GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG

ISSUE – NO. 574

4 February 2022

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  • PETER DUTTON PROCLAIMS THE NATIONAL INTEREST AGAINST THE ABC, THE GUARDIAN AND MORE BESIDES

Did anyone see ABC 7.30 political correspondent Laura Tingle’s interview with Defence Minister Peter Dutton last night?  La Tingle was essentially running the Emmanuel Macron/Malcolm Turnbull line that Australia should have gone ahead with the purchase of French conventional submarines and that Prime Minister Scott Morrison lied to President Macron about the decision to discontinue the French submarine proposal and reach an agreement with the United States and Britain to purchase nuclear-powered submarines from one nation or the other.

Peter Dutton made the essential point that the decision of the Morrison government was made in Australia’s interest – in view of the changing strategic circumstances in the Indo-Pacific. It was a fine performance.

Let’s go to the transcript –  where Laura Tingle attempts to change the conversation when the Defence Minister chose to criticise the ABC in general and La Tingle in particular about the French submarine contract of recent memory:

Peter Dutton: I think we laid pretty clearly out the situation. But in the end, Laura, as I say, mine is not a job to please the French government or former [Australian] prime ministers or other people. My job is to keep Australians safe. That’s the Prime Minister’s job as well and we’ve taken the decision based on the expert advice that is in our country’s best interests. And I think the French have moved on. You and the ABC haven’t–

Laura Tingle: [interjecting] Well, whether they’ve moved on or not –

Peter Dutton :  – and The Guardian, of course –

Laura Tingle : [interjecting] Thank you Mr Dutton.

Peter Dutton : – and Malcolm [Turnbull].

The response was not what Laura Tingle wanted to hear. But Peter Dutton made his point – which, as it turned out, involved The Guardian/ABC Axis that is discussed later in this issue.  There is a lesson here for some other senior Coalition politicians when interviewed on the Conservative Free Zone.

  • PVO DESCRIBED AS CRAZY BRAVE BY JOURNALIST WHO IS NEITHER CRAZY NOR BRAVE ENOUGH TO BE QUOTED

MWD just loves it when journalists interview other journalists about a story they are writing on a journalist. So Jackie’s (male) co-owner turned quickly this morning to journalist Matthew Knott’s article in Nine Newspapers about Network Ten political editor Peter van Onselen.

PVO, as he likes to be called, did not co-operate with the story. A wise decision, it would appear. The journalists to whom Matthew Knott spoke were generally critical of PVO.  They consisted of a “senior press gallery journalist” who knows van Onselen well and describes him as “crazy brave”, “a former colleague”, “another former Sky News colleague” and “a former colleague”.  In short, a profile built on anonymous sources. Which makes it somewhat useless since it is impossible for readers (if readers there were) to judge the plausibility of PVO’s critics.

  • ABC TRIO PITCHES ON THE ABC FOR MORE ABC FUNDING

On ABC TV News Breakfast this morning former ABC presenter Gael Jennings spoke to ABC co-presenters Lisa Millar and Michael Rowland about a survey on the ABC conducted by The Australia Institute and reported in The Guardian:

Let’s go to the transcript where Comrade Jennings – of the strangely titled Centre for Advancing Journalism at Melbourne University – spoke about the survey, in a not always coherent way:

Lisa Millar: Hey, let’s move on to, uh, the final topic and you’re having a look at the ABC.

Gael Jennings: Yeah, well, I’m being political now, I suppose. Because I think this is a very interesting story in the front page of The Guardian. The Australia Institute did a poll of what people think about the cutting to the ABC over the last two – since 2014, Coalition government. There’s been about $526 million cut from ABC funding and 53 per cent of the people who were polled want the last triennial funding of – how much was it in that amount? Anyway, they want that restored. They want the money put back into the ABC. It’s seen 640 jobs lost, and a real strain for the ABC. And the ABC is still identified by the vast majority of Australians as the most trusted source of, factual, reporting, and something that they can trust for a democracy. So, I think that’s an interesting story.

And then up spoke ABC presenter Michael Rowland in support of the ABC:

Michael Rowland: Very interesting story. And this – this coming budget will be very important to the ABC in terms of what we can and can’t do for the next few years. Gael, as always, really appreciate your insights.

