GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 610
21 October 2022
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Can You Bear It? – MWD’s campaign for The Guardian wage justice gains momentum; Patrick Carlyon goes soft on Victoria Police Commissioner Shane Patton; Nick O’Malley looks at Europe and sees the end of fossil fuels; Rowan Dean laments the election of Labor after advocating for conservatives to abandon the Coalition
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- TIM MINCHIN’S AMBIVALENT POSITION ON FOSSIL FUELS AND CORPORATE FUNDING FOR THE ARTS AND SPORT
Did anyone hear Tim Minchin (musician, comedian, actor, writer and composer) interviewed by Patricia (“Please call me PK) Karvelas on ABC Radio National Breakfast this morning? Media Watch Dog will cover this interview in more detail next time. In the meantime, it’s worth noting that Comrade Minchin seems to be in a Saint Augustine position – as in Lord make me pure of fossil fuels, but not quite yet.
It appears that your man Minchin in principle opposes grants by Chevron and Santos and Woodside Energy to various artistic and sporting endeavors, but he’s not quite sure when this should come into effect. In the meantime, it would appear that Comrade Minchin will continue with his giant environmental footprint on this land as he continues to produce fossil fuel powered musical, film and theatre productions and to make lotsa use of microphones and electrical instruments as he flies around the world in carbon dioxide emitting airplanes.
- SPEERSY RUNS LABOR LINES ON SUNDAY MORNINGS
It is a truth universally known (to borrow a phrase from the late Miss Austen) that Coalition politicians interviewed by David (“Call me Speersy”) Speers on ABC TV Insiders are more frequently interrupted than Labor politicians. Any taxpayer subsidised fact-checker reading this can compare Speersy’s recent interviews with Treasurer Jim Chalmers (26 June) and Finance Minister Katy Gallagher (29 May) with recent interviews with Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor. Mr Chalmers and Senator Gallagher received soft interviews.
It was Angus Taylor’s turn last Sunday – he was interrupted once every minute. As avid Media Watch Dog readers are aware, recently on ABC Radio Melbourne, presenter Virginia Trioli pulled Comrades Speers’ name out of the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s hat when asked to name a prominent conservative within the ABC.
Certainly, your man Speers does not present as a political conservative on ABC TV. Interviewing Angus Taylor on Sunday, Speers initially ran the Labor Party’s line on the economy. Now, it’s perfectly understandable why Labor wants to attack the Coalition on economic matters. But ABC presenters are expected to be balanced.
On Sunday, Speers attempted to force Angus Taylor into stating that the Coalition government had performed poorly and had left a decade long structural deficit (Speers made no reference to the fact that Labor had supported the Covid-19 spending). Speers also attempted to compare the Coalition’s (modest) proposed spending on carparks and regional grants with Labor’s massive promise to spend $2.2 billion on the outer suburban rail loop in Melbourne. Speers also opposed the Coalition’s legislated Stage 3 tax cuts and incorrectly declared that Taylor’s claim about the projected inflation rate in 2024, when the tax cuts are scheduled to take effect, was false.
Then, the Insiders presenter verballed Taylor by stating: “You’re happy for the gas companies to keep charging whatever they want.” Speers also asked Taylor whether he knew how much tax gas companies are currently paying – in spite of the fact that this information is not currently available.
And so it went on. If all these matters had been fired at Angus Taylor by Jim Chalmers in a debate, this would have been understandable. But David Speers is not paid to act as a Labor operative on a Sunday morning.
- A VIEW OF THE GEORGE PELL MEDIA PILE-ON IN VICTORIAN BAR NEWS
Issue 171 of Victorian Bar News is hot off the presses. It contains a prominently placed letter by Melbourne barrister Philip B. Hayes titled “J’Accuse: The Dreyfus Affair and the Pell and Chamberlain Trials”. This is a substantial critique by a prominent member of the Victorian legal community of the entire process engaged in by the Victorian legal system with respect to the handling of Cardinal George Pell’s case. As is well known, Pell’s convictions for historical child sexual abuse were quashed by an unanimous decision of the High Court of Australia.
Philip Hayes, whose practice includes criminal law, is particularly critical of the media’s handling of the Pell Case – especially that of ABC reporter Louise Milligan. He points to Ms Milligan’s admission, in May 2017, that her book Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell (MUP, 2017) was written from the complainants’ point of view. This made Cardinal a work of advocacy from an activist journalist – rather than a product of fair and balanced reporting. Mr Hayes is also critical of Victoria Police, the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions and the majority judges in the Victorian Court of Appeal who presided over the Pell Case and whose judgement was demolished by all seven High Court judges.
