GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE – NO. 551

23 July 2021

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  • YET ANOTHER 7.30 NEWS FLASH THAT THE PRIME MINISTER DID NOT AGREE TO APPEAR ON THE PROGRAM

ABC TV’S executive producer Justin Stevens (a not uncritical Media Watch Dog avid reader) was at it again last night whinging that the Prime Minister did not respond positively to invitations to appear on the program on Wednesday and last night.

This was announced by a somewhat miffed Laura Tingle towards the end of the night’s program who said: “7.30 sought interviews with the Prime Minister yesterday and again today but he wasn’t available.”

Currently La Tingle is both presenting 7.30 and doing the program’s main political interview.  This is the same Comrade Tingle who, in a late night tweet of recent memory, declared that Scott Morrison leads a government which is into “ideological bastardry”.

It would seem that Mr Stevens expects that the 7.30 political correspondent can depict the PM as an ideological bastard on, say, Monday and he will rock up for an interview with Comrade Tingle on, say, Thursday.

Does your man Stevens know anything about human nature?  If not, what’s he doing as executive producer of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s major current affairs program?

  • ABC NEWS BREAKFAST’S UNBALANCED COVERAGE OF ABC’s Q&A

Believe it or not – last night’s Q&A had a relatively balanced panel, presenter Virginia Trioli did not interrupt unduly, and the small Brisbane-based audience did not behave as a baying, leftist mob. All good then – as the cliché goes.

Until this morning, that is. On ABC TV News Breakfast today, focus was on what former Olympic Games swimming gold medallist Libby Trickett had to say on Q&A the night before when bagging the Morrison government.  News Breakfast ignored the considered contribution to the panel discussion by Minister for Regional Health Dr David Gillespie (a medical doctor). He was effectively silenced.

Here’s how News Breakfast’s presenters Lisa Millar and Michael Rowland covered Q&A this morning:

Michael Rowland: Retired Olympic gold medallist Libby Trickett had a very clear message for Australia’s politicians.

Lisa Millar: On Q+A last night, the champion swimmer demanded the Federal Government show true leadership and take more responsibility in the battle against Covid-19.

[excerpt from Q+A plays]

Libby Trickett: I just would like them [the Morrison government] to grow up, to be honest. I just really want our politicians, the people that are in our – in power and are responsible for taking care of our communities to look after us and actually do the job that we’ve asked them to do, you know. It feels so much like the responsibility and the burden has been placed on the States and on the individual communities. You know, we are the ones who have to stay at home, we are the ones who have to go into lockdown and do all these things and miss out on job opportunities. And you know, you know, the arts sector has been crashed and so many people are living away from their families due to lockdowns and things like that. I just want the States and the Federal government to come together and actually come out with a clear concise plan.

Michael Rowland: Australia hears you Libby Trickett, there on Q+A last night. Sounds easy but, uh, hard to achieve.

So there you have it.  Ms Trickett’s critique of the Morrison government was to tell it to “grow up”.  How sophisticated can a Q&A panellist get?  It was as if the Coalition Government has done nothing to take care of Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic – including closing Australia’s international borders, funding JobKeeper and so on.

And this morning Comrade Rowland complained that the Health Minister Greg Hunt has declined an invitation to appear on News Breakfast. Well, fancy that.


Can You Bear It?

  • JOHN HEWSON’S EXIT RANT AT THE AGE & SMH

As avid readers will recall, Media Watch Dog has always opposed – and sometimes protested at – the removal of left-of-centre  and leftist columnists and commentators along with Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison haters. For example, MWD mourned the removal of Paul Bongiorno from his weekly discussion with Fran Kelly on RN Breakfast to the extent of attempting to organise an “Occupy Ultimo: Restore Bonge” protest outside the ABC Ultimo headquarters.

The point being that Bonge’s hyperbole and barracking for leftist causes provided lotsa copy for MWD.  What’s more, the Bonge rant was all over in around four minutes on a Thursday morning.  Now in order to follow The Thought of Bonge, Jackie’s (male) co-owner has to wade through Bonge’s (boring) written sludge in The [Boring] Saturday Paper. He rarely bothers.

