GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 488
13 March 2020
* * * *
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.
* * * *
Stop Press – Leigh Sales is sorry (not sorry) for interrupting Josh Frydenberg
Editorial – ABC’s Revelation to give publicity to pedophiles serving long-term prison sentences
Quelle Surprise! – A rundown of the ABC’s coverage of President Trump’s response to Covid-19
Can You Bear It? Older White Male Julian Burnside puts his hand up for Greens preselection; Stephen Mayne advises Scott Morrison to skip funeral of slain family; Sydney Morning Herald’s PS prints BS
New Feature: The-end-of-the-world-is-nigh: An Update – Helen Garner dreams of a beautiful apocalypse
Jackie’s Report on Pomposity, Abuse, Verballing & Hyperbole in the Australian media – Phillip Adams on Julian Assange & Adolf Eichmann
Five Paws Award – Troy Bramston debunks Jenny Hocking’s conspiracy theory re The Queen & The Dismissal
Paul Barry’s Sermon on the Mount – The demise of AAP & a fudge by Lenore Taylor
How Dare You! – Christiana Figueres plugs her book on The Drum
Great Media U-Turns of our Time – Alexandra Smith on Andrew Constance’s political future (or lack thereof)
- LEIGH SALES V JOSH FRYDENBERG
In an interview with Josh Frydenberg on 7.30 last night, presenter Leigh Sales interrupted the Treasurer on five occasions – once after he had only spoken 30 words. On two occasions Ms Sales said that she was “sorry” to interrupt. She was not sorry in the genuine sense of the term. So “excuse me” would have been a more accurate term of expression.
The motivation for the interview seems to have been to demonstrate that Leigh Sales and her mates were right in suggesting in April 2019 that the Budget might not be in the black by 30 June 2020. So much so that she took some time in playing clips of comments she and David Speers made a year ago about possible unexpected events – which included China’s economy but not COVID-19.
MWD’s favourite unprofessional quote was this one:
Leigh Sales: Last year you were claiming credit for a surplus that you’d not yet delivered, saying that the budget was “back in black”. You were warned at the time that global events could derail that prospect, which they now have. What does your premature rush to claim credit for a phantom surplus say about your political maturity and judgment?
In fact, the Treasurer acted with political maturity in accepting the judgment of Treasury and other advisers that a surplus could be achieved by 2019-20. The problem was that circumstances (the bushfires, COVID-19) changed.
It is notable that journalists do not judge themselves the way they judge politicians. For example, can anyone imagine an interview between the 7.30 presenter and chief political correspondent about the failure of journalists to predict the outcome of the May 2019 election?
Leigh Sales: Laura Tingle, last year you were claiming that the Labor Party “will” win the May 2019 election. Some commentators warned at the time that the Coalition had a path to victory which could derail your prophecy. What does your premature rush to pick the winner say about your political maturity and judgment?
No such question would even be asked. Enough said.
ABC’S “REVELATION”TO GIVE PUBLICITY TO PEDOPHILES SERVING LONG-TERM PRISON TERMS
On Tuesday 17 March (St Patrick’s Day) ABC TV will commence its three-part series “Revelation”- concerning pedophilia in the Catholic Church. The documentary is presented by Sarah Ferguson and produced by Nial Fulton. Ms Ferguson has interviewed leaders of the Catholic Church along with two former Catholic priests who are serving long prison sentences for shocking crimes. The ABC will not say what the final episode is about. Except that it “reveals the story of a man who has kept a shocking secret for decades”.
It remains to be seen whether “Revelation” will provide significant new material concerning essentially historical child sexual abuse crimes which have been documented in Australia, Britain, Ireland, the United States and elsewhere – including in the five year long Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
It’s appropriate that the ABC and other media outlets should put the Catholic Church under examination on this matter. However, it is notable that the public broadcaster has not devoted similar resources to child sexual abuse crimes in other religious institutions and government institutions. Or, indeed, within families.
The ABC has failed to cover its own case of child sexual abuse. In June 2017, Jon Stephens pleaded guilty at Gosford Local Court to the sexual abuse of a 14 year old boy while on official duties for the ABC. MWD understands that Jon Stephens died in late December 2019. At the time he was facing two additional charges of child sexual abuse which allegedly occurred in NSW. The ABC declined to report those legal proceedings which were held in open court as it failed to report Stephens’ convictions and has never formally apologised to his Gosford victim.
