceived lack of balance at the ABC has turned on the ABC 1 Insiders and Q&A programs. The former provides an important insight into the thinking of the Canberra Press Gallery and the latter invariably demonstrates the inner-city left at play. But at least some conservative voices are heard on Insiders and Q&A. With one exception. According to MWD’s count, no Israeli or Australian Jew who supports Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has ever appeared on the program. Q&A only hears the views of left-liberal and leftist Jews.
The real problem at the ABC turns on the fact that it does not employ even one conservative presenter or producer or editor for any of its TV, radio or online outlets. Not one. There is a token conservative who presents the aptly described Counterpoint program on Radio National – but this is not a prominent program, airing at 4 pm on Mondays.
Counterpoint is currently presented by Amanda Vanstone. She is the kind of former Liberal politician the public broadcaster likes. Namely, a Liberal who is something of a fan of Labor icon Gough Whitlam. Writing in The Age on 10 December 2012, Ms Vanstone made the surprising claim that Whitlam gave her “generation permission to think differently about ourselves and our place in the world”. This implies that the Liberal Party founder Robert Menzies denied independent thought to Australians.
MWD hears reports, transmitted through third parties, that the above analysis is bunk and that there are quite a few conservatives within the employ of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. If this is, in fact, the case – then the matter can be resolved by naming names. It’s not that hard. Certainly it’s easy to name scores of leftists within the ABC.
Until such (conservative) names are cited, MWD will continue to run the increasingly famous “The Aunty (Balance) Clock” segment which is dedicated to holding Mark Scott to account for his promise – made on 16 October 2006 – that, under his watch, there would be a “further diversity of voices” on the ABC.
Number of weeks since Nice Mr Scott
promised greater diversity on the ABC Total: 331 Weeks
Number of conservative presenters/producers/paid
regular commentators/editors on prominent
ABC Radio/ABC TV/ABC Online outlets Total: Absolutely Zip
When it comes to the issue of attempting to ensure some political balance at the ABC on Mr Scott’s watch, it’s already 5 minutes past midnight.
MAURICE NEWMAN SEGMENT – IN WHICH ABC PRESENTERS, REPORTERS AND GUESTS ALL CRITICISE BENEDICT XVI AND/OR THE TEACHINGS OF THE VATICAN
Due to unprecedented demand, the Maurice Newman Segment gets another run this week. 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 taxpayer funded public broadcaster. See MWD passim.
On the morning after the resignation of the Pope the night before, here is how the ABC handled the story in Sydney in the prime time period 7.30 am to 9 am on Tuesday. According to the hasty monitoring of Nancy’s male co-owner, that is.
▪ It’s just after 7.30 am. Linda Mottram appears on Adam Spencer’s 702 Breakfast program to introduce her program later that morning. In an interview with Adam Spencer, Mottram describes Benedict XVI as a “divisive” pontiff. In other words, according to Mottram, it is divisive for the Pope to support the teachings of the Catholic Church. See “A Linda Mottram Moment” for more. Spencer essentially agrees with Mottram.
▪ Just after 8 am ABC Radio News carries a comment by former Catholic priest and well-known critic of the Vatican Paul Collins. Dr Collins (for a doctor he is) suggests that the only important initiative of Benedict XVI turned on his resignation.
▪ The ABC AM program covers the Pope’s resignation. Lexi Metherell also interviews Vatican critic Paul Collins (see above). Fr Frank Brennan S.J. is then interviewed. He praises the Pope’s decision to retire and criticises the papacy of both Benedict XVI and John Paul II. Fr Brennan calls for the election of a pontiff “who can be more in touch with the aspirations and the thinking of younger generations”. No view supporting Benedict XVI is heard and Ms Metherell essentially agrees with Collins and Brennan.
▪ 8.20 am. Over on Radio National Breakfast Fran Kelly continues her interview with Robert Mickens, Vatican correspondent for The Tablet. The tablet is a left-liberal journal of opinion so it is no surprise when Mickens criticises the papacy of Benedict XVI for being too conservative. Kelly essentially agrees with Mickens. Instead of RN Breakfast producer Tim Latham running a two-part interview with the Tablet’s Robert Mickens, he could have arranged for someone from the conservative Catholic Herald to discuss Benedict XVI’s legacy. It did not happen.
