GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 450
10 May 2019
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The inaugural issue of “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” was published in April 1988 – over a year before the first edition of the ABC TV Media Watch program went to air. Between November 1997 and October 2015 “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” was published as part of The Sydney Institute Quarterly. In March 2009 Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog blog commenced publication.
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STOP PRESS: ANOTHER Q&A STACK; MARK HUMPHRIES’ GRAVEYARD HUMOUR; MORE BAD “SCOMO” MANNERS ON NEWS BREAKFAST
EDITORIAL- ABC’s PATRICIA KARVELAS INTERVIEWS ABC’s DAVID ANDERSON
CAN YOUR BEAR IT?: TONY JONES & JON FAINE
NEW SEGMENT: MURDOCH-PHOBIA THE VERY LATEST STARRING LISA MILLAR & ASHLYNNE MCGHEE ON NEWS BREAKFAST
MEDIA FOOL OF THE WEEK- JANE CARO STEPS UP RE THE ROYAL FAMILY
BEING A JOURNALIST MEANS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU ARE SORRY STARRING FRAN KELLY
NEW FEATURE: A CRITIQUE OF JOURNALISM- ON BELIEVING WHAT JOURNALISTS WANT TO BELIEVE WITH A LITTLE HELP FOR KATHARINE MURPHY, LENORE TAYLOR & JOE HILDEBRAND
AN ABC UPDATE- WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ELON MUSK?
DOCUMENTATION- DOMINIC KELLY LETS ROBERT MANNE OFF THE HOOK IN HIS BOOK ON THE “HARD RIGHT”
ANOTHER Q&A WITH 1 RIGHT-OF-CENTRE versus 3 LEFT-OF-CENTRE PANEL
Prime Minister Scott Morrison declined an invitation to appear solo on the ABC Q&A program (presenter Tony Jones, executive producer Peter McEvoy) next Monday. Who could blame him? – especially in view of the unprofessional treatment of Communications Minister Mitch Fifield when he appeared on Q&A recently. Re which see this week’s (hugely popular) “Can You Bear It?” segment.
In any event, the line-up announced by Q&A for next Monday’s panel reads as follows:
Simon Birmingham – Liberal Party campaign spokesman.
Tanya Plibersek – Deputy Opposition Leader
Richard Di Natale – Leader of the Australian Greens
Helen Haines – Independent for Indi
Turn it up. Helen Haines is not the “Independent for Indi”. That’s just fake news. Rather she is one of seven candidates contesting the seat of Indi which was vacated by Independent Cathy McGowan.
So, on the eve of the 2019 election, Q&A has chosen a panel of four – three of whom are critical of the Morrison Coalition in various ways. It’s a case of Senator Simon Birmingham versus Tanya Plibersek plus Senator Richard Di Natale plus Helen Haines.
Indeed, Helen Haines is more Green/Lite than Labor. On May Day 2019 she was one of a dozen self-declared “Independent MPs” who signed the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Climate Leadership Agreement. It advocates, inter alia (i) opposition to the proposed Adani coal mine, (ii) exceeding Australia’s Paris Agreement emissions target, (iii) at least 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 and (iv) opposition to the commitment of public money to any coal mines. Ms Haines is also opposed to the Coalition’s border protection policy.
Fellow signatories include Kerryn Phelps, Julia Banks, Zali Steggall, Rob Oakeshott and Oliver Yates. All are opposed to the Liberal Party in the 2019 election in, respectively, Wentworth, Flinders, Warringah, Cowper and Kooyong.
Oh yes, the Greens have given Helen Haines its second preference in Indi behind the Greens itself and the Labor Party has placed her third on its how-to-vote card behind only Labor itself and the Greens. In short, on Monday Q&A has another stacked panel which favours the left.
“MUCK” HUMPHRIES’ GRAVEYARD HUMOUR
According to ABC personality Jon Faine, the public broadcaster has been starved of funding by the Morrison government. If this is the case, you wonder how the ABC can afford to pay for comedy sketches in its leading current affairs programs on ABC TV.
Last night at 6 pm, just before The Drum commenced, there was a three minute comedy sketch about past elections starring Sammy J. It was called Countdown to Glory. It was remarkably unfunny.