Also ABC journalists – including Media Watch presenter Paul Barry and executive producer Timothy Latham – have not only declined to comment on the ABC’s failure to report the Jon Stephens conviction and other charges. They have also failed to address the ABC’s unwillingness over the years to formally apologise for former ABC chairman Professor Richard Downing’s statement that “in general, men will sleep with young boys”. This statement was made in Professor Downfing’s capacity as ABC chairman in 1975. At the time the ABC chair also called on Australians to understand the urges of pederasts.
Moreover the ABC barely covered the revelation that the late Bob Ellis (who appeared regularly on the ABC) was a pedophile. As was the late Richard Neville who was appointed to the ABC after he boasted in his book Play Power about having sex with a 14-year-old schoolgirl and who interviewed three pederasts in the ABC studio and failed to report them to NSW Police.
It remains to be seen how the ABC justifies giving two former Catholic priests serving long prison terms the publicity involved in speaking about their crimes on national television. Sarah Ferguson has acknowledged that some experts believe that pedophiles often display narcissistic traits. “Revelation” could have put the voices of the pedophiles to air without accompanying visual footage. It seems that the “Revelation” interviews with two convicted pedophiles will be the first long-form television interview which either man has given on any topic. It remains to be seen to what extent the pedophiles will attempt to manipulate Sarah Ferguson and her viewers.
IN WHICH THE ABC INVITES THREE TRUMP-HATERS TO HATE TRUMP
Here’s a run-down of reaction to President Donald J. Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak on some key ABC outlets – where talent is chosen by the executive producer, not the presenter/presenters.
۰ Tuesday 10 March 10.05 pm
The Nation columnist and Columbia University academic Bruce Shapiro is interviewed by Phillip Adams on ABC Radio National Late Night Live. Mr Shapiro accuses President Trump of “administrative incompetence, anti-science ignorance, lack of compassion, narcissism and self-regard”. That’s all, folks. No other view was heard.
۰ Wednesday 11 March 6.45 am
RMIT University academic Emma Shortis does the Newspapers segment on ABC TV News Breakfast. She says that despite being “a germophobe”, President Trump has focused entirely on the economy rather than health matters in dealing with COVID-19. That’s all folks. No other view was heard.
۰ Wednesday 11 March 7.35 am
American economist Jeffrey Sachs is interviewed by Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National Breakfast. He says that the President has handled the COVID-19 in a “shocking” manner. Your man Sachs adds that President Trump is “a fool”, “absolutely incompetent”, a “psychopath”, “unqualified” and “a danger to the world”. That’s all folks. No other view was heard.
So three ABC executive producers invited three guests to the ABC to discuss President Trump. And all three bagged him. Quelle Surprise!
BORN-AGAIN GREEN JULIAN BURNSIDE SEEKS A SEAT ON THE SENATE’S RED BENCHES
Great news from Melbourne on the Yarra that Media Watch Dog fave Julian (“I just love flashing my post-nominals”) Burnside AO QC has thrown his barrister’s wig into the ring and hopes to take former Greens leader Richard Di Natale’s seat in the Senate. If JB AO QC is successful in the Victorian Greens pre-selection process, this should provide great copy for MWD.
The field, which was announced in the lead-up to the International Women’s Day, has been framed by Jackie’s (male) co-owner as follows:
۰Julian Burnside, AO QC Barrister
۰ Brian Walters, AM QC Barrister
۰ Willisa Hogarth, Australian Greens co-convenor, teacher
۰ Lidia Thorpe, former Greens member for State seat of Northcote, first indigenous woman in the Parliament of Victoria.
۰ Huong Truong, former Greens’ member of the Legislative Council of Victoria, child of Vietnamese refugees
۰ Apsara Sabaratnam, Monash University lecturer, activist, of Tamil descent.
As far as MWD can work out, the list comprises (i) two older white blokes, (ii) one female schoolteacher (iii) one Indigenous woman, (iv) one woman of Vietnamese heritage and (vi) one female academic of Tamil background.
