GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 518
16 October 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.
* * * *
MWD Exclusive: Laura Tingle refers to the Morrison Government’s “Ideological Bastardry” (For a Moment At Least) & Why the ABC’s Noel Debien Thought he was a Pariah at the ABC
Can You Bear It? Starring Hamish Macdonald, Greg Hywood, The Age re Chris Uhlmann, Hugh White & Derryn Hinch
* * * *
SALLY SARA’S ONE-SIDED US VOX POP INTERVIEWS
Someone should tell Sally Sara, ABC Radio’s intrepid reporter in Washington DC, that not many voting Americans listen to Australia’s taxpayer funded public broadcaster.
This week The World Today promised that it would interview some Americans in the lead-up to the United States election on 3 November.
On Wednesday, the program spoke to real estate agent Jana Turner, a Trump Hater in Orange County California. It’s not clear why Comrade Sara bothered since California is not a swing state. In any event, the voter declared that President Trump is a liar and a bully. She’ll be voting for Joe Biden. Then today The World Today interviewed the Trump-supporting Elizabeth Graham, vice-president of Texas Right to Life.
Jana Turner received a soft interview for her anti-Trump rant. Not so Elizabeth Graham who was asked by Sally Sara why a conservative woman like her would support a man like Trump. For a bit of flavour, let’s go to the transcript.
Sally Sara: What about the lying, what about the continuous lying for someone who has strong values, is that problematic?
Elizabeth Graham: I’m not familiar with any of his lies, what are you talking about?
Sally Sara: Even right from the beginning, the crowd at the inauguration, claiming that was the largest when it clearly wasn’t. Claims about Coronavirus, that it was going to go away and that vaccines were going to be available in weeks, they’re misleading comments that have had deadly consequences in the US.
Elizabeth Graham: Well it seems as though the conclusions that you’re offering are – that you’ve already made the conclusions…well, I think, I am able to talk to you about the pro-life issues and how President Trump has kept his pro-life policies, if you want to talk about his alleged lies and the way he’s handled the Coronavirus and the science, and which doctors to believe, I think an epidemiologist would be able to help you with that. I am not available or educated enough on those topics to discuss.
Quite so. Moreover, if Comrade Sara feels so strongly about American politics during the time of the “Trump-Fascist-Dictatorship” she should enrol to work on Joe Biden’s campaign.
Surely there is someone among the oh-so-many ABC journalists covering the US election that the public broadcaster can find one man or woman who can ask fair, non-leading questions to both Democrat and Republican potential voters.
MWD will keep you in touch with future reports by The World Today on the election.
STARRING PAUL BARRY BITING THE MEDIA WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM AN ONION
The Sydney Institute’s Media Watch Dog (born 1988) dropped in on YouTube last Thursday around Gin & Tonic Time to check out what the ABC’s Media Watch The Younger (born 1989) was up to.
Hard to say, to be sure. There was presenter Paul Barry (born 1952) hamming it up on his “Media Bites” pantomime segment eating an onion. It was a joke about the post-budget cliché “eye-watering debt”. Or some such.
Your man Barry does not seem suited to this type of performance. It would be a bit like Long John Silver doing a one-legged dance with a parrot on each shoulder. Since the taxpayer is paying for Paul Barry’s “Media Bites” performances – here are a few stills from his recent performance. You be the judge. [Perhaps Comrade Barry is attempting a Playschool version of “Media Watch for Juniors”. Just a thought. – MWD Editor]
LA TINGLE’S LATE NIGHT TWEET ABOUT SCOTT MORRISON’S “IDEOLOGICAL BASTARDRY” SPIKED BY EARLY MORNING (APPARANTLY)
Lotsa thanks to the avid (lockdown) Melbourne reader who – in a lockdown state close to midnight last Friday – took this screen shot of a tweet by ABC chief political correspondent Laura Tingle. Just as well because it appears that the tweet was taken down by Saturday morning – see below:
Now, it’s reasonable to feel sorry for journalists who lose jobs – inside or outside the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. However, it is ABC management’s decision about how to spend its annual billion dollar budget. For example, it could sell its inner city Sydney and Melbourne premises – move to, say, Parramatta and Dandenong – and use the funds saved to employ more good journalists like Philippa McDonald. Or it can re-allocate resources by making termination payments. It’s primarily a management decision.