- ABC TV NEWS BREAKFAST “NEWSPAPERS” SEGMENT FAILS TO COVER PAGE ONE
It was 4.30 am last Friday morning when Jackie’s (male) co-owner heard today’s newspapers land on Jackie’s kennel. They were read by 6.45 am. So, it was a surprise to hear the following exchange between Ebony Bennett (the deputy director of the leftist Australia Institute) and ABC TV’s News Breakfast co-presenters Lisa Millar and Madeleine Morris (aka Mads) at around 7.45 am on the very same morning. Here’s how the “Newspapers” segment commenced:
Lisa Millar: Good morning, Ebony.
Ebony Bennett: Thanks for having me.
Lisa Millar: Yeah. Hey, Mads and I – having both been reporters in the UK over the years – have been utterly fascinated by this story. And we’re kicking off with the front page of The West Australian, who would have had time to get it on the front page.
Ebony Bennett: That’s right, they put their paper to bed a little bit later than the rest of the country. And so another one bites the Truss [sic]. Liz Truss, the UK Prime Minister, forced to resign after just 44 days in office….
So, according to News Breakfast, you had to go to The West Australian on Friday morning to get news in a print edition of a newspaper about Prime Minister Liz Truss’ decision to resign. Not so – as a glance at the front page of Friday’s Australian indicates. It carries a story by Jacquelin Magnay titled “British leader quits after 44 days”. There was a more detailed report on Page 9. How did MWD find this out? – it’s because Jackie’s (male) co-owner read Friday’s newspapers. That’s how. Can You Bear It?
[If Hendo hadn’t been cancelled by the ABC, I reckon he could do the “Newspapers” gig – since it only requires reading newspapers. – MWD Editor.]
- BOREDOM RELIEVED – AS DR GARNAUT FLASHES HIS BOOK ON Q&A
It was one of those typical ABC TV Q+A occasions last Thursday night – notable for its lack of debate. Take Australia’s carbon emissions, for example. Chris Bowen, the Minister for Energy and Climate Change, vigorously defended the Albanese government’s decision to reduce Australia’s carbon emissions by 43 per cent by 2030. Economist and former Labor adviser Ross Garnaut indicated that he would prefer a higher target but thought 43 per cent was satisfactory.
Varsha Yajman, an organiser for the School Strike for Climate, attacked the 43 per cent target as being hopelessly low. Comrade Yajman received wide applause throughout the night from the Melbourne audience which presented as a leftist stack. The other panellists Yun Jiang and Anthony Tran were not heavily involved in this part of Q+A. Meanwhile, presenter Stan Grant appeared to line up with the Garnaut approach.
No view querying whether Australia can realistically meet the Albanese government’s target by 2030 was heard. The only dissent to Minister Bowen’s position came from a Green Left perspective.
From Media Watch Dog’s perspective, the highlight of the evening occurred when Dr Garnaut (for a doctor he is) thought that Q+A was a you-beaut occasion to flog his book The Superpower Transformation published by Morry Schwartz’s Black Inc Books. Let’s go to the transcript:
Ross Garnaut: I’m all for us as a renewable energy superpower and –
Stan Grant: [laughing]
Ross Garnaut: I’ve just written a book about it. And, uh, if we do that –
Stan Grant: You’re allowed – you’re allowed one plug, Ross. [audience laughing] It is the ABC.
Ross Ganaut Flogs His Book on Q&A
Enough said. Which raises the question, Can You Bear It?
- MWD’s CAMPAIGN IN SUPPORT OF AMY REMEIKIS AND OTHER GUARDIAN WAGE-SLAVES GAINS SUPPORT
Could it be that Media Watch Dog’s campaign to achieve salary justice for the wage slaves at The Guardian Australia is gaining support? It would seem so.
As avid readers are aware, MWD fave Amy Remeikis (The Guardian Australia’s political reporter) told the ABC TV Insiders program on 16 June this year that she could never ask her boss for a 5 per cent wage increase. Not long after, Comrade Remeikis tweeted about the fact that her rent had been put up. Rent increases hit the lowly paid very hard.
It was this that led Jackie’s (male) co-owner to campaign for wage justice for The Guardian wage slaves. Look at it this way. The Guardian was founded in 1907 in Manchester as a socialist newspaper and has remained a voice of left opinion ever since. So much so that the term “a Guardian reader” is used in Britain to refer to a person of strong leftist views.