Since the Greens are always banging on about the need for gender, ethnic and age etcetera diversity, you would think that Mr Burnside (age 70) and Mr Walters (age 65) would step down for a female or Indigenous person or someone of colour – or perhaps even a combination of all three.
But no. Despite the fact that Julian Burnside failed in his attempt last May to defeat Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in the Melbourne seat of Kooyong, JB AO QC reckons that not only the Greens but also the Senate and also Australia need him to place his backside on the red Senate benches as soon as possible. Here’s how his position was reported by Noel Towell in The Age on 5 March 2020:
…the 70-year-old QC says he is undeterred [by his defeat in Kooyong] and that his main motivation for getting into politics, the urgent need for action on climate change, remains his “primary driver”. He told The Age on Wednesday that he believed the Greens were different to other politicians. “All my life, I’ve despised politicians,” Mr Burnside said. “Most politicians are dishonest and if I become a politician I plan to be relentlessly honest and I would actually listen to people.” The 70-year-old said he believed that few politicians really listened but that the Greens were a “significant exception” and that his forensic legal training and experience would be particularly useful in parliament.
How self-sacrificing can a Greens’ pre-selection candidate be? Your man Burnside is prepared to join the Senate and mix with politicians – a group of people he despises – in order to save the planet.
So there you have it. JB AO QC reckons that he can do something significant in the Senate about climate change. And that his forensic legal training would be particularly useful in the Parliament. And that Greens, like him, listen.
But do they? MWD hears you cry. It seems that Comrade Burnside cannot hear the cry from within the Green Left that the party be more diverse. Just as – in recent memory – he could not hear the cry from women that they should not be excluded from the male-only Savage Club in Melbourne.
As pointed out in MWD Issue 443, JB AO QC was a member of the Savage Club in Melbourne’s Bank Place for some four decades before he came to the realisation that there were lotsa New Guinea artefacts – including an odd skull or two – on the Savage Club premises but no female members.
And so it came to pass that, following a debate on Sky News with the feisty and articulate Liberal Party Senator Jane Hume in March 2019 – who had pointed out that JB AO QC had not only failed to advocate for women to become Savage Club members but he had his second marriage there – Comrade Burnside bade farewell to the spears, shields and skulls that call the Savage Club home.
And now Julian Burnside – who failed to hear the voice of women with respect to the Savage Club for some four decades – now reckons that 70-year-old barristers like him should be chosen by inner-city sandal wearing Greens to enter the Senate – because such blokes are good listeners. Can You Bear It?
STEPHEN MAYNE – THE SAGE OF TEMPLESTOWE – NOW INTO GIVING PRIME MINISTERS ADVICE ABOUT ATTENDANCE AT FUNERALS
Is there anything on which Stephen Mayne does not hold an opinion concerning which he wants to lecture-at-large? Well there may be something – but Media Watch Dog is not aware of it.
This is what the Sage of Templestowe had to say last Monday about the decision of Prime Minister Scott Morrison to attend the funeral in Brisbane of Hannah Clarke and her children Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey. The family were burnt to death by their ex-husband and father in what was one of the most brutal murders in Australian history. Now, let’s hear from Stephen (“I’ve got strong views on almost everything”) Mayne:
We are suffering the biggest single day equity crash since the GFC, there's a global pandemic and @ScottMorrisonMP is putting half a Prime Ministerial day into attending a Brisbane funeral. Strange call, even if you want to show you a serious about tackling family violence.
— Stephen Mayne (@MayneReport) March 9, 2020
What a load of absolute tosh. Sure, last Monday the PM faced a crash on the Stock Exchange and there is COVID-19. But Scott Morrison is not the only senior member of the government and, in any event, with modern communications matters of state can be readily dealt with on the way to or from a funeral in Brisbane. It would have been remiss if the Prime Minister did not attend the funeral of the murdered mother and her children – provided the family wanted politicians to attend. However, Stephen Mayne not only had a view that Scott Morrison should not have attended the funeral – he wants everyone to know about it. Can You Bear It?
