GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 576
18 February 2022
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LAURA TINGLE RUNS LEFT-WING CONSPIRACY THEORY ABOUT THE PETROV AFFAIR, ROBERT MENZIES & BERT EVATT
And so it has come to pass that ABC TV 7.30’s chief political correspondent Laura Tingle – who has accused the Morrison government of “ideological bastardry” – will lead 7.30’s political commentary up to and including the May 2022 election. As avid readers will recall, La Tingle (like so many of her colleagues) got the outcome of the May 2019 election hopelessly wrong. So, in ABC terms, she is well qualified for the task this year.
Last night, 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales interviewed Laura Tingle about the final sitting day of the parliamentary week. Then La Tingle did her own report. In short, the political coverage on 7.30 was wall-to-wall Tingle.
At one stage, Ms Tingle repeated the old hoary left-wing myth about the defection of Vladimir Petrov, the third secretary of the Soviet Union Embassy, in April 1954. Soon after Evdokia Petrov also defected – bringing with her crucial information about the Soviet Union codes. Both Petrovs provided evidence of a Soviet spy ring in Australia.
Laura Tingle attempted to draw a comparison between the events of April and May 1954 and the Prime Minister’s recent criticism of Labor for allegedly being close to the Chinese Communist Party leaders in Beijing. Let’s go to the transcript:
Archival Footage: Canberra – around the Soviet Embassy unfolds an incredible story that has made world headlines.
Laura Tingle: ASIO finds itself dragged into the political fray as it was in the 1950s.
Archival Footage: The Royal Commission on Espionage would last 11 months.
Laura Tingle: When the Menzies Government exploited the defection of Soviet diplomat Vladimir Petrov to set up what we would now call a national security election in 1954.
Archival Footage: A big swing against the Labor government has taken place. [Note this is clearly a misplaced reference to the 1949 election which has nothing to do with the Petrov Affair.]
Laura Tingle: Unlike the 1950s and the fear of just one foreign player, the old Soviet Union, [ASIO Director-General] Mike Burgess pointed out last night that there are multiple foreign players at work now.
What a load of absolute tosh from La Tingle, who should know better. Vladimir Petrov was among the most important defectors from the Soviet Union during the Cold War. He defected on 3 April 1954. The Federal Election for that year was held on 29 May 1954.
Contrary to La Tingle’s assertion, the Coalition government, led by Robert Menzies, did not exploit the Petrov defection during the election. Indeed the matter was barely mentioned in the campaign. Moreover, there was no big swing against the opposition Labor Party led by Bert Evatt in 1954. Indeed, Labor won a narrow majority of the popular vote but failed to win a majority of seats in the House of Representatives. It was a close result.
The fact is that there was a communist spy ring in what was then called the Department of External Affairs which attempted to forward Allied secrets to Moscow in the 1940s and 1950s. After the 1954 election, Evatt and the left blamed Labor’s defeat on the Petrov defection. In fact, Evatt ran a poor campaign at the time when the economy was recovering. And Australia had just experienced a two month Royal Tour with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
Bert Evatt’s mishandling of the Petrov Affair after the May 1954 election contributed to the Labor Party split of early 1955. If there was a national security election in the 1950s – it was the election of December 1955, which the Coalition won easily.
Contrary to La Tingle’s suggestion, ASIO was not “dragged into the political fray” in the 1950s. In fact, ASIO coordinated Vladimir Petrov’s defection because he was a most valuable source of intelligence during the Cold War. So was his wife Evdokia, who defected shortly after her husband.
It is unprofessional for 7.30 to allow Laura Tingle to parade unchallenged her historical ignorance by peddling discredited left-wing conspiracy theories about Menzies, Evatt, the Petrovs and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).
If Ms Tingle had read the research on the Petrov Affair by such historians as Robert Manne and David Horner, among others, she would know this.
ABC FAILS TO REPORT THAT ALLEGRA SPENDER AVOIDED THE QUESTION AS TO WHETHER SHE WOULD SUPPORT LABOR OR THE COALITION IN A HUNG PARLIAMENT
Media Watch Dog is not a fan of Stan Grant presenting the ABC Q&A program. For starters – unlike Virginia Trioli and David Speers – he is able to control the baying leftist mob which normally stacks the ABC studios in inner-city Ultimo (Sydney) and inner-city Southbank (Melbourne) or manage to dominate the Zoom broadcast in pandemic times. This limits copy for MWD – for which worse is better. Your man Grant is better. Therefore he’s worse for MWD.