Yep.  You’ve got to feel sorry for the taxpayer funded public broadcaster which has to make do with guaranteed funding of some $1 billion a year.  Also, the ABC describes itself as Australia’s most trusted news source – even though it comes in third behind the nightly TV news bulletins behind Channel 7 and Channel 9.  Suggesting Australians prefer to watch news that they trust less than the news on the ABC. Or so the likes of The Australia Institute, The Guardian and the ABC would like us to believe.


Can You Bear It?

  • NIKI SAVVA LOOKS AT THE PM’s NATIONAL PRESS CLUB SPEECH AND SEES THE HINDENBURG ON FIRE

After taking holidays – [Correction – after taking what journalists like to call a W.E.B., a Well Earned Break] – Niki Savva resumed her weekly column in Nine’s The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday.

As avid Media Watch Dog readers will be aware, Ms Savva writes nearly all her columns for Nine on one topic – namely just how useless Prime Minister Scott Morrison really is.  She had a bit of luck for her first effort in 2022 – since it came shortly after the PM’s appearance at the National Press Club in Canberra on Tuesday.  More of this later.

Sliding into dangerous territory, Ms Savva declared that if Scott Morrison “doesn’t improve, the most likely outcome will be that the voters take care of him at the ballot box”.  She added:  “Another outcome, not very likely, is that colleagues will implore him to step aside before that”.  A hint of a leadership challenge – no less.

Dangerous territory – since Niki Savva should have learnt by now that it’s unwise to make predictions, especially about the future.  She failed to pick the Liberal Party leadership change in August 2018 and was hopelessly wrong about the outcome of the May 2019 election.

According to Nine’s columnist, “one exasperated federal MP…accused the Prime Minister of seeking to turn the NSW branch [of the Liberal Party] into the political wing of Hillsong”.  So, according to this anonymous source, the PM wants to turn the NSW Liberal Party into a branch of a Pentecostal Christian Church. Her source?  Anonymous.  Her evidence? Zip.

But, wait.  Niki Savva went on to write that the evidence that Scott Morrison’s position is “really crook” is evident by the fact that he has been criticised by Martyn Iles, the head of the Australian Christian Lobby, over the government’s decision to withdraw the visa of tennis star Novak Djokovic ahead of the Australian Open.  Mr Djokovic entered Australia without being vaccinated against COVID-19.

So there you have it.  The problem with the Prime Minister is that (i) he is too close to some Christians and (ii) he has upset some Christians. Work that out if you can.

However, Ms Savva’s BIG hit on the PM – which was applauded by ABC presenters Sabra Lane and Michael Rowland – was this. She described Scott Morrison’s performance at the National Press Club as “the political equivalent of the Hindenburg exploding and crashing into a train”. Really.

Now the reference is to the German airship Hindenburg which caught fire in New Jersey in 1937 when attempting to dock.  The death toll was 35.  Not content with this piece of hyperbole, Niki Savva upped the ante and raised the scenario of the Hindenburg crashing into a train – she did not theorise whether it was a passenger train or a freight train.  Meanwhile, Mr Morrison left the National Press Club in Canberra on Tuesday in a Commonwealth car – there were no victims. Can You Bear It?

  • JOHN HEWSON’S TALL STORY

As mentioned last week, the political columnists in The [Boring] Saturday Paper are so boring that Media Watch Dog reads one every second week.  Last time, Morrison-hater Paul Bongiorno.  This time, Morrison-hater John Hewson.

Most Saturdays at around Hangover Time, Holger Brockmann reads out the highlights of the news on ABC News Radio. He frequently commences his segment with a citation from the leftist Guardian Australia or the leftist Saturday Paper. After all, your man Brockmann works for the ABC.

Last Saturday it was Dr Hewson’s column (for a doctor he is) titled, believe it or not, “A Mosquito in a nudist colony”.  The learned doctor fired at the usual targets – including the Murdoch media – telling an implausible story about talking to a News Corp editor over a pile of speeches stashed on top of each other on a coffee table.  There were oh-so-many papers that Dr Hewson had to stand up to see the editor seated at his desk.  A story as tall as the alleged pile of documents, it would seem.

And what was the Hewson introduction that excited Comrade Brockmann?  It was the failed former Liberal Party leader’s claim that “many believe” that the Morrison government “is our worst ever and most incompetent, nudging out Tony Abbott for the title”.  Your man Hewson did not get around to saying who comprised the “many” – or whether he is one of them. Can You Bear It?