 So it should come as no surprise that MWD is mourning the decision of The Sydney Morning Herald  and The Age, announced on Saturday, to no longer carry John Hewson’s weekly Friday column.  Needless to say, the man Paul Keating once called “The visiting Professor” went (unintentionally) out with a predictable rant about Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Coalition government in his final column last Friday.

Dr Hewson (for a doctor he is)  bagged the Morrison government’s grants to car parks and sports facilities and regional funding for “rorts” and climate change and aged care and parliamentary behaviour and the vaccine roll-out and quarantine and more besides. And now MWD is no longer going to have such material.  It will make life more difficult than usual when writing MWD at Hangover Time on Fridays.

Your man Hewson announced his own demise in a poorly written and confusing tweet at Hangover Time last Saturday.  He blamed, wait for it, the Morrison government along with MSM – not to be confused with BDSM, MSM stands for Main Stream Media.  Here it is:

By just after 11 o’clock on Saturday morning, SMH Editor Lisa Davies tweeted that John Hewson had been discontinued “in line with our pledge for 50/50 gender balance”. It could be that Comrade Davies was motivated by a Hewson column in the SMH on 27 September which called for a 50/50 gender balance for Liberal Party pre-selections.

According to Hewie, as he once liked to be called, the columnists who remain at The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald  are a sycophantic lot who suck up to the Morrison government “in political or ideological matters”. Really.

Now, MWD understands that the tweet went out early on Saturday morning. However, it would seem that Hewie forgot such Nine columnists as Waleed Aly, David Crowe, Adele Ferguson, Peter FitzSimons, Ross Gittins, Sean Kelly, Malcolm Knox, George Megalogenis, Jenna Price, Cathy Wilcox,  Clare Wright – with Niki Savva soon to arrive.

Not a conservative among this lot. Yet John Hewson seems to reckon that they’re all sycophantic followers of Scott Morrison. Can You Bear It?

[Maybe, in the name of gender balance, the SMH plans to replace Dr Hewson with Ms Savva which would help nicely with respect to gender balance but not political balance – MWD Editor.]

  • ABC/GUARDIAN AXIS DOMINATES INSIDERS AGAIN

Wasn’t it great to see the ABC/Guardian Axis in action on ABC TV Insiders last Sunday?  Indeed two thirds of the talent assembled by Insiders’ executive producer Samuel Clark came from the ABC (panellist Fran Kelly, presenter David Speers) or The Guardian (guest Sarah Martin, “Talking Pictures” host Michael Bowers).  Then there was the Australian Financial Review’s Phil Coorey (who was on the panel) and The West Australian’s Sarah Ison (who appeared with Michael Bowers). Your man Coorey was the only member of the sextet who expressed an opinion at odds with the other five.

Media Watch Dog was delighted when Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly was first into action with an attack on the NSW Coalition government for not going earlier and harder in the current COVID-19 lockdown.  Now Radio National Breakfast, which Comrade Kelly presents, is an influential program. But it does not rate highly in any city.

Nevertheless, Fran Kelly presumed to speak for all of Sydney – or was it NSW? – in declaring that her listeners support her views. In response to Comrade Speers’ leading question: “Should this have happened much earlier?”, Comrade Kelly responded: “Well, I think that’s right”. Quelle Surprise!

Fran Kelly commenced by saying that “most people in Sydney” supported her view on this issue. She added that “people have been really frustrated in Sydney that this lockdown hasn’t gone harder earlier”.  Then Comrade Kelly claimed that “most people are quite angry that shops, non-essential shops, are still open” –  and that she had received “an avalanche of texts and tweets from listeners to this effect”.  There were further claims about the views of “people” – in fact the word “people” was used on five occasions in quick succession. Then, after Phil Coorey got a few words in, Comrade Kelly bounced back to repeat what she had said earlier with reference to what “a lot of people – are wondering”. Speersy then said, “It’s a good point”.

How frightfully interesting – and so on.  But what evidence did Comrade Kelly provide in support of her claims of what “most people” in Sydney believe? – in spite of the fact that the overwhelming majority of Sydneysiders do not listen to Radio National. The answer is none. Which raises the question: Can You Bear It?