Then, at the end of 7.30, Leigh Sales again told viewers that Mark Humphries is a satirist before he did his comedy gig. Thanks for the warning.
Your man Humphries never makes fun of the Green/Left. Only conservatives and, occasionally, social democrats. Last night his target was The Daily Telegraph and its coverage of Bill Shorten’s comments about his late mother on Q&A last Monday. Here’s the report from MWD’s oh-so-independent stand-up reviewer:
7.30’s Mark Humphries, who self-identifies as a satirist, returns this week playing Peter Muck, the Daily Telegraph’s reporter on the “Bill Shorten’s Late Mother beat”. Having a shoddy journalist be named “Muck” is a good indication of the calibre of writing in Mr Humphries’ sketches. Perhaps MWD should get into the satire business? The first sketch could star a comedian named Mark Smugtalentlessleftisthack.
In the sketch Humphries (as Muck) wanders around a graveyard trying to interview the gravestones….[That’s enough – MWD Editor.]
MORE BAD MANNERS ON NEWS BREAKFAST
Just when MWD heard that Nancy’s Courtesy Class has been helpful, Kate Rothy appeared on ABC TV News Breakfast this morning and once again called Prime Minister Scott Morrison “ScoMo”. At least co-presenter Michael Rowland commented that Australia’s prime minister is entitled to be referred to by his actual name and title.[Listening to Ms Rothy this morning – can I call her KaRo? – I got the impression that she is in waiting for a Labor government after 18 May – MWD Editor.]
DAVID ANDERSON’s SOFT INTERVIEW WITH PATRICIA KARVELAS
MWD just loves it when ABC journalists interview the ABC’s managing director about the ABC. Staff at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster would not take seriously a scenario in which, say, a journalist in Australia Post’s media department interviewed Australia Post’s managing director about Australia Post. However, ABC journalists suspend their disbelief when such a scenario takes place on their own watch at the public broadcaster.
And so it came to pass last Friday evening when recently appointed ABC managing director and editor-in-chief David Anderson gave the first interview in his new position to Patricia Karvelas on the ABC Radio National Drive program. Since then, Mr Anderson has been interviewed on other ABC outlets. All have involved soft questions and comments as ABC workers interviewed their boss.
In his time as ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief, Mark Scott only gave interviews to the ABC. This despite the fact that a public broadcaster, which accepts around $1 billion from taxpayers every year, should be accountable to all Australians – not just those who watch, hear and read the ABC.
David Anderson has been criticised for re-stating on the RN Drive program that, if the Coalition government is re-elected next week, the ABC will “have an $84 million budget reduction over the next 3 years”. In fact, it could be less than this – depending on the rate of inflation. Since what is called the indexation freeze was calculated on an inflation rate of 3 per cent – and currently inflation is running at well below this mark. Mr Anderson later acknowledged in the interview with Ms Karvelas that the Coalition had extended the Enhanced Newsgathering allocation in the recent budget – which gave an additional $43.7 million to the ABC over three years, and that a Labor government would require further efficiency gains at the ABC. Needless to say, it was David Anderson’s comments re the $84 million cut over three years that attracted attention – since he warned of staff and production cuts.
Since an ABC journalist was interviewing the ABC managing director, it came as no surprise that Patricia Karvelas did not put it to David Anderson that even an $84 million cut over three years in a budget of over $3 billion in the same period should be manageable. Especially since, unlike commercial media outlets, the ABC has fixed funding.
It was much the same when it came to the issue of ABC bias. This is how the topic was raised – with a soft question, of course:
Patricia Karvelas: You mentioned also diversity of opinions and of course some of the ABC’s critics say it doesn’t have enough diversity of opinions, some people have accused it of bias. Do you think there is any evidence that there isn’t enough diversity in opinions?
David Anderson: Well I’ll go to bias – in that, I would say that I do not believe that the ABC is biased. I think there is no evidence to suggest that. I think that the way that we operate – we’ve got very talented people who operate under the charter that deal, you know, that address impartiality, address accuracy as they’re compelled to do. And I think that whichever way they vote is, should be something that we, that we don’t know – but the way that they present is completely impartial. We do have the odd error with the odd human mistake but I don’t think we have a systemic issue there. When it comes to our other programs, where we invite other people to come on and give a range of perspectives and views, I think we do a good job of that – yes.