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD’S (FAILED) PROPHECY RE THE 2020 SYDNEY LORD MAYOR ELECTION
Can anyone remember Helen Pitt’s “PS” column (as in “Private Sydney”) in The Sydney Morning Herald on 15 February 2020? Probably not. It was an occasion in which the Media Watch Dog fave stood in for Andrew Hornery, “PS”’s regular columnist.
What interested MWD was this piece of gossip per courtesy of the NSW Liberal Party reported by Ms Pitt – concerning which Liberal Party members will contest the upcoming election for the position of Lord Mayor of Sydney:
On the right the Liberal Party pre-selection is not resolved. Liberal councillor Christine Forster, former PM Tony Abbott’s sister, is a likely contender. So too barrister Louise Clegg, wife of Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor. Despite her protestations that she won’t contest any Sydney-based mayoral race as she lives in Goulburn, senior Liberal Party sources say she may still throw her Akubra in the right-wing ring.
How old fashioned can you get? “PS” readers (if readers there were) might have got the impression that the race for the lord mayorship of Sydney is between a former Liberal Party prime minister’s sister and a current Liberal Party minister’s wife. As if the women in question have no status independent of their brother and husband respectively.
Despite the fact that the Goulburn-based Ms Clegg had already stated that she would not be a candidate for the position, “PS” said that she was a “definite contender”. However, on 3 March 2020, in the Canberra Times, Katie Burgess filed the following report titled “I’m not running for lord mayor: Clegg”.
…Ms Clegg told The Canberra Times the rumours [that she will run to be Sydney’s Lord Mayor] were categorically untrue. “I’m not running, have never planned to run and am ineligible to run for the position of lord mayor of the City of Sydney”, she said. “This is an attack on a member of parliament’s family for political purposes.”
That’s pretty clear. If a person (other than a minister’s wife) is not eligible to run for office – then he or she cannot be a candidate. But let’s go back to “PS”’s sources. What were they again?
Oh yes – they were “senior Liberal sources”. Fancy that. It seems that the Sydney Morning Herald is unaware that the NSW Liberal Party is faction-ridden and that anonymous left-wing Liberal Party sources – however “senior” – are about as trustworthy as a snake-oil salesman, or saleswoman. Yet they were believed by “PS”. Can You Bear It?
NEW FEATURE: THE-END-OF-THE-WORLD-IS-NIGH: AN UPDATE
It was Hang Over Time on New Year’s Day when Jackie’s male co-owner opened his computer to read David Marr’s piece in the first Guardian Australia for the year 2020. It was titled “Australia is becoming a nation of dread – and the world looks on with pity and scorn.”
On that morning, some Australians regarded the dreadful bushfires in south-east Australia as akin to their predecessors in 1851, 1939, 1967 (in Tasmania), 1968, 1974 (in NSW), 1983, 2009 and more besides. But Comrade Marr saw more. Namely, the end of the world. Here’s what he had to say:
Already, these [bushfire] scenes are part of the national imagination. Among Australians of a certain age, they stir memories of a Hollywood potboiler about the end of the world filmed 60 years ago in Melbourne. On The Beach starred Ava Gardener, Gregory Peck and Fred Astaire. The remake stars us.
So there you have it. Comrade Marr reckons that contemporary Australians are today part of a film about the end of the world. MWD has decided to report on who else has joined David Marr as members of Australia’s very own “The-End-of-the-World-is-Nigh” Club. This week – Melbourne writer, and much admired Sandalista, Helen Garner.
HELEN GARNER ON WITNESSING THE DEATH OF OUR PLANET
The March 2020 issue of The Monthly contains a cover story by James Button titled “The Climate Interviews: James Button on how we unite as catastrophe looms”. The essay, which is oh-so-long, is illustrated by photographer Chase Middleton with pics of fish in various states of morbidity. Your man Button’s piece takes up over a third of the magazine. So far, Hendo has passed the recently departed fish (i) in a bath, (ii) near a heater and (iii) on a bed – when he landed at this you-beaut quote from Helen Garner. Here it is:
One night last autumn I had this dream. With several other watchers, I don’t remember who they were or if I even knew them, I was looking at a landscape and the sky above it. Clouds moved swiftly across it, behind tall trees and above vast distances, perhaps Tuscan – very civilised, vegetated, deeply human. The edges of the clouds were like fine lace, almost frilled, and they knitted together and parted again, over and over, very graceful, never pausing. They were magnificent, their colours unnameably subtle – but I knew that what we were witnessing was the drama of death of our planet. I was filled with powerful emotions – grief, terror, but also exhilarated and awed by the glorious beauty of what was happening before our eyes.