  • DAVID SPEERS ASKS BARNABY JOYCE THE RIGHT QUESTION BUT GETS THE “WRONG” ANSWER

While on the topic of Speersy, thanks to the avid MWD reader who drew attention to the Insiders presenter’s tactic of asking a question three times in the hope that there is a different answer.  This occurred last Sunday, when Comrade Speers queried Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce about whether he would participate in the forthcoming sexual harassment training for politicians and staff who work in Parliament House. Let’s go to the transcript:

David Speers: The sexual harassment training is being introduced in Parliament House. It’s only gonna be optional and only a one-hour session. Will you sign up Barnaby Joyce?

Barnaby Joyce: I’ve got absolutely no problems signing up at all. In fact, we’ve had discussions in my office already.

David Speers: So you’re going to do it?

Barnaby Joyce: Absolutely. I’ve got no problems doing it whatsoever.  Was this a trick question?

David Speers: No, no, no, just checking whether you’re going to sign up, it is optional.

Barnaby Joyce: No no, so there you go. There’s your answer.

Yep. That was the Deputy PM’s answer. The only problem appears to have been that it was not the response that Speersy wanted or anticipated. Can You Bear It?

[Er, no. Not really – now that you ask. I note that The Guardian’s Sarah Martin used the “Final Observations” segment to state, in her view, what a failure Barnaby Joyce has been since he became Nationals leader again. Comrade Martin then predicted more pain for the Nationals in the lead-up to the next election. Spoken like a true Guardianista. – MWD Editor.]


YOUR TAXES AT WORK

  • THE BYRON BAY WRITERS FESTIVAL’S MUNGO MACCALLUM POLITICAL FORUM WITH KERRY O’BRIEN & BARRIE CASSIDY (SADLY) POSTPONED

As avid readers will recall, MWD Issue 535 examined the list of dramatis personae listed for the 2021 Byron Bay Writers Festival scheduled for 6-8 August. Unfortunately, as MWD fave Caroline Overington reported in The Australian on 15 July, the festival has been cancelled due to COVID-19 and all that.

As MWD documented, the 2021 gig was to be another taxpayer funded leftist-stack. There wasn’t a conservative on the program.  Indeed, the only way a conservative writer would end up at a literary festival is if they got lost trying to get somewhere else.  Like the Dapto Dogs or perhaps St John’s (Anglican) Cathedral in Brisbane.

Nevertheless, literary festivals play an important role in Australian society – if only that they provide great material for MWD.  So here’s hoping that the Byron Bay Writers Festival will push aside a (literary) rock and rise from the (literary) dead next year.

In the meantime, avid readers will have to reflect on what might have been – as reported last week by MWD fave Caroline Overington.  Here’s what she had to say:

The organisers had crammed so much into this year’s festival because it was to be the silver anniversary and because they had to cancel last year. On the list was Bryan Brown, Norman Swan, Andrew Denton and Malcolm Turnbull, and people like Meg Mason, who last year unfurled the sublime Sorrow & Bliss.

The critics will say we don’t care because it’s a taxpayer-funded left-swing stack – and that’s absolutely right; the arts community tends to lean left. But Byron was also the festival where a 90-year-old woman performed a mike-drop-funny poetry reading during the Gran(ny) Slam; where John Marsden got a standing ovation for telling parents to let their kids climb trees; where sensitive new age, chicken-cuddling farmer Matthew Evans converted vegans with On Eating Meat; where three mature lady writers stripped off under the full moon one night, and ran laughing into the sea.

Now, MWD is a critic of self-indulgent taxpayer funded literary festivals where everyone agrees with everyone else on almost everything – in a Green/Left kind of way.  But MWD does care. Surely, who would want to miss the opportunity to see three “mature lady writers” strip off under a Full Moon and run laughing into the sea?  By the way, it’s not clear whether any or all of the literary trio returned to dry land when the Sun came up. If not, it would have amounted to a great loss to literary Australia.