Earlier in the interview, Mr Anderson had acknowledged the ABC needs “to represent contemporary Australia in what we look like, what we sound like [and in presenting a] perspective of views…”. Yet, the ABC does not have a conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets. Not one. The ABC cannot present a diversity of views while it remains a Conservative Free Zone. For contemporary Australia is not a Conservative Free Zone.
These days it is fashionable to recognise the phenomenon of unconscious bias. For example, Dr Martin Parkinson, head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, maintains that men may not recognise a bias in themselves, but it is evident when it is discovered that they tend to employ other men over more talented women.
Needless to say, Patricia Karvelas did not put the issue of unconscious bias, in ABC presenters, producers and editors, to her boss. Nor did she challenge his claim that the ABC does a good job when it comes to inviting “other people” on to its programs. In fact, most ABC panels have a majority of left-of-centre panellists. There are even occasions when all the panellists agree with each other in a left-of-centre kind of way. And it is a fact that some critics of the ABC are rarely, if ever, invited on the ABC programs.
Complaints about a lack of political diversity at the ABC will continue if Labor attains government on 18 May. A government led by Bill Shorten will find it is attacked by the public broadcaster – from a Green/Left perspective. Just ask the likes of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating about their attitude to the ABC when prime ministers in the 1980s and early 1990s. History demonstrates that, for half a century, ABC programs have criticised both the Coalition and Labor from the left. This is unlikely to end anytime soon – certainly not until a managing director acts as an editor-in-chief and breaks up the ABC’s staff collective culture where a cohort of like-minded ABC operatives control both recruitment and content with respect to the programs over which they preside.
TONY JONES IN INTERRUPTUS MODE WITH MITCH FIFIELD ON Q&A
There was enormous interest in last week’s “An ABC Update” segment which featured details about the time each speaker received on the Q&A program on Monday 29 April 2019. The panel comprised the Labor Party’s Chris Bowen, the Liberal Party’s Mitch Fifield, The Guardian’s Lenore Taylor, The Australian’s Greg Sheridan and Crikey’s Bhakthi Puvanenthiran. It was a typical Q&A “balance” of three left-of-centre types (Bowen/Taylor/Puvanenthiran) being “balanced” by two right-of-centre types (Fifield/Sheridan).
As avid readers will recall, Q&A’s own figures for the breakdown of allocated time on 29 April 2019 were as follows:
Chris Bowen: 43 per cent
Mitch Fifield: 22 per cent
Lenore Taylor: 13 per cent
Greg Sheridan: 12 per cent
Bhakthi Puvanenthiran: 9 per cent
How could the Shadow Treasurer get twice as much air time as the Communications Minister? – MWD hears you cry. Well consider this. Q&A presenter Tony Jones interrupted Mitch Fifield on no fewer than, wait for it, 15 occasions. Yep – 15. For a few examples of Mr Jones in Interruptus Mode see here.
So there’s your answer. Mitch Fifield received significantly less air time than Chris Bowen because Tony Jones wouldn’t let the Communications Minister finish many of his comments. And so the Minister for Communications received equal air time to the leftist tag-team of Taylor/Puvanenthiran.
And Q&A presenter Tony Jones and leftist executive producer Peter McEvoy wonder why Prime Minister Scott Morrison has declined an invitation to appear on Q&A next Monday. A lack of Q&A awareness, don’t you think? Can You Bear It?
JON FAINE ON GOOD MANNERS AND PRESENTATION SANS SELF-AWARENESS
Did anyone see the soon-to-be-retired ABC Radio 774 presenter Jon Faine on ABC TV yesterday? This is what he, Faine, had to say about the Scott Morrison/Bill Shorten Leaders’ Debate at the National Press Club the night before:
Jon Faine: Both of them [Shorten and Morrison] need a little bit of, I would have thought some, tutoring on good manners and how to present yourself to a mass audience. It was dreadful….
How about that? Here’s Jon Faine – a middle-aged man in need of a hairdresser telling the Prime Minister and the Opposition leader how to present themselves. And how about rude Mr Faine lecturing others on good manners? Can You Bear It?
