GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 178
19 APRIL 2013
See the end of this week’s MWD for details of much appreciated comments on/endorsements of Nancy’s work by Mike Carlton, Peter Munro, Mike Carlton (again), Jonathan Green & Michael Rowland, Malcolm Farr, Bob Ellis, Tom Cowie, Mike Carlton (yet again), Mark Latham, Robert Manne, Marius Benson, James Jeffrey, Andrew Crook and more besides. Well done chaps – and lotsa thanks.
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THIS WEEK READ ALL ABOUT :
● An MWD Exclusive Foreshadowed on Political Animal
● Nancy’s Pick-of-the-Week: The Baroness Thatcher’s Ceremonial Funeral – Thatcher Critic Heads ABC’s Live Coverage; Prof. John Keane’s (for it is he) Bad-Hair-Day; Funeral Proves George Orwell Correct on Toy Soldiers v Toy Pacifists; Charles Moore Bags BBC’s Coverage
● The Iron Lady and Leigh Sales : A Clarification
● Your Taxes At Work: Yet Another Leftist Stack at Sydney Writers’ Festival
● Can You Bear It?: Crikey Bags Alan Jones’ Prediction but Ignores Greg Barton’s Prophecy; A Tip-Bound Scott Burchill Socialises with Rich, White Virginia Trioli; Jonathan Green-Super Tweet
● The Left’s Jeff Sparrow and Robert Manne Appear to Condemn Phillip Adams as an Old White Male
● Nancy’s New Campaign: Bring Back Mark Latham
● Correspondence: With thanks to Dr David Burchell, Paul (Surname Withheld) & David Rowell
STOP PRESS : DID A JOURNALISTC W.E.B. THWART A 7.30 INTERVIEW WITH TONY ABBOTT?
Interesting interview on 7.30 last night with Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Leigh Sales was somewhat tougher than during her recent interlocutory love-in with former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
This is how Leigh (“I’m sure I am a doubter”) Sales concluded the segment:
As I said last time the Prime Minister appeared on the program a few weeks ago, 7.30 is in constant communication with the office of the Opposition leader Tony Abbott about joining us for an interview. We’ll keep you posted.
How frightfully interesting. MWD has heard a rumour that Tony Abbott was prepared to do an interview with 7.30 on Easter Thursday but the program could not accommodate him. Apparently, Leigh Sales and Chris Uhlmann were not available to conduct such an interview since they were about to go on a brief Easter holiday. As in, a brief WELL EARNED BREAK (in journalistic speak). Could this be true? Certainly Ms Sales made no mention on 7.30 last night of a W.E.B. being a reason why Tony Abbott could not join her for an interview just a few weeks ago.
MWD : AN EXCLUSIVE IGNORED AND AN EXCLUSIVE DELAYED
In MWD Issue 177, it was pointed out that David Marr has changed his story on the alleged “punch” – which he claims Tony Abbott delivered to a wall at Sydney University in 1977, on either side of a young woman’s head.
In the first edition of Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott (published in September 2012), David Marr claimed that “The Punch” incident occurred in September 1977. However, in the second edition of Political Animal (published in March 2013), David Marr claims that “The Punch” incident occurred in July 1977. So far, Mr Marr has not revealed why he changed his account of the alleged event – without notice. MWD will return to this matter in future issues.
MWD, with a little help from our readers, has come up with another “exclusive” concerning Political Animal. All will be revealed next week.
● ABC News 24’s Live Coverage Hears Only From Thatcher Critic John Keane
What a truly stunning performance by that well known leftist Professor John Keane, ABC’s hand-picked commentator on Baroness Thatcher’s funeral on Wednesday evening (Australian time). Once again, the taxpayer funded public broadcaster disregarded the need for balance. Faced with the prospect of presenting two views on ABC News 24 live coverage of the funeral or just one – the ABC went for the latter (unbalanced) option and engaged Professor Keane alone for the job.
Professor Keane is a well known left-wing academic at the University of Sydney who is Thatcher critic of long-standing. ABC News 24 did not see fit to present the views of a Thatcher supporter or even a commentator capable of assessing the good and the bad in Thatcher and Thatcherism. It was as if the ABC had come to bag Margaret Thatcher – not to praise her in any way at all.
At the end of the funeral, ABC News 24 presenter Nick Grimm threw to Professor Keane for a final comment. This is what he said – replete with misstatements and factual howlers:
Nick Grimm: …In recent days it’s almost been as though Thatcherism has been brought back to life in recent days – with her policies and err, political ideology debated anew in Britain. Now that’s a, that’s a subject that you feel, err, strongly about yourself.
John Keane: Yes, the right Revered Richard Chartres in his funeral oration in St Paul’s quoted TS Eliot: “the end is where we begin from”. And I think this is a moment, it’s a Thatcher moment in British politics. There’s a very deep crisis, economic and political. Err, Margaret Thatcher once famously said [sic] whether she was in favour of consensus. She said: “Yes of course I’m in favour of consensus – consensus that my convictions are right”. Actually what she’s unleashed is a small handful, Thatcherism has unleashed a small handful of pretty serious and still unresolved problems. This is the Thatcher moment.
Devolution, err, there is going to be referendum in Scotland about independence for Scotland. She wanted a united Britain. There is a foreign policy problem. She was all the way with the United States against the Soviet Union and anti-Europe. The British exports are principally dependent on the European Union, there’s a very deep crisis there. So it’s not clear, um, erm, what will become of British foreign policy.
Thatcherism has unleashed, err, a big public debate which is surely now going to go on in a much bigger way about the market and the ethics of the market. Have a look at Glenda Jackson’s House of Lords speech against Margaret Thatcher where she says basically, despite what was said in the funeral oration about civic virtue that actually what Thatcher did was to unleash a culture of greed. And how to rebuild an economy which is more caring, a more social market is one of the great unresolved problems, err, that she bequeathed to Britain.
And finally, it was Geoffrey Howe who said err very cleverly that one of the striking things about Margaret Thatcher is that she transformed not one political party but two. She transformed the Labour Party, the Labour Party went down the path of Thatcherism in matters of economy. And now they have the problem, Miliband its leader has the problem of how to build a post-Thatcherite err economic strategy and its entirely unclear what that might mean.