But that’s not the point – at the moment at least. This is. Just before midnight on Friday night, Laura Tingle tweeted about the “ideological bastardry” of the Coalition government. She concluded her tweet: “Hope you are feeling smug @scottmorrison” with reference to outgoing journalist Philippa McDonald.
Then, just 32 hours later, on Sunday, La Tingle appeared on ABC TV Insiders’ panel to comment on the Morrison government and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s October 2020 budget, presenting as a mild-mannered professional journalist.
If Laura Tingle wants to be a player and take on the (alleged) “ideological bastardry” of Prime Minister Scott Morrison she could quit her taxpayer funded job and enter the political debate – by working for a left-wing think tank like the Australia Institute or Per Capita or switching to a media job in a self-proclaimed leftist paper like The Guardian. However, it seems that she wants to be La Tingle an activist journalist close to midnight on Friday and an objective commentator not long after dawn on Sunday.
As it turned out, the Insiders panel last Sunday was somewhat dull. It consisted of three members of the Canberra Press Gallery – Laura Tingle (ABC), Tony Wright (Sydney Morning Herald/The Age) and Katharine Murphy (The Guardian) with the ABC’s David Speers in the chair. In short, a turn out of Australia’s left of centre political triangle – consisting of the ABC, Nine Newspapers and The Guardian.
As far as MWD can work it out, not one of this quartet Speers/La Tingle/Wright /Murpharoo has ever worked in politics, the public service or the private sector – but is happy to be corrected if wrong. It was a group of Canberra Press Gallery journalist insiders talking to each other about the operation of a political system of which they have no first-hand experience. No wonder that La Tingle got the outcome of the 2019 election so hopelessly wrong – declaring that Labor “will” win just 48 hours before it lost.
What last week’s program needed was someone like Michael Stutchbury (the Australian Financial Review – Sydney based) or Judith Sloan (The Australian – Melbourne based), or Ticky Fullerton (Sky News – Sydney based) or Adam Creighton (The Australian – Sydney based) to provide a fresh economic view. Sure none of this quartet is on record of accusing any Australian government of “ideological bastardry” – but that should not deprive them of a seat on the Insiders’ panel.
For the record, here’s how La Tingle morphed the morning after the night before:
Actually, just watch this and celebrate all that Philipa’s stellar career – and that of all our other fine colleagues – achieved https://t.co/EFhTrYm9Um
— Laura Tingle (@latingle) October 9, 2020
WHY NOEL DEBIEN FELT LIKE A PARIAH IN THE ABC FOR BELIEVING CARDINAL PELL WAS NOT GUILTY – AND WHY ABC CAMERAMAN LINCOLN ROTHALL THOUGHT IT WAS OK TO WISH THAT PELL DIED OF COVID-19
If avid Media Watch Dog readers did not see the “News Watch” segment on Sky News The Bolt Report on Tuesday (13 October), this is a real exclusive – otherwise you’ve exclusively heard this exclusive before. Now for some background.
There was enormous interest in last week’s MWD item concerning ABC religion reporter Noel Debien’s call for evidence to be produced before the ABC covered the allegation that enemies of Cardinal George Pell in the Vatican had channelled Vatican money to Australia to encourage complainants to claim that Pell had been guilty of historical child sexual abuse.
It’s true that there is no evidence at this stage – and there may never be evidence. Or there may be. That’s why an investigation is warranted. MWD merely pointed out that Noel Debien had never called for evidence when the ABC reported hostile claims against Pell, especially in recent years. This seemed to be a reasonable point about double standards. But it upset Noel Debien who took Facebook action on Saturday in his own defence – after, apparently, having taken offence. As MWD readers well know, many journalists are highly sensitive to criticism.