Helen Garner – welcome to The-End-of-the-World-is-Nigh Club. It’s bad news about “the death of our planet”. But good to learn that there will be “a glorious beauty” to it all. A bit like suddenly departing this mortal coil at an advanced age while consuming a Gin & Tonic – apparently.
IN WHICH HYPERBOLIC PHILLIP ADAMS LINKS JULIAN ASSANGE AND ADOLF EICHMANN
Lotsa thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to these recent tweets by ABC Radio National Late Night Live presenter Phillip Adams:
The last ‘Man in the Glass Box’ was Holocaust’s Adolph Eichman at his trial in Israel …you may recall the almost identical image For Julian Assange to be thus treated is an obscenity https://t.co/lqE6JohiKx
— Phillip Adams (@PhillipAdams_1) February 28, 2020
Eichman. Committed war crimes Assange. Exposed war crimes. Both locked in glass boxes for their show trials.
— Phillip Adams (@PhillipAdams_1) February 28, 2020
Now, hang on a minute. This is what your man Adams is suggesting:
۰ According to PA, no one has had to sit in court in a glass box apart from Julian Assange in Britain in 2020 and Adolf Eichmann in Israel in 1961. PA’s evidence? Zip.
۰ According to PA, Assange’s treatment is an obscenity. However, PA does not say why this is an improper way to treat a person who is currently serving a prison term for absconding while on bail.
۰ And then there is the most serious point. It is hyperbole of the highest kind to suggest that Eichmann – who was one of Nazi Germany’s principal apparatchiks responsible for the murder of some six million Jews – as having been subjected to a “show trial” in Israel six decades ago. Eichmann’s trial was held in the public domain and the case for the prosecution was overwhelming. As it turned out, Eichmann’s fate was the same as some Nazis who were tried at Nuremberg in 1945-46, found guilty and executed.
Julian Assange has his supporters and his critics. But no considered commentator would link his legal case in London in 2020 with Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem in 1961.
And yet this comparison was made by Phillip Adams AO, AM, Hon DUniv (Griffith), Hon DLitt (ECU), Hon DUniv (SA), DLitt [sic] (Syd), Hon. DUniv (Macquarie), FRSA, Hon FAHA. It would seem that ABC’s Man-in-Black did not receive his honorary university gongs for comparative history.
Media Watch Dog’s Five Paws Award was inaugurated in Issue Number 26 (4 September 2009) during the time of Nancy (2004-2017). The first winner was ABC TV presenter Emma Alberici. Ms Alberici scored for remembering the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 23 August 1939 whereby Hitler and Stalin divided Eastern Europe between Germany and the Soviet Union. And for stating that the Nazi-Soviet Pact had effectively started the Second World War, since it was immediately followed by Germany’s invasion of Poland (at a time when the Soviet Union had become an ally of Germany).
Over the years, the late Nancy’s Five Paws Award has become one of the world’s most prestigious gongs – rating just below the Nobel Prize and Academy Awards.\
TROY BRAMSTON DEBUNKS JENNY HOCKING’S CONSPIRACY THEORY RE THE QUEEN AND THE DISMISSAL
As avid Media Watch Dog readers are aware, ABC Audio Studios is running a podcast called The Eleventh – presented by Alex Mann on the Dismissal of Gough Whitlam’s Labor government by the Governor-General Sir John Kerr on 11 November 1975. Among those interviewed for the blog are Professor Jenny Hocking – who believes that the Queen and Buckingham Palace were involved in some kind of conspiracy to dismiss the Whitlam government. As those who have followed the debate will be aware, the first major conspiracy theory turned on the CIA. Now it’s Buckingham Palace.