The Guardian Australia – editor Lenore Taylor, political editor Katharine Murphy – is an online newspaper of avowed left-wing opinion. However, it has a reputation for paying its journalists and freelancers poorly.
MWD first took up this campaign in September 2022 – the good news is that the cause appears to be gaining momentum. Nine’s “CBD” column in The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald (which is invariably about anything but the Central Business District in Melbourne or Sydney) appears to have taken up the cause.
On 4 October, “CBD” journalists Kishor Napier-Raman and Noel Towell referred to the newspaper presided over by Comrades Taylor and Murphy as “the notoriously stingy publication”. Later, on 13 October, the “CBD” duo referred to The Guardian’s “underpaid staff” and even suggested that The Guardian’s freelancers could be “unpaid”. Really. On 17 October “CBD” published a correction stating that The Guardian had advised that all freelancers are paid. But The Guardian apparently did not contest the view that it was notoriously stingy when it came to paying journalists and freelancers.
So there you have it. Comrades Taylor and Murpharoo (as she likes to be called) are invariably banging on in support of the cause of wage justice. But it appears that they employ journalists who – in Karl Marx’s terminology – are best described as wage-slaves. Can You Bear It?
- PATRICK CARLYON’S (SOFT) INTERVIEW OF VICTORIA POLICE COMMISSIONER SHANE PATTON
Did anyone read the oh-so-soft profile of Victoria Police Commissioner Shane Patton in the “Life Style” section of the Herald Sun on Saturday 8 October? Written by Patrick Carlyon, it was titled “While Victoria’s Covid period was ‘tricky’, police chief Shane Patton says he has the best job in the world”.
The profile was illustrated by no fewer than five pics by David Caird of VicPol’s police commissioner in various poses – (i) in the midst of pedestrians, (ii) posing in front of the Melbourne CBD skyline, (iii) standing in front of a police car, (iv) in civvies, mug in hand, sitting on a park bench and (v) hand-on-hips in the middle of an almost traffic-free Swanston/Flinders Street intersection. Oh yes, there was also a photograph by Ian Currie in a deserted children’s playground which had been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Such closures were enforced by VicPol.
Shane Patton commenced as Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police on 27 June 2020 – succeeding Graham Ashton who retired early. He took over in the wake of the failure of Victoria Police – along with other Victorian government institutions – to properly supervise hotel quarantine at the peak of the pandemic. No individual or organisation took responsibility for the decisions that led to this failure. Patton was the deputy commissioner at the time of the COVID-19 outbreak.
In his role as Deputy Commissioner of Victoria Police, Shane Patton led the team which interviewed Cardinal George Pell in Rome on 19 October 2016. Pell was subsequently charged on 26 counts of historical child sexual abuse. All of the charges levelled by Commissioner Patton were either (i) dropped by Victoria Police or the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions, (ii) ruled out by the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria, (iii) discontinued following a decision as to admissibility of evidence in the District Court of Victoria or (iv) quashed by a Seven-Zip decision by the High Court of Australia. A woeful performance by Victoria Police – to which the intrepid reporter Carlyon made no reference in his profile. A critique of VicPol’s handling of the Pell Case can be found in Gerard Henderson’s Cardinal Pell, The Media Pile-On & Collective Guilt (Connor Court, 2021).
And then there is the fact that Victoria Police did not investigate one of the matters on which Pell was charged and convicted – before the conviction was quashed by the High Court in emphatic terms. VicPol acknowledged that no investigation took place in evidence it presented to the Magistrates’ Court. Also, Pell was not even interviewed by VicPol with respect to this charge – its investigation was as unprofessional as that.
Commissioner Patton told the Herald Sun that he was “bruised” by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant restrictions in which Melbourne became the most locked-down city in the world at the time. Sure, VicPol acted in accordance with the directions of the Victorian government – but, on occasions, it did so with an unnecessary zeal and unprofessional brutality.
In his Herald Sun interview, Commissioner Patton made no reference to the anti-lockdown demonstrators who were “bruised” when Victoria Police fired rubber-bullets into crowds – or who were the recipients of VicPol’s capsicum spray. Also, Patton would not concede, when interviewed by Carlyon, that VicPol had erred in arresting and handcuffing a pregnant young woman who had merely referred to a demonstration on her Facebook page. These charges were later dropped without apology or explanation.
This is the only concession that Patton made – as reported by the Herald Sun:
There’s no doubt that in some circumstances some of the infringements that we [VicPol] gave out shouldn’t have gone ahead. [But] we are applying hindsight and it’s a wonderful thing and we have to contextualise what the circumstances were at that time.