  • LISA WILKINSON SUDDENLY DISINTERESTED IN NEW ZEALAND COVID POLICY

Last week MWD covered Lisa Wilkinson’s comments in a recent Network Ten Sunday Project appearance, where she praised Jacinda Ardern moving New Zealand to harsher restrictions to combat the spread of Omicron. She referred to Australia’s situation as a “bin fire”, and added a “Wow!”

MWD readers who are not also avid The Project viewers may not be aware that Ms Wilkinson last year signed a multi-year contract with Network 10. According to Nick Tabakoff’s Media Diary in The Australian, part of the deal was that she would focus on “the treatment of women both in the workplace and in broader society”.

In view of her interest in New Zealand’s COVID-19 policies and interest in women’s issues, MWD tuned into The Project a couple of times this week to see if Lisa Wilkinson commented on the case of Charlotte Bellis. Ms Bellis, a New Zealand journalist who has been reporting on Afghanistan, this week detailed her fight to return to New Zealand from Afghanistan to give birth.

Although Bellis was assured safety by the Taliban – as an unmarried woman stranded in a country with poor maternity care she was very much in danger. This was not good enough for the powers that be in New Zealand, who denied Bellis’ application, informing Bellis that she failed to prove she “cannot obtain or access the same treatment in your current location”. Really.

After taking her story to the media, New Zealand relented and approved Charlotte Bellis’ application to return to her home country and go into quarantine.

You would think a pregnant woman stranded in a country notorious for brutal treatment of women and where 70,000 women die in childbirth every year would be of interest to Lisa Wilkinson in light of her commitment to reporting women’s issues. Not so. The Project team did give NZ a few mentions on Thursday night, including when New Zealand’s borders will be open to NZ citizens and Aussie tourists and an update on when New Zealander’s will be getting their booster shots – including a comment on the issue from a group of teens. That’s all. Can You Bear It?

Please note that MWD cannot stomach too much of The Project. So if this story was in fact covered a correction will be made.


NEW SEGMENT:  “INDEPENDENTS FOR” BILLIONAIRES: AN UPDATE

  • STARRING MARGO KINGSTON ON PERTH’S SO-CALLED INDEPENDENT “SCION” KATE CHANEY

While on the topic of millionaire Morry Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper – which is one of those media outlets which are giving considerable publicity to the “Voices of” Independent candidates and other Independents who are running against Coalition candidates (but not against Labor or Greens candidates) in the forthcoming election. How independent is that?

The “Voices of” movement is primarily financed by the Climate 200 campaign which is led by Melbourne and fashionable Drysdale-based eco-catastrophist billionaire Simon Holmes à Court, who inherited his initial pile from his old man – one Robert Homes à Court, who made his pile out of mining. Yes, mining.

“Voices of” along with other Independent candidates have received widescale – and invariably soft – coverage in The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald  along with the ABC, The Guardian and The Saturday Paper.

Indeed, The Saturday Paper’s editor-in-chief Erik Jensen appears to have engaged leftist journalist Margo Kingston to cover the “Voices of” and other Independent candidates in Australia’s most well-heeled suburbs. As Media Watch Dog readers will recall, Comrade Kingston supported Independent candidate Kerryn Phelps in her successful – and then unsuccessful – attempt a few years ago to be the Member for Wentworth in Sydney’s wealthy Eastern suburbs.

Margo Kingston’s article in The Saturday Paper on 29 January 2022 was headed “The courage muscle” –  whatever that means. It carried this lead-in: “The scion of one of Perth’s most powerful families, Kate Chaney is the independent candidate who may yet take Curtin back from the Liberal Party”.

There is no evidence that Ms Chaney is formally linked to the “Voices of” movement supported by Holmes a Court.

So there you have it.  Most Australians have children.  But, according to Comrade Kingston, the poweful produce scions.  Fancy that.  Comrade Kingston did not refer to Celia Hammond, the sitting Liberal Party member for Curtin, as a scion of anyone.  But she described Ms Hammond as a “conservative Catholic”. It would seem that to Kingston it is quite shocking to be a Catholic but even worse to be a conservative one.  How sectarian can one of Comrade Jensen’s leftist scribblers get?