Earlier that morning a hostile Faine confronted a courteous Josh Frydenberg on his 774 program. Here’s an extract from the discussion:
Jon Faine: Are you aware that both Bill Shorten and the Greens leader Richard Di Natale will be speaking at an ABC friends rally this weekend in Melbourne?
Josh Frydenberg: Good luck to them.
Jon Faine: Are you aware that they may well be making announcements to make the ABC and further media issues a live a, a live point of difference in this campaign?
Josh Frydenberg: Well from our perspective we believe the ABC plays a vital role in the public debate and I certainly –
Jon Faine: [talking over] But you’ve starved it of funds.
Josh Frydenberg: Well that’s not actually correct, you know, it’s receiving more than a billion dollars of taxpayer’s funds…
So there you have it. Jon Faine reckons that a public broadcaster which receives over $1 billion a year from the Coalition government has been “starved of funds”. It would seem that your man Faine has never run a business and has spent too much of his life living on the public teat. And he wants to tell treasurers how to run the economy. Once again – Can You Bear It?
NEW SEGMENT – MURDOCH PHOBIA: THE VERY LATEST
LISA MILLAR FINDS RUPERT MURDOCH CONSPIRACY ALIVE IN SYDNEY & BRISBANE – BUT NOT IN MELBOURNE
On Tuesday, News Corp’s Daily Telegraph in Sydney ran a page one story by Anna Caldwell titled “Mother of Invention – Revealed: Shorten heartfelt tale missing vital fact”. The reference was to Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s claim on Q&A the previous night that his mother – Ann Shorten – wanted to be a lawyer. However, she took a teacher’s scholarship instead (which paid university tuition fees along with a half a first-year teacher’s salary) in order to support her family. In the event, Ann Shorten obtained a BA and Dip Ed at Melbourne University. Later she obtained the degrees of Bachelor of Education and Masters of Education at Melbourne University and gained a Ph.D. at Monash University in 1976. She subsequently obtained an LLB at Monash in 1985 at age 50. Dr Shorten became a full-time academic at Monash University in 1972 finishing as a senior lecturer. Towards the end of her highly successful career she practised law for some six years.
Anna Caldwell’s point was that Bill Shorten did not mention his mother’s time as a lawyer on Q&A. The Daily Telegraph’s story was run in News Corp’s Courier Mail in Brisbane but not in News Corp’s Herald Sun in Melbourne.
The Daily Telegraph’s story was not mentioned in the ABC TV News Breakfast’s “Newspapers” segment on Wednesday. But it was covered in the segment on Thursday. Let’s go to the transcript:
Michael Rowland: …shockwaves continue after that Daily Telegraph story on Bill Shorten’s late mum yesterday, Ashlynne.
Ashlynne McGhee: That’s absolutely right and he had a very emotional press conference yesterday about that where he was in tears talking about it. And that’s made the front page of the Fairfax papers today, where they talk about his attack and he’s launched a war on News [Corp]. And that it’s a brave move but some say a politically smart move days out from the election doing that. They talk about, Fairfax papers talk about, how they anticipate News will launch an attack on Labor and Bill Shorten in the days before the election – so he’s pretty much getting out on the front foot. But it’s interesting because you’ve got that front page in Fairfax whereas the [News Corp] newspapers today are relatively mild I guess, in comparison, with what they could have gone with. This is from the debate last night: “Leaders define voter choice”, that’s a fairly mild headline, it’s not really their usual [laughs] their usual style.
Lisa Millar: I think there is a much bigger story to be done down the track about Shorten and [Rupert] Murdoch because this, remember, came about when Leigh Sales asked Bill Shorten, much earlier in the year, whether he was going to meet Rupert Murdoch and Bill Shorten said “well, no”.
Michael Rowland: [interjecting] Breaking with traditions of possible prime ministers not going to New York to sit down with Rupert.
Lisa Millar: And from that point we knew this was going to be a very different approach and with the mother [Ann Shorten] story people said “Well here it is coming to, here’s the payback on Bill Shorten”. Not for a minute for the Daily Telegraph bosses I’m sure [sic] and we did ask editor Ben English to come on the program this morning to have a chat about it and he respectfully declined. But it has, I mean most people would say that that backfired on whatever the Telegraph was trying to do yesterday.