According to The Australian’s literary editor’s report, Byron Bay Writers Festival board chairman Adam van Kempen’s “great regret” this year is “having to cancel the inaugural Mungo MacCallum political panel with Barrie Cassidy and Kerry O’Brien.” MWD concurs.

Sure, it’s a tragedy.  MWD just loves it when a journalist like Red Kerry talks to a journalist like Bazza about a journalist like the late Mungo MacCallum.

To put it another way – one former Gough Whitlam staffer (Comrade O’Brien) talking to one former Bob Hawke staffer (Comrade Cassidy) about a former political journalist (Comrade MacCallum) who ‘fessed  up to having had a platonic political love affair with Labor hero Gough Whitlam when he worked in the Parliamentary Press Gallery. Could there be anything more Byron Bay Literary Festivalish than this?  Let’s re-fill our glasses and drink to the success of next year’s taxpayer funded Byron Bay Literary Festival, including (what will still be) the inaugural Mungo MacCallum Political Panel.

[I can barely wait.  Here’s hoping that Red Kerry and Bazza will discuss the time when Mungo’s partner told the Good Weekend  that Mungo was hitting the turps because John Howard had driven him to drink. – MWD Editor.]


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) and the Soviet Union’s conquest of the Baltic States.

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.

  • JACINTA PRICE NAILS BRUCE PASCOE’S LATEST GIMMICK – WHICH HAPPENS TO BE A DANGEROUS ONE

As Clarissa Bye revealed in the Daily Telegraph and Herald-Sun on 15 July 2021:

A beer made in collaboration with Dark Emu author Bruce ­Pascoe which includes a ­sacred Dreamtime story stamped on the side of the can has raised the ire of some in the Indigenous community. It has sparked a furious ­response from some Yuin Indigenous people of the NSW south coast, who say Pascoe has disrespected an initiation into ancient teachings and should be “ashamed” to use the knowledge to “promote grog”….

Now, as MWD readers are only too well aware, Bruce Pascoe – who identifies as Indigenous –  is a Green/Left hero whose controversial book Dark Emu has been subject to a devastating critical assessment by left-of-centre authors Peter Sutton and Kerryn Walshe in their recently published Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers? The Dark Emu Debate (MUP, 2021).

Interviewed by Sky News’ Chris Kenny on 15 July, Indigenous commentator Jacinta Price, who will head the Country Liberal Party Senate ticket in the Northern Territory at the next election, had this to say:

Jacinta Price: I’m actually disgusted by this latest lot of antics. Because, you know, Jukurrpa stories for Aboriginal people, I guess it’s like taking a story from the Bible and planting it on the side of a can of beer for Christians, you know. It’s deeply, deeply insulting. Especially if that’s not actually your Jukurrpa….  …This individual is actually using somebody else’s dreaming story to go on a product which is going to be sold for a profit. I mean, it’s just, the mind absolutely boggles. …For dreaming stories to be used in this fashion, particularly with a product that is killing Aboriginal people at such an incredible rate. You know, I’ve had multiple family members who have died. I’ve had a 21-year-old cousin who died from alcohol poisoning. I’ve had uncles who have died from alcohol –  too much alcohol in their lives.  Family members who have died from alcohol related violence. I don’t know how this bloke can get any more insulting than this latest dumb tactic.

Alas, MWD cannot find one member of the (leftist) Bruce Pascoe Fan Club who has criticised this latest (dangerous) gimmick by your man Pascoe – who is yet to name any one of his four grandparents who is Indigenous.  But for now –

Jacinta Price: Five Paws.


Due to overwhelming popular demand, the Flann O’Brien Gong returns again this week. As avid MWD readers will be aware, this occasional segment is inspired by the Irish humourist Brian O’Nolan (1911-1966) – nom de plume Flann O’Brien – and, in particular, his critique of the sometimes incoherent poet Ezra Pound. By the way, your man O’Brien also had the good sense not to take seriously Eamon de Valera (1882-1975), the Fianna Fail politician and dreadful bore who was prime minister and later president of Ireland for far too long.

The Flann O’Brien Gong for Literary or Verbal Sludge is devoted to outing bad writing or incomprehensible prose or incoherent verbal expression or the use of pretentious words.