The trouble is that, symbolised by the Royal Bank of Scotland, the financial sector which drove that boom in Britain nearly collapsed and it collapsed because of the self-regulation model. And it’s now not clear how to rebuild an economy based on probably financial services, media communications, professional services, all in London with great disparities nationally.
What a load of absolute tosh. It’s quite an achievement – even for the Professor of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney – to make so many howlers and errors in so few words. Here’s a list:
▪ Left-wing ranter Glenda Jackson was a brilliant actor who proved to be a poor politician. Currently she is the Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn. Ms Jackson is not a member of the House of Lords.
▪ Margaret Thatcher ceased being prime minister of Britain in 1990 – over two decades ago. After Thatcher came the governments of John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron. The idea that Margaret Thatcher is responsible for all Britain’s unresolved problems is ridiculous – outside of Sydney University that is.
▪ When Thatcher left 10 Downing Street, there was no devolution with respect to Scotland or Wales or Northern Ireland. The decision to establish a referendum on Scotland separating from Britain was made by the Cameron government.
▪ It is pure nonsense for John Keane to imply that Thatcher’s opposition to the communist regime in the Soviet Union got her and Britain offside with Europe. After all, many of the nations of Western Europe at the time were members of NATO.
▪ There is no crisis with respect to Britain’s exports to the European Union. In any event, the learned professor seems unaware that Britain has been a member of the European Union for some four decades. For all its current economic difficulties, Britain remains one of the strongest economies in the Europe.
▪ If Glenda Jackson is correct and Thatcher unleased a “culture of greed” – then it must have been continued by Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron. Keane seems unaware of this.
▪ Ed Miliband’s problem is not to build a post-Thatcher economic strategy but, rather, a post-Blair/Brown economic strategy.
▪ In the lead up to the Global Financial Crisis, the Australian financial system was well regulated – thanks to the policies of the Hawke, Keating and Howard governments. This was not the case with respect to Britain. The person most responsible for Britain’s unpreparedness for the GFC was former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown who presided over the government’s policy of regulation with a light touch. Yet Professor Keane does not seem to know this.
In short, the ABC’s live coverage of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral – which it described as “divisive” – was a real shocker. Finally, discussion turned on how Margaret Thatcher was involved in the discovery of Mr Whippy ice-cream. Sneering, Professor Keane said that Vanilla would not have been her “favourite flavour”. Pretty funny, eh?
● John Keane’s Bad Hair Day and Aunty’s Loaded Caption
Over the past days, various Thatcher-haters – including Mike Carlton in the Sydney Morning Herald and Maria Margaronis in The Age – were allowed to make derogatory comments about the Thatcher hair-style.
In view of this, it’s only fair to view the hair-styles of some Thatcher-haters in our midst. Here’s how Professor John Keane looked on News 24 on Wednesday evening.
By the way, note that ABC News 24 put up a caption which purported to explain the event. It read “Professor John Keane discusses Thatcher’s divisive funeral”. So the ABC decided to editorialise that the ceremonial funeral was “divisive” – just in case John Keane did not get this his verbal messages across the first time.[How does nice Mr Scott put up with such blatant political barracking and its resultant anti-professionalism? – Ed].
● ABC News & Sky News Compared
The ABC portrays itself as the national broadcaster. It’s worth comparing the ABC’s live coverage of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral with that of Sky News. Sky News took a direct feed from London and did not interrupt the event with local comment. At the end of the funeral, Stan Grant provided a brief analysis. There followed the Paul Murray Live program which heard the contrasting views of Janet Albrechtsen, Kate McClymont, Janine Perrett and Bryce Corbett.
Not so the ABC – it interrupted its coverage with comment. The compere struggled. And the only interpretation was provided by a left-wing academic (Professor John Keane) who made errors of commission and omission.
● Brits on the Street Support Soldiers – Not Pacifists: As George Orwell Foretold
As to the success of the event, there should have been no surprise. Supporters of the former British prime mister, along with those who wanted to pay their respects to Britain’s first female prime minister and the longest serving British prime minister in the 20th Century, turned out in their hundreds of thousands. Of leftist protestors – there were but a few. In Australia they had to rely on ABC captions referring to the alleged divisiveness of the occasion.
The British writer George Orwell in The Road to Wigan Pier defended “the ordinary decent person” against “the intellectual book-trained socialist”. In the latter group, Orwell included “that dreary tribe of….sandal wearers”. You know the type.
Reviewing Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf in the New English Weekly in March 1940, at a time when many a sandal-wearing book-trained socialist was supporting the Hitler-Stalin Pact, George Orwell wrote that ordinary people support patriotism, military virtues, drums, flags and loyalty parades. Orwell commented how children – including the off-spring of socialists – prefer toy soldiers to toy pacifists when he wrote:
The Socialist who finds his children playing with soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers; tin pacifists somehow won’t do.
And that’s the point. The masses lined the route of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral and the Thatcher-haters were scarce in numbers. Except in the ABC News 24 studio, of course, where 100 per cent of the commentary team hated Margaret Thatcher and attempted to diminish her memory.
▪ As Did the BBC, So Did the ABC
In Britain, Charles Moore – Baroness Thatcher’s official biographer – criticised the BBC’s funeral coverage for concentrating “on a very small band of trouble makers” while very rarely talking “to ordinary people over the country who respect and admire her, whether or not they always agreed with her”.
It was much the same with the ABC’s live-coverage of the funeral.
IN THE MATTER OF MS SALES & THE IRON LADY: A CLARIFICATION
Many thanks to the thousands upon thousands of MWD readers who wrote after last week’s issue claiming that MWD had been too soft on Leigh Sales. MWD Issue 177 identified one error in Ms Sales’ 73 word introduction to 7.30’s coverage on 9 April 2013 of Baroness Thatcher’s death. In fact, there were two howlers. Here is the introduction in its entirety:
Leigh Sales : Love her or loathe her, there’s no denying Margaret Thatcher was one of the most powerful political leaders of her generation. Baroness Thatcher died last night from a stroke aged 87. In death as in life, her legacy continues to polarise people. Her fierce and uncompromising stance against her foes, particularly trade unionists, earned her the nickname the Iron Lady, and in Argentina she’s remembered bitterly as the instigator of the 1982 Falklands War.