Ashlynne McGhee: Well certainly Bill Shorten isn’t the first Labor leader either to be criticising News. I think every Labor leader has done so – Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard they’ve all had their beef with the paper but certainly it’s the strongest attack and then to see that front page story that is so personal and is so sensitive is –
Michael Rowland: [interjecting] It could be a wild ride for the last week and a bit Ashlynne – Labor sources fearing more to come.
Lisa Millar: But maybe that “Leaders define voter choice” headline from The Australian was more an indication of the uh, boring factor of the debate [laughter]. It was interesting, I found it interesting because I actually felt like I was learning things from it….
So there you have it. Another discussion on ABC TV where everyone agrees with everyone else. In this case – that the dastardly Rupert Murdoch is directing his editors and journalists from New York about what stories to run in his (alleged) campaign against the Labor Party and its leader Bill Shorten.
The only problem with this particular conspiracy theory is that it isn’t true. Herald-Sun columnist Andrew Bolt is perhaps the best known News Corp journalist in Australia. In his Herald-Sun blog on Wednesday, Andrew Bolt criticised the Daily Telegraph story and supported the Herald-Sun’s decision not to publish it. A section of the Bolt blog comment was carried in The Australian’s “Cut & Paste” section on Thursday. Apparently, no one at News Breakfast was aware of this.
Here’s the confusion. According to Ms Millar, the Daily Telegraph story was Mr Murdoch’s “payback” for Mr Shorten declining to meet him in New York. But if this is the case – why did Andrew Bolt and the Herald-Sun not partake in the “payback”? Especially since the Herald-Sun is Victoria’s best-selling newspaper – and the 18 May election could well be decided in Victoria.
Also Ms McGhee seems unaware that Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian newspaper supported Labor in the 1972, 1983 and 2007 elections when the party was led by Gough Whitlam, Bob Hawke and Kevin Rudd respectively. 1972, 1983 and 2007 were the only occasions since the end of the Second World War when Labor defeated the Coalition from opposition.
Another case of Murdoch-phobia – to be sure.
STEP FORWARD JANE CARO re HER GRATUITOUS ADVICE TO THE ROYAL FAMILY
ABC Radio’s The World Today was cut from 60 minutes to 30 minutes when Michelle Guthrie was ABC managing director. Even so, in a mere half an hour The World Today has lotsa time for, well, sludge.
Consider for example, the program’s response on Tuesday to the news that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had a son that very morning (Australian Eastern Time). Believe it or not, intrepid journalist Caroline Winter reached out – as the cliché goes – to ABC fave Jane Caro for comment. As MWD readers are aware, Comrade Caro is the go-to contact when the ABC is looking for a quotable hyperbolic quote from a garrulous leftist. Let’s go to the transcript:
Caroline Winter: Committed republican, writer and social commentator Jane Caro says, while nice, the birth shouldn’t distract from Australia’s future as a grown nation that should do away with the monarchy.
Jane Caro: It is nice. I must say that one thing I do think is nice, is that this is the first mixed race child in the Royal Family, they’re a bit behind the times. I think that’s actually a great thing.
Caroline Winter: Jane you’re a republican as many people are. Does the birth of Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s son transcend the royal divide?
Jane Caro: Monarchy has made the transition from some sort of mystical, spiritual thing to more like a branch of celebrity culture, particularly since Princess Diana.
Caroline Winter: What are your thoughts on why we should become a republic?
Jane Caro: We are a very long way away from England. We are a multicultural nation now I mean it’s no longer basically English and Irish stock. It’s very vast and many people who live here now have very little connection with the Royal Family and with an English heritage. It’s a good part of history but for Australia I just see it as being irrelevant.
Caroline Winter: But Jane Caro does have some advice for the Duke and Duchess on choosing a name.
Jane Caro: My daughter who’s an English teacher has one word of advice for the new parents and that is to call him anything other than a name starting with the letter “J” because those children always seem to be a problem in the class.
What a load of absolute tosh. For starters, Ms Caro banged on about how Buckingham Palace is “a bit behind the times” in that this is “the first mixed race child in the Royal Family”. Really. This from a white sheila who married a white bloke and have a white daughter and a white grandchild. This would suggest that the Caro Family is more behind the times than the Royal Family. Fancy that.