However, last night’s Q&A commenced badly with this question from the floor (such questions are invariably approved by the Q&A executive producer):
Magnus Cormack: Yesterday in Parliament, under privilege, the Prime Minister described the Opposition – the Deputy Opposition Leader – as the Manchurian candidate. How does the panel hold that in context against other cabinet ministers in the Liberal government? Say for example Andrew Robb, who was the then Trade Minister, who was responsible for the approval of the Darwin Port and signed off on it. And then immediately afterwards left and took a job working for the Landbridge company, a CCP-associated company. Went off and took a job with them immediately after being a, being a, sorry. Immediately after being – making that decision. Does it really matter that the Chinese – sorry. Does it really matter that China is attempting to place candidates in our democratic process when sitting members of our Australian parliament are so easily purchased?
For starters, Andrew Robb is not a “sitting” Liberal Party member of the House of Representatives. And there’s no evidence that he has ever been “purchased”. Moreover, the decision to lease the Port of Darwin to Chinese interests was made by the Northern Territory Government – not the Commonwealth government. Stan Grant had to clear up the mess later in the program.
Yet, by and large, Mr Grant presided over a considered discussion. Sure he erred in describing Allegra Spender (the so-called Independent candidate for Wentworth) as a “Liberal blue blood”. It seems that a woman becomes a “blue blood” if her old man and his old man represented the Liberal Party in the Commonwealth Parliament three decades ago and in the decades before that. Concerning which see today’s brand new “Fawn Again” segment.
But Stan Grant is one of the few journalists to have asked this question of one of the “Voices of” Independents:
Stan Grant: One of the questions I think people are asking…if indeed it comes down to a hung parliament and Independents are going to be important and you do get elected, who do you side with? Who do you guarantee for supply?
This is Ms Spender’s reply:
Allegra Spender: So what I am trying to do is stand for what is important to the people of Wentworth. And I’ve spent a lot of time since I started this campaign, and before then, is actually really listening. And starting to saying: “what what is important to you, and what are you seeking from your representative?” And I think absolutely, they’re seeking action on climate change. Because I think Wentworth is a very business-focused electorate, and it sees that, that there’s a huge economic opportunity there. They are seeing – they also see the environmental imperative on that. They see, they want to focus on cleaner politics. They are sick of the politicisation. I think, you know, Andrew [Constance], your point is absolutely right. People are exhausted. And they’re not interested in, in sort of, you know, political name calling they want, you know, they want –
Stan Grant: But they do want answers, you’re not answering that question –
Allegra Spender: I’m coming to that –
Alas, Ms Spender never got there. After the above verbal sludge which ran for 40 seconds she did another long-winded fudge which went for a whole minute.
Allegra Spender did not provide an answer to the question. Which was – or should be – news in itself. It wasn’t news on ABC this morning. ABC News Breakfast played that part of Q&A when conservative commentator Greg Sheridan joined Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen in criticising Prime Minister Scott Morrison for his comment that the Chinese Communist Party wants Labor to win the May 2022 election. Conservatives who criticise the Coalition are always likely to be reported on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster – otherwise they tend to be cancelled.
FOUR CORNERS FINDS ROOM FOR LABOR STRATEGISTS CRAIG EMERSON & BRUCE HAWKER PLUS THE SATURDAY PAPER’S KAREN MIDDLETON IN A DISCUSSION ON ANTHONY ALBANESE
Four Corners’ two-part program “Election 2022” was supposed to report on the views of undecided voters from “a few battleground seats from across the country” – first about Scott Morrison and then about Anthony Albanese. However, on 7 February Four Corners interviewed two journalists – Katharine Murphy and Niki Savva – both of whom are Morrison critics – along with one-time Liberal Party strategist Grahame Morris.
Then, last Monday, Four Corners heard at some length from two Labor Party strategists – Craig Emerson and Bruce Hawker along with journalist Karen Middleton (of the leftist The Saturday Paper) and journalist/historian Troy Bramston. It would seem that Four Corners had come to the view that the undecided voters had run out of puff. And their role was scaled down.