  • JONATHAN (“I’M A WHITE SETTLER”) GREEN TALKS TO TIMOTHY (“HYPER OBJECT”) MORTON ABOUT SOMETHING OR OTHER

It was on the ABC Radio National Blueprint program on 10 July 2021 that Jonathan (“Proudly the ABC’s Sneerer-in-Chief”) declared that he is a “white settler”. This came as a surprise to some – who seemed to remember that your man Green was born in Melbourne’s leafy Eastern Suburbs following a short time in a maternity ward somewhere in Australia.  But perhaps Media Watch Dog is mistaken and he settled here in the tradition of, say, John Batman.

What’s for certain is that your man Green has enjoyed the professional life as a Leftist Luvvie – having worked for the Fairfax Media of old, Crikey, the ABC and Melbourne University’s MUP publishing company.

Oh yes, Jonathan Green was, for a time, the ABC’s Fox-Hunting Man who had nothing better to do some days than to sit on a horse while a pack of dogs – with the support of riders of horses – chased a fox or two to their death.  Then, after the said horse had fulfilled the burden of carrying your man Green – it was off to the knackery. But, needless to say, just for the horse.

These days the ABC’s Fox-Hunting Man presents perhaps the most twee and pretentious program on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster – where the presenter and guests try to be as clever as possible, in an intellectual kind of way.

And so it came to pass last Saturday that Comrade Green interviewed the England-born, Texas-based philosopher Timothy Morton, whose preferred pronoun is “They”. This is how Blueprint  commenced on 17 July 2021 as the Fox-Hunting Man spoke to his audience (if audience there was):

Jonathan Green: You’re not an island, you know? You’re a little – you’re a little bundle of coexistences. Now, you can deny it, you, you might argue that we’re – well, well we are – we’re culturally predisposed to, to seeing ourselves as people as some sort of untouchable, existential apex. But there is no getting out of it. We live in coexistence with our environment, with our cities, with our neighbourhood, with our animals, trees, plants, our rubbish, our ex-lovers, with corpses, the world’s garbage and excrement. Now, in the tumbled melange of the Age of The Anthropocene our time of ecological collapse, we’re living, well, in close proximity with that as well, as it – as its agents and cause. And there is no getting out of it, we are all in that situation together. Timothy Morton is a philosopher and ecologist and they is a professor and the Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University. Timothy, welcome. [For the unpretentious and the untwee, the Age of The Anthropocene relates to the age of human impact on earth – MWD Editor.]

Timothy Morton: It’s an honour to be here. And Jonathan, just before we start, could I please ask you to write all my stuff from now on, because you just said everything that I say, much more eloquently and beautifully than I could possibly do myself.

Groan.  Your man Green delivered an incomprehensible introduction – and Timothy Morton then said that Green’s prose was even more eloquent than They’s own.  Or something like that.   Also, it’s somewhat odd that Comrade Green thinks about rubbish, corpses, garbage and excrement in the same space as “old lovers”.

The interview went on and on and on. Here’s how it started:

Jonathan Green: Why do we feel this, this strange sense of – claustrophobia? Is that what it is to be living in this moment?

Timothy Morton: Well, yeah, it’s claustrophobic. Human beings, in particular, white Western ones, in particular, particular, white Western male ones have been, sort of, acting like they’re the only show in town for quite some time. So, to realise all of a sudden that there’s little crustaceans living in your eyelashes and you’re a symbiotically connected being is a little bit – is a little bit – intense, maybe, for some people. But I think, maybe, white guys have only got about five seconds for that, kind of, “Ooh, what’s going?”, because everybody else is feeling this, and it’s mostly our fault.

So there you have it – whatever it is. Or: “Ooh, what’s going” – to quote from Dr Morton (for a doctor they is). The entire 17-minute interview took place with only one name mentioned.  Namely communist Antonio Gramsci. There were also three references each to the US and UK along with a couple of mentions of Texas. It was a “Look mum, no names and few places” kind of interview.