▪ Having bagged the Pope as divisive an hour earlier, the “Mornings with Linda Mottram” presenter interviews Fr Bob McGuire, the well known Melbourne-based Catholic priest, at around 8.45 am. Fr McGuire is a high-profile critic of Cardinal George Pell so it comes as no surprise when he bags the Vatican. Mottram essentially agrees with McGuire.
So in an hour and a half across several ABC Radio outlets, only critics of the Vatican were heard discussing Benedict XVI’s papacy. The prevailing ABC group-think did not lead to a realisation that there are some Catholics who support the Church’s teachings and some non-Catholics who admire Pope Benedict XVI.
Maurice Newman : 3
Jonathan Holmes: Zip
A LINDA MOTTRAM MOMENT – OR WHY THE POPE IS DIVISIVE
On Tuesday, a significant part of Mornings with Linda Mottram on ABC Radio 702 was devoted to Pope Benedict’s XVI’s retirement. As is her wont, Linda Mottram was not content with presenting the opinions of others. Rather she was intent on stating her opinion. This is how Ms Mottram flagged her coverage of this issue in her discussion with 702 Breakfast presenter Adam Spencer:
Linda Mottram: Of course, this Pope has been very divisive. And I note quite separately that on Wednesday the first [legal] mention in the New South Wales enquiry into Church and Police handling of child sex abuse in Northern New South Wales begins. Child sex abuse has been a big issue; this Pope has faced a lot of criticism, claims of covering up, of not doing enough. Ah, he’s been divisive on gays, on AIDS; on – I mean you name it – women in the church.
Adam Spencer: Very conservative,
Linda Mottram: Very conservative. What is likely to follow? I guess I’m interested in, you know – if you’re a Catholic or not, if you’re religious or not – this man is still highly influential in the world. What do we see next?, I guess, is the big discussion.
Adam Spencer: Absolutely.
So Adam agreed with Linda who agreed with Adam who agreed with Linda – in the taxpayer funded public broadcaster way. For the record, Benedict XVI’s handling of the child abuse scandal within the Catholic Church was good. He condemned the crimes of some priests and brothers and he met with some of the victims. By the way, the allegations concerning the sexual abuse in Northern NSW occurred in a period before Benedict XVI became Pope.
Then there is Linda Mottram’s personal agenda. As the ABC presenter may or may not know, the Catholic Church is a conservative institution. So it should not be surprising when its cardinals elect a conservative pope.
During his papacy, Benedict XVI upheld traditional Catholic teachings on same-sex marriage, female ordination and contraception. As Ms Mottram should understand, it is not compulsory to be a Catholic. Catholics who do not follow the Church’s teachings on same sex marriage and/or female ordination can always leave.
The idea that Benedict XVI was divisive because he did not agree with the position of Mottram and Spencer on a range of left-liberal causes is merely a conceit. As to HIV/AIDS, the idea that the Pontiff is somehow responsible for the spread of this disease in, say, Africa is ludicrous. He’s not that influential. What’s more, if the world followed the Catholic Church’s teachings – proclaiming chastity outside marriage and fidelity within marriage – the spread of HIV/AIDS would be dramatically reduced.
There is another point which the Mornings With Linda Mottram presenter overlooked last Tuesday. The Catholic Church – under both John Paul II and Benedict XVI – has perhaps done more than any other organisation in ministering to HIV/AIDS victims. Mottram seems unaware of this.
Verily, a Linda Mottram Moment.
In recent weeks a number of ambitious types have made pitches to have their work rewarded by this increasingly prestigious award. Nice try. But – No. Nancy will only rig this award in return for some consideration. Perhaps a plate of fat-reduced minced steak placed outside her kennel. Over to you, or, rather, youse.
Meanwhile this week’s gong is shared by:
▪ Cassandra Wilkinson on the Need to Remember Kevin Rudd
Cassandra Wilkinson who, on Australian Agenda last Saturday, reminded viewers that Kevin Rudd was removed as Labor leader in June 2010 because he was unpopular.
Cassandra Wilkinson: Five Paws
▪ Miranda Devine – On How Abortion is Worse For A Foetus Than Smoke
Miranda Devine who, in the Sunday Telegraph last weekend wrote that “frankly there are worse things for unborn children” than a mother who smokes. She added : “Like abortion – but not so many complain about that.”
Miranda Devine: Five Paws.