I mean no one wants to be seen as just the person who’s got the big stick … I get that that was a lot of the persona that I displayed at the time … but it was important that people understood that there were consequences.
Is it something that I necessarily want[ed] to do? I don’t think any police officer joined up to be doing those actions. …If I had the wisdom of hindsight [at the time] I’d be a much better chief commissioner and a much richer man as well.
It’s not all that clear what the Victorian Commissioner for Police was on about with the remark about being a much richer man if VicPol had not issued some infringement notices during the pandemic – and Patrick Carlyon didn’t ask what he meant. Talk about a soft interview. More importantly, Can You Bear It?
- NICK O’MALLEY REACHES A CONCLUSION CONTRARY TO HIS OWN REPORT ON EUROPE’S ENERGY CRISIS
Did anyone read Nick O’Malley – Nine’s national environment and climate editor – in the Sydney Morning Herald on 15 October? Titled “Putin’s climate cloud will hasten green energy drive”, the eco-catastrophist O’Malley discussed the energy crisis currently afflicting Europe as the winter approaches. He started off well enough, declaring:
Across Europe, demand for the world’s oldest energy source, wood, is soaring and there are reports of hoarding and theft. “Firewood is the new gold,” a German man told the Washington Post. While waste and wood will keep some households warm, they will not sustain energy grids or industry. To do that, Europe, which has long led the world in efforts to tackle climate change, is turning back to energy sources that are rapidly warming the earth – coal and gas. In many cases, they are stripping away environmental regulations in their haste to do so.
Comrade O’Malley went on to report that Germany – where the Greens are part of the government – has passed a law to develop LNG infrastructure and is expanding its mining of coal.
That all sounds pretty grim – and properly so. Many European nations – led by Germany – consciously closed down fossil fuel plants and became increasingly dependent on Russian energy exports, particularly gas. Germany also decided to close its nuclear power plants. And now Germans are headed for a very cold winter. The evidence is cited by O’Malley in the first half of his article.
However, rather than follow the evidence to a conclusion – namely that Europe cannot rely on Russian gas or its recent embrace of renewables to provide supply of regular and affordable energy – your man O’Malley merely referred to a future time “when and if” energy prices drop. He then alleged that this would lead to the “high speed destruction of fossil fuels” and concluded:
This winter will be grim for millions in Europe and the next may be just as hard, but Putin’s weaponisation of energy will serve only to bury fossils faster.
Talk about wish fulfilment. Currently Germans are collecting firewood since they cannot rely on renewable energy to warm their homes. But Comrade O’Malley reckons that Vladimir Putin’s weaponisation of Russian energy “will serve only to bury fossils faster”.
An oh-so-confident prediction – based on such certainties as “when” and “if”. Can You Bear It?
- ROWAN DEAN RAILS AGAINST THE (ALLEGED) UNSUITABILITY OF LABOR TO GOVERN – WHILE IGNORING HIS PRE-ELECTION (ALMOST) BI-PARTISANSHIP
There was enormous interest in MWD’s previous issue where it was revealed that The Spectator Australia duo – Alexandra Marshall and James Macpherson – compared contemporary Australia, under Coalition and Labor governments, with contemporary China under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party. They came to the conclusion that Australia is just as totalitarian as communist China, if not more so. Really. All this took place on Sky News’ The World According To Rowan Dean on 11 October.
Lotsa thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to your man Dean’s I-was-right comment on his very own program on 13 October. Let’s go to the transcript where discussion turned on a decision by the Albanese Labor government’s Foreign Minister, Senator Penny Wong, to overturn the previous (Coalition) government’s decision to withdraw funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). The Morrison government withdrew financial support for UNRWA because it was of the view that money intended for UNRWA clients was finding its way to Islamic terrorist organisations intent on destroying Israel.
Rowan Dean: I have warned time and time again that modern Labor parties are no friend of Israel…. This Albanese Labor Government is a radical, hard left government that is implementing all its favourite programs with lightning speed, and nobody is doing anything about it.
After some time, Rowan Dean went on to also bag a favourite target – namely the modern Liberal Party.
Rowan Dean: …where is Peter Dutton? Not a word, not a peep out of the Opposition that I have heard on this matter. Peter Dutton was a member of the cabinet that took the correct and the only morally justifiable decision to cancel that aid [to UNRWA] originally. And yet total silence while that policy is reversed. Not good enough, I’m afraid. As for Labor and Penny Wong, they should hang their heads in perpetual shame.