And so “Election 22” ended up like many a Four Corners program – with lotsa commentary – primarily from the usual left-of-centre commentators, little of it fresh.
NIKI SAVVA CONCEDES THAT HER SCOTT MORRISON SCENARIOS HAVE VIRTUALLY ZERO CHANCE OF OCCURRING
Niki Savva has many reasons to thank the Almighty for the fact that Scott Morrison is prime minister of Australia. If this was not the case, pray tell Media Watch Dog what she would write about each week in her Thursday column in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald? As MWD readers will be aware, about 90 per cent of Ms Savva’s columns in Nine Newspapers bag the PM to a greater or lesser extent – as she fills up her allocation of around 1000 words.
Yesterday Ms Savva’s column kicked-off as follows:
There are three ways Scott Morrison can be removed as Prime Minister before the election. The first would be if Peter Dutton challenged him. The second would be if Josh Frydenberg challenged him. The third, and the least bloody, would be if his two closest confidantes, Stuart Robert and Ben Morton, told him he should step aside for the good of the Liberal Party because if he stayed, the government would be annihilated. All three options have been canvassed internally but the chances of any one of them happening is close to zero….
So there you have it. There are three ways Scott Morrison can be removed as PM before the May election. But the chances of any one happening are “close to zero”. Well, that’s pretty clear then. But all this has taken only 100 words – with some 900 words to follow.
So, there was an analysis of the Morrison family’s appearance on Network Nine’s 60 Minutes last Sunday and the PM on the ukulele. Somewhat old news, don’t you think? And there is a reference “to the description of Morrison by colleagues in text messages as horrible, psychotic, a liar and a hypocrite”. In fact, there is only evidence that one named colleague offered some of these words in private. And this is old news, too.
But Ms Savva still had around a third of the column to fill. So she ended up quoting “Labor frontbenchers”. Including “one” who said that Prime Minister Morrison’s recent recounting of the story of Solomon was inaccurate. How frightfully interesting. Plus “another” who “quoted scripture essentially advising when you pray, pray quietly (Matthew 6:5)”. Er, that was it. Can You Bear It?
[No. Not really – now that you ask. I note that Laura Tingle, a Savva bestie, referred to “Niki Savva’s (as usual) excellent column” in a tweet. God only knows what La Tingle would tweet if her bestie wrote a column about contemporary political outcomes which are somewhat north of “close to zero”. – MWD Editor.]
CRIKEY’S “ETHICAL AUNT” LESLIE CANNOLD NOW GIVING RELATIONSHIP ADVICE TO THE HAPLESS – OR SO IT SEEMS
There was enormous interest in last week’s Media Watch Dog segment which dealt with Crikey’s Ethical Aunt Leslie Cannold – who produces the “Everyday Dilemmas” segment every Thursday. On 10 February Dr Cannold (for a doctor she is) admitted that she was not receiving many letters – ethically challenging or otherwise.
There was no mention of such a dilemma in Crikey yesterday. Indeed, Crikey’s Ethical Aunt declared that she had received the following letter from a certain “Hapless of Warringah”. Here it is:
I am an occasional newspaper columnist and public thinker who considers himself sharp, witty and erudite. Sadly I have recently discovered the woman I love thinks I’m an ageing, predictable bore (she used a different, more Anglo-Saxon description to a mutual friend) who stays with me only because, well, we’re both getting on and she can’t be bothered to leave. Also, I’m paid well. How do I rekindle her respect but continue to write my columns that she (mistakenly) thinks are utter tripe?
Hapless of Warringah
For starters, a columnist – occasional or otherwise – would have to be into “utter tripe” to write to “Dear Leslie”. For the record, Dr Cannold’s reply commenced with “Oh, you poor soul!” Crikey’s Ethical Aunt then declared that she would be “horrified” if her “beloved” thought she was past her “intellectual use-by date”. Overlooking the fact that she uses intellectual capital telling Hapless of Warringah that it’s time for him and Ms Hapless of Warringah “to face the issues in your marriage and whether they’re able to be remedied”. Which suggests that Aunt Cannold may be past her intellectual use-by date.
All MWD can say is that if your man Hapless exists, he is delusional to believe that anyone sharp, witty and erudite would write to Crikey’s Ethical Dilemmas. Has Crikey nothing better to publish on a Thursday? Can You Bear It?