▪ Scott Stephens – On why Peter FitzSimons, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins & Geoffrey Robertson Were Wrong About the Pope
Scott Stephens – ABC Online’s (non-Catholic) religion and ethics editor who responded to Peter FitzSimons’ ill-informed comments about Benedict XVI’s handling of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church as follows:
Scott Stephens: Wow. I’ve heard Peter Fitzsimons say some pretty stupid things about the Pope but I think that just about takes the cake. And I’m sure that we could find some better, some more intelligent certainly some better informed people to assess the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI apart from someone like Christopher Hitchens. Some really awful and ill-informed and derogatory things – [Interrupted]
Peter FitzSimons: [interjecting] go on get to it, what? What? Spread ‘em out.
Scott Stephens: What, what? For instance, I’m not sure if Paul Collins would agree but it seems to me from the research that I’ve done – from the immense reading that I’ve done on this topic – that there’s no one in the life of the Church today that can claim to have done more to eradicate the cancer of sexual abuse – and that’s Pope Benedict’s own phrase “The Cancer of Sexual Abuse”, from the life of the Church and the whole culture of cover-up and craven and cowardly bishops from the life of the Church than Joseph Ratzinger – in his initial role as prefect and his subsequent role as Benedict XVI.
Peter Fitzsimons: So was Hitchens wrong? Was Hitchens wrong in what was published in the Sydney Morning Herald?
Scott Stephens: Absolutely
Peter Fitzsimons: So Hitchens was wrong.
Scott Stephens: Absolutely, my God. Absolutely. As wrong as someone like Richard Dawkins who described Pope Benedict as this leering old villain whose first instinct when he heard of children with their pants down was to cover up the crime and as wrong as someone like Geoffrey Robertson QC who described the Pope as –
Peter Fitzsimons: [interjecting] If I may –
Scott Stephens: – No hang on, as the global CEO over a global paedophile trafficking network.
Peter Fitzsimons: Okay,
Scott Stephens: This is quite preposterous.
Scott Stephens: Five Paws
CAN YOU BEAR IT?
▪ Comrade Alex Mitchell Forgets Comrade Gerry Healy
He’s back. Revolutionary socialist Alex Mitchell, living in retirement on the NSW/Queensland border, has returned to The Sun-Herald to write some pieces on the difficulties of the Federal Labor government and the NSW State Labor Opposition.
Two weeks ago, your man Mitchell was calling Gillard Labor dysfunctional. And last Sunday he was banging on about the mess that was NSW Labor government of recent memory due to the influence of one-time ministers Ian MacDonald and Eddie Obeid.
Comrade Alex cannot abide NSW Labor. Fair enough. But he should not lecture others. As documented in The Sydney Institute Quarterly (Issue 41, December 2012), Alex Mitchell spent two decades of his life in the 1980s and 1990s as a Trotskyite in London trying to bring about revolution. Really. He worked for the completely dysfunctional Gerry Healy who hung out with such dictators as Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein. Healy was a life-long sexual predator who targeted female comrades. All to bring forward the revolution, to be sure.
And now Comrade Alex Mitchell (Trotskyite, Retd) is lecturing at large about political competence and professional behaviour. Can you bear it?
▪ Have Literary Idea – Seek Grant
Luke Slattery in The Australian (8 February 2013) recently welcomed the formation of a new online literary journal. It’s the Sydney Review of Books and it is edited by James Ley. Dr Ley (for a doctor he is) told The Australian:
Ideally, I would like it [the SRB] to develop into a trove of high quality critical writing that covers all of the major books and writers and controversies in Australian literature and the best writing from overseas too.
Wacko. Good show, old chap. But, as the saying goes – what next? Well, the SRB has already received some seed funding from the taxpayer subsidised University of Western Sydney’s Writing and Research Centre. And now Dr Leys is about to put out his hand for an Australia Council grant.
Meanwhile, Sophie Cunningham – chairwoman of the Australia Council’s Literature Board – has said that she is “delighted” to see the launch of the Sydney Review of Books. Stand by for another forthcoming taxpayer funded grant. Can you bear it?