What happened is that the Governor-General moved to resolve a constitutional deadlock between the Malcolm Fraser-led Coalition Opposition and Prime Minister Gough Whitlam’s Labor government. Mr Fraser was intent on blocking supply in the Senate and Mr Whitlam was intent on governing without supply. Tuesday 11 November 1975 was the last day the conflict could be resolved without the government running out of money to pay welfare recipients, public servants, contractors, etc. The matter was resolved when Kerr sacked Whitlam and commissioned Fraser to form a caretaker government provided he agreed to hold a double dissolution election on Saturday 13 December 1975. Supply was passed by the Senate and the issue was resolved. Gough Whitlam never forgave John Kerr but he never believed that either the CIA or the Queen was involved in the Dismissal.
This is what Troy Bramston, who co-authored The Dismissal: In the Queen’s Name (Viking) with Paul Kelly in 2015, had to say on Sky News’ Paul Murray Live on Tuesday about Professor Hocking, the Dismissal, the Queen and all that:
Paul Murray: By the way, can I just ask you, as the man who I think has written the best history of that time, how do you feel about – I know Channel 2 has come around for another swing with another podcast and all the rest of it. Are they inevitably going to leave a lot out and basically [run the line that] “the great man was cut down by an evil bloke in a top hat” – and they ignore the following two elections [Whitlam lost] after November 11?
Troy Bramston: Well I’ve been listening to the podcast. They [the ABC] reached out to me or I reached out to them and we had some discussion about it. We’ll wait and see. This is one of the most fascinating and compelling stories from Australian political history, the dismissal of the Whitlam government. The personalities, the power plays and all the conspiracy theories. Essentially there were no conspiracies, other than Kerr deceiving his prime minister and dismissing him without warning. So, it remains to be seen. I’ve got an eagle ear listening to this to see whether they do get into conspiracy territory. Because Jenny Hocking’s claim, which gets bigger and bigger every week, that the Queen knew of the dismissal in advance and approved it, is complete garbage. It’s not backed up by any testimony on the record or any archival documents. So, if the ABC go there, I’ll come down on them like a ton of bricks.
Paul Murray: Then why, as an historian, why does she [Professor Hocking] make this claim?
Troy Bramston: I don’t know. I think she’s misread the political situation in 1975, I think she’s misread some of the archival documents. Because we’re not allowed to see the letters that Kerr wrote to the Queen during the crisis she thinks that there’s going to be some bombshell revelation in there. And she started to invent stuff. And Gough Whitlam himself never believed the Queen had anything to do with the Dismissal.
Like Troy Bramston and others, Gerard Henderson believes that it would be good if the letters which the Governor-General wrote to the Queen in 1975 were released, since they would almost certainly reveal that there was no such conspiracy. However, this awaits a decision of the High Court as to whether the papers are the property of John Kerr and his estate (as the National Archives of Australia maintains) or the property of the Commonwealth government (as Professor Hocking attests). It may be that Buckingham Palace may also have an interest in correspondence between a governor-general and the Monarch. We shall see.
In the meantime, Troy Bramston has weighed into the latest conspiracy theory about the events of 11 November 1975. Once it was the CIA. Now it’s Buckingham Palace.
Troy Bramston: Five Paws
The ABC TV Media Watch program commenced in 1989. Since then it has had a succession of leftist or left-of-centre presenters and not one conservative. Namely Stuart Littlemore, Richard Ackland, Paul Barry, David Marr, the late Liz Jackson, Monica Attard, Jonathan Holmes and Paul Barry (again).
In the United States, Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News runs a MediaBuzz program currently hosted by Howard Kurtz. It is available in Australia on Foxtel. Unlike Paul Barry, Howard Kurtz does not use the program to preach and advocate causes. Moreover, unlike Media Watch, MediaBuzz has panels which hear from conservatives and liberals (in the American sense of the term) alike. Not so the ABC’s Media Watch which does not allow dissenting views on the program and increasingly engages in activist journalism, funded by the Australian taxpayer.
PAUL BARRY OVERLOOKS GUARDIAN AUSTRALIA EDITOR LENORE TAYLOR’S FUDGE ABOUT THE GUARDIAN AND AAP
Last Monday, ABC TV’s Media Watch ran a segment titled “Vale AAP: Australian Associated Press to close in June after 85 years”. It reported the decision by AAP to shut down within months. AAP’s biggest shareholders are News Corp and Nine Entertainment.