NINE’S PETER HARTCHER – TOPS FOR VERBAL POMPOSITY WITH AN UNINTERRUPTED 3-MINUTE COMMENT ON INSIDERS
Has there ever been a more verbose panellist on an ABC Insiders program than Peter Hartcher of The Age/Sydney Morning Herald? You be the judge. As Media Watch Dog points out in today’s “Outside Insiders” segment, your man Hartcher made an uninterrupted long-winded comment on Insiders last Sunday about the Coalition government and the Religious Discrimination Bill.
Not long after this exhibition of loquaciousness, Peter (“I Bore for Australia”) Hartcher gave a 3 minute answer to a leading question from David (“Oh yes, I’m the great interrupter”) Speers about Defence Minister Peter Dutton’s comments on the Labor Party and China. Yes, a whole 3 minutes. Note that, on this occasion, The Great Interrupter did not interrupt Peter The Great. Here’s how the segment commenced:
David Speers: You heard [Labor Party frontbencher] Kristina Keneally earlier talking about this. What do you think? Did the minister [Peter Dutton] overstep the mark [with his comments on the Labor Party and China]?
Peter Hartcher: Oh, yes, he did…
At this stage, Hendo headed out of the TV room and read Tolstoy’s War and Peace in the original Russian. When he returned, the somewhat obtuse Hartcher was in the process of finishing his uninterrupted response.
On re-winding the program, it turned out that Peter Hartcher said that the Morrison government was undergoing a near death experience (which he had said earlier in the program). Then he said that Peter Dutton and Josh Frydenberg are “now competing” for the Liberal Party leadership (which he also said earlier in the program). Then he spoke about how well the Labor Party had done in the by-election the previous day in the NSW State by-election in the Sydney seat of Strathfield. In fact, Labor had done very well in the by-elections in the seats of Monaro and Bega – but not so well in Strathfield where there was a small swing against Labor in a Labor-held seat.
Seldom before in the history of Insiders has so much been said by one person for so long to such little effect. Can You Bear It?
The ABC TV program Media Watch commenced in May 1989 – a month after the publication of Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch (which became, in time, Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog Blog). All Media Watch presenters have been left-of-centre types. No conservative has had this gig in three decades – confirming the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s reality as a Conservative Free Zone. Since Stuart Littlemore fronted the inaugural program in May 1989, Media Watch has had the format where the presenter lays down the law. There is no debate and discussion and no one has a right-of-reply on air.
This contrasts with MediaBuzz on Fox News (proprietor Rupert Murdoch). Currently presented by one-time Washington Post columnist and CNN presenter Howard Kurtz, Media Buzz encourages debate and discussion on the program – where different political and social views are heard. Due to popular demand, MWD continues to record your man Barry’s Occasional (political and social) Sermon on the Mount.
SAINT BARRY DECLARES THE MEDIA SHALL NOT DISCUSS WHITE BREAD ALONE
The latest Sermon on the Mount by Paul Barry concerned the media coverage of bizarre remarks made on The Drum by University of Technology Sydney Professor Nareen Young, who is a close friend of Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese. Avid readers will recall these remarks as they were covered in last week’s edition of Media Watch Dog as an example of a Sandalista Snobbery Space.
During an appearance on Channel 7’s Sunrise – Prime Minister Scott Morrison was asked which type of bread he preferred. The Prime Minister replied “normal white bread”. This exchange was played on The Drum – and Professor Young offered up the following:
Nareen Young: I think the comment about bread, the white bread, was really interesting. Who eats white bread in this country? Anglo men. I come from a working class background, we had brown bread, because we were healthy. I think it shows a deep lack of understanding as to who works in this country. I think that there is a deep intersection of race and class.
She then continued to rant at some length, with the general thrust being that Scott Morrison is out of touch with the multicultural Australian working class.
However, Professor Young’s remarks were not the target of Comrade Barry’s ire, although he did correctly describe them as a “tortured analysis”. Instead, the ABC’s media-critic-in-chief took aim at the extensive media coverage devoted to the bread rant. Here is how he finished the segment:
Paul Barry: As for the academic at the centre of the storm, she told Media Watch the white bread comment was tongue-in-cheek and she’s shocked it has attracted so much fuss. So are we.
Needless to say, Nareen Young has told Media Watch a very obvious fib, which Paul Barry has decided to pass along to his audience without question. There is absolutely nothing in her appearance on The Drum to suggest she was joking.