MWD Issue 177 correctly stated that it was Argentina – not Britain – which instigated the Falklands War. After all, Argentina invaded the Falklands which was, and remains, British territory.
However, there was another howler. Contrary to Ms Sales’ introduction, Margaret Thatcher’s relationship with the trade union movement did not lead to her being called “the Iron Lady”. Rather this nickname was first used by the communist dictatorship that was the Soviet Union.
In fact it was the Kranaya Zvezda (Red Star) newspaper, the paper of the Soviet Army, which first labelled Thatcher “the Iron Lady”. This was meant to be an insult. Thatcher and her advisers liked the term and used it to their advantage.
What was different about Margaret Thatcher in Britain and Ronald Reagan in the United States is that they spoke the truth about Stalin’s heirs in Moscow. This was not appreciated by the Western intelligentsia. But it was applauded by the oppressed in Western Europe who, for the first time, realised that the leadership in the West fully understood the predicament. Margaret Thatcher was broadly detested by the Western intelligentsia at the BBC. But she was much admired by the courageous intellectuals who were in the Soviet Union’s gulag.
YOUR TAXES AT WORK – A CONTINUING SAGA
YET ANOTHER LEFT-OF-CENTRE STACK AT THE SYDNEY WRITERS’ FESTIVAL
Last Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald carried the program of the taxpayer subsidised 2013 Sydney Writers’ Festival – which will be held from 20 May to 26 May.
A quick glance revealed the following leftist, left-of-centre or social democratic participants. Here we go. Phillip Adams (of course), Louise Adler, Waleed Aly, Monica Attard, Julia Baird, Jonathan Biggins, Frank Bongiorno, Tim Bowden, Katharine Brisbane, Bob Brown (of course), James Button, Jennifer Byrne, Mike Carlton (of course), Jane Caro, Michael Cathcart, Neil Chenoweth, Natasha Cica, Matthew Condon, Sophie Cunningham, Bob Debus, Mary Delahunty, Andrew Denton, Catherine Deveny (of course), Elizabeth Farrelly, Mia Freedman, Michael Fullilove, Jane Gleeson-White, Marieke Hardy (of course), Wendy Harmer, Jacqueline Kent, Gretel Kileen, Dominic Knight, Ramona Koval, Benjamin Law, Amanda Lohrey, Robert Manne (of course), David Marr (ditto), Kate McClymont, Maxine McKew, Jeff McMullen, Ross McMullin, George Megalogenis, Christine Milne (of course), Matthew Moore, Julian Morrow (making seven appearances, of course), Linda Mottram (of course), Jenna Pryce, Margot Saville, Julianne Schultz, Annette Shun Wah, Tim Soutphommasane, Jeff Sparrow (of course), Dale Spender, Anne Summers (of course), Chris Taylor, Andrew Upton, Tom Uren, Sally Warhaft, Robyn Williams (of course), Naomi Woolf, Elisabeth Wynhausen and Arnold Zable [Is that all? Check that you haven’t missed any. Ed]
So there you have it. Some three score and more leftists/ left-of-centre types/ social democrats will address the 2013 taxpayer-subsidised Sydney Writers’ Festival.
And what about right-of-centre types and social conservatives? Well, it seems that fewer than a dozen fit this category. That’s a balance of six to one. That’s your typical Sydney Writers’ Festival. That’s your taxpayer dollar working for – well, you be the judge.
CAN YOU BEAR IT?
● Crikey’s Double Standard on the Boston Terrorist Incident – Alan Jones Prediction Bad but Greg Barton Prediction Good
The team at Crikey sets itself up as an arbiter of journalistic standards. This despite the fact that it publishes unverified rumours along with anonymous writers. Moreover, Crikey does not employ a fact-checker.
This is how Crikey led off last Wednesday in its editorial comment:
CRIKEY SAYS: AN ALAN JONES BACK GROUND CHECK
It won’t surprise you to learn Alan Jones doesn’t read Crikey. But if only he had heeded our advice yesterday — just this once — on not jumping to conclusions over the perpetrators and motivations of the Boston terrorist bombings, then he wouldn’t have put his clown-sized foot so far down his throat on Channel Seven’s Sunrise this morning: “I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a conspiracy amongst students, left-wing radical students in Boston, and I think we have to think also very seriously here about our own student numbers. We’re very keen to have foreign students pay the way of universities in this country without a lot of discernment about who comes in. But I think the fact that we’ve been spared this kind of thing, touch wood, for so long highlights, as I said, the relentless work done by ASIO and all our police organisations.”
Reckless US Congress types have already been out linking the bombings – again, there isn’t even a suggestion of a suspect as yet – to immigration and background checks. Let’s leave them to it, AJ. God knows there’s enough fear and loathing you can cook up on domestic politics alone.
That’s pretty clear then. It’s wrong to speculate about who may have carried out the bombings in Boston. In short, Alan Jones was foolish to speculate on the Channel 7 Sunrise program on Wednesday morning that the instigators of the murders might have been “left-wing radical students”.
Fair enough. But what did Crikey say about the speculation on, say, ABC TV that the bombings in Boston might have had something to do with right-wing extremists? Well, nothing. Just nothing.
Greg Barton was interviewed by Virginia Trioli and Michael Rowland on the ABC TV News 24 on Thursday. Dr Barton immediately hinted that the murders might have been the work of “right-wing extremists”. Let’s go to the transcript:
Michael Rowland: Assuming it’s a group and not a lone wolf individual, how well organised are these right-wing and for that matter, radical left-wing groups in the States?
Greg Barton: Well with Timothy McVeigh – he wasn’t alone but it was a pretty small group as far as we know. Of course, his execution means we don’t really know as much as we should. There’s actually probably more grass roots support for right-wing extremism than there is for Islamist extremism. Muslim Americans have been conspicuous by their absence in terror plots – it’s mostly been outsiders who have come in over the last decade. These right-wing groups we see them above ground with the Tea Party, which of course is benign but silly. But underground we find similar large structures and conspiracy theories and paranoia and in some cases propensity to violence. And that’s the concern, there could be quite a large structure below the surface of the ground.
