GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 587
13 May 2022
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As avid readers are only too well aware, the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone without one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets. That’s why the taxpayer funded mornings programs are presented by left-of-centre types such as Patricia Karvelas (ABC Radio National Breakfast), Michael Rowland (ABC TV News Breakfast) and ABC Radio Melbourne 774 Mornings with Virginia Trioli.
The PK/Rowlie (as he likes to be called)/La Trioli soviet was in angry mode form this morning. Here’s why.
PK RECKONS THAT THE LIBERAL PARTY IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PLACEMENT OF NEWS STORIES IN NEWSPAPERS
Comrade Karvelas interviewed Social Security Minister Anne Ruston. In a bizarre twist, an angry PK asked why Katherine Deves, the Liberal Party candidate for Warringah, was “on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald”. This was a reference to an article by Latika Bourke titled “Tearful Deves defends right to speak her mind”.
Minister Ruston made the obvious point in reply – that this question could only be answered by the Sydney Morning Herald. PK repeated the question three times. Let’s go briefly to the transcript:
Anne Ruston: Well, as I said, whether – how the story has come onto the front page of the paper is the matter for the publication –
Patricia Karvelas: [interjecting] No, it’s not. It’s a matter for your Party. She is your endorsed candidate.
But Comrade Karvelas was not convinced – despite the fact that she worked at newspapers for many years.
MICHAEL ROWLAND SEEMS TO BELIEVE THAT THE BEHAVIOUR OF THE AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE IS A CAMPAIGN ISSUE
Anne Ruston was also interviewed by Michael Rowland on News Breakfast. He was upset about the fact that the Prime Minister’s security detail in Tasmania on 12 May prevented an obviously angry man from berating Scott Morrison about Australia’s relationship with Solomon Islands. Comrade Rowland put it to the Minister of Social Security that the police action was “overkill” – claiming the man “just wanted a civil conversation”.
Minister Ruston made the point that she was not present and that the PM’s security detail had a job to do in often very dangerous circumstances. But Michael Rowland was not convinced – claiming that Scott Morrison should engage more with random voters.
This overlooked the fact that the man who attempted to approach the Prime Minister presented not as a random voter but as an angry antagonist. Yet Comrade Rowland continued to bang on about the matter – apparently unaware that this is not an issue in the election campaign.
AN ANGRY LA TRIOLI PREDICTS (ONCE AGAIN) THE ELECTORAL ANNIHILATION OF LIBERAL MP KATIE ALLEN
Then, on ABC Melbourne, Virginia Trioli got angry with Katie Allen, the Liberal MP from Higgins. Dr Allen did well – especially since she was part of a panel of three, the other two being her Labor and Greens opponents.
La Trioli wanted the Liberal Party MP to distance herself from the PM. When this did not occur, Virginia Trioli threw the switch to hyperbole. Let’s go to the transcript:
Virginia Trioli: [Interjecting] Look, I understand it’s an uncomfortable question. But you’re facing electoral annihilation here. According to the polls, according to the crowd. [At the ABC outdoors broadcast].
Katie Allen: Well Virginia, you should come out to pre-poll and see the streams of Liberals that are supporting me.
Virginia Trioli: I’m sure, I’m sure that there are people voting for you. But you’re facing that – will it be because of Scott Morrison –
Katie Allen: Are you basing that on polling with 125 people in this seat?
Virginia Trioli: Will it be because of Scott Morrison if you lose your seat?
Katie Allen: This is what happened last time, actually. You actually, you said the same thing, that it was going to be political annihilation. That wasn’t the case. So polls are just that, they’re polls. They’re not what actually is on election day.
Virginia Trioli: So is this going to be 2019 again?
Katie Allen: Actually, I was interviewed on the ABC [in 2019] and I was told it was going to be a 20 per cent swing against us. Literally, they said that.
Who knows? Virginia Trioli may be correct and Katie Allen may suffer electoral annihilation on 21 May. However, as Jackie’s (male) co-owner is wont to assert – it’s unwise to make predictions, especially about the future.
MIKE CARLTON PUTS THE HYPE INTO HYPERBOLE
Lotsa thanks to the avid Newcastle reader who drew MWD’s attention to this tweet by Mike (“I’ll pour the Gin”) Carlton concerning the NSW Liberal Party.
Here it is:
Win, lose or draw, after the election the bloodletting in the NSW Liberals will rival the Night of the Long Knives, Berlin 1934.