Highlights included:

  • Timothy’s claim that to think in terms of groups is the “fascist way of thinking that you’re all in this together”. No mention that communists (like Comrade Gramsci) and socialists also think in terms of groups – and they’re not fascists.
  • Timothy’s revelation that in the US married couples are defined as “one and a half people” and, consequently, are only three quarters of what they once thought they were. If implemented, this would mean that the US population is around 25 per cent smaller than previously estimated.
  • Timothy’s statement “I wrote this book called Ecology Without Nature. Luckily, you don’t have to read it ‘cause the conclusion is in the title.” Thank God for that.
  • Jonathan asks Timothy to introduce him to “the idea of the hyper object”. In response Timothy declared that the hyper object is a bit like the Coronavirus: “…you know, it’s the hyper object because you feel it, you can’t necessarily completely understand it and you can’t necessarily completely map it, but you can, sort of, know it.” Go on. Alas, they did.
  • Timothy then praises lockdowns at a time of pandemic: Here we go:

Timothy Morton: . Personally, I feel like lockdown is actually opening up. As you were saying, it sort of allows for a kind of contemplative feeling. Whereas, you know, reopening is a kind of lockdown in a funny way.

Jonathan Green: Explain that – I mean, walk through that a bit further for me, that thought.

Timothy obliged.  The thought was walked through – until it hit a brick wall. After all, it’s a bit difficult to argue that lockdowns are really opening up occasions.  Even for a philosopher.

  • Timothy went on to call for an “unpicking of colonialism” and an end to “white supremacy”- without signalling an intention of stepping down from Rice University and handing the gig over to a non-white someone better able to deal with hyper objects and the like. It wouldn’t be for long – since, according to Timothy, if the environment is not mended within ten years, then “everything’s going to hell”.
  • Then Timothy delivered their thought (for want of a better word) to the ABC’s Fox-Hunting Man:

Timothy Morton: I think of myself as, like – I truly think spiritual, not religious is a thing. Um, religion has caused a lot of problems on this Earth, but religion doesn’t have a monopoly on whatever spirituality is. And we need some kind of religion level response to this. You know, like, a lot of religion is kind of, like, human being, ex people, superpowers, sort of alienated into this idea, you know, um, of this. I don’t know what, like, some kind of psychopath in the sky who actually wants to kill you.  And, and, and really, you know, again the mission. I think, is to, is to let people realise that they’ve got a lot of richness inside them that they – we’ve got this actually, we’re just really alienated from our ways of responding to it, in a nice way.

Jonathan Green: And I guess that’s, in a way, the reassuring thing about the Anthropocene; that if we can bring this about, it’s presumably within our capacity to resolve it.

Well, er, um, you know, like, that’s pretty clear – we’re all alienated you know, uh, isn’t it reassuring that, you know, philosophers like me, you know, um, about the Anthropocene – whatever that is.

The interview ended in confusion but not before Timothy managed to give the cliché “gaslight” a run as Jonathan suggested that “we need to generate a much more creative world”. And then it was time to wind up:

Jonathan Green: Timothy Morton’s a philosopher and ecologist, uh, at Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University. Now, they will be giving an opening address at the Living Cities forum, uh, in Melbourne, ’22, July, and I’m sure that’s going to be internet accessible.

Jackie’s (male) co-owner is so excited he can barely wait for the almost incomprehensible occasion. He’s already getting out his sandals and Che Guevara tee-shirt with a hyper sticker attached.

* * * * *

Literary Criticism

By Flann O’Brien

of Ezra Pound

My grasp of what he wrote or meant

Was only five or six %

The rest was only words and sound —

My reference is to Ezra £

***

 

Inspired by your man O’Brien, this is Jackie’s literary effort for today:

 

Literary Criticism

By Jackie

of Timothy Morton

My grasp of what Tim said and meant

Was only five or six per cent

That hyper sludge ruined my day

I refer to the Thought of They

***


  • NO BELT-TIGHTENING IN SIGHT FOR POINTLESS, SELF-INDULGENT ABC PROGRAMS

Avid readers will be familiar with the ABC’s little audience survey Australia Talks and its subsequent television programs. The ABC likes to bang on about how Australia Talks gives us important insights into what “Australians” or “the country” is thinking. However, the ABC surveyed respondents from a pool of people who had previously filled out the ABC’s ‘Vote Compass’ tool – so Australia Talks is essentially a survey by the ABC of ABC viewers/listeners/readers.