Thanks to the Melbourne reader who drew MWD’s attention to this Noel Debien post on Saturday 10 October concerning his brief mention in MWD last Friday about double standards and all that:
I have found Gerard’s process cynical. Especially as I feel a certain pariah sense in the ABC for never having said George was guilty as charged. My colleagues have conscientiously invited me to speak on air (TV, Radio, Online) so I know they are totally professional – but I also know in private they found my view unusual and unexpected.
Noel Debien – Facebook 10 October 2020
This is an important statement. Noel Debien has been with the ABC for a quarter of a century. Yet he admits to feeling a “pariah” within the ABC for not having said that George Pell was guilty of pedophilia. This covers the period before, during and after Pell’s trial. Mr Debien did not publicly express his private belief that Pell was not guilty until after the conviction was quashed by the unanimous seven to zero judgment of the High Court of Australia.
Now Noel Debien is a talented, intelligent and considered broadcaster. He is in no sense a street fighter and does not engage much in the political debate. Yet Debien felt a pariah for merely holding a private view that Pell was innocent. Also, even Mr Debien’s “totally professional” colleagues found his position on Pell to be both “unreal and unexpected”. So imagine what his unprofessional Pell-antagonist colleagues thought.
This is clear evidence of the Group Think that pervades the ABC. There was an ABC consensus, led by Pell-antagonist Louise Milligan, that Pell was guilty. And those within the organisation who had a different view – like Noel Debien – felt themselves to be pariahs who held “unusual and unexpected” views. Yet seven out of seven High Court judges came to a position similar to that of Noel Debien.
Nothing better illustrates the fact that the ABC is a staff collective where a fashionable leftist sentiment pervades the organisation. And those with, say, “unexpected and unusual” views are made to feel uncomfortable (if they are ABC employees) or not invited on ABC programs (if they do not work at the public broadcaster).
In view of what Noel Debien has revealed, is there any wonder that – as The Australian reported yesterday – ABC cameraman Lincoln Rothall inadvertently sent this email to many colleagues at 10.13 pm on Monday (12 October) concerning the news that Pope Francis was to meet Cardinal Pell in Rome: “I would have voted Covid for the Noble [sic] Prize if it killed Pell.”
An ABC spokeswoman told The Australian that the Rothall “email” re Cardinal Pell was “unacceptable and a breach of ABC conduct”. She added:
The employee [Lincoln] Rothall has apologised. The issue has been dealt with under appropriate procedures.
This is a meaningless statement which avoids some key issues. To whom has Rothall apologised – (i) Australian taxpayers, (ii) ABC viewers, (iii) Cardinal Pell, (iv) those suffering from COVID-19, (v) the relatives and loved ones of those who have died from a COVID-19 related illness and so on? Moreover, does ABC managing director and editor-in-chief David N. Anderson propose to apologise to Cardinal Pell? If so, when and in what format? Also, what are the “appropriate procedures” under which Mr Rothall has been “dealt with”?
Sure Lincoln Rothall made a tasteless statement about Cardinal Pell. But he inadvertently revealed a view which is held widely within the ABC. The ABC culture which makes it possible for Lincoln Rothall to wish that Cardinal Pell should have died from COVID-19 is consistent with the likes of Noel Debien feeling like a pariah for holding the view that Pell was innocent.
Needless to say, the ABC did not report the Lincoln Rothall story on the ABC News app. It was only covered in News Corp papers.
Q&A’s HAMISH MACDONALD BAGS SKY NEWS WHICH HE SAYS HE NEVER WATCHES
As Media Watch Dog reported last week, at the end of Q&A on 5 October presenter Hamish Macdonald complained that Treasurer Josh Frydenberg had declined to appear on the program this week (Monday 12 October). He also whinged that Prime Minister Scott Morrison had declined several invitations to appear on Q&A in 2020.