How remarkable that The Australian’s Christian Kerr received a heads-up about coverage in the current edition of Private Eye concerning Graeme Wood’s publishing ventures – The Global Mail and the (forthcoming) digital Australian edition of The Guardian. Mr Kerr wrote about this in The Australian’s “Strewth!” column last Monday but Private Eye No 1333 did not arrive Down Under until yesterday. Fancy that. Commented Kerr:
The Global Mail the new media brainchild of [Bob] Brown bankroller and dot.com millionaire Graeme Wood, has gone genuinely global. Last month, Wood announced a new web venture, a local tie-up with the venerable British left-wing money pit The Guardian. The Global Mail, famed for having more staff than readers, was originally envisaged as some type of paradise where ABC types and former Fairfaxistas could frolic free from such details as deadlines, regular edition times and, thanks to its founder’s deep pockets, an audience. Instead, it quickly degenerated into a media Lord of the Flies island, albeit one where the Jack Merridews are handsomely paid. The antics at the Mail have now drawn the attention of Britain’s much-feared journal Private Eye.
Quite so. In a style which bears a certain resemblance to Christian Kerr’s, Private Eye reported:
While the Guardian’s London HQ is shrouded in wintry gloom, prospects are apparently brighter Down Under, whither deputy editor Kath Viner is heading to recruit staff for a new digital Australian edition of the paper. The financial backing comes from local dotcom squillionaire Graeme Wood.
Late in 2011 Wood provided at least $15 million to fund a new, non-profit web newspaper, The Global Mail. The Mail had no regular publication times, its correspondents filed when they wanted to, and the website functionality was gruesome. Its hit-rate was piddling….
There are rumours in the Australian media that Wood will shut the site down now that he has done his deal with the Grauniad [i.e. The Guardian] – raising more questions about the treatment of hacks by this self-styled philanthropist at a time of significant job losses in the local media. The journalists’ union is threatening to take a case to Fair Work Australia on behalf of the axed staff. Particular outrage has been provoked by the fate of Middle East correspondent Jess Hill, who was made redundant less than a fortnight after having brain surgery to remove a tumour. As one former Mail hack told Crikey: “I got into journalism to expose this sort of thing – not to stand back and watch it happen.” Do Alan Rusbridger and Kath Viner know what they’re letting themselves in for?
What fun. The travails of the journalists who left Fairfax Media and the ABC to work with the Greens supporting businessman Wood were outlined by Matthew Knott in a piece published in Crikey on 22 January 2013.
On 5 February 2013 Fran Kelly conducted a long interview with Graeme Wood on RN Breakfast . The following exchange took place:
Fran Kelly: The stories are still flowing from disgruntled ex-employees. If they’re correct, The Global Mail is not a happy ship at the moment – which is not a great look for a venture supposedly –
Graeme Wood: [interjecting] Uhh no – no well, that’s completely wrong. So, yes there is one or two ex-employees who are disgruntled. The Global Mail is not the first or last organisation that will hire and fire people. There’s nothing unusual with that. That particular episode started from one of those people telling a few lies to a media outlet who ran those lies, didn’t check the facts and then other people who aren’t necessarily my biggest fans, picked that up and ran with it also.
Fran Kelly: Can you elaborate on that? Who told the lies and what were the lies?
Graeme Wood: I’d prefer not to say.
Fran Kelly: Well what were the mistakes, then, you think The Global Mail has made.
Graeme Wood: Oh, trying to do too much too quickly, the technology was flaky at the start. When you bring a new team of people together who haven’t worked together before, there are bound to be problems and we’ve worked our way through that. The other side of the story is that we’ve done some great work, there’s some terrific stories being told out there.
Fran Kelly: I’m sure there’s terrific stories being told but journalists have been made redundant after one year, is that a mistake?
Graeme Wood: Ahhhhm, no that’s just life. And there’ll probably be more journalists made redundant and more hired. It’s just the nature of business , it’s not the ABC Fran.
Yeah. It’s not the ABC. Wood did not make his fortune at Wotif.com by being soft or by failing to manage the joint. The problem is that many ABC types – including Monica Attard and Stephen Crittenden – flocked to The Global Mail. Both are now ex-employees. Now Wood has effectively branded Jess Hill a liar – without supporting his claim with evidence of any kind. It’s a tough business, publishing. Outside of the ABC, that is.
Wood differs somewhat from The Guardian’s editor Alan Rusbridger. Rusbridger is good at losing other people’s money. Currently, The Guardian is losing a staggering $100 million a year as Rusbridger works out how to “monetise” his venture. Wood, on the other hand, is prepared to lose his own money on The Global Mail. He maintains that on-line edition of The Guardian in Australia will make money. This remains to be seen.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY “M” – PROOF READER EXTRAORDINAIRE
As MWD readers well know, Nancy goes to bed very late on Thursday evenings and rises very early on Friday mornings to put out this blog. In view of the haste in which this product is produced, some typographical errors occur. [Don’t you mean the “deliberate mistakes” – to which John Laws used to refer? – Ed].