However, The Saturday Paper did report that the oh-so-independent Ms Chaney joined the Labor Party in August 2021 but did not last long. As Chaney told Kingston – her decision to join Labor was “much to my husband’s shock”. Earlier, on 27 January, Lanai Scarr reported in The West Australian that Ms Chaney’s time in the Labor Party amounted to five months.

Alas it appears that none of the “Voices of” or other Independents spoke up when Simon Holmes à Court threw the switch to abusive misogyny last week and called Victorian Liberal Party Senator Sarah Henderson a “crumb maiden”.  This from a super-wealthy bloke who got lotsa crumbs from his (late) old man’s table.

[Perhaps you could have run this item in your hugely popular Can You Bear It? segment.  Just a thought. – MWD Editor.]


LEFT-WING STACKS: AN UPDATE

  • JO DYER’S ADELAIDE WRITERS’ WEEK – MWD’s  LITTLE LIST OF LEFTIES

As Media Watch Dog readers know only too well – literary festivals and writers’ weeks are occasions where a group of leftists get their hands on lotsa taxpayers’ money and use this to invite their leftist comrades to address/attend literary festivals.

Following the coverage last Friday of the Adelaide Writers’ Festival Week 2022: A Better Picture taxpayer funded gig, which will take place between 5 March 2022 to 10 March 2022, readers have asked for a little-list of left-of-centre types who are on the program.  Here it is:

Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Van Badham, Larissa Behrendt, Michael Bradley, Jane Caro, Sophie Cunningham, Michelle de Kretser, Jo Dyer, Anton Enus, Gareth Evans, Richard Flanagan, Andrew Fowler, Tom Griffiths, Clive Hamilton, Linda Jaivin, Barry Jones, Thomas Keneally, Paul Kennedy, Benjamin Law, Jason Yat-Sen Li, Ian Lowe, Scott Ludlam, Fiona McLeod, Kerry O’Brien, Bruce Pascoe, Jennifer Robinson, Peter Rose, Kevin Rudd, Julianne Schultz, Tory Shepherd, Norman Swan, Christos Tsiolkas, Michael West and Clare Wright.

No Coalition present or former politician or candidates are on the program.  But Labor (with Evans, Jones, McLeod, Yat-Sen Li) and The Greens (Scott Ludlam) are well represented.  Sure there are some non-leftists on the program. But not a single political conservative.

The Adelaide Writers’ Week director Jo Dyer – a former Labor pre-selection candidate who is running as an “Independents For” candidate against the Liberal Party in the South Australian seat of Boothby – has managed to invite herself as a speaker at AWW 2022. Well done. She has a book due out in March.

A highlight of Comrade Dyer’s program is a joint appearance by two of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s most vocal critics. Namely, former, Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd and former Coalition prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. Their topic is “How Fast Things Fall”.  They sure do.


In 1967 the music hall entertainer Ken Dodd (1927-2018) sang the song “It’s a Funny Old World” in his album For Someone Special. The term was popularised by British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in November 1990 when she was forced by her Conservative Party colleagues to step down. At her final cabinet meeting the Iron Lady reflected: “It’s a funny old world”.  And so, it is – as this MWD segment will demonstrate.

  • “ROWLIE” CALLS OUT “PK” ET AL FOR NOT MAINTAINING STANDARDS

Could there be an oh-so-slight tension within the ABC’s Conservative Free Zone – where presenter/producers almost always agree with almost all of their colleagues on almost everything?  You be the judge.

In her soft interview with Opposition leader Anthony Albanese on 24 January 2022, ABC Radio National Breakfast presenter Patricia Karvelas started off proceedings as follows: “Anthony Albanese joins me now. Albo, welcome.”

And, yes, “Albo”(as PK called him) was very welcome indeed – and had an interruption-free interview.  Meanwhile Michael Rowland, the co-presenter of ABC TV News Breakfast, had this to say about the use of abbreviated names like “Albo” last Monday:

How about that?  ABC presenters who invariably agree with each other appear to be at war about the use of nicknames – in this funny old world.


MARK HUMPHRIES UPDATE

  • MARK HUMPHRIES GETS SOME COMPETITION

Last week’s edition of Media Watch Dog noted the irregular appearances of 7:30’s resident self-described satirist Mark Humphries, during the latter months of 2021. Mr Humphries’ absences were lamentable for MWD as his halting attempts at comedy have provided a great deal of material. It was a relief to see Comrade Humphries return to 7:30 last night for his second sketch of 2022. Here’s hoping he can be relied upon for more regular appearances in the future.