Lacking self-awareness, your man Macdonald does not seem to comprehend that senior figures in the Morrison government do not need to offer themselves up for interrogation by a green left presenter and a stacked green left audience on a Monday evening. There are better ways to communicate with the good people of Australia. In any event, if Q&A audiences were representative of Australia as a whole, Australia would have a Green Left government in Canberra.
Believe it or not, Comrade Macdonald commenced Monday’s program where he had left off the previous week. Let’s go to the transcript:
Hamish Macdonald: Before we get started, in the interests of balance, we did ask the Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, to join us this week to answer your many questions on the economy. He declined. We’ve also extended several invitations to the Prime Minister to come and answer your questions this year. He’s yet to make himself available. But you’re sending in terrific questions for our elected leaders, so we will keep trying to get them to come here and answer them. But right now, I’m very pleased to say that the Opposition Leader has agreed to be here tonight. Would you please welcome Mr Anthony Albanese?
Groan. Another case of unrequited love, it seems. Perhaps Messrs Morrison, Frydenberg and the like have come to the view that Australians as a whole are better served if they appear on commercial TV channels and Sky News. In any event, it is unlikely that Comrade Macdonald’s on-air nagging about the Prime Minister and the Treasurer will get them on Q&A. Nagging is frequently counter-productive.
The last Q&A “terrific question” on Monday was on News Corp, Sky News and all that. It led to the following exchange:
Hamish Macdonald: So what is it then, is it bias? Is it deliberate [News Corp] bias? What do you think is going on?
Anthony Albanese: Look, in some cases, some of Sky After Dark is biased against the Labor Party. That’s just –
Hamish Macdonald: What’s the evidence of that?
Anthony Albanese: Anyone – have you watched it?
Hamish Macdonald: No. Definitely not!
So there you have it. The presenter of the key ABC current affairs program boasts that he never watches Sky News – despite the fact that Sky News, before and after dark, breaks many stories. Including about the COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry in Victoria. As avid readers are aware, Q&A did not even mention COVID-19 until its fourth program of the year.
Comrade Macdonald is proud to say “No!” to the question as to whether he watches “Sky News After Dark”. However, the Q&A presenter failed to admit to Anthony Albanese that he does not watch TV or even own a TV. (Good Weekend, 25 January 2020. Also see MWD, Issue 482, 31 January 2020).
In other words, Comrade (“I don’t watch the telly except when I’m on it”) Macdonald has decided not to watch a channel he has never seen. And he compares Sky News unfavourably with other TV stations – which he also does not watch. Can You Bear It?
GREG HYWOOD’S U-TURN ON THE NEED FOR DIVERSITY IN THE MEDIA
Interesting piece by Lilly Vitorovich, The Australian’s media writer, on former Fairfax Media chief executive officer Greg Hywood in the paper’s “Media” section on Monday (12 October). Your man Hywood has just been appointed chairman of Free TV – i.e. commercial television stations’ peak body. Its members include Seven West, Nine, Network Ten, Southern Cross, Prime Media, Win Network and Imparja Television.
It seems that, in his new position, Greg Hywood has become a born-again pluralist. Certainly this is the impression which he gave the intrepid reporter Lilly Vitorovich – telling her that he urged journalists to embrace “clashes of ideas” as a way of preserving vibrant and independent newsrooms.
What a BRILLIANT (Hywood) IDEA. Who would have thought that a bit of disagreement and debate works well in the media? Thanks for the (gratuitous) advice and all that. This is what your man Hywood said about the fact that Nine Newspapers (the successor of Fairfax Media) had run an article by Chris Uhlmann critical of the Victorian Labor government’s handling of the COVID-19 virus:
Chris was a voice and a legitimate one, but there’s other voices that opposed him that were just as legitimate. But that’s what it’s all about — making sure that we’ve got those clashes of ideas going on in this country that keep this place open and transparent.
In fact, the Sydney Morning Herald ran Chris Uhlmann’s column on 16 September 2020 but The Age held it over for a day lest it upset its leftist Melbourne readers.