And so it has come to pass that a number of MWD readers from all over Australia email or text corrections to errors/deliberate mistakes. Thanks folks. Perhaps the most exacting of this group is a person who is known around Nancy’s kennel as “The Mysterious M”. This edition will be the 100th occasion in which M has proffered – in the politest possible manner – suggested corrections.
HB – M. And lotsa appreciation for the proof-reading.
PHIL (READ FOOL) KAFCALOUDES STRIKES AGAIN
What a stunning performance by Radio Australia presenter Phil Kafcaloudes on the ABC 1 News Breakfast program last Tuesday.
Some guest commentators do the News Breakfast “Newspapers” segment discussing what is in the broadsheets and tabloids that very morning. Others prefer to opine about what should have been in the newspapers. And others still try to be comedians – and to consciously play the fool. Mr Kafcaloudes is of this genre.
And so it came to pass last Tuesday that the following exchange took place concerning the coverage of Pope Benedict’s XVI’s retirement.
Phil Kafcaloudes : But then we go to The Australian newspaper. The Australian doesn‘t actually cover the story at all in the early edition. [Laughter]. There’s nothing. Not on page 2, 3, 4, 5 – anywhere. You know, the’re not enough [sic]. I don’t quite get it. Maybe Rupert Murdoch isn’t a big fan of the Catholic Church.
Michael Rowland : Or perhaps though they scrambled to get a – for the second edition. We only see the first edition in Melbourne.
Phil Kafcaloudes : Maybe. Yes. That’s true. It’s a big mess.
What a load of tosh. Clearly, the announcement of the Pope’s retirement appeared too late for coverage in the first edition of The Australian. But it was the Page 1 lead in The Australian’s second edition – as one phone call by Phil K would have revealed and was also covered in the on-line edition. Moreover, the suggestion that “maybe Rupert Murdoch isn’t a big fan of the Catholic Church” was (apparently) an attempt at humour. A very weak one, in fact.
Phil K then dealt with The Age – which, like News Breakfast, comes out of Melbourne. It soon became evident that Phil K – in his attempt at humour – was comparing The Age’s second edition with The Australian’s first edition. This is what he had to say:
Phil Kafcaloudes : But when you have a look at The Age – The Age which also is a paper that’s, you know, broadsheet. That manages to cover it. In fact does a very straight job. You look on the bottom there: “Pope Benedict to resign, the first to do so in hundreds of years” As everyone is saying there. And it goes through his speech, what he had to say, his decision to let go and why he’s decided to do a “Nixon” and so –
Michael Rowland : A what?
Phil Kafcaloudes : [Laughing at his own “joke”.] Well, you know.
Michael Rowland: What’s your twitter address? [pointing to Phil Kafcaloudes] Complaints that way, please. He’s resigned. He’s the Pope. He’s quite different from President Richard Nixon.
Phil Kafcaloudes: Yeah
Michael Rowland: He is not a crook.
Phil Kafcaloudes : He is not a crook. Except that Nixon said he wasn’t either.
Michael Rowland: Yes, But in the end he was
Phil Kafcaloudes : In the end he was, yeah. Okay.
Yeah. Okay. What a load of tripe. Apparently Phil Kafcaloudes thinks that it is really funny to compare Pope Benedict XVI with President Richard Nixon and to hint that the former was corrupt. Phil K’s habit of turning the “Newspapers” segment into an attempt at comedy runs the risk of giving self-indulgence a bad name. As the saying goes: “A fool and his words are soon parted”. But not soon enough on ABC 1 News Breakfast, it seems.
GREAT MEDIA PREDICTIONS OF OUR TIME (CONTINUED) : CANBERRA TIMES FALSE PROPHECY ON LIBERAL PARTY LEADERSHIP
The Canberra Times Monday 11 February 2013, Page 1, on why Alastair Coe will be voted leader of the Australian Capital Territory Liberal Party later in the day with Brendan Smyth as his deputy:
Coe set to lead ACT Liberals
by Lisa Cox
A deal by Zed Seselja to secure his numbers for the ACT Senate nomination seems set to hand Alistair Coe the Canberra Liberals leadership in Monday's ballot. Brendan Smyth is poised to retain his role as deputy leader.