At the end of the program, guest presenter Laura Tingle took a moment to steel herself before warning the audience they were about to be subjected to the satire of your man Humphries and his co-writer Evan Williams. The topic was, as it almost always is, the Federal government.

The sketch took the form of a human resources performance review for Scott Morrison, with the leaked texts between Gladys Berejiklian and a Federal Cabinet Minister presented as feedback given by his colleagues. In keeping with the usual lazy approach of 7:30’s satire, most of the sketch consisted of Humphries just reading out the insulting descriptions of the Prime Minister used in the texts.

Humphries & Williams may need to lift their game in future as last night’s 7:30 also featured an audition from someone who may be looking to replace them. Let’s go to the transcript:

Laura Tingle: Everybody has a theory about who the cabinet minister is. Have you got a theory about who might be the texting minister?

Malcolm Turnbull: Yes. I will name the culprit.

Laura Tingle: Right?

Malcolm Turnbull: It was Colonel Mustard in the library with a smartphone.

Laura Tingle: Okay. Thank you for that.

Unfortunately for the former Prime Minister his clearly pre-rehearsed line did not go over well with Laura Tingle, who looked somewhat embarrassed by the exchange. This is a shame as Mr Turnbull fulfills the main requirement for a job as an ABC comedian: an overwhelming dislike for Scott Morrison.

  •  ON LAVATORY HUMOUR – ABC 7.30’s SELF-IDENTIFYING COMEDIANS MARK HUMPHRIES & EVAN WILLIAMS “BOOK” OF JOKES

There was enormous interest in Media Watch Dog’s report last Friday on the final performance for 2021 – and the first performance for 2022 – by the duo who go by the label “resident ABC 7.30 satirists”.  Namely Mark Humphries and Evan Williams. As MWD demonstrated, the “jokes” by Comrade Humphries and Comrade Williams on 7.30 at the end of last year were simply recycled for the beginning of this year.  Now that is a joke – paid for by the taxpayer.

An avid reader suggested that it was high time that Jackie’s (male) co-owner reviewed the book – or rather booklet – by the Humphries/Williams duo titled On Politics and Stuff  (Hachette Australia) which was published in 2021.  It is one of the publications in the “On” series initiated by Louise Adler when she ran Melbourne University Publishing and now taken by her to Hachette.  This effort runs for about 10,000 words.

Now, publications in the range of 10,000 to 20,000 words are increasingly popular and are long enough to have plenty to say.  The problem here is that it’s difficult to squeeze the lemon so hard that a couple of jokes can be turned into 10,000 words or so.  In their final “joke”, the authors thank “the Acknowledgements section for its invaluable  assistance in reaching our contractual word count”. Enough said.

Reading the 10,000 words of literary sludge in On Politics gives the lie to the cliché that “you can’t judge a book by its cover”. In this instance you can – judged by the endorsement on the cover by two fellow ABC stars –  Shaun Micallef and Leigh Sales – which is as follows:

“It’s funny!  Well funnier than that Leigh Sales one.  Man, did she lay an egg….” Shaun Micallef.

“How dare you….” Leigh Sales.

Question: How funny is that?  Answer: Well, it’s funnier than the book itself.  Alas.

By the way, the reference is to Leigh Sales On Doubt  which was published in 2009.  It contained one paragraph of 110 words in which the word “I” appeared on no fewer than 15 occasions.  Now that is funny. Otherwise it was a disappointing effort by someone capable of such high quality work as her Detainee 002: The Case of David Hicks (2007).

But MWD digresses.  The tone of On Politics is set in the second paragraph where the following self-proclaimed satire appears with references to the prime minister’s official residences in Canberra (The Lodge) and Sydney (Kirribilli House).

According to Humphries/Williams, “this hallowed residence [The Lodge] plays host to the prime minister’s preferred toilet, if there’s no Maccas nearby”. And then there is this:

But the prime minister doesn’t need to just go toi-toi in Canberra, he or she may need to relieve themselves in Sydney. Hence, Kirribilli House.

This sort of joke runs the risk of giving lavatory humour a bad name.  But the authors persist and there is a reference to a double dissolution election as a “flush” to remove “weirdo” politicians from the Senate. This is referred to as “the Toilet Duck of Australian electoral processes”. Get it?  Groan.