But MWD digresses. Greg Hywood was Fairfax Media’s CEO from 2011 to 2018. During Comrade Hywood’s time running Fairfax Media, its key publications – the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age – did not have one weekly conservative columnist. Not one. Moreover, The Age was so left-wing that some called it “The Guardian on the Yarra”. Until the real-thing Guardian arrived from London and set up in Australia. Then it became Melbourne’s version of the Green Left Weekly.
In short, when Greg Hywood ran Fairfax Media, there was little if any diversity in the Sydney Morning Herald or The Age. But now that he’s moved to new digs of Free TV Greg is lecturing all of us about the need for “a diversity of views in the media”. Can You Bear It?
THE AGE THINKS KEVIN RUDD’S (ADDITIONAL) MURDOCH CRITICISM IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN CHRIS UHLMANN’S CRITIQUE OF LOCKDOWNS
While on the topic of Nine Newspapers and diversity, take a look at the home pages for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on Wednesday morning this week.
Here’s the SMH – 14 October 2020.
Note that Chris Uhlmann’s column – which focused on the pandemic with a particular criticism of Daniel Andrews’ Labor government – was the Page One lead story.
And here’s The Age – 14 October 2020
Currently Melbourne is going through one of the toughest COVID-19 lockdowns in the world and, day by day, evidence emerges of the Andrews’ government’s incompetence in handling the crisis. However, there was no mention of Chris Uhlmann’s column. Rather attention was drawn to an article by left-wing academic Rodney Tiffen on, yes, Rupert Murdoch. Which suggests that the powers that be at The Age have not taken up Greg Hywood’s born-again call for diversity. Can You Bear It?
POINT OF HUGH – STARRING HUGH WHITE AND THE LATE BOB SANTAMARIA
Last Monday, MWD fave Hugh White got a run in the press following the publication of his essay “Australia’s Alliances in a Contested Asia” in the Schwartz Media journal Australian Foreign Affairs (October 2020). Your man White is emeritus professor at the ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre in Canberra.
As MWD recalls, once upon a time White was suggesting that Australia had to choose between China and the United States. He implied that we should go with the former. Now it appears that he believes that we should stand alone. Mr White spoke about this with Geraldine Doogue on RN Breakfast on 7 July 2020 not so long ago. Then he argued that Australia should double its defence expenditure to around 4 per cent of Gross Domestic Product – indicating that your man White is a born-again militarist hawk.
And the learned professor was at it again talking to Fran Kelly on the ABC Radio National Breakfast program last Monday. Let’s go to the transcript:
Hugh White: So I think there’s a lot of, sort of, misty-eyed, vague talk about alignment [with nations of the Asia Pacific like Japan, India and Indonesia], but no real confidence that we can build really strategically viable alliances with these countries. So we’re effectively on our own. And that’s a very sobering thing.
Fran Kelly: …But what does “going on our own” look like? And how does the 2020 Defence Paper fit into it? Because at the centre of that was self-deterrence. There was a lot of spending on, you know, missile defence shields, that kind of thing – new weapons that could be deployed from offshore as some kind of deterrence. Is that what that looks like?
Hugh White: Look, I think that right. At the heart of it, Fran, is the idea that we do have to, for the first time in history, really look seriously at defending ourselves independently. It’s not that we shouldn’t hope and work to align ourselves with others. But we shouldn’t take that for granted.
So the ANU professor is suggesting that Australia can no longer rely on the protection of the United States – whether it is led by Donald J. Trump or Joe Biden – and that we should become self-sufficient in defence.
A clever original plan? – MWD hears readers ask. Not on your nelly – MWD replies. It seems that cool Mr White is channelling the late anti-communist Bartholomew Augustine (“call me Bob”) Santamaria (1915-98). For years, BAS banged on about how Australia could not trust the US and had to be prepared to stand alone against China and whatever else might threaten the nation’s security. He first ran this line in a 1959 pamphlet titled New Guinea: The Price of Weakness. It became a constant theme of Santamaria’s Point of View TV program which was shown on Channel 9 just after the wrestling on a Sunday morning.