— Mike Carlton (@MikeCarlton01) May 13, 2022
How about that? Your man Carlton, at around Lunchtime Drinks, reckons that a Liberal Party defeat on 21 May will lead to not only a gnashing of teeth but also mayhem and acts of murder on Sydney streets. In other words, the Röhm Purge of 1934 may become the Morrison Purge of 2022. What a load of absolute tosh. Can You Bear It?
MORRISON-HATER NIKI SAVVA’S ANONYMOUS SOURCES DISCREDITED
According to Media Watch Dog’s analysis, since Niki Savva commenced as a columnist for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald last year, she has used every column (except one) to bag Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Indeed, Ms Savva has become one of the leading Morrison-Haters in the land. To such an extent that you wonder whether she is hoping for a return of the Morrison government on 21 May. Look at it this way. If Scott Morrison is replaced by Anthony Albanese as prime minister, what would Niki Savva write about?
The Savva column on 12 May was more of the same. She lined up a truly brilliant array of (alas anonymous) sources to mount her case against the PM. Here they are – “senior Liberals”, “one Liberal”, “another Liberal”, “three NSW Liberal sources”, “local Liberals”, “one well-connected Liberal”, “one Liberal”, “a former [Liberal] MP”, “one source familiar with internal Liberal polling” and “one [Liberal] MP”. All that was missing was MWD’s fave anonymous source – ABC journalist Louise Milligan’s “the father-in-law of an ABC journalist”.
Comrade Savva’s “scoop” was that the campaign by Liberal Party social conservative Katherine Deves in the seat of Warringah “is now being run out of the Prime Minister’s Office with his chief political adviser, Yaron Finkelstein, playing a key role”.
This led to a couple of early morning tweets by Savva’s colleague at Nine newspapers James Massola. Here they are:
A spokesman for the prime minister rejected these claims as “completely false”. “The PMO (prime minister’s office) is not involved in Ms Deves’ campaign.” https://t.co/kpQrF7d80k
— James Massola (@jamesmassola) May 11, 2022
So there you have it. At 7.14 am Nine’s national affairs editor James Massola reported Savva’s Morrison/Deves/Finkelstein “scoop”. And one minute later he tweeted that Savva’s claim had been denied by the Prime Minister’s Office. Clearly Niki Savva is one of those journalists who believe what they want to believe and report their beliefs based on anonymous sources. Can You Bear It?
GOOD WEEKEND BELIEVES MICHAEL WILLIAMS & JO DYER THAT WRITERS’ FESTIVALS ARE NOT LEFTIST STACKS
Did anyone read the article by Susan Skelly in the Good Weekend magazine and published in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on 7 May? It was titled “When Words Are Not Enough”.
It was a story about writers’ festivals in Australia and focused on the Sydney Writers’ Festival and the Adelaide Writers’ Week – both the SWF’s artistic director Michael Williams and AWW’s Jo Dyer were interviewed by Comrade Skelly.
It would seem that Susan Skelly is one of those journalists who believe what they want to believe. For example, she quoted – without criticism – Michael Williams as saying this:
I’m not interested in sparks for the sake of sparks but we should not program everything to the middle of the road. Art, politics, culture, religion, science, all these topics are fraught. There’s grit, there’s passionate feelings, there’s disagreement. When you’re putting together a panel, you need to avoid an hour of furious agreement. You hope that the scaffolding is strong enough to withstand whatever headwinds hit.
What a load of self-delusional rubbish. Williams has been SWF’s artistic director for three years – 2020, 2021 and 2022. Each one has been a leftist stack. Consequently, on politics, culture and religion there has not been any significant disagreement – passionate or otherwise.
Jo Dyer was equally delusional. She told Good Weekend that the “real learnings” of writers’ festivals “lie in the conversations” and added:
Listening to those really meaty, solution-oriented policy conversations about what we should be doing is the true reward.
The fact is that the 2022 AWW was a (yet another) leftist stack. The only solution-orientated policy conversations came to essentially the same solutions. The true story about writers’ festivals in Australia is that they are invariably occasions where a bunch of comrades get their hands on bucket loads of taxpayers’ money and invite their leftist besties to a get together where everyone essentially agrees with everyone else in a leftist kind of way.
Alas, Comrade Skelly looked at writers’ festivals in some detail but missed this essential truth. Can You Bear It?
THE ABC’S JOHN LYONS – LIKES TO CRITICISE OTHERS BUT CANNOT TAKE CRITICISM.