ACT Senator Gary Humphries said an agreement had been reached that Mr Coe, 29, who controls large numbers within the Young Liberals, would support Mr Seselja's Senate bid in exchange for the opposition leadership.
Party insiders have confirmed the plan, which would sideline the opposition health spokesman, Jeremy Hanson, who was a standout performer during the ACT election campaign and seen as the frontrunner to take over from Mr Seselja.
The Canberra Times, Tuesday 12 February 2013, Page 1, on why Jeremy Hanson had been voted leader of the ACT Liberals the previous day – with Alastair Coe as deputy:
Hanson vows to tackle Labor
by Noel Towell
Chief Assembly Reporter
Newly elected Canberra Liberals leader Jeremy Hanson has vowed to fight against what he called the ''most radical'' left-wing government in Australia.
Mr Hanson, elected on Monday with Alistair Coe as his deputy, immediately went on the attack against the Labor-Greens alliance and pledged to bring back ''good common-sense values'' if the party won power.
Mr Hanson defeated former leader and deputy leader Brendan Smyth in a party room ballot held at the Legislative Assembly after the resignation of Zed Seselja, who will challenge for a Senate seat. Despite speculation by party figures that Mr Coe had done a deal with Mr Seselja for the leadership, the Ginninderra MLA did not nominate for the top job. Instead, Mr Coe was elected unopposed to the deputy leader's role after Mr Hanson's defeat of Mr Smyth.
So there you have it. Or not.
WARWICK HADFIELD DEFAMES THE LATE JOHN WREN – AND THE COLLINGWOOD FOOTBALL CLUB
MWD is something of a fan of ABC Radio National Breakfast sports commentator Warwick Hadfield. In a program which had only leftist and social democrat regular commentators – and does not engage even in one conservative regular commentator from anywhere in the world – Warwick Hadfield is a bit of fresh air. At least he does not talk politics. Yet, your man Hadfield is not infallible.
In recent days, Hadfield has been very critical of the Gillard Government’s handling of the Australian Crime Commission’s report titled Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport, which was released on 8 February. Fair enough. However, his initial response was not critical at all and also contained a distorted view of the history of sport in Australia.
This is what Warwick Hadfield had to say on RN Breakfast last Friday:
Warwick Hadfield: Look, ah, organised crime sticking its bib into sport, it’s far from new. Think John Wren, thinking Collingwood Football Club, and all the blind eyes turned way back then.
I think in 2013 we need a complete change of our national psyche, not just our sporting psyche, no longer making heroes out of crooks if we’re ever going to win this one. The positive, if I can use that term, is that in our country we have organisations like the ACC to seek out people who will cheat the system. And, right now, if sport reflects the society in which it is played, gee we need them.
That was Friday. By Wednesday Mr Hadfield was comparing the ACC with the zealots critically portrayed in Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible. Also, Hadfield defamed the late John Wren.
John Wren (1871-1953) has long been a target for the anti-Catholic sectarians in our midst – as the late James Griffin documented in his book John Wren: A Life Considered (Scribe, 2004).
It is true that in the 1890s and early 1900s Wren ran an illegal totalisator in the (then) working class suburb Collingwood in Melbourne. But by the early 20th Century, Wren was running legitimate businesses – including pony racing in Richmond and Fitzroy. Wren later moved into trotting, racing, boxing, hotels, grazing, land development, gold, publishing, alcohol, restaurants, retail and cosmetics. His business empire was a mess – but made profits overall. Wren gave very generously to charity in the latter part of his life – usually anonymously. He was also a generous supporter of the Collingwood Football Club and its players at a time when many footballers earned little money.
According to Hadfield, Wren was into organised crime. There is also absolutely no evidence to support such a claim – which was popularised by the onetime Stalinist hack Frank Hardy in his book Power Without Glory and by the ABC in its 1976 docu-drama of the same name.
There is no evidence of Collingwood Football Club’s involvement with organised crime before, during or after John Wren’s time. Moreover, John Wren was never convicted of – or even charged with – a crime.