Bob Santamaria’s views were invariably depicted by ANU professors at the time as alarmist, unrealistic and so on. But now they are being channelled by Professor Hugh White who is the recipient of friendly interviews on the ABC (which invariably dismissed Santamaria as a nut case). Can You Bear It?
[Note that Hugh White’s recent book on Australian defence has a similar cover to a Santamaria tome of half a century ago. See below. – MWD Editor.]
DERRYN HINCH’S POLITICAL OFFICE/PUBLIC SERVICE DISTINCTION
Derryn Hinch spent decades in journalism and three years as the Justice Party’s Senator for Victoria. Even so, he does not seem to fully understand how government works – in particular the distinction between the office of a prime minister or a premier and that of the head of the department of prime minister or a premier. The former is a political appointment; the latter a public servant.
Here’s the tweet the self-proclaimed Human Headline (aka the Human Mumble) put out on 12 October concerning the resignation of Chris Eccles the former head of the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) in Victoria. Daniel Andrews is premier of Victoria.
The Eccles resignation from Andrews’ office (over the missing six minutes) brings back the Watergate cover-up. ‘What did the president know and when did he know it’? ' So, what did the Premier know and when did he know it?,
— Derryn Hinch (@HumanHeadline) October 11, 2020
Groan. Another oh-so-familiar “what did he know/when did he know it?” question. The Watergate incident occurred close to half a century ago and this cliché is getting a bit old.
In any event, Mr Eccles never worked for Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ “office”. Mr Andrews’ chief-of-staff is Lissie Ratcliff. Mr Eccles was the head of the Victorian DPC. It would seem that the somewhat loquacious Derryn Hinch does not know the difference and yet he presents himself as an expert on politics. Can You Bear It?
As avid readers are aware, Media Watch Dog has covered regularly the issue of memory – concentrating on the fallibility of memory and the occurrence whereby some individuals have “recollections” of events that never happened. Due to reader demand, MWD will do regular updates on memory – assuming that its editor does not forget. This week – Come On Down Lucie Morris-Marr.
LUCIE MORRIS-MARR “REMEMBERS” EVERY MOMENT OF ATTENDING THE PELL TRIAL DESPITE THE FACT THAT SHE DIDN’T
Thanks to the avid Perth reader who drew Media Watch Dog’s attention to this tweet by Cardinal George Pell antagonist and freelance journalist Lucie Morris-Marr, the author of Fallen: The Inside Story of the secret trial and conviction of Cardinal George Pell (Allen & Unwin, 2019). In fact, the trial was not “secret”. Moreover, the conviction was quashed by the High Court. Yet Fallen is still on sale. But MWD digresses. Here’s the tweet:
As someone who attended every minute of the #Pell mistrial and retrial this allegation sounds v far fetched.The witnesses were not “hostile” towards Pell. None of them saw or heard anything about the abuse. It was, in the end,the word of the surviving choirboy V Pell. #Becciu https://t.co/kIFAbIOsjh
— Lucie Morris-Marr (@luciemorrismarr) October 5, 2020
The reference is to claims in several Italian newspapers that forces hostile to Cardinal Pell channelled € 700,000 of Vatican funds to Australia to assist the case against Pell that he was guilty of historical child sexual abuse.
There is no substantive evidence to support or reject this claim – which readers would probably not know if they only got their news from the ABC – since the story was censored by the taxpayer funded public broadcaster until late last week (13 October). But that’s another story.
In any event, it is not correct for Ms Morris-Marr to claim that she attended “every minute” of the Pell mistrial and retrial in 2018. The fact is that only the judge, the defendant and his legal team and the prosecution legal team saw the complainant give evidence by video link in the mistrial and retrial. Also, no transcript of the complainant’s verbal testimony has been or will be released.
So here we have a situation where Ms Morris-Marr remembers that “she attended every minute of” the Cathedral Trials. A “recollection” of an event that never happened.