While on the topic of writers’ festivals, there was one revealing comment in Susan Skelly’s Good Weekend article. She spoke to the journalist and author David Leser – who has chaired many panels at writers’ festivals, mainly the Byron Writers Festival.
David Leser gave an insight into what can happen on the rare occasion when a chair disagrees with a leftist author who is used to speaking in front of adoring writers’ festival audiences which are laden with critics of Israel. Let’s hear from David Leser:
I will always deeply regret the interview I did with John Lyons for his book, Balcony over Jerusalem. John and I had been colleagues and friends for 35 years. His book is a kind of polemic against the Occupation [of Palestine]. He knew how bitterly opposed to the Occupation I’ve always been. I decided to be provocative. I thought the interview required more than a “Let’s just agree on all of this”, but it went pear-shaped, and I blame myself for that. It hurt John, it hurt me. And it hurt our friendship, and I regret that.
Turn it up. John Lyons is the ABC’s head of investigative journalism. Balcony over Jerusalem: A Middle East Memoir written by John Lyons (with Sylvie Le Clezio) is essentially an anti-Israel polemic. The same can be said of his recent booklet Dateline Jerusalem: Journalism’s Toughest Assignment (Monash University Publishing, 2021).
According to David Leser, at the Byron Writers Festival in 2017, he challenged John Lyons’ views on Israel and the (so-called) Jewish Lobby in Australia. Comrade Lyons became mightily upset and got “hurt”.
Shucks. At the ABC, John Lyons has presided over numerous programs which have fanged individuals and organisations. Yet he got oh-so-upset when his views were challenged by David Leser. This appears to be yet another example of a journalist who likes to dish out criticism but cannot take criticism. Can You Bear It?
[No – not really, now that you ask. I’m pleased to say that Comrade Lyons’ piss-poor Dateline Jerusalem booklet was critically reviewed in the 15 October 2021 issue of Media Watch Dog – see here. MWD Editor.]
By popular demand, “Sandalista Watch” returns this week. This segment is devoted to what George Orwell had to say about left-wing sandal-wearers. In his 1937 book The Road to Wigan Pier, Orwell defended “the ordinary, decent person” against “the intellectual book-trained socialist”. He wrote that the latter: “… type is drawn, to begin with, entirely from the middle class, and from a rootless town-bred section of that middle class at that. … It includes … the foaming denouncers of the bourgeoisie, and the more-water-in-your-beer reformers of whom [George Bernard] Shaw is the prototype, and the astute young social-literary climbers … and all that dreary tribe of high-minded women and sandal-wearers and bearded fruit-juice drinkers who come flocking towards the smell of “progress” like bluebottles to a dead cat”.
JULIE SZEGO’S WOEFUL TIDINGS ABOUT HER INNER-CITY COMRADES (AKA INTELLECTUALS)
The Melbourne author and journalist Julie Szego is one of Media Watch Dog’s fave Age columnists. Sure she is a left-winger of sorts – but not a predictable one and sometimes provides fresh insights into the Comrades of inner-city Fitzroy North and other similar abodes in Melbourne. You know, Sandalista types who get their news from The Guardian/ABC Axis.
On 4 May (just three days after what the comrades at The Age Soviet like to call May Day) Comrade Szego wrote a column titled “`Slacker’ generation bowed down by the weight of recrimination”. Meaning that some fellow comrades are blaming others for their contemporary plight. Or something like that.
According to reports, Ms Szego graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1993. She told Age readers that her friends, who live in micro-communities, “exude a certain heaviness”. By “my friends” she includes herself.
So what is this “heaviness” of the mind all about? – MWD hears you cry. But, first up, let’s find out who Ms Szego’s besties are:
My friends with this prevailing heaviness qualify as “elites”, living in hipster suburbs, rich in cultural capital. Most are graduates of top schools and top universities. They mingle easily with like-minded elites from other countries….
My friends travelled a lot in their 20s, and 30s. They embarked on careers late. Late risers, some are too. As Generation X-ers, born between the mid-1960s to early 1980s, they’re yet to entirely disown the pop-culture branding as slackers.
My friends might still travel but not too frequently because such expeditions clean out their savings. Posh plays or concerts are also out because they have finely tuned weekly budgets. Buying chic clothes secondhand. Going out for drinks but not dinner. A dental check-up is classified a luxury, much like posh theatre.