Not content with running such a useless observation, the powers that be at The World Today decided to run Ms Caro’s gratuitous advice not to name the Harry/Meghan child with a name that starts with the letter “J”. This wise counsel based on the advice of Jane Caro’s English teaching daughter.
Jane Caro – Media Fool of the Week[By the way, I support an Australian Head of State. However, it’s difficult to back the Australian Republic Movement when the organisation is led by the likes of Jane (“Listen to me”) Caro and Peter FitzSimons, a middle-aged multi-millionaire who walks around with a red rag on his head. – MWD Editor.]
BEING A JOURNALIST MEANS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU’RE SORRY (CONTINUED)
WINNER: FRAN KELLY
Did anyone hear Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly’s aggressive interview with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg yesterday? Jackie’s (male) co-owner tuned in while walking Jackie and her sleep-over mate Luke around the block. He was just so impressed with the way Comrade Kelly was able to turn a howler into a criticism of the Coalition. Let’s go to the transcript:
Fran Kelly: …your so-called women problem has never been more evident than in this campaign. Most of the government’s female ministers really are nowhere to be seen. Julie Bishop, well she’s not a minister anymore but Kelly O’Dwyer is. They are retiring, playing little role on the national stage. Melissa Price and Michaelia Cash they’re in witness protection effectively. We’ve heard barely a word from Marise Payne, from Linda Reynolds, from Karen [sic] Allen. How far backwards is the Liberal Party going to go on women before it starts moving forward again?
Josh Frydenberg: Well we’ve got some outstanding women in our team. As you alluded to at the end there Katie Allen is an outstanding candidate.
Fran Kelly: Yes but she’s not a minister. I’m saying where have they been in this campaign?
How about that? Fran Kelly wrongly stated that Katie Allen is a minister in the Morrison government. In fact, Dr Allen is not even in the Parliament – she’s contesting Higgins for the Liberal Party following Kelly O’Dwyer’s resignation. But when Josh Frydenberg corrected the Kelly howler – rather than admit her error, Ms Kelly declared that Katie Allen was not a minister. A fact the Treasurer already knew.
NEW FEATURE: A CRITIQUE OF JOURNALISM SPONSORED BY JACKIE (DIP WELLNESS, THE GUNNEDAH INSTITUTE)
ON BELIEVING WHAT JOURNALISTS WANT TO BELIEVE – STARRING KATHARINE MURPHY, LENORE TAYLOR AND JOE HILDEBRAND
MWD has long targeted the naivety of journalists who believe what they are told when it suits their narrative.
This was the case on the ABC TV Insiders program on 24 March 2019 when The Guardian Australia’s political editor Katharine Murphy supported The Guardian Australia’s editor Lenore Taylor. Quelle Surprise! At issue was a dispute about what Scott Morrison said in the Cabinet Room in December 2010 about Muslims in Australia. Lenore Taylor reported, in the Sydney Morning Herald on 17 February 2011, that Mr Morrison wanted to use Australia’s Muslim population as an attack point against Labor. The (now) Prime Minister Morrison recently declared he had said that the Coalition should do more to assist Australian Muslim citizens and residents. Let’s go to the transcript of what Murph had to say on Insiders:
Katharine Murphy: Well, I’ve worked with Lenore Taylor for 20 years. I’ve never known her to get a major story wrong. I stand by her reporting in relation to this issue. And there was a lot of subsequent reporting of it as well, which uhh, which, which basically confirmed the primary report. Now I have spoken to a number of people, people who were at that meeting. Now people are, people’s formulations range from “I can’t recall” to “I won’t talk about this” to whatever. Right? Obviously this is deeply, deeply, deeply sensitive. Now the Prime Minister was very agitated during that Project interview the other night. He wanted very much to be believed on this point. He made the point very forcefully that he had not made the comment that… [interjection].
Katharine Murphy confused the issue. No one has contested that Lenore Taylor accurately reported what was the leak from Cabinet. The question turned on whether the leaker against Scott Morrison was telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Journalists should understand that just because someone tells you something – this does not mean that what the person says is accurate. He/she may be a liar or mistaken or have a false memory or whatever.