The ABC also likes to bang on about how it is suffering greatly due to budget cuts. Indeed last year in a late-night, since deleted tweet, Laura Tingle lamented the departure of a colleague by blaming the government for “ideological bastardry”, and a hope that the Prime Minister was “feeling smug”. Re which see today’s Stop Press.

When the ABC cut jobs in June 2020, including the 7:45am radio news bulletin, Managing Director David Anderson described the decision to cut staff as “a terrible day”, but stated that the ABC “will recover from this eventually”.

Well, the ABC appears to have recovered just over a year later. The Australian today revealed that the ABC’s staffing numbers have increased by 120 over the past year –  with an extra 25 ongoing employees and another 95 temporary staff on the payroll.

So, after the terrible days of losing staff due to ideological bastardry, how has the ABC allocated its extra staff? Surely, in this Time of Pandemic, when networks are axing their regional news staff, it might be expected that the public broadcaster would devote more resources to news and current affairs.

But, apparently no. According to The Australian, the Australia Talks special involved a total of more than 120 staff. A single, 90-minute show, which must be one of the least essential things the ABC has ever produced. While the ABC claimed that the increase in temporary staff was due to “delays in the delivery of externally commissioned content due to Covid”, many of the new staff worked on new programs such as lifestyle series Movin’ to the Country, weekly art show Art Works and quiz show Win The Week. Now MWD has nothing against art or light entertainment – but the public broadcaster is going to whinge about budget cuts, perhaps it could spend its $1 billion annual budget a little more wisely.

One of the ABC’s new offerings, the news quiz show Win The Week – hosted by Alex Lee and Craig Reucassel, with ABC regulars such as Annabel Crabb and Mark Humphries appearing as guests – was recently covered here by Australian comedy blog Australian Tumbleweeds. See below for their summary that truly captures the issue with many an ABC program:

…It was a non-stop celebration of a very specific kind of Sydney-centric smugness the ABC really likes to serve up every chance it gets. If you’ve been foolish enough to watch any ABC arts-related panel program over the last decade or two you know exactly the smug tone we mean. It’s television disconnected from any obligation to an audience; it’s a show that exists so a range of entitled media professionals don’t have a blank space on their LinkedIn profile.

Enough said.


A NORMAN SWAN MOMENT

  • DR SWAN GOES AWOL FROM 7:30 AND TWITTER

There has been intense interest in MWD’s coverage of ABC COVID guru Norman Swan. Dr Swan has been a ubiquitous presence on ABC TV on Radio since March 2020. In particular, he has filmed many segments for 7:30, updating viewers on the ever-evolving COVID situation in Australia.

The past week has been filled with COVID-related news with Sydney, Victoria and South Australia all currently in lockdown. It is interesting then that your man Swan has not appeared on 7:30 since Wednesday 14 July.

Dr Swan has continued to make other media appearances. He stopped by RN Breakfast for his regular spot on Monday, popped on News Breakfast on Tuesday (to praise the Victorian government) and was interviewed on The Project on Wednesday (to bash the NSW and Federal governments).

The ABC star whose recent book presents him as “Australia’s most trusted doctor” also took a brief hiatus from Twitter. On Thursday 15 July he sent out the following tweet, accompanied by a video of light traffic on New South Head Road at peak hour:

Most of Norman Swan’s tweets are greeted by rapturous applause by the ABC-loving “Dan’s (Andrews) our Man” obsessives who dominate Australian political Twitter. However, this Tweet was roundly mocked, including by many journalists and even some of his ABC compatriots.

After the pushback to this tweet, Dr Swan did not Tweet again for six days, breaking his streak with a single tweet on Wednesday. It is only today that he appears to have returned to his regular habit of frequent tweeting. Similarly, Swan will no doubt return to 7:30 at some point. But this (relatively) Swanless week provided a tantalising preview of a post-COVID future in which the good doctor (who swears he hates his new-found fame) can return to his previous role as a modest ABC health reporter.