My friends, and friends of friends, work fixed-term, short-term and casual jobs. As teachers, lecturers, tutors, writers, artists, musicians, lawyers, filmmakers, interpreters, facilitators, project managers, consultants, research assistants, shop assistants. A few have regular, permanent jobs with dignified salaries though these climb incrementally while the cost of necessities soar. Others chip away at PhDs. They won’t turn all the lights on at once because it’s a waste – of money, and yes, of energy.
Woeful tidings, to be sure. The Szego Fan Group comprises some of Australia’s best educated men and women in their late-30s to their mid-50s. Alas, in their 20s and 30s they travelled a lot and commenced their careers late. Oh yes – some did not much like getting up in the mornings.
Szego’s female friends are doing it especially tough. Some are caring for ageing parents. Others aged 60 and over are poor and single. Many are eco-catastrophists who see their “children’s future through climate change freak weather events”. Others worry about China, servicing mortgages, paying rent, nuclear war and so on.
Moreover, “most live with the cruel paradox that housing security will only be theirs once mum and dad are no more”. How about that? Szego’s comrades may arise from contemporary poverty due to the fact that their parents did not squander their money as young adults on unnecessary travel, late-rising and not commencing careers and have favoured them in their wills. Clearly this group of inner-city intellectuals does not favour death duties in this instance.
At the end of her woeful tidings, Comrade Szego writes of the sense of “regret” and maybe “an irrational sense of failure” that is afflicting her Sandalista Set. There is “fear” of the future “which has a way of turning into recrimination”.
How about that? The highly-educated sandal-wearing intelligentsia are commencing acts of recrimination concerning their current plight – despite the fact that many wasted their talents due to self-indulgence and laziness. And they believe that somehow the government is responsible for their plight.
As avid readers are well aware, a certain William (Bill) Thompson – who identifies as the ABC’s Southbank Correspondent – set up the “Outside Insiders” video segment some years ago. This is a print edition of the Bill Thompson initiative.
GABRIELLE CHAN OVERLOOKS THE FACT THAT ANTI-COALITION INDEPENDENTS INVARIABLY NEED LABOR AND GREENS’ PREFERENCES TO WIN
Wasn’t it great to see The Guardian/ABC Axis back in action on ABC TV’s Insiders on 8 May? The ABC’s David (“Please call me Speersy”) Speers was in the presenter’s chair and his panel comprised Waleed Aly (ABC & Nine), Gabrielle Chan (The Guardian Australia) and Andrew Probyn (ABC). As usual, the “Talking Pictures” segment was presented by Michael Bowers (The Guardian Australia), with Canberra Times cartoonist David Pope as his guest. This means that 5 out of 6 of the Insiders’ team belonged to The Guardian/ABC Axis. Well done.
Now The Guardian is an avowedly leftist newspaper. And the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone. Little wonder then, that there is so little disagreement on what was, as in previous weeks, a somewhat bland Insiders.
In the lead-up to the 2022 election, the ABC and Nine have been the media outlets pushing the cause of the Simon Holmes à Court Climate 200 Independents, who are running against Liberals and Nationals in relatively safe Coalition seats. The Labor Party does not face similar challenges.
Now Comrade Chan was one of the oh-so-many journalists who got the results of the 2019 election hopelessly wrong. Nevertheless, The Guardian’s rural and regional editor is brave enough to have another go at the prediction stakes in 2022.
Gabrielle Chan mentioned that the regional seats of Nicholls (Victoria), Cowper (NSW) and Groom (Queensland) could be lost to the Coalition and added:
Gabrielle Chan: I would just remind people, that the model that Independent Zali Steggall ran on [in 2019] came from Cathy McGowan –
David Speers: [interjecting] That’s right, in Indi.
Gabrielle Chan: – which was a regional seat.
David Speers: Yeah.
Gabrielle Chan: And I think the challenge for the Liberal Party is that these “Voices For” movements that have really got together community, um, people to, uh, choose a candidate are hard to beat. Because it gives you both a volunteer base –
David Speers: [interjecting] And some legitimacy.
Gabrielle Chan: – and a way into all of the families and all of the contacts in all of those regions, whether they’re big towns or small towns.
Well, that’s true. But neither Gabrielle Chan nor David Speers mentioned that if those who identify as Independents running against Coalition candidates are to win on 21 May – they are likely to do so due to the preferences of the Labor Party and, to a lesser extent, the Greens.