On Wednesday and Thursday, what Alan Jones and Greg Barton had in common was that neither had any idea what he was talking about. Yet Crikey editorialised against Jones who foresaw left-wing terrorism but said nothing about Barton who foresaw right-wing terrorism. Can you bear it?
● Dr Burchill (On His Way To The Tip) Talks to The Rich, White La Trioli
As the saying goes, what a co-incidence.
And so it came to pass that Wednesday morning just happened to be the day designated by Deakin University Dr Scott Burchill to take a load – or two, perhaps three – to the tip. Dr Burchill (for a doctor he is) invariably combined such physical labour with a visit to the ABC studio in Southbank – where he participates in the “Newspapers” segment at around 6.45 am. Papers analysed, your man Burchill goes back to the truck and heads off to the tip. Or so it seems to MWD.
One of MWD’s many readers have forwarded a photo of your man Burchill, in his tip-gear, talking to Virginia Trioli and Michael Rowland on Wednesday. Sadly, reports emerged of the Boston bombings before the program commenced. Despite the fact that few at the time, apart from the bombers, knew what had happened, this didn’t stop La Trioli and Dr Burchill.
Trioli declared that the attack had been launched on “rich white people”. It turned out that of the three victims declared dead, one was a child (and as such, not rich) while another was of Asian background (and, as such, not white). Oh dear.
Scott Burchill did not challenge Trioli’s apparent view that the streets of Boston are populated exclusively by rich white people. He continued to talk at great length about the matters of which he had no knowledge.
Then, finally, News Breakfast’s producers decided to despatch this particular expert. So your man Burchill packed up his papers and left the studio. Instead, he won’t be back until his load is full again. Can you bear it?
Here’s a MWD exclusive of Scott Burchill in his “I’m-on-my-way-to-the-tip” clothes.
● Jonathan Green Just as Silly Before as After Bicycle Fall
MWD is most grateful to the Melbourne-based sandal-wearing bicycle-riding leftie Jonathan Green – since he appears on MWD’s Endorsements/Comments section. So much so that Nancy’s (male) co-owner regularly monitors the ABC Radio National Sunday Extra presenter’s tweets.
Jonathan Green’s suggestion is that Gerard Henderson sprang fully-formed from the head of Zeus.
Nancy’s response: Sod Off.
Then, via twitter, news came through that Mr Green had been knocked from his bike in inner-city Richmond – Swan Street, in fact:
Nancy’s response: What’s that about Karma?
Then this morning Mr Green tweeted:
Nancy’s response: Jonathan Green’s tweets are as vacuous as any 20 minute conversation which he has with James Valentine on ABC Metropolitan Radio 702 in Sydney every Thursday. After lunch, of course. And, occasionally, after falling off his bike – due to a pedestrian, of course.
Can you bear it?
TOM SWITZER SCORES FOR NAILING LATELINE’S DOUBLE STANDARD REGARDING MARGARET THATCHER (R.I.P.) & GORE VIDAL (DECEASED)
Today’s editorial in Tom Switzer’s The Spectator Australia reminds readers of the late Patrick McGuinness’ comment that the ABC1 Lateline program provides an intelligent conversation for an “audience by that time too drunk or too stoned to make their own”. Well, this may have been the case before the intervention of Foxtel’s IQ recording system – which makes it possible for the drunk and the stoned circa 10.30 pm to view Lateline after hangover time the following morning.
Young Mr Switzer makes the point that Lateline has “treated the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century with little more than disdain”. Quite so. The only substantive comment on Lateline about Baroness Thatcher was made by Senator Bob Carr – around 24 hours after Margaret Thatcher died. There was plenty of time for Lateline to find a conservative, who knew Thatcher, to assess her contribution at a national and international level.
But Lateline chose to get an assessment from the Labor Foreign Minister of Australia who had only a few meetings with Thatcher. He related a story of an unflattering and very brief conversation which he had with her as long ago as 1999 when she was in the process of mental decline (See Correspondence section).
The Spectator Australia makes the point that the left-wing author [Don’t you mean conspiracy-theorist? – Ed] Gore Vidal got much better coverage when he died in August 2012 at age 86. On this occasion Lateline also invited Bob Carr to make a comment – and he waxed lyrically about his hero.
For the drunk and the drugged, Lateline’s contrasting coverage of the deaths of the socially conservative Margaret Thatcher and the libertine leftist Gore Vidal will not matter. Except for those who were sober enough to engage the record button last Wednesday. But it’s important that Mr Switzer made the point. Especially since Lateline covered Ronald Reagan’s death with similar disdain.
Tom Switzer and The Spectator Australia team – Five Paws.
LEFTIES JEFF SPARROW & ROBERT MANNE BAG PHILLIP ADAMS (APPARENTLY) AS AN OLD WHITE MALE
Meet Jeff Sparrow. Dr Sparrow (for a doctor he is) is a taxpayer subsidised academic at the taxpayer subsidised Victoria University who edits the taxpayer subsidised left-wing house journal Overland.
Writing on the taxpayer subsidised Overland website recently, Jeff Sparrow had a go, among other things, at unnamed “elderly white men” who have “unlimited blathering time on the ABC”. Subsequently, Professor Robert Manne endorsed all Dr Sparrow’s comments as “truly excellent”.
So the question is this. Who is an elderly white man who has virtually unlimited time on the ABC? Easy. Step forward Phillip (“I was a teenage Stalinist”) Adams AO (no less). Phillip Adams was born in July 1939. His Late Night Live program on ABC Radio National runs for an hour from 10 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays with a LNL special on Fridays. The main LNL program is repeated on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 4 pm.
This means that your man Adams, who is close to 74 years of age, has 9 hours a week on ABC Radio National. There is no other old white man – to use the term much favoured by the left – who has so much time to blather on the public broadcaster.