CORRESPONDENCE – IN WHICH PETER TATCHELL’S APPARENT CONFUSION ABOUT SAME SEX MARRIAGE IS DISCUSSED
There was enormous, truly enormous, interest in last week’s MWD reference to Australian-born but London based gay activist Peter Tatchell. As MWD readers will be aware, Mr Tatchell was cited in the “Media U-Turns of Our Time” segment for his apparent change of view on what is called same-sex marriage between 2002 and 2012. This led to correspondence between a MWD reader in London and Nancy’s male co-owner. Here it is. Published in the public interest, of course.
MWD Reader (London) to Gerard Henderson – 9 February 2013
I read your thoughts on Peter Tatchell's comments concerning same-sex marriage with interest.
You quote and seem to agree with Brendan O'Neill's statement that, “…Tatchell and other gay campaigners claim, with straight faces, that not being able to get hitched is the cruellest misfortune suffered by homosexuals.”
Other gay campaigners, whoever they are, may have made this claim, but I can find no evidence that such a claim has been made by Tatchell. Do you have any evidence to support this statement?
I think a very good case can be made that Tatchell does not think an inability to get hitched is anything like the cruellest misfortune suffered by anyone. Today, in the Evening Standard, Tatchell is quoted as saying, “Personally, I am not a fan of [same-sex marriage]. I feel uncomfortable with the sexist patriarchal history of marriage – originally it had nothing to do with love, it was about property and male social power over women. Just look at the language. An alternative meaning for the word 'husband' is to manage and control, which symbolises the way men have traditionally treated their wives.”
As such, I am not sure his views today signify a “significant U-turn”.
The strongest evidence I can find of his support for same-sex marriage is that he has said, “Discrimination in marriage law, on the basis of sexual orientation, cannot be ethically justified in a democratic society committed to equality before the law and respect for individual choice and freedom.” He made these comments in 1999. See: http://www.petertatchell.net/lgbt_rights/queer_theory/gaypride.htm
It seems that O'Neill has sloppily used his own article for The Daily Telegraph of 12th June for his article in The Spectator of 23rd June. He appears to have more accurately described Tatchell's 2002 article in the former article. Here, O'Neill writes that, “A permanently outraged queer, [Tatchell] railed against the hypocrisies of politicians and priests and also against what he called the 'sharp-suited middle-class professionals' of the modern gay movement, who were obsessed, as he put it, with 'cuddly issues like gay marriage'. How times have changed. Now Tatchell is on the frontline of that cuddly issue, loudly agitating for the right of gay men and lesbians to get hitched. The deviant has been domesticated.” See:
I'm not sure that even this is a fair analysis, but would seem to be a lot better than that contained in his article published a bit over a week later as I do not think it is entirely accurate to say that Tatchell himself “railed against 'cuddly issues like gay marriage'” when he wrote that, “The focus on safe, cuddly issues like gay marriage and adoption indicates how gay people are increasingly reluctant to rock the boat and more than happy to embrace traditional heterosexual aspirations.”
For these reasons, I cannot see how O'Neill's comments warrant your response,”Quite so.” I would welcome your thoughts on this.
Gerard Henderson to MWD Reader (London) – 11 February 2013
Thanks for your note. It’s great to have a MWD reader in London Town. In response, I make the following comments:
1. I quoted Brendan O’Neill’s comments to draw attention to Peter Tatchell’s U-Turn on gay marriage. That’s all. It’s certainly true that Tatchell now regards same sex marriage as a right. As I understand it, that’s all O’Neill was saying. He did not put his description of Tatchell’s position in direct quotations.
2. You quote Peter Tatchell in the Evening Standard on Friday as saying that he is not a fan of same sex marriage. Yet he appeared on ABC TV News last Wednesday supporting same sex marriage. Tatchell was also interviewed on Wednesday on ABC News Radio where he described the same-sex marriage bill in Britain as a “resounding victory for equality, dignity and fairness”.
Perhaps your man Tatchell runs one line in Britain and another one for Australians back home on this issue.
3. Peter Tatchell’s article which was published in The Independent on 6 July 2002 is on his website in edited form. He wrote:
The first Gay Priders saw the family as “a patriarchal prison that enslaves women, gays and children”. Three decades later, the theme of this year’s celebration is “We are family: partnership and parenting rights – now!” The focus on safe, cuddly issues like gay marriage and adoption indicates how gay people are increasingly reluctant to rock the boat and more than happy to embrace traditional heterosexual aspirations.