Certainly the closure of AAP is a loss to Australian journalism. The wire source was journalism at its best – where reporters were neither activist journalists advocating causes nor personalities in their own right.
The decision to close AAP was a commercial one. Put simply, AAP’s shareholders grew tired of providing a news service which its customers declined to properly support financially. Also AAP had been financially undermined by the proliferation of free news dumped on the market by the likes of The Guardian and ABC Online.
So how did Paul Barry handle their story? Well he quoted from AAP, News Corp and Nine Entertainment executives. However, the only well-known media commentators who got a run were left-wing critics of News Corp. Namely The Guardian Australia’s editor Lenore Taylor and The Conversation’s Peter Martin (formerly with Fairfax Media and the ABC).
The taxpayer funded The Conversation’s Peter Martin was shown on Media Watch declaring that the decision to close AAP was motivated by a will to “starve The Guardian”. He gave the impression that it was all part of a News Corp conspiracy to undermine rivals.
And this is how Comrade Barry handled the effect on The Guardian (which takes AAP copy) of the decision:
And even the big national media groups will suffer. As Guardian editor Lenore Taylor lamented in a column on Thursday:
Every morning the list of stories Guardian Australia should cover is far longer than the list of reporters I have to assign to them. Many mornings the AAP wire service helps make up some of the difference. If we can’t get to the disability royal commission on a particular day, or commit to cover a court case, we know AAP will be there … Except after June they won’t. They’ll be gone.
– Guardian Australia, 5 March, 2020
It’s true that The Guardian Australia editor Lenore Taylor wrote this in The Guardian on 5 March. But it is also true that Paul Barry neglected to tell viewers that Ms Taylor cut back 40 per cent of the amount The Guardian Australia paid AAP for copy in 2019. She told Mumbrella’s Brittney Rigby that The Guardian Australia’s payment to AAP was renegotiated down last year “because we were using fewer services as we expanded our own reporting teams”.
So there you have it. Ms Taylor told The Guardian Australia readers that she needed AAP every morning. But she told Mumbrella that The Guardian Australia was “using fewer [AAP] services”.
However Paul Barry did not tell Media Watch viewers that, in fact, Lenore Taylor’s Guardian Australia had reduced its contribution to AAP. Fancy that.
That’s the kind of information which might have been revealed if, like Fox News’ MediaBuzz, Media Watch allowed for real debates between informed commentators. Rather than being a pulpit from which Comrade Barry can proclaim his activist beliefs and prejudices.
[Quite so. I note that last Monday Paul Barry did not tell viewers that Media Watch dropped around half a million viewers between Monday 24 February and Monday 2 March. Remember how Comrade Barry boasted on 2 March that Media Watch had a “record” 1.1 million viewers the previous week? It would seem that he only reports the upside – and chose to ignore the fact that it was revealed the following day that Media Watch had lost a “record” 500,000 or so viewers in just one week. Talk about self-serving journalism. – MWD Editor.]
Due to popular demand, MWD has brought back the How Dare You! segment – inspired by Greta Thunberg’s message that the end of the world is nigh due to climate change and that all of us – or many of us – are responsible for the forthcoming extinction. MWD has the view that preachers should lead by example. This appears to be the case with Ms Thunberg – who practises what she preaches with respect to flight-shaming.
MWD’s “How Dare You!” segment focuses on eco-catastrophists who warn others about extinction due to climate change but emit lotsa carbon in their private lives.
THIS WEEK – STARRING CHRISTIANA FIGUERES
Did anyone watch the kinder, gentler and increasingly dull The Drum on Monday – which was hosted by MWD fave Julia Baird?
According to the program notes, the panel discussed “coronavirus [i.e. COVID-19], a coral-bleaching event, women’s sport and constructive journalism”. The special guest was Christiana Figueres, the former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
It wasn’t really the night for a discussion on climate change – since COVID-19 was the news that day and night. But Ms Figueres, who was in Australia for some event in Adelaide, had been booked for The Drum.