Which raises the question. Why didn’t Dr Sparrow name his ABC target on the Overland website? Could it be that there is a fall-out among the taxpayer subsidised left and Jeff has had a row with Phillip but they are in a “no names” part of the conflict. We’ll keep you posted.
By the way, this is how the Thatcher-hater Jeff Sparrow covered Baroness Thatcher’s death on his Overland blog.
How revealing. It seems that Comrade Sparrow is opposed to capital punishment and summary execution – except in the case of Thatcher, M.
NANCY’S NEW CAMPAIGN: OCCUPY MACQUARIE PARK – BRING BACK THE LAIR OF LIVERPOOL
Mark Latham’s Recent Splits With The Spectator Australia and Sky News
Now here’s a true confession. Nancy and MWD are really missing Mark Latham since he was dropped by/resigned from/did not have his contract renewed at Sky News. You see, Nancy just loved the Lair of Liverpool’s appearances of recent memory on the Paul Murray Live program on Mondays and other times plus his occasional appearances on the Australian Agenda program.
Okay. Nancy’s campaigning does not have a precedent of success. At the end of 2011, MWD initiated the “Occupy Ultimo: Restore Deborah Cameron” campaign. This was an attempt to have Ms Cameron be restored to her “Mornings with Deborah Cameron” slot on ABC Metropolitan Radio 702. The truth is that Deborah Cameron’s program each morning provided MWD with excellent copy. Alas, Nancy’s “Occupy Ultimo” campaign was a failure. Nice Mr Scott declined to renew the contact – and Deborah Cameron is truly missed.
It’s much the same with Mark Latham. MWD just loved the “Latham’s Law” column in The Spectator Australia – since it was so easy to send up. See MWD passim. But, then, the Lair of Liverpool found out, via MWD, that The Spectator Australia editor Tom Switzer had criticised his double standards on misogyny. On learning in MWD that Switzer had received one of Nancy’s prestigious Five Paws Awards, Latham spat the dummy and declined to write anymore for the “Aussie Speccie. He’s been missed by MWD ever since. Nancy’s (male) co-owner particularly regrets the fact that Latham is never destined to write in The Specator Australia again about how Vladimir Lenin was a hand-holding sort of guy who loved nothing better than to get away from revolution, smell the roses and so on.
The Lair of Liverpool – who had co-presented the “Kroger & Latham” episode of the Sky News Showdown program once a month towards the end of 2012 – also fell out with his co-presenter. Consequently, “Kroger & Latham” was dumped. Another loss for MWD.
Then Mark Latham appeared on Paul Murray Live on 25 March 2013 – channelling the CEO of Dodgy Brothers Funerals who is about to advise the family members of the recently departed that the corpse had been mislaid in the system. Little wonder, then, that the following night Paul Murray announced that Mark Latham would no longer be appearing on the program or on Sky News. In the days immediately before or after this announcement, Latham publicly bagged such Sky News personalities as Graham Richardson, Kieran Gilbert, David Speers, Chris Kenny and Peter Van Onselen. [Is that all? Did he really miss the Sky News receptionist? – Ed].
MWD is hoping that Sky News will forgive all and restore Mark Latham. IMMEDIATELY. Join the “Occupy Macquarie Park: Bring Back The Lair of Liverpool” campaign now. Tell them that Nancy needs Mark.
Mark Latham on the Mental Health of Others
Meanwhile, Mark Latham’s sole remaining outlet is his fortnightly column in The Australian Financial Review. On 28 February 2013, in a column titled “The damnation of dams”, Mark Latham launched a personal attack on Coalition frontbencher Andrew Robb when he wrote:
The chances of a troubled character like Robb successfully planning the transformation of northern Australia are zero.
Mark Latham added to his comments about Andrew Robb in the Sky News Saturday Agenda program on 2 February 2013. He referred to Andrew Robb’s book Black Dog Daze: Public Life, Private Demons where the author wrote that he has suffered depression for many years.
On Saturday Agenda, Latham commented that Andrew Robb “wrote a book outing himself as having a life-time of trouble with mental illness”. Latham’s position was that someone like Robb, who has suffered depression, is not capable of holding a senior position in politics since he is a “troubled character”.
Dr Mike Richards on Mark Latham’s Own (Alleged) Mental Health
Mark Latham’s comments on the suitability of people to hold office reminded Nancy’s (male) co-owner of a certain paper by Mike Richards titled Portrait of a paranoid: An insider’s account of the Latham years written circa 2009. Dr Richards was, for a time, Mark Latham’s chief-of-staff when the Lair of Liverpool was the Opposition leader from late 2003 until the 2004 election.
Here are some quotes from what Mike Richards had to say about Mark Latham’s suitability to achieve his one-time aim of becoming prime minister of Australia:
▪ …psychological factors played a major part in his [Latham’s] political demise: although it was not publicly apparent at the time, Latham was progressively unravelling through 2004, and the personality issues that brought him down worsened the longer his leadership went on. This was a dynamic process that fed upon itself through 2004, as Latham’s paranoia begat mistrust of his colleagues and eventually with his staff and finally with everyone associated with his leadership.
▪ Although he articulated certain “middle way” positions that suggested a balanced approach to politics, Latham’s inner world as expressed through The Latham Diaries is one of grandiose ambition and paranoia, which ranges through the grandiosity of seeing himself as a prophet to the paranoia of a belief that he was “surrounded by assassins” and that “the arseholes are coming after me”.
▪ Post-election Latham appeared to be in a psychologically deflated and dysfunctional state: he had withdrawn into himself, virtually stopped talking to his staff and, worse, was not returning the phone calls of his leadership colleagues.
▪ From the vantage point of close observation, Latham’s behavior might best be characterised as that of a narcissistic loner, whose best and worst political outcomes were shaped by a psychological state — an inflated but fragile sense of self enclosed by a shell-like exterior that proved brittle and ultimately inadequate — that disposed him to believe he could not trust anybody else and that he alone knew the way to political success. Strongly reminiscent of key features of the psychological character of his political hero, former US president, Richard Nixon, that state involved a deep sense of paranoia that periodically affected his judgments and prompted bouts of irrational behaviour.