Cathy McGowan won Indi in 2013 with a primary vote of 31.18 per cent. Zali Stegall won Warringah in 2019 with a primary vote of 43.46 per cent. So clearly not “all of the families…in all of those regions” were enough for McGowan or Steggall to win seats on their own. They did so with a little help from Labor and the Greens. But you would never know this from watching Insiders and its bland discussions where, for the most part, virtually everyone agreed with everyone else. Yawn.
DR NORMAN SWAN MAINTAINS HIS GLOOMY OUTLOOK AND CHURNS OUT ANOTHER BOOK
Avid readers will have noticed that Dr Norman Swan, once a reliable source of copy, has been a relatively uncommon topic in MWD of late. The ABC’s COVID guru has been popping up less often on ABC TV and Radio as the pandemic is no longer the biggest news story in the country. The good doctor has even found time to visit Paris and Washington DC, with his trip being extended by a case of COVID while visiting the US.
It was a relief then to see your man Swan make an in-studio appearance on the Tuesday 10 May edition of ABC TV’s News Breakfast. Swan, who has built a reputation for always looking on the gloomy side of COVID, did not disappoint. Let’s go to the transcript:
Norman Swan: Basically, with these new variants, these sub-variants coming out we are just increasing our vulnerability. Lots of people are getting infected, West Australia the numbers are really getting big. And it’s flowing through to deaths, maybe a little bit of dip yesterday but the running average hasn’t changed. We were talking last week, the running average, daily average was 37 and I think it’s still about 37. Um, so a lot of people are dying, more than 5,000 this year, could end up being 13,000 in a year. A bad flu season is 1,500 so this is the worst year of the pandemic and nobody’s talking about it.
News Breakfast presenter Lisa Millar tried to push back on Norman’s cynical outlook but was greeted with yet more doomsaying:
Lisa Millar: Look I was just having a look on the Johns Hopkins [University] website that collates all of the global numbers. And I did think still, when we are looking at the number of cases to fatalities, that Australia is still tracking pretty low down percentage-wise. Within that group of sort of Western countries. So are we approaching it any differently to say the Japans or Germanys or UKs?
Norman Swan: We are benefiting from a high vaccination rate and that’s why we are getting low numbers, a low rate of deaths. But in absolute numbers are high. I mean these are jet crashes every week.
Australia has experienced a surge of COVID deaths since dropping lockdown restrictions and opening up our internal and external borders. The reason that COVID is not attracting the same media attention as it did earlier in the pandemic is that this surge in infections and deaths is not unexpected.
Australians endured lockdowns and border closures to delay the spread of COVID until a time when Australia had a high vaccination rate. It was plainly obvious that at some point when restrictions were loosened Australia would see a large increase in deaths compared to when COVID was virtually non-existent in Australia or being controlled through harsh lockdowns. It is therefore not surprising that the current situation is not being greeted with the wall-to-wall media coverage offered up during previous COVID outbreaks.
Due to the extreme measures taken to delay COVID in Australia, 2022 has seen more Australian COVID deaths than 2020 or 2021. But this is clearly the result of largely successful policies designed to delay uncontrolled spread of the virus in Australia. For comparison here is the yearly deaths per million for the US and Australia:
- 2020: 1051
- 2021: 1425
- 2022: 524
- 2020: 35
- 2021: 52
- 2022: 245
While the 2022 death numbers are unprecedented for Australia, they represent a successful policy to delay COVID until high levels of vaccination could be reached. Even with a population with far less acquired immunity from previous infections Australia has seen less than half as many per capita deaths as the US in 2022. Swan instead spins this as a disaster comparable to a jet plane full of passengers crashing every week.
It is strange to see Dr Swan complain that “nobody” is talking about COVID since he has repeatedly said he would welcome the end of his newfound COVID-related fame.
On 26 April 2021 he was quoted by The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff as saying:
I used to like the anonymity of Radio National, with 2 per cent of the national audience. You could creep around Woolies without anyone knowing who you are. You could cough without anyone tweeting about it.
And in a 23 May 2021 profile in The Sydney Morning Herald by Michael Koziol, Swan had this to say about his newfound fame:
The idea of a journalist being a celebrity is anathema, and very dangerous.
It is surprising then that Swan would be so put out about the lack of media attention on COVID, and as a result COVID gurus. Surely Swan, who appeared on six seasons of The Biggest Loser, should welcome a decline in his celebrity status?