Media Watch only played the beginning of her remarks, which could lead viewers to include that it was only a “tongue-in-cheek comment”. In fact, as documented in last week’s MWD, Professor Young expounded on her belief that white people make up the “underclass” in Australia, as opposed to the working class who are more multi-racial. Clearly this is a deeply held belief, not a tongue-in-cheek comment.
Given the subsequent media coverage, Professor Young no doubt regrets launching such a silly attack on Scott Morrison. But, instead of just admitting she said something foolish, she has decided to pretend she was just joking around, with a little help from Paul Barry.
The message Saint Barry hoped to impart in this sermon was that the press had devoted far too much time to such a trivial story. This may well be true, but Barry notably does not question why The Drum was devoting time to a discussion of the Prime Minister’s bread preferences in the first place.
Media Watch viewers (unlike MWD readers) were not told that Professor Young’s comments were part of a large discussion of class and race in Australia, which was for some reason introduced with the clip of the Prime Minister stating a preference for white bread. Presenter Ellen Fanning kicked off the segment by claiming that white bread was “the only possible answer”. Panellist Jennifer Hewett made a strange reference to the PM’s bread comment “coming back to haunt him”. Neither clarified exactly what they meant.
So apparently Paul Barry thinks it is a waste of time for non-ABC media to devote column inches and airtime to covering a strange rant by a friend of the Opposition Leader. But he does not think it worth mentioning that an ABC program kicked off the whole controversy with an inane segment about race, class and bread.
As is the case with the overwhelming majority of Paul Barry’s sermons, the ABC is treated with kid gloves, while the rest of the media is subjected to scorn and disapproval.
ABC journalists seeking to follow the teachings of Saint Barry are encouraged to offer up the following daily secular affirmation – which has been sent in from an avid Gosford reader:
who art in Ultimo
hallowed be thy name
thy Aunty come
thy will be done in regional Australia as it is in inner-city Sydney.
Give us this day our weekly 15-minute program
and forgive us our mistakes
as we don’t forgive anyone else who makes mistakes
and lead us not into conservatism
but deliver us from News Corp.
For thine is the Kingdom, the power of the boring.
Forever and ever, Amen.
LUNCH WITH BOB CARR – THE SMH BUYS THE FISH AND PROFESSOR CARR BRINGS THE BOOKS
Did anyone read the “Lunch with Bob Carr” profile in last Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald? This piece was written by Michael Ruffles. For the record, the lunch was held at the District Brasserie at 2 Chifley Square, Sydney. Your man Carr chose the market fish for his main and approved of the writer’s choice of gnocchi. Isn’t that nice to know? He also declared that his favourite book is Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations and spoke about James Joyce’s Ulysses. Who knows, the learned Bob Carr may be the only person around who has waded through Ulysses from cover to cover. Along with Jackie’s (male) co-owner – who read the entire extract of “Ulysses” in Joelle Herr’s James Joyce: The Essential Works in One Sitting (Dunning Press, 2014). The whole of Herr’s tome runs for 208 very, very small pages – from small cover to small cover.
Apart from two pics of the lunch consumed by Messrs Carr and Ruffles, the only other photo (by Louie Douvis) is a portrait of the learned “professor” looking thoughtful, with his right arm on three – yes, three – books. Journalist Ruffles explains why in his first para:
Bob Carr is in professor mode. Tall and trim with focused eyes above the obligatory mask, he walks over with three books: two of them earmarked with passages underlined, a third for me. Pen and paper are close to hand, but for more than two hours it will be me taking notes as the journalist turned career politician ruminates on philosophy, history, literature and the varied attributes of today’s leaders.
As followers of The Thought of Bob Carr know only too well, Bob the Philosopher seems intent to avoid departing this mortal coil. You know, the call from the Angel of Death. This is how the Sermon from Chifley Square concluded:
I think death is a very bad concept. I don’t want to be told that our achievements live after us, I want to live forever. If Noah could live to be 900, and Abraham, that’s a fair thing. Just a few hundred extra years would see me out. Enjoying the colour, the conviviality and the culture, that’s how I put it. I don’t think it’s a big ask.
So, there you have it. Invited to have lunch by the SMH, the former NSW Labor premier turned up with three tomes (one of which he intended to give away) – and proceeded to quote “passages of great works in the books he brought”. How pompous can you get?