[As MWD documented last week, the ABC’s doctor in the taxpayer-funded house does not currently practise medicine. Which leads to a situation in which a potential patient cannot book an appointment with “Australia’s most trusted doctor”. But there you have it. – MWD Editor]


  • LISA WILKINSON’S WEATHER CONFUSION

Thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to the following tweet which Network Ten’s “The Project” Lisa Wilkinson sent out at 9.57 am last Sunday, not long after Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce had appeared on Insiders  from the NSW town of Walcha.

MWD is not into meteorology. But a quick Google search would have revealed that Walcha is currently experiencing its wettest years for some time.

In short, Walcha does not seem to be on the verge of going up in flames in seconds – or even minutes.


This overwhelmingly popular segment of Media Watch Dog usually works like this. Someone or other thinks it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Gerard Henderson about something or other. And Hendo, being a courteous and well-brought up kind of guy, replies. Then, hey presto, the correspondence is published in MWD – much to the delight of its avid readers.

There are occasions, however, when Jackie’s (male) co-owner decides to write a polite note to someone or other – who, in turn, believes that a reply is in order. Publication in MWD invariably follows. There are, alas, some occasions where Hendo sends a polite missive but does not receive the courtesy of a reply. Nevertheless, publication of this one-sided correspondence still takes place. For the record – and in the public interest, of course.

  • THE ABC & ETHNIC DIVERSITY – THE DEBATE CONTINUES

MWD is not sure who Adrian Brown is – apart from the fact that he must be an avid reader – plus a supporter of the ABC.  A not uncommon occurrence, believe it or not.  In any event, Mr Brown has continued discussion on whether or not the ABC practises what it preaches about ethnic diversity when it comes to the presenters of its main news and current affairs programs. Now read on:

Adrian Brown to Gerard Henderson on 17 July 2021

Good morning Gerard,

I think that we will have to accept that we disagree about who is a presenter and who is not.  But I was surprised to see that you had not corrected the errors in your response to me.

For example, Jeremy is a news presenter of  7:00 O’clock News on the main ABC Chanel which position he shares with Juanita.  He has been presenting the news on ABC TV the past few nights. Likewise, Miriam presents on ABC TV although the news she presents is simulcast on ABC NEWS 24. You also seem to have a very narrow view of Diversity which Nas Campanella and Charles Brice would probably not appreciate.

Yours,

Adrian

 

Gerard Henderson to Adrian Brown – 23 July 2021

Good afternoon Adrian

Lotsa thanks for your email of 9 July 2021 in which you purported to correct “John Laws Style Deliberate Mistakes” in Media Watch Dog Issue 549. Alas none existed.

As you will recall, Issue 549 focused on the fact that ABC TV News Breakfast co-presenters Lisa Millar and Michael Rowland expressed concern about the lack of ethnic diversity in photographs of Australia’s 2021 Olympic Games team.  This followed the similar criticism of basketballer Liz Cambage whose mother is Australian and whose father is of Nigerian background.

MWD always tries to be helpful to its avid readers.  That’s why in Issue 549 MWD published its collage of oh-so-white ABC presenters such as, er, Lisa Millar and Michael Rowland.  Note the reference was to presenters of prominent ABC programs.  None of the ABC staff you cited in your letter of 9 July is a presenter of a prominent ABC program.

You now have reduced your list to two.  Sure, Jeremy Fernandez stands in for Juanita Phillips as a presenter of ABC TV News NSW on occasions –  but this is not his main job.

I am not aware that Miriam Corowa is a regular presenter of any prominent Monday to Friday ABC TV program.

You seem to have changed the discussion which turned on the lack of ethnic diversity on prominent ABC programs.  Neither Nas Campanella nor Charles Brice are presenters of prominent ABC TV programs – they are reporters.  And neither presents as anything other than white.  Sure, they’re good at their job – but that does not make them ethnically diverse or, indeed, presenters.

Now it being Gin & Tonic Time, I’m off for a G&T.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

 

 

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Until next time.

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