A similar phenomenon occurred when Joe Hildebrand interviewed Catholic priest Fr Bob Maguire for The Sunday Telegraph’s magazine Stellar on 21 April 2019. Now Bob Maguire is a fave of many journalists since he is a Catholic priest who is willing to criticise his archbishop, the Pope and more besides.
In 2012, following advice from Denis Hart (the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne) the Vatican asked Fr Maguire to retire as the parish priest of South Melbourne. This was not an unusual event since Catholic priests and bishops are required to offer their resignations when they turn 75 years of age – and Fr Maguire was born in 1934. Correctly or incorrectly, the Archdiocese of Melbourne believed that Bob Maguire was not managing his parish’s finances in an efficient manner. According to your man Hildebrand, “Fr Bob committed the cardinal sin of selling church property to help the poor.” Since this was not his property, the question turns on whether the Archdiocese of Melbourne approved of such sales.
The implication in the Stellar article is that Cardinal Pell was instrumental in the Vatican’s decision to accept Fr Maguire’s resignation as a parish priest. The evidence of his assertion? Zip – absolutely Zip.
It’s not surprising that Bob Maguire may hold the view that Pell was involved in his removal. But the cardinal ceased contact with the Archdiocese of Melbourne in 2001 – over a decade before Fr Maguire was asked to retire.
It seems that Joe Hildebrand used George Pell’s conviction for historical child sexual abuse (he is appealing the decision) as a means of getting Stellar to run his sympathetic piece. That’s why Pell’s name appears in the first seven paragraphs of the Hildebrand article. Sure, the fact that Fr Maguire seems to believe that Cardinal Pell was somehow involved in his retirement does not make this claim true.
ABC TUNS BLIND-EYE TO ELON MUSK’S FINANCIAL TRAVAILS
One of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s besties is Tesla’s Elon Musk. You know, he of the let’s-all-drive-electric-cars and batteries-will-ensure-renewable-energy-even-when-the-sun-don’t-shine-and-the-wind-don’t-blow mantra. That Elon Musk.
Well, this is how Bloomberg’s Esha Dey reported on 25 April 2019 on Tesla’s most recent quarterly results:
Tesla’s latest quarter was “one of [the] top debacles” ever seen in 20 years of covering tech stocks on the US sharemarket, according to one Wall Street analyst. Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said on Thursday the company’s guidance was aggressive and management was not doing enough to cut costs, preserve capital and provide a sustained path to profitability. “Musk & Co. in an episode out of the ‘The Twilight Zone’ act as if demand and profitability will magically return the Tesla story,” he said. Ives downgraded the stock to the equivalent of a hold from buy, and slashed his 12-month share price target to @US275 from $US365….
“Tesla has just lost $US 700 million in a single quarter,” wrote Evercore SI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst, who has a sell rating on the stock. “Cutting prices whilst claiming exceptional demand for all products raises obvious questions and red flags concerning underlying demand.”
And how much coverage did your man Musk’s financial plight receive on the ABC? Zip. Absolute Zip.
DOMINIC (“PLEASE CALL ME DOCTOR”) KELLY LETS HIS MENTOR ROBERT MANNE OFF THE HOOK FOR HIS “ECONOMIC LUNACY” PAST
As long-time avid readers will be aware, in days gone by reference to a certain Dominic Kelly was made in MWD. Your man Kelly was writing a Ph.D. at La Trobe University in Melbourne at the time about what he terms the “Hard Right” in Australia.
And so it came to pass that the academic tome of Dr Kelly (for a doctor he now is) has made it into book form per courtesy of the La Trobe University Press in conjunction with Morry Schwartz’s leftist Black Inc.
The title Political Troglodytes and Economic Lunatics: The Hard Right in Australia is taken from a comment by Prime Minister Bob Hawke in 1986 with reference to the H.R. Nicholls Society about “political troglodytes and economics lunatics”. Within less than a decade, the Hawke/Keating Labor government moved to de-regulate the Australian labour market to some extent – along the lines advocated by members of the H.R. Nicholls Society and similar organisations. As Dominic Kelly acknowledges in his introduction, despite “the alleged lunacy” of H.R. Nicholls Society and the like, “these groups have been able to influence the direction of government policies…”.
Political Troglodytes and Economic Lunatics has been praised by a soviet of leftists on the book’s cover. Namely, David Marr, Judith Brett, Robert Manne, Andrew Hartman (of Illinois State University) and David McKnight. Quelle Surprise!