In the event, she made a late appearance on the program. After panellist Jamila Rizvi had managed to connect what she termed “catastrophic climate change” to “the people’s panic around coronavirus now”, Comrade Figueres seized the opportunity to plug her book. You be the judge – but MWD reckons that this was an impressive performance, in a book promotion sense. Let’s go to the transcript:
Jamila Rizvi: I compare the risks of catastrophic climate change, for example, to people’s panic around coronavirus now. That’s being taken very seriously, and it hasn’t left anyone’s lips. Is the doom and gloom the only option right now for pushing this conversation forward in Australia?
Christiana Figueres: No, it’s definitely not the only option, I don’t even think it’s a good option. Which is why I’m delighted to be in Australia to present my newly released book The Future We Choose. Which actually lays out very very clearly why we can be determined and hopeful about the fact that we can bring about this very positive transformation. Coronavirus has very interesting lessons for us. For one thing, yes as we just discussed, it is a shock we don’t know what the long term impact is…
What a coincidence, as the saying goes, Christiana Figueres was “delighted” to be in Australia – and equally delighted to mention her somewhat dull tome before drifting off to a discussion on COVID-19.
Glancing at the book, it’s not at all clear that the author believes that Australia has the right to choose anything when it comes to responding to climate change. You see, Comrade Figueres is one of those UN types who loves burning off emissions flying around the world telling the masses what they MUST do about climate change by reducing their emissions.
In her column in Nine Newspapers on Monday, headed “Australia’s bid to lower carbon must be honest”, La Figueres declared that Australia “must” embrace net carbon emissions by 2050 and any plan to do so “must” prioritise certain industries and retire those that are not. In other words she wants Australia to cease exporting coal within three decades.
However, in MWD’s view, Christiana Figueres MUST follow the example of Greta Thunberg and practise what she preaches. That is she MUST cut her emissions by abandoning air travel. Consequently, she MUST get into the habit of telling others what they must do to cut emissions via Skype/FaceTime or some other form of emissions-lite communications. After all, an author does not have to be in Australia to plug a book on the ABC.
NINE NEWSPAPERS’ ALEXANDRA SMITH ON WHY ANDREW CONSTANCE MP MIGHT BECOME PREMIER OF NSW FOLLOWING THE BUSH FIRES – SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 6 FEBRUARY 2020
Why Andrew Constance could rise from the ashes to be the next NSW premier
…Bega MP Andrew Constance, the NSW Transport Minister, emerged as one of the most authentic and popular MPs around. Amid the devastation, he has shown he is premiership material. If he wants it. [Gladys] Berejiklian’s leadership is safe as long as she wants the job. Winning a historic third term for the Coalition in March last year cemented it and her handling of the bushfires further reinforced it. But Constance’s leadership chances have been given an enormous boost, not by his making but through his vulnerability and brutal honesty….
Leading right-winger and NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet is still heir apparent to replace Berejiklian, with a deal cooked up with climate change warrior Matt Kean to be his deputy in return for Kean delivering critical votes from his dominant moderate faction. But the sands are shifting and Constance is no longer an outside chance…. Berejiklian’s political future remains firmly in her hands, but when that changes, Constance’s ability to surge at the right time could see him rise to be the next Liberal premier.
NINE NEWSPAPERS’ ALEXANDRA SMITH ON WHY ANDREW CONSTANCE WILL NOT BECOME PREMIER OF NSW FOLLOWING THE NSW BUSHFIRES – SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 11 MARCH 2020
Bega MP Andrew Constance says he will quit politics after bushfire recovery
NSW Transport Minister and Bega MP Andrew Constance says he will quit politics once the bushfire recovery is complete. Mr Constance, who almost lost his Malua Bay home in the New Year’s Eve firestorm, has not put a timeframe on when he will leave Parliament but he will not remain as an MP long-term. “Recovery first, and then I will go,” Mr Constance told the Herald. “I’m not leaving until the recovery is complete. I’m not abandoning these poor people.”
The state government hopes to have the clean-up from the bushfires completed by mid-year, but a statement from Mr Constance’s office said the recovery could take “years”. The minister, who was elected to Parliament in 2003, has been talked about as a potential premier but he has said that he has a new outlook on being in politics.
Until Next Time.