▪ Latham’s narcissistic and paranoid personality shaped a consistent pattern of political behaviour. The core features of that style are a distinctive political brilliance and drive that is accompanied by paranoia and destructive tendencies — anger, rage, envy and resentment — which suggest an inner dynamic involving overweening ambition defending against (that is, compensating for) low self-esteem. As well, like his political hero Richard Nixon, Latham is a “serial collector of resentments” and, at times, his political outlook is dominated by extreme suspicion and distrust, hostility and — again like Nixon — a pervasive preoccupation with enemies, whether real or imagined.
Latham’s narcissistic behaviour has been exemplified by problematic features. The first is a tendency to bite the hand that feeds him, a tendency to obliterate from his mind those who help and support him. Secondly, Latham exhibits a tendency toward destructive envy and resentment of those who, he believes, have entitlements greater than his own. This is linked to an ambivalent attitude towards elites and people in authority and sometimes manifests itself as a reluctance or unwillingness to engage with entities or institutions bigger than him. At other times this appears as a tendency to enviously abuse and tear down to his level anyone whom he perceives as occupying a superior position. Thirdly, he shows in his political behaviour an obsessive concern never to do what is expected of him, to demonstrate — above all else — that he is in control. And, fourthly, he shows a tendency toward paranoid fantasies, where “friend” and foe alike are seen as attacking or undermining him.
Associated with these features is a high level of rage by Latham at a political world that he cannot bend to his will, a world that he ultimately rejects and vilifies in his Diaries, an intellectual work which, like its author, is frequently brilliant and acutely perceptive but mostly destructive and self-destructive and sometimes paranoid. These are features of a narcissistic personality that drove Latham to seek and attain the leadership. But they are qualities of a flawed personality that render his leadership unsustainable, and contain the seeds of his ultimate downfall.
▪ Latham also found it difficult to engage with business leaders, and was rarely comfortable in their presence. During those times during his leadership when his anxiety and fragility was at its greatest, he abruptly cancelled meetings with business leaders, and issued instructions to me that no further business group meetings were to be put in his schedule.
▪ The track change elements of the speech [in 2004] were an embarrassing staff production gaffe, and they allowed Labor’s political opponents to distract attention from the policy and performance in Latham’s speech to a media sideshow of momentary consequence. Latham was entitled to be upset at the mistake; his paranoid response, however, was disproportionate and revealed his narcissistic vulnerability: “WHY—IS—EVERYONE—OPPOSED—TO—ME?” he bellowed as he raged around the leader’s conference office in a 20-minute tantrum. “THIS—WAS— THE—MOST—IMPORTANT—SPEECH—OF—MY—LIFE. WHY—ARE—THEY— GETTING—AT—ME?!” Again, it was as if his internal universe of brilliance and superiority was under attack from people who didn’t understand and acknowledge his claim to greatness. Latham’s response in this incident mirrors those personality types who compensate for low self-esteem by developing a grandiose conception of themselves (“the grandiose self”), and who respond to attacks on their defensively inflated self-image with narcissistic rage and the paranoid transfer of blame to other individuals
▪ It is highly unlikely that Latham could ever have sustained himself as a long-term leader of the Labor Party, much less prime minister of Australia, and it is apparent that the notion of “the loner as leader” is a contradiction in terms. The demands of a leader (especially from the Labor side) to energise, engage, inspire and enlarge his party and the community, generally, requires more engagement with other people, more other-directedness, than the self-absorbed Latham could ever have mustered. As the election year progressed, Latham narcissistically equated the concept of “doing it all himself” with that of “leadership”; increasingly it was no longer “middle way”, just “my way”. The imperative to connect with people, to take people with him in politically affirming ways, seemed beyond his capabilities given his dysfunctional psychological make-up.
In essence, it is the writer’s view that — leaving aside his failure to convince voters of his credibility on key policy issues such as mortgage interest rates — Latham was unelectable in 2004; many voters, particularly women, had come to see him as a politically threatening figure who was just too menacing to endorse at the ballot box. Beyond the election itself, his personality flaws would have seriously compromised his leadership had he made it into office: his narcissism and grandiosity would have disposed him to risky and unsound decision making, and his paranoia would have been a major obstacle to the effective team building that cabinet leadership requires.
Had he become prime minister could he, for example, have trusted the central departments and agencies of government to operate without his detailed explicit direction and control? Could he have handled the subtle requirements of international statecraft, negotiation and nuanced diplomacy, as well as the sensitive requirements of national security matters? Could he have articulated the aspirations and priorities of an electorate when their ideas and responses on issues of public policy inevitably came to differ from his own? And, most importantly, could he have endured as prime minister, any more than he did as leader of the opposition, the usual slings and arrows of public disapproval and denigration? Could he have been, in other words, a confident, rational, balanced, stable, longterm leader for all the community?
So, according to Mike Richards, when Mark Latham sought to be prime minister of Australia in 2004, he was suffering from narcissism, paranoia and dysfunction – but acknowledged none of these conditions. And yet, today Mark Latham maintains that Andrew Robb should not hold a senior position in politics because he suffers depression – a condition which he has acknowledged and is treated for.
In spite of all this, MWD wants Mark Latham back in The Spectator Australia and back on Sky News. It’s not only that he provides great copy. There is a human dimension as well. Right now, the Lair of Liverpool has to support a wife, three children and half a dozen bookmakers on a lousy $78,000 taxpayer funded superannuation handout (fully indexed). There is the Australian Financial Review column – while it lasts. But MWD wants more.
Occupy Macquarie Park. Demand that the Lair of Liverpool returns to Sky News.
Lotsa thanks to Dr David Burchell (for a Doctor he is), Paul (surname withheld) & David Rowell (surname not withheld) – all of whom stepped up this week with emails to Nancy’s (male) co-owner. The correspondence covers a range of issues from Martin Luther’s “Tower Experience” to the eternal Who/Whom question and on to Margaret Thatcher and racism (including a little bit of David Marr). Here we go again with this hugely popular segment of MWD.