Comrade Marr’s endorsement appears on the front cover – he had this to say:
This is a story of the last great shift in Australian politics, a tale of plutocrats and reactionaries who defined the times to drag Australia to the right.
Talk about an abuse pile-on. Before opening the book, the reader learns that this is a work about “troglodytes” and “lunatics” and “reactionaries”. In short, a case for the (leftist) prosecution.
Emeritus Professor Manne’s endorsement placed on the back is as follows:
If you hope to understand the rightward drift of our recent politics, Dominic Kelly’s calm and clear, fascinating and fair-minded, account of the work of Australia’s three hard-right amigos – Hugh Morgan, John Stone and Ray Evans – is the place to start.
Anyone who has met Hugh Morgan and/or John Stone and/or the late Ray Evans would find Professor Manne’s description of them as “amigos” as, well, meaningless.
The Manne/Kelly nexus is obviously a mutual admiration society. Your man Kelly’s Acknowledgements section commences as follows:
First and foremost, I want to offer my heartfelt gratitude to Robert Manne, who played a fundamental role in making this book a reality. Since I took his undergraduate classes at La Trobe University in the early 2000s, Rob has been my teacher, research supervisor, employer, mentor and friend, and has remained inspirational, wise and supportive throughout. He helped devise the topic for this book (in its initial form as a Ph.D. thesis) and was always available during the research and writing process to offer sound advice and engrossing memories of his time dealing with many of the people that grace these pages. When the time finally came to seek its publication, he was a passionate advocate on my behalf. Rob, I cannot thank you enough.
Political Troglodytes and Economic Lunatics is a detailed book based on considerable research. Sure, it exaggerates the influence of the so-called “Hard-Right”. But at least the author supports his thesis with considerable documentation. Except, er, when it comes to your man Manne himself.
You see, Robert Manne’s views over the years have changed dramatically. He acknowledged this in his Left, Right, Left: Political Essays 1977-2005 (Black Inc, 2005).
During one of his centre-right or conservative moments, between 1989 and 1997, Manne was editor of Quadrant magazine. Early in his book, Kelly refers to Quadrant as one of the organisations which played a key role “in developing a new conservative political consensus that would come to dominate the Australian political landscape”.
Political Troglodytes and Economic Lunatics documents Robert Manne’s disagreements with many of the Quadrant family which preceded his resignation as editor in 1997. However, the author does not mention that, in his early years at the magazine, Professor Manne was an enthusiastic supporter of what Kelly depicts as the economic lunatic mantra.
Here is one document which Dominic Kelly failed to find – or, if he found it, failed to cite. It’s a letter written by Robert Manne in his capacity as Quadrant editor on 30 April 1990 to various members of the Commonwealth Parliament seeking support for Quadrant and its mantra – see here. For those who want to discover the gist of Manne’s letter – the key paragraphs are set out below:
As Australia enters the 1990s many of us feel that our nation’s future is at risk. Many of us feel that, only with fresh ideas – concerning the economy, immigration, defence, the family, education, environment and industrial relations – can we extricate ourselves from the crisis we now face.
For more than 30 years Quadrant has been Australia’s most influential liberal-conservative magazine of ideas – committed to the values of free enterprise, traditional morality, and the open, unregulated society.
We have frequently broken new ground. It was in our pages that the “Industrial Relations Club” was first identified. We have often dared to raise issues which other magazines have regarded as taboo. It was in Quadrant that the true career of Australia’s most influential communist Wilfred Burchett was exposed.
For the record, “The Industrial Relations Club” article was written by Gerard Henderson and the Wilfred Burchett essay by Robert Manne. Both were published in 1985 – when Peter Coleman was Quadrant editor.
So there you have it. In 1990 Robert Manne was an out-and-proud supporter of free enterprise, an open unregulated society and industrial relations. He was also a vehement anti-communist.
However, Professor Manne’s one-time (alleged) economic lunacy is not cited in his bestie Dr Kelly’s Political Troglodytes and Economic Lunatics. It seems to have been despatched down what George Orwell once referred to as the memory hole. How convenient for Dominic Kelly’s mentor.
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Until next time.
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