Clearly in 2002 Peter Tatchell dismissed gay marriage as a “safe, cuddly issue” which linked homosexuals to “traditional heterosexual aspirations”. Now he supports it. This, as I understand, is the double standard that Brendan O’Neill was referring to in his article last June in The Spectator Australia.
MWD Reader (London) to Gerard Henderson – 14 February 2013
Thanks very much for your response.
I think there are two issues in question. One is whether Tatchell has performed a U-Turn. The other is whether O'Neill and you are claiming Tatchell has done anything more than perform a U-Turn.
On the first, I think you misunderstand Tatchell's comments. Since at least 1999, he has said that marriage should not only be available to opposite-sex couples. In his articles over the last ten years or so, he has effectively said that if marriage is to exist in law then it should do so with as little discrimination as possible and so same-sex marriage should be permitted. I cannot see how these repeated statements are inconsistent with his also repeatedly saying that he himself does not want to marry or that he does not think that efforts made to secure same-sex marriage should be the focus for gay campaigners or his disparaging the focus, not the objective itself, just the focus by others to secure it. Therefore, I think he is permitted to support the introduction of same-sex marriage without being thought inconsistent.
This seems similar to my saying something like, “I hate tattoos, I would never have one and anyone who gets a tattoo is an idiot and a sell-out to the tattoo industry,” and also saying, “I welcome any effort to allow people to have tattoos. The ability to get a tattoo is a wonderful thing.” It's a bit odd but I don't think it's a “significant U-turn” to say one and then the other as they are independent statements.
In any case, I can't see the “significant U-turn” given his comments in 1999. A full analysis would look at all his opinions over the years, including those he is still making to the Evening Standard and those he made back in 1999. I doubt the ABC, or any other part of the media feels it has the time or inclination but I don't think he can be claimed to have performed “a significant U-turn on gay marriage in a mere decade” given his other statements before and throughout that time.
On the second issue. I'm surprised that you think O'Neill's description of Tatchell's position only amounts to his saying that Tatchell has performed a U-Turn and now regards same-sex marriage as a right. He specifically describes Tatchell and unidentified others as claiming “with straight faces” (what a witty reference that is) that “not being able to get hitched is the cruellest misfortune suffered by homosexuals.” I understand that O'Neill did not put his description in direct quotations. It's O'Neill's opinion and one which I think is utterly lacking in supporting evidence. You included it in your quote of O'Neill and immediately followed it by saying “Quite so.”
Please correct me if I am wrong, but your saying “Quite so” implies to me that you think his description is fair. I don't mind if you do think his description is fair, but I would be interested to see why as I cannot find anything which even suggests, let alone demonstrates, that Tatchell considers an inability to get hitched as being even remotely approaching a position which would warrant its being described as “the cruellest misfortune suffered by homosexuals”.
If you only think that Tatchell has performed a significant U-Turn, then that is all you need to say. Quoting someone who has exaggerated his view and then saying “Quite so” is unnecessary if all you are really trying to say is that he has performed a U-Turn. You could have contrasted his comment on ABC with the quote of his 2002 article and cited O'Neill as having drawn it to your attention. You have endorsed O'Neill's view that Tatchell and unidentified others claim something for which I believe there to be no evidence.
Gerard Henderson to MWD Reader (London) 15 February 2013
Gee. You take a long time to say not very much at all. These are the facts.
▪ In July 2002, writing in The Independent in London, Peter Tatchell referred to gay marriage as a “soft cuddly issue”.
▪ In February 2012, in the Evening Standard in London, Peter Tatchell wrote that he is “not a fan of same-sex marriage” which he asserted was part of the “sexist patriarchal history of marriage”.
▪ In February 2013, on ABC TV in Australia, Peter Tatchell urged Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott to support gay marriage since this is “the way the wind is blowing….all around the world”.
▪ In February 2013, on ABC News Radio in Australia, Peter Tatchell equated gay marriage with “equality, dignity and fairness”.
In view of this, I am entitled to say that Peter Tatchell (i) has done a U-turn on the subject and (ii) that he appears to have one view for British audiences and another view for Australian audiences.
I also believe that Brendan O’Neill was entitled to equate Tatchell’s 2013 position – inconsistent though it is – with the view that opposition to gay marriage is “the cruellest misfortune”. An act which is against equality, dignity and fairness is capable of bestowing cruel misfortune on others who are deprived of such endowments. If you have a problem with this, you should take this up with Brendan O’Neill.
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Until next time. In the meantime, Keep Morale High.
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