On Politics has some nice things to say about the ABC and, generally, the Labor Party.  However, as would be expected from the resident satirists at a Conservative Free Zone, the “joke” is mainly on the Liberal Party – like this effort at Page 30:

The two major parties are the Australian Labor Party, who represent workers, and the Liberal Party who represent boat owners.

It’s quite some time since Labor was the party of the working class. But the likes of Humphries and Williams would not get to know this through hanging around the ABC’s headquarters in inner-city Ultimo in Sydney. There are some factual errors in the booklet – but they may be “jokes”. Who knows?

On Politics ends much as it began – with a “joke” in bad taste about what some call the nether regions:

It is the authors’ hope that as the representation of women in Australian parliament [sic] increases, so too will the depiction of female genitalia on Australian ballot papers.  That’s right, we’re feminists.

Perhaps fools is a better word. As Barry Humphries pointed out in his introduction to Fred Pawle’s Die Laughing: The Biography of Bill Leak, some self-proclaimed comedians are not comedians at all.  They merely identify as comedians.

Yet the Humphries/Williams duo is the best that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster can do in what it identifies on ABC 7.30 as satire.

Not to scale


OUTSIDE INSIDERS (THE WRITTEN VERSION)

Media Watch Dog fave William (Bill) Thompson established the website “Outside Insiders” – in which he would attempt (sometimes successfully) to interview politicians and commentators entering and exiting the ABC Melbourne Southbank studio where Insiders is filmed on a Sunday morning.  Mr Thompson, who describes himself as the ABC’s Southbank Correspondent, has been a bit short of talent in 2020 and 2021 – due to the pandemic since much of the Insiders interviews/panel discussions are currently done online.  But he was back in action on Sunday. Nevertheless MWD – which acquired the “Outside Insiders”  term on a temporary basis last year – will continue to present a written version of “Outside Insiders”. Here’s hoping Bill Thompson doesn’t object.

  • SPEERSY & MURPHAROO TOUGH ON THE PRIME MINISTER BUT OH-SO-SOFT ON THE OPPOSITION LEADER

It was great to see ABC TV Insiders back in action last Sunday with David (“Oh, yes, I’m the great interrupter”) Speers in the presenter’s chair and two Guardian  sandalistas in action. Namely, Katharine (“Malcolm calls me Murpharoo”) Murphy on the panel – and Michael Bowers presenting the “Talking Pictures” segment. Yet another example of The Guardian/ABC Axis in action – re which see below.

David (“Please call me Speersy”) Speers introduced the program as follows:

David Speers: It wasn’t the summer many had hoped for, especially the [Morrison] government. Record case numbers, the PCR testing system overwhelmed. Rapid Antigen Tests nowhere to be found, worker shortages and empty supermarket shelves. Hospitals have been stretched and more than 1500 lives have been lost to Covid since our last show of the year. Senior Coalition figures know they’ve taken a big hit, but still reckon they can recover in time for a May election. Labor’s not taking anything for granted either. Anthony Albanese is keeping the heat on the government as he fleshes out his own policy plans.

A somewhat hyperbolic start to the year, don’t you think?  Certainly Prime Minister Scott Morrison has faced considerable criticism – especially on the ABC.  Sure there was pressure on the PCR testing system due to the emerging Omicron strain of COVID-19.  But it is not correct to state that Rapid Antigen Tests were “nowhere to be found”. Moreover, nowhere near all supermarket shelves were empty – although there were some shortages of some goods at times. While under strain, the hospital system coped in the key states of New South Wales and, to a lesser extent in Victoria – and there was spare ICU capacity.  Many of the worker shortages were a result of the isolation policies of a number of State and Territory health departments. In his introduction David Speers did not even mention the role of the States and Territories with respect to hospitals, testing and isolation orders. All the focus was on the Coalition government.

Speersy threw the first question to Katharine Murphy.  Surprise, surprise – she assessed the Morrison government as a “massive fail”. And, following a burst of ironic laughter, referred to the “vaccine fail”.  No mention here of the fact that Australia has among the highest vaccination rates in the world.  Murpharoo is The Guardian’s  political editor, after all.