On a totally unrelated note, on Thursday May 12 Hachette Books announced it will be publishing a second book by Dr Swan. This one with the somewhat confusing title So You Want to Live Younger Longer? Much like his previous book So You Think You Know What’s Good For You? the cover of this new tome claims that it is “The ultimate guide to longevity from Australia’s most trusted doctor”.
In pre-pandemic times Dr Swan never found the time to write a book and yet, while serving as the ABC’s COVID guru, he has managed to churn out two in as many years.
[I note that, once again, Comrade Swan is referred to as “Australia’s most trusted doctor” – despite the fact that he is a medical journalist who has not practised medicine for around four decades”. – MWD Editor.]
As avid readers will recall, Jackie’s (male co-owner) has always been a fan of British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-90) since he read Muggeridge’s 1940 book The Thirties. Writing in the New Statesman on 11 February 1956, Saint Mug (as he sometimes was called in later life) had this to say about the British Conservative parliamentarian Sir Anthony Eden: “He is a Disraeli hero who has moved into a service flat, or perhaps a deep shelter; a Bertie Wooster who has turned from the Drones Club to Toynbee Hall. As has been truly said, he is not only a bore, but he bores for England.” This segment is devoted to those who – as citizens, residents or visitors – bore for Australia.
COMRADES FRAN KELLY, PK, KAREN MIDDLETON AND AMY REMEIKIS TALK AT LENGTH ON THE ABC’s PARTY ROOM PODCAST BUT SAY VERY LITTLE THAT IS FRESH
It’s difficult to imagine a more boring occasion than when a soviet of left-of-centre journalists get together and perform before an audience of leftists while discussing Australian national politics.
It was fortunate, then, that Jackie’s male co-owner could not make it to the Canberra Theatre on 3 May to watch the ABCs’ Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly discuss the May 2022 election with the ABC’s Patricia (“Call me PK”) Karvelas before an adoring audience of Green/Left types.
It was a special live recording of the ABC podcast The Party Room. With the exception that the Kelly/Karvelas duo also invited two left-of-centre journalists to join them. Namely, Karen Middleton of The [Boring] Saturday Paper and Amy Remeikis from the avowedly leftist The Guardian Australia. A quartet of leftists to be sure.
It was a kind of ABC TV Insiders program – without presenter David Speers and “the couch”. Needless to say, all four comrades appear on Insiders’ couch – which is a Sunday morning manifestation of the ABC as a Conservative Free Zone.
The Party Room performance at the Canberra Theatre was a bit like a Year 12 occasion in the School Hall as the audience cheered the performers and laughed loudly at their (somewhat poor) jokes. A kind of revival meeting for sneering secularist sandal-wearers.
The audience thought it was frightfully funny when PK and Comrade Kelly attempted to make a joke out of “the Canberra Bubble” – a term used by Prime Minister Scott Morrison with reference to the Canberra Press Gallery.
Let’s go to the transcript:
Patricia Karvelas: But unfortunately, the Bubble’s burst, Fran.
Fran Kelly: What?
Patricia Karvelas: The bubble burst.
Fran Kelly: What do you mean?
Patricia Karvelas: The bubble burst.
Fran Kelly: Whose bubble?
Patricia Karvelas: Scott Morrison’s bubble.
Fran Kelly: Ah. Boom, boom.
Patricia Karvelas: Yep. I rehearsed that in our meeting, and she said, “It’s not funny PK”. [audience laughing] And I said, “It’s as funny as we can get.”
Yup. A Boom, Boom occasion – no doubt about it.
From the start, the ABC Comrades Kelly and PK demonstrated that, at a similar function three years ago, they had got the outcome of the May 2019 election hopelessly wrong. But it was not the fault of either comrade, you see. They both blamed the opinion polls again. Implying, as they did, that the role of ABC journalists is to slavishly follow other people’s polling.
The function ran for close to 80 minutes. It was one of those oh-so-familiar ABC “debates” where Fran agreed with PK who agreed with Karen who agreed with Amy (those two comrades entered the discussion after some time) who agreed with PK who agreed with Karen who agreed with Amy who agreed with Fran who agreed with herself. Yawn.
Overall, it was a crushingly dull occasion. Considering that those attending and listening to the event follow national politics on the ABC and read The Guardian Australia and The Saturday Paper – there was nothing new from them.
A highlight occurred when Comrades Middleton and Remeikis joined the panel after the Kelly/PK introduction, they were quizzed about the price of an extra-large sourdough bread from a Canberra bakery. The answer is $13.90. How about that? Need-to-know information inside the Canberra Bubble.