[I note that Bob Carr declared his intention to live to about 300 years of age. He will probably need to if he is to read all the books he cites. Just a thought. – MWD Editor.]
Media Watch Dog fave William (Bill) Thompson established the website “Outside Insiders” – in which he would attempt (sometimes successfully) to interview politicians and commentators (but not David Marr who was always in no-comment mode) 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 were done online. But he was back in action for the first episode in 2022. 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.
EVERYONE AGREES WITH EVERYONE ELSE ON ALMOST EVERYTHING ON INSIDERS (AGAIN)
Alas, on Sunday The Guardian/ABC Axis comprised a mere 50 per cent of the ABC Insiders team of six – represented on The Guardian side only by Michael Bowers hosting his “Talking Pictures” segment. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there was lotsa material in the panel discussion comprising presenter David Speers (ABC) plus Peter Hartcher (Nine’s Sydney Morning Herald and The Age), Patricia Karvelas (ABC) and Samantha Maiden (news.com.au).
As usual, Insiders’ executive producer Samuel Clark set the topics. First up was the Coalition’s decision to withdraw the Religious Discrimination Bill following the defection of five Liberal Party MPs in the House of Representatives.
Believe it or not, discussion went on and on and on for 20 minutes essentially discussing the previous Friday’s news. It was agreed by presenter and panellists alike that this was a Morrison government stuff up – Quelle Surprise! David Speers said so at the beginning of the segment. Peter Hartcher agreed. Then Patricia (“Please call me PK”) Karvelas concurred. Then Samantha Maiden went along with her three comrades. Whereupon David agreed with PK who agreed with Samantha who agreed with David who agreed with Peter who agreed with David who agreed with PK who agreed with Peter who agreed with himself – on virtually everything. No contrary view was heard. Ms Maiden was the only one to say something fresh in the whole 20 minutes.
The ”highlight” of this segment of the “Yes we have No Contrarians” panel turned on Peter Hartcher’s rant which went on for 1.45 minutes. The somewhat turgid and verbose Hartcher started off by accusing the Morrison government of “political incompetence”. He said that (i) the Coalition had “delivered the worst of both possible worlds” on the Religious Discrimination Bill, (ii) the Prime Minister “can’t control his party” and “can’t manage the parliament” and (iii) “the Morrison government is an incompetent government” [again], which “can’t deliver a promise”. And so on – and on.
Jackie’s (male) co-owner was nodding off towards the end of Hartcher’s sermon when the SMH/Age scribbler declared:
Peter Hartcher: Now, you know, his [the PM’s] senior lieutenants the best they’ve been able to say about this mess – and by the way, the recriminations that you were talking about a second ago are just another indicator of the defeatism that’s creeping into the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party [sic] – If you don’t, if you think you’re going to lose, you’ve got nothing, nothing to lose, you may as well engage in factional tit for tat.
It was quite an inarticulate ramble with unfinished sentences and the like. It would seem that the entire panel had nodded off by this stage – since no one seemed to notice that your man Hartcher had referred to the Labor Party when he meant the Liberal Party. Now anyone can make a verbal “typo” of this kind. The point is that neither Speersy, nor PK nor Samantha noticed and made a correction. ZZZzzzz.
By popular demand, Media Watch Dog has decided to critique soft interviews by journalists who interview the important and self-important alike. You know, the kind of fawning interview where journalists are oh-so-impressed with their interviewee that no challenging questions are asked and too much respect is shown.
WENTWORTH COURIER’S FREE KICK TO ALLEGRA SPENDER (AN ANTI-LIBERAL PARTY CANDIDATE)
Lotsa thanks to the Potts Point avid reader who drew attention to the 16 February 2022 edition of the Wentworth Courier. It contains a Page One photo of Allegra Spender – the so-called Independent candidate who is running in the May 2022 election with the intention of defeating the sitting Liberal Party candidate Dave Sharma in the well-heeled seat of Wentworth in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. The “Voices of” Independent candidates are only attempting to win Liberal Party seats – none are running against sitting Labor or Greens MPs. How independent is that?