● David Burchell & Gerard Henderson on Leigh Sales, Martin Luther and Doubt
David Burchell to Gerard Henderson – 15 April 2013
Dear Gerard (and folks),
I’m writing concerning a small item that raised my eyebrow in the latest issue of Media Watch Dog, published on your website on Friday.
Don’t get me wrong: I regularly enjoy MWD, and think it not infrequently hits the mark (although from time to time it becomes purely grumpy, in my opinion).
But there are occasions when it occurs to me that Gerard Henderson needs his own personal Gerard Henderson, to catch him up when he mouths off without due thought.
The item concerned in Friday’s edition was on Leigh Sales. To show Ms Sales (whom you say you generally admire) is negligent in fact from time to time, you cite the following instance:
For example, in On Doubt (MUP, 2009) Leigh Sales argued that Martin Luther had “sought truth…from a premise of doubt, not certainty”. No one pre-Sales had ever considered the founder of the Protestant Reformation as a man convulsed in doubt and scepticism.
Actually, that’s just plain wrong. The theological literature on this question is very large, and goes back a long way. But one historical account that has become a standard view in the history of thought is that of the eminent historian of political thought Quentin Skinner, in his classic 1978 Foundations of Modern Political Thought (reprinted many times since).
Volume 2 of Skinner’s work focuses on the theology and political ideas of the Reformations. And his account of Luther’s so-called “Tower Experience” there has become a standard one.
On Skinner’s view Luther’s great spiritual crisis in his “Tower” arises out of his inability to reconcile the God of Judgement of the Old Testament with the God of mercy and compassion in the New. He is thrust into doubt and despair – and, indeed, scepticism, given his preoccupation with Man’s essentially sinful, Fallen nature, and our inability to understand God’s will.
On Skinner’s version, Luther (like later sceptics) actually ponders whether his is really a cruel God – a God who sets his believers puzzles their fallen natures make it impossible for them to understand.
Luther resolves this crisis, on Skinner’s account, by his doctrine of sola fide, which insists that it is impossible to apprehend God’s mind by reason, and that we can only intuit God by a leap of faith, founded in an experience of God love. (I’m freely interpreting here, since the volume is in my office and this is Sunday, but from memory this is a pretty fair rendering of Skinner’s argument.)
This is not very far from Sales’ Luther, I would have thought.
Of course, Skinner and Sales (and others following Skinner) might all be wrong in this interpretation. But it certainly contradicts your claim that “No one pre-Sales had ever considered the founder of the Protestant Reformation as a man convulsed in doubt and scepticism.”
Perhaps a small apology to Leigh Sales in MWD is in order?
Gerard Henderson to David Burchell – 18 April 2013
Thanks for your note. Thanks also for your broadly supportive comments about Media Watch Dog. I note, however, you believe that MWD is occasionally grumpy. I do not know how you would ever come to such a conclusion – but there you go.
As to Martin Luther. Well, I’m standing by my original (grumpy) position. This is what Leigh Sales wrote in her On Doubt essay:
Like Abelard, many great thinkers throughout history have been branded heretics for publicly voicing scepticism. Those who have sought truth – be they philosophers or scientists, artists or writers, revolutionaries or explorers – have always begun their quests from a premise of doubt, not certainty. Their questions have most often run counter to the prevailing wisdom or authorities of the day. Copernicus asked whether the earth really was at the centre of the universe. Martin Luther asked whether the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on salvation was biblical….
To this day, science and philosophy are based on the notion that ideas and theories must be tested to see if they have foundation beyond plain faith. The scientific method takes it even further, proving theories by striving to disprove them.
As a theologian, Martin Luther considered various theological positions. My point is that when Luther nailed his Ninety Five Theses to the door of Wittenberg Cathedral in 1517 he was not exhibiting traits of doubt and scepticism. As to the “Tower Experience”, I understand that this was a conversion experience – and, as such, was not a product of long indecisiveness leading to gradual decision.
Luther, like virtually everyone else, experienced some doubts in his life. Also, he was not alone in believing that religious commitment is an act of faith. Not dissimilar views could be traced to some earlier Christians. The point is that those whose belief is founded on faith are less likely to exhibit doubt, or display scepticism, than those whose belief is determined by reasoning.
The point about Leigh Sales’ On Doubt essay is that she rejected passion and self-assurance and rationalised what she maintained was her stance. Namely a life driven by doubt and scepticism.
From the time Martin Luther initiated the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther did not exhibit signs of doubt or scepticism. Nor was passion and self-assurance missing from his make-up. The same is true of Luther’s unequivocal support for the crushing of the peasants’ uprising. Leigh Sales invoked Luther and some others to support her position that it is acceptable not to hold strong positions. This, in my view, is not consistent with Martin Luther – in word or deed – or with his creation, the Lutheran religion.
I will check out Quentin Skinner’s Foundations of Modern Political Thought. However, I would be surprised if Skinner ever wrote that Martin Luther regarded doubt as a plus any time after he nailed his theses to the cathedral door in Wittenberg some five centuries ago.
● Paul (Surname withheld) & Gerard Henderson on English Grammar And the Who/Whom Dialectic
Paul to Gerard Henderson – 13 April 2013
I very much enjoy MWD. However, knowing that you prize accuracy in all matters, I would like to point out that you twice misused the word “whom”.
“…Dr Brett whom, I understand it, is one of your colleagues….”
“…Mark Latham whom, I understand, has something of a fan club at La Trobe University….”
It should be “who is/has”, as no doubt you know. I am pointing out these errors to you before your enemies do.
I have added a very interesting article from The Spectator from three years ago, which demonstrates that Thatcher’s fight with the unions was about other issues than coal.
Keep up the good work!
Gerard Henderson to Paul (surname withheld) – 18 April 2013
Thanks for your note – and for the grammatical correction.
As I have conceded in recent correspondence with Michael Kirby, it’s possible that my occasional errors on the grammar front are due to a poor education on such matters. You see, I was educated at Jesuit-run schools in Melbourne in the 1950s and early 1960s. At that time, the Society of Jesus was still into advancing the Counter Reformation. Whereas, I suspect, students at Sydney’s Fort Street High – like Master Kirby (as he then was) – were enrolled in a school which was fixated on advancing Fowler’s Modern English Usage. Hence my “who/whom” error.