So there you have it. The Coalition is bad but Labor is infinitely worse – according to The World According to Rowan Dean. But hang on a minute. Wasn’t this the very same Rowan Dean who had this to say in The Spectator Australia on 20 November 2021 in the lead-up to the May 2022 election in which Anthony Albanese led Labor to victory over the Coalition?
Rowan Dean: Clearly, a Labor/Greens victory would be an unmitigated disaster for this country. But almost as detrimental would be to reward the increasingly left-leaning Liberal National government with a strong majority, which would merely encourage and entrench betrayal and cowardice. There are many strong conservative candidates currently in different parties. Many of their agendas are very similar. What this country needs now more than ever is for these disparate right-of-centre parties and individuals to work together to hold the balance of power after the next election. A glorious coalition of conservatives without which the future looks bleak indeed.
This was never going to happen – and it didn’t. Neither One Nation, nor Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party, nor the Liberal Democrats won a seat in the House of Representatives and Labor achieved a majority in its own right. Rowan Dean’s contribution to the campaign was to join the pile-on against the Morrison government which contributed to its substantial defeat.
And now the very same Rowan Dean is declaring that he warned Australians about the consequences if they elected a Labor government. Can You Bear It?
ABC MANAGEMENT IN NO-COMMENT MODE ABOUT THE ABC’s RELATIONSHIP WITH ACON
ABC TV Media Watch (presenter Paul Barry, executive producer Timothy Latham) has been praised – deservedly – for the program which aired on Monday 17 October. The lead segment, titled “ACON & the ABC”, dealt with the interaction between the taxpayer funded public broadcaster and ACON, the abbreviation for the Aids Council Of New South Wales. It also covered a similar relationship between the British charity Stonewall – which champions LGBTQI rights – and the BBC. In recent years, ACON has moved beyond a focus on HIV/AIDS to broader matters with respect to those who ACON describe as “people of diverse sexualities and genders”.
As Media Watch Dog has demonstrated over the years, the ABC’s Media Watch criticises the ABC on occasions. But this is an infrequent event. Since its establishment in 1989, Media Watch has been hosted only by leftist or left-of-centre presenters. Moreover, the focus of its media criticism has been directed at conservative/right-of-centre journalists and commentators – particularly those employed by News Corp newspapers and Sky News Australia.
On 13 October, however, Paul Barry introduced the program by welcoming viewers to “a difficult conversation we need to have” conceding to the lack of balance and impartiality in the ABC coverage of transgender issues. This followed coverage of this matter in the program which aired this year on 17 August 2022.
Having referred to Stonewall’s influence on the BBC – which has been reined in by BBC management – Paul Barry made the following comment:
And why is all this relevant to Australia? Because the ABC and SBS belong to a near identical workplace diversity scheme run by the AIDS Council of New South Wales, or ACON. And, like the BBC, they pay thousands of dollars a year to do so.
In fact, the ABC is a star employer, winning gold in this year’s Australian Workplace Equality Index awards, where CEO David Anderson — who is also the ABC’s editor-in-chief — also won gold….David Anderson, who’s done a great job in boosting the broadcaster’s diversity, was nominated for the award by the ABC.
First, a clarification. David Anderson has certainly presided over a situation where the ABC has supported gender and racial diversity within the public broadcaster. But not political diversity.
Messers Barry and Latham will not concede this. But the ABC under David Anderson’s management remains a conservative-free-zone without a conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets. ABC management also denies this reality. But no one has been able to identify even one conservative who fits the bill. Not one.
Having set out the relationship between ACON and the ABC, Media Watch revealed that documents obtained under Freedom of Information procedures reveal that the ABC wins points from ACON for providing what is called a safe and inclusive workplace which, in time, led to David Anderson winning ACON’s gold gong in 2022. Here Paul Barry commented: “We should celebrate that because its commitment to diversity and inclusion is important”.
Fair enough. But, surely, a commitment to political diversity should also be laudable – an issue which Media Watch has declined to discuss for over three decades.
Media Watch listed various occasions in which the ABC had scored points from ACON. This included (i) David Anderson appearing this year on a Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras float, (ii) a report about a trans child starting high school and (iii) the ABC podcast series “Innies and Outies” which told stories of LGBTQI+ individuals who either come out or stay in.
Mr Anderson’s appearance on a Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras float was first reported by Julie Cross in The Daily Telegraph on 27 August 2022– see photo below.
FOI documents reveal that, in Barry’s words, “ACON’s ABC relationship manager offered editorial