The entire front cover of the Wentworth Courier is taken up with a profile shot of Allegra Spender looking to camera with her right hand supporting the right side of her face. It is a kind of contemporary update of Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker. Except that Ms Spender is wearing clothes and not sitting on a rock or even a hard place. Indeed the front page reads like a “Spender for Wentworth” flyer. It contains the following heading:
Alive and kicking: Allegra Spender reveals why she went doorknocking for the Liberals to taking them on in Wentworth.
This is fake news. For the story by Margaret Rice reveals that Ms Spender’s experience in door knocking took place when “as an eight-year old” she went “doorknocking for her dad”. Really. That was not far from half a century ago. But it implies that, in recent times, Spender wore out hugely expensive Chanel sandals trudging around the streets of Double Bay and Darling Point campaigning for, say, Scott Morrison.
The cover of the Wentworth Courier also contains this reference:
۰ Conservative heritage, progressive vision.
۰ What mum Carla Zampatti taught her about values.
How’s that for a (free) political advertisement? Turn to Pages 5 and 6. There is another pic of Allegra Spender (after a change of clothes) which extends from all of Page 5 into Page 6. Turn to Page 9 and there are pics of the candidate with her paternal grandparents and late mother. Then on Page 6 there is a pic of Ms Spender with campaign workers preparing (non-recyclable) corflutes for her campaign against the Liberal Party.
Margaret Rice’s profile commences on Page 5 with the heading “Blue blood, green cred”. She makes much of the fact that fashion designer the late Carla Zampatti is Allegra Spender’s mother. It’s pointed out that Ms Zampatti, a MWD fave, was a “migrant from Northern Italy”. Phew – at least she was not born to the hoi-polloi of southern Italy, including Sicily. So, thanks to Ms Spender for the intel.
Then Margaret Rice points out that “the other side” of Ms Spender’s family is “political blue blood”. Father John Spender was the Liberal MP for North Sydney from 1980 to 1990. Grandfather Percy Spender was the Independent and then Liberal Party MP for Warringah from 1937 to 1951. Sir Percy Spender was foreign minister in the Menzies Coalition government from December 1949 to March 1951. In fact, both Spenders’ “blue blood” was a product of the fact that they were lawyers who became Liberal Party politicians. That’s all folks.
According to Margaret Rice, the “X factor” in Allegra Spender’s candidacy is “her parentage”. For her part Ms Spender told Rice: “I was really a product of both parents.” Well, fancy that – as distinct from Coalition candidates, apparently, who must have been a product of just one parent.
Margaret Rice was mightily impressed that “a group of influential and well-heeled locals” chose Ms Spender as their candidate to contest Wentworth under the banner “Wentworth Independents”. For her part, Allegra Spender told Rice that the big issue in Australia is “greenhouse gas emissions”.
This overlooks the fact that if everyone lived a lifestyle like that of Ms Spender and her well-heeled mates in Sydney’s affluent Eastern Suburbs – including her multi-millionaire financial backers Lyndell and Daniel Droga – carbon dioxide emissions would go through the roof. And, indeed, the sky.
Apparently, overwhelmed by interviewing so rich a person with such an impressive parentage, Margaret Rice did not ask Allegra Spender the following questions:
۰ How do you propose to reduce your own substantial carbon footprint – when you tell the teeming masses that carbon dioxide emissions should be cut by 35 per cent by 2035?
۰ Will you support the building of wind-farms on Sydney Harbour which would spoil the water views from Point Piper – as a contribution to reducing energy produced by oil and gas? If not, what about filling fashionable McKell Park in Darling Point with wind-farms or perhaps solar panels?
۰ If you become the Independent member for Wentworth – and no party has a majority in the House of Representatives – will you guarantee confidence and supply to the Coalition or Labor?
۰ Do you think it is fair to parade the fact that your (paternal) grandparents and parents were well-off and influential? Have you considered that this form of wealth/influence flashing might make the less-well-off good people of Wentworth uncomfortable – if not inferior?
۰ If you care so much about the environment, why did you lease a petrol-guzzling Hyped Media truck from Melbourne (the billboard is powered either by electricity when stationary or by leaving the diesel-powered engine running) and arrange to have it travel the streets of Rose Bay and Point Piper carrying your portrait and belching emissions? How does this contribute to the cause portrayed on the truck, namely “A better climate for Wentworth”?
Alas, Fawn Again journalists do not ask critical questions – so MWD readers can only guess what Candidate Spender’s answers may have been.
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Until Next Time
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