Comrade Kelly told the audience that the anti-Liberal Teal Independents are running, as it happens, in Liberal seats. Who would have known this? Comrade Remeikis said it was not important that the Teal Independents were funded by multi-millionaire Simon Holmes à Court. This was accepted. However, the audience cheered when Comrades Middleton and Remeikis declared that the funding of major parties should be scrutinised. PK asked the Dorothy Dixer as to whether the Teal Set were “fake” independents. Comrade Remeikis said “No”. Case closed.
And so it went on and on and on. Until, toward the end, when PK again confessed that she was “publicly humiliated” by getting the 2019 election result “outrageously wrong”. It was a bit like a public confession. Comrades Amy and Karen declined to make a prediction about the 2022 election. Then there were some leading questions from the audience. Then everyone went home. ZZZzzzzzzzz.
Due to enormous public demand the next few editions of Media Watch Dog will comment on some highlights of the 2022 election campaign with an emphasis on MWD’s faves.
NINE NEWSPAPERS’ COMRADES SCORE ALBANESE WITH A STUNNING WIN IN NINE’S “THE GREAT DEBATE”
There was general agreement that both Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese performed well at the Network Nine’s 60 Minutes 2022 election leaders’ debate. So much so that the official result was a draw.
But not at the left-of-centre Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. The online edition of both papers on 8 May ran an article titled “Who won the debate and why? Our experts deliver their verdicts”.
The “experts” were Shane Wright (senior economics correspondent), Rachel Clun (economics correspondent), Dana Daniel (federal health reporter), Anthony Galloway (foreign affairs and national security correspondent), Chip Le Grand (The Age’s chief reporter) and Jacqueline Maley (columnist).
And the score was:
Albanese Win – 5 (Comrades Wright, Maley, Daniel, Galloway and Le Grand)
Draw – 1 (Clun)
Morrison Win: Zip
Nine TV arm’s unscientific poll of viewers put it as a draw. However, Nine Age and Sydney Morning Herald’s unscientific poll of journalists put it as a huge Albanese victory.
Which says something about the politics of Nine Newspaper’s political and economic journalists.
JANE CARO – LOOKING FOR VOTES FROM TRUCULENT TURDS
Writing in Crikey on 10 May, MWD’s fave Marxist comedian Guy Rundle reported on Jane Caro’s campaign to win a Senate seat in NSW. Comrade Caro – who famously bagged Australians who voted for the Coalition in 2019 as “truculent turds” – is running for the Reason Party which used to be called the Australian Sex Party. The Reason for dropping Sex is not known.
Comrade Rundle reported that Comrade Caro had taken a group of fellow comrades – mainly relatives and personal friends – to Sydney’s Hyde Park where they joined the march to NSW State Parliament House which was organised by the NSW Teachers Federation. The teachers wore red T-shirts. The Reason Party wore purity white. But the Reds prevailed over the Whites in numbers. [Sounds a bit like the guernseys worn in the Russian Civil War. – MWD Editor.]
Comrade Rundle described the Caro Cohort as “suburban warlords with a T-shirt army, ranging over the leafy hills”. Jane Caro told Crikey’s correspondent-at-large: “We’ve got John Bell doing a TV ad for us.” Wow. If she is to become Senator Caro, your man Bell’s advertisement will need to appeal to lotsa “truculent turds”. After all, each truculent turd has as many votes as Comrade Caro.
THE LEADERS’ DEBATES ASSESSED
Sky News’ election Leaders’ Debate which took place on Wednesday 20 April was a considerable success. It combined questions from the audience with exchanges between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition leader Anthony Albanese. And presenter Kieran Gilbert did not attempt to dominate the occasion.
Nine’s “The Great Debate”, which aired on 60 Minutes on 8 May, has been much criticised by some journalists. For example, The Guardian’s Katharine (“Malcolm calls me Murpharoo”) Murphy declared it was an “absolute sh_t blizzard and the Jerry Springer of (alleged) election debates”. Somewhat hyperbolic to be sure – but very Murpharoo.
Sure, Nine’s presenter Sarah Abo did not prevent the leaders arguing with and interrupting each other – while breaking the agreed rules for the debate. But at least the exchange provided viewers with an insight into both men. And the journalist panel of three – David Crowe, Deborah Knight and Chris Uhlmann – asked brief, pertinent questions, especially Knight and Uhlmann.