There is an alternative theory. As a student at Melbourne University in the 1960s, I became aware of Vladimir Lenin’s saying: “Who whom?”. It’s possible, just possible, that this unpleasant experience led to a situation where I became confused as to when to use “who” and when to use “whom”. In other words, blame the Bolshevik Revolution.
In future I will be on my best (English usage) behaviour when writing MWD in the very early hours of Friday morning.
By the way, thanks for sending Douglas Eden’s article re Jack Jones etc. Most useful.
● David Rowell & Gerard Henderson: On Whether David Marr was Correct in Labelling Margaret Thatcher as a “Notorious Racist”.
David Rowell to Gerard Henderson – 13 April 2013
I suspect that Margaret Thatcher was racist.
Her daughter Carol Thatcher referred to a black tennis player as a golliwog and then refused to apologise claiming it was only a joke. Her son Mark Thatcher was convicted as a mercenary in South Africa for an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea. When both children display overtly racist behaviour it obviously reflects on the sort of values Margaret Thatcher must have instilled in her children.
For you to try and defend Margaret Thatcher’s comments to [Senator Bob] Carr because she had a stroke in the early 90’s is ridiculous. You do not offer a shred of medical evidence to support your suggestion that either stroke or dementia is correlated with racism. Carr’s comments about Thatcher were in the public interest and he is quite within his rights to make them.
Finally, the fact that [Nelson] Mandela would reach out to Thatcher after his release says more about what sort of man Mandela is than anything Thatcher did.
Gerard Henderson to David Rowell – 19 April 2013
I refer to your comment concerning my criticism (in my Sydney Morning Herald column this week) of David Marr’s claim that Margaret Thatcher was a “notorious racist”. You write that you “suspect that Margaret Thatcher was a racist”.
The problem is that you have about as much evidence as David Marr. That is, zip.
Carol Thatcher and/or Mark Thatcher may, or may not, be racist. I wouldn’t have a clue. Nor, I suspect, would you. In any event, a mother cannot be blamed for positions adopted by her adult children. So there is no causal connection between the alleged positions on race adopted by Ms Thatcher and Sir Mark Thatcher and that of Margaret Thatcher.
As to the reported 1999 Margaret Thatcher/Bob Carr private conversation, I have no idea what she said. Nor do you. There is only Senator Carr’s contemporary recollection of a conversation which took place some 14 years ago.
If you did any research you would know that Margaret Thatcher suffered strokes in 1994, 2001, 2002 and finally in 2013. From the mid-1990s, it is evident that her mental faculties were in significant decline. This is recorded in John Campbell’s The Iron Lady and in Brenda Maddox’s Maggie: The First Lady.
For my part, I would not take much notice of a passing reference made by a person aged 74 who had already suffered a stroke. It’s not that a stroke or dementia is co-related to racism. It’s just that a stroke can – and dementia does – diminish the mind. That’s why I focus on Mrs Thatcher when she was in her relative prime and not when she was afflicted by debilitating illnesses. I also understand that dementia sufferers can be very hard on the very people with whom they enjoyed good relations prior to the onset of their illness.
If you did research on Thatcher’s attitude to South Africa, you would understand that she reached out to Nelson Mandela when he was still imprisoned by the apartheid regime – and had a significant role in his release from incarceration. Mr Mandela is no fool and it is most unlikely that he would have paid a visit to 10 Downing Street if he believed its occupant was a racist.
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READ ALL ABOUT IT – COMMENTS ON/ENDORSEMENTS OF MWD
“[Henderson] You are mad. In the 18th century you would have been caged, with the mob invited to poke you with sticks.”
– Mike Carlton, 5.23 pm (Gin & Tonic Time) 25 March 2013
“[Media Watch Dog is] not a moan, more of a miserable dribble”
– Peter Munro, 21 March 2013
“You are a fool, Henderson, a malicious and mendacious piece of shit…Now F_ck off”
– Mike Carlton, 11 March 2013 (Hangover Time).
Jonathan Green: “Nancy, will be taking notes, I suspect”
“Nancy…yes. We’ll get a nice write-up on Friday. Good morning as well, Gerard. Thanks for watching, by the way.
– Michael Rowland, ABC 1 News Breakfast, 18 October 2012
“Gerard [Henderson] is a complete f-ckwit”
– Malcolm Farr, via Twitter, 29 June 2012 (circa pre-dinner drinks)
“What a haughty flapping half-arsed buffoon he [Henderson] is”
– Bob Ellis on his Table Talk blog, 8 May 2012 (before breakfast)
“We’d better be careful what we say, just in case Gerard’s offsider pooch Nancy is keeping an eye on us for his delightfully earnest Media Watch Dog”
– Tom Cowie of The Power Index, Crikey 20 January 2012
“Henderson…What a pompous, pretentious turd you are.”
– Mike Carlton, Saturday 13 August 2011 (after lunch)
“Go to the Sydney Institute Media Watch Dog website to marvel at [its] work”
– Mark Latham The Spectator Australia 11 June 2011.
Media Watch Dog – “disgraceful”, “sick”
– Professor Robert Manne, April Fool’s Day 2011.
“Before going further can you write to confirm that these emails
are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s
Marius Benson, 11 March 2011. He did go further – see MWD Issue 86.
“I realise this makes me practically retarded, but until five minutes ago
I thought Nancy was Gerard Henderson’s wife, not his dog.”
– Byronbache via Twitter, Monday 7 February 2011
“Gerard Henderson is big enough to take care of himself, but that doesn’t stop us worrying about him from time to time. Lately it’s Hendo’s tendency to self-harm that has us losing sleep. For example, peruse the correspondence he’s published in his latest Media Watch Dog blog…..There’s a part of us that just wants to ask: “Hendo, are you OK?”
– James Jeffrey’s “Strewth!” column, The Australian, 8 November 2010.
“Media Watch Dog on Fridays…is a sort of popular read in the Crikey office”
– Crikey’s Andrew Crook on ABC 2 News Breakfast, 24 September 2010.
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Until next time. In the meantime, keep morale high.