Soon after, Speersy gave a long (over 19 minutes) and soft interview to Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese. He did not raise the issue that Anthony Albanese (along with one Liberal Party front bencher) had been criticised in the Saturday press for claiming travel allowances while residing in his Canberra property. This is perfectly legal – but the kind of question a Liberal Party minister would surely have been asked by an ABC reporter if the issue was current.

Labor is running on its support of a national anti-corruption body along the lines of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). David Speers did not ask Mr Albanese about the criticism made of a Federal ICAC body by former national president of the ALP and one-time Labor Party senator Stephen Loosley.

Writing in The Australian on 26 January 2022 Stephen Loosley commented:

The core problem with a corruption commission is its impact on the innocent. They have effectively no redress and there is no conclusive means of exoneration. It is as simple as this: if a person is called before a corruption commission, then many people will assume that person must be corrupt. …The stains of such assumptions are very difficult to remove.

Anthony Albanese briefly raised the issue of an anti-corruption commission during the interview but David Speers did not engage on the matter. It was the case of “Don’t talk about the Stephen Loosley article”.

So, thanks to The Guardian/ABC Axis in action, Insiders was tough on Scott Morrison but soft on Anthony Albanese last Sunday.


  • THE GUARDIAN/INSIDERS TAG TEAM

While on the topic of The Guardian/ABC Axis, there was enormous interest in last week’s Media Watch Dog report that Amanda Meade, The Guardian Australia’s media correspondent, had noticed this new segment – and seemed to think that it was the product of an obsessive personality. How could Comrade Meade ever have come to this view?

But the point is that The Guardian/ABC Axis is a reality.  Take the return last week of the ABC Insiders  program (executive producer Samuel Clark – presenter David Speers).

In recent years, The Guardian has come to dominate Insiders  as opposed to other commercial media outlets.  The Guardian’s four principal journalists who cover Australian national politics are Lenore Taylor (editor), Katharine Murphy (political editor), Sarah Martin (chief political correspondent) and Amy Remeikis (political reporter).

Now The Guardian is, and always has been, an avowed left-wing publication.  Yet, all of The Guardian Australia’s key reporters of national politics appear on the Insiders panel (of three).  No such advantage is given to such publications as The Age, The Australian, the Australian Financial Review, the Sydney Morning Herald or the top selling newspapers in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth or Adelaide – i.e. the Daily Telegraph, Herald-Sun, Courier Mail, West Australian and Advertiser respectively.

In addition, Michael Bowers, The Guardian’s photographic editor, presents the Insiders “Talking Pictures” segment each week – on which Comrade Remeikis also makes occasional appearances.

All up, The Guardian personnel made some 68 appearances on Insiders  in 2021 – even exceeding the 66 appearances by ABC personnel. No newspaper or TV/Radio network got even close to this figure.

It was par-for-the-course last Sunday when Comrade Murphy was on the Insiders panel and Comrade Bowers presented “Talking Pictures”. In other words, two out of the six journalists who took part in Insiders on 30 January 2022 were from The Guardian – that is, 33 per cent.  On one occasion in 2021, the figure was as high as 66 per cent.

That’s The Guardian/ABC Axis in action – irrespective of what The Guardian’s  Comrade Meade might say. It’s bad enough that the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone – without a conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.  But the ABC is over-represented by comrades from The Guardian on some of its key current affairs programs – resulting in an invariable left wing stack.

David Speers and Samuel Clark – along with Comrades Taylor, Murphy, Martin and Remeikis – have never told Insiders’ viewers that The Guardian Australia was Malcolm Turnbull’s idea. This became known in 2020 when Malcolm Turnbull revealed all in his autobiography A Bigger Picture (Hardie Grant, 2020). The former prime minister wrote that he encouraged The Guardian in London to set up The Guardian Australia and recommended the appointment of “two seasoned Canberra political writers, Lenore Taylor and Katharine Murphy (aka Murpharoo)”. See A Bigger Picture page 198.  In spite of Samuel Clark’s commitment to full disclosure for everyone else, this has never been revealed on Insiders – not even when panelists from The Guardian were supporting Mr Turnbull during the Liberal Party’s leadership challenge in 2018.

All The Guardian comrades who appear on Insiders are opponents of the Morrison government. They joined such ABC comrades as Andrew Probyn, Patricia Karvelas, Raf Epstein, Annabel Crabb and Fran Kelly on the Insiders’ couch in 2021. Stand by for future updates.

 

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Until Next Time

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