PHILOSOPHER BEN BRAMBLE RECKONS IT’S TRUMP (NOT BIDEN) WHO IS IN THE BASEMENT
What a stunning piece in the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday (12 October) by Ben Bramble. “Ben who?” – Media Watch Dog hears readers cry. Well, the SMH reported that your man Bramble is a lecturer in philosophy at the Australian National University. And, according to the ANU website, Dr Bramble (for a doctor he is) attained a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Sydney in 2014. Well done Ben.
It turns out that the Sydney Morning Herald’s opinion page editor has unearthed an Australian academic who does not like President Donald J. Trump. Quelle Surprise! This is how the learned doctor’s rant commenced:
Over the past week, many people have wondered how we should feel about President Trump testing positive for COVID-19. One important question here has been how this event will impact the November election and the US in future. It has been argued (persuasively, to my mind) that if Trump were to succumb to the virus, this would be catastrophic, as it would rob Americans of the opportunity to vote him out in record numbers and so silence his mob. But there is another important question here: how should we feel about Trump getting the virus in itself, independently of its political consequences?
So there you have it. Comrade Bramble, from the groves of academe in Canberra, reckons that Donald Trump will be defeated in the November 2020 election – if he lives that long. And he depicts the tens of millions of Americans who vote for Trump as a “mob”. How philosophical can you get?
Your man Bramble then went on – and on – about whether we should feel sad about Trump’s COVID-19 status. And he opined that “someone without psychological limitations, say, Jesus would feel sad about it (among other things).” It’s not clear how the learned doctor knows what Jesus would have felt about Trump. Also it seems that modern day ANU philosophers are unaware that Jesus Christ overturned lotsa tables when he drove the money lenders out of the temple. (Mark 11:11:26). Such behaviour seems to suggest Jesus possessed the psychological limitation of anger, don’t you think?
Comrade Bramble went on to attack President Trump’s “despicable actions and character” without stating how he reached this conclusion. Then he maintained that there is “something mildly ridiculous” about those who experience “sadness” concerning Trump’s COVID-19 status. Including, presumably, his wife and children. Then the ANU philosopher – who claims no medical qualifications – made this psychiatric assessment:
I want to suggest a non-retributivist account of why Trump’s diagnosis does not call for sadness. It is because his having COVID-19 is not all that bad for him relative to his condition more generally. Trump’s soul is hugely disordered. While he has the outward trappings of well-being — in particular, material wealth and career success — internally he is suffering greatly.
And then the learned doctor produced a source for his evidence. It was Plato (born in the BC era). Unable to compare the United States president with anyone who has ever walked the earth, the ANU philosopher reckons that Trump is like – wait for it – Tom Ripley. Here we go:
Trump is, for these reasons, like Tom Ripley at the end of The Talented Mr Ripley, whose lies upon lies have led him to be metaphorically trapped in a basement. In his concluding soliloquy, Ripley says “I’m lost…I’m going to be stuck in the basement, aren’t I, that’s my – terrible and alone and dark – and I’ve lied about who I am, and where I am, and now nobody will ever find me…I suppose I always thought it would be better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody.” The difference is that Tom, at the end of the film, is aware of where he has ended up and how bad his position is for him. I do not think Trump is aware of this in his case. But he is still there, alone in his basement.
In fact, right now, the American politician who is “trapped in a basement” – in a real not metaphorical sense – is the Democratic Party challenger Joe Biden. Perhaps this news is yet to reach ANU.
It’s not clear whether Comrade Bramble knows that Tom Ripley was a fictional character in Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mr Ripley (1955). But he has seen the film of the same name – and may have thought it to be a docudrama.
Ben Bramble went on to state that feeling sad for Trump’s COVID-19 “is like feeling badly for someone who has terminal cancer if they get an itch”. Whatever that might mean.
The rant concluded with the ANU philosopher asserting that Trump is “one of the worst people on the planet” along with something about Plato. In short, 900 words without one fact, per courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald.
Ben Bramble: Media Fool of the Week.
* * * * *
Until next time.
* * * * *