At least the Nine Show was lively. Unlike Network Seven’s The Final Showdown on Wednesday 11 May. This was a dull affair which consisted of Canberra-based journalist Mark Riley asking questions of – and directing comments at – the two leaders. In other words, your man Riley was doing what Canberra journalists do.
Media Watch Dog’s position is that Morrison and Albanese interrupting each other makes for more interesting television than Riley interrupting them. In fact, on Wednesday 11 May, Riley interrupted Morrison and Albanese twice as often as they interrupted each other. And Riley interrupted the Prime Minister twice as often as he interrupted the Opposition Leader.
Mark Riley also acted in an unprofessional manner toward the PM when he made this intervention:
Mark Riley: Alright, prime minister, thank you. You are smashing out those Talking Points [Albanese scoffs]. I tell you something. Uh, Mr Albanese, uh, what are you going to do to ensure that families can make ends meet? That’s the basic requirement.
Whatever Scott Morrison’s strengths and weaknesses as a debater, he does not need Talking Points. On the contrary, the PM has a great grasp of detail. This was just a put-down by Riley to which Scott Morrison could not respond. It was an unfair and misleading intervention in the debate. For the record, neither the Prime Minister nor the Opposition Leader had written notes during the debate.
After The Final Showdown debate – which also featured The West Australian’s Lanai Scarr asking questions – Mark Riley threw to what Seven described as The Pub Test. It had gathered a number of (mainly Anglo-Celtic middle-aged) self-declared undecided viewers to watch the debate from pubs in various marginal seats throughout Australia and pick the winner.
This is what occurred when Seven journalist Mylee Hogan spoke to a woman at the pub in the electoral division of Macquarie in Sydney:
Mylee Hogan: And this is Susan, here. Susan, I saw you sitting up very straight when they were talking about the bushfires and the floods. What did you think about those responses?
Susan: Well, you know, at the end of the day, it’s Scotty from Marketing and a real man. And I’d rather go for Albo, who spoke from the heart. Scotty’s still a marketeer.
Mylee Hogan: So, what made you change your mind, or make your decision? Because you did come in here and you weren’t sure who you were gonna pick.
Susan: Well, the way they presented themselves tonight. As I say, Scotty is just – uh, and if you watch it through again, you’ll see that he dodged questions. Uh, I think on a rewatch. Albo didn’t dodge anything.
Mylee Hogan: Alright, well, thank you so much Susan.
So there you have it. Talk about Talking Points. Susan ran the Labor/Greens line about Scott Morrison being “Scotty from Marketing” and she praised Anthony Albanese as a “real man”.
To present Susan as an undecided voter seems like, well, Fake News. The same can be said about Hasluck Man who was interviewed in a pub in Perth. More Fake News.
Mark Riley indicated before The Final Showdown that it would be better than the 60 Minutes effort. Not so. There was too much Riley – and too much boredom.
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.
SPEAKING IN (MOTHER) TONGUES – THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD’S KATH WILSON “UNSPOOLS” MOTHERTONGUES
Thanks to the avid reader who drew Media Watch Dog’s attention to Katherine (“Call me Kath”) Wilson’s review of the book Mothertongues which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 26 April 2022. Mothertongues is written by Ceridwen Dovey and Eliza Bell and published by Hamish Hamilton.
Jackie’s (male) co-owner has not read Mothertongues. However, having absorbed the review by Kath Wilson, it is unlikely that he will do so anytime soon. Her review contains references to “text exchanges between AI assistants Siri and Alexa” plus “fragments of memoir narrated by a character named Odysseia”.
There are comments about a Renaissance book written by an unnamed author along with Virginia Woolf (a goodie) and Samuel Beckett (a baddie). Kath Wilson also says this about Mothertongues:
There are small moments that unspool into glistening disquisitions on maternal and creative life, from classical antiquity to modernity. …It’s digressive arcs and unresolved moments may seem wildly undisciplined, but they make instinctive sense to those who have oriented the heuristic crabwalk that is motherhood, womanhood and artistic struggle.
As for what it’s worth – here is MWD’s offering:
By Flann O’Brien
of Ezra Pound
My grasp of what he wrote and 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:
By Jackie (Dip Wellness, The Gunnedah Institute)
of Kath Wilson
My grasp of what she wrote and meant
Was only four or five per cent
Unspool Beckett! Maintain the Wrath!
The reference is to Comrade Kath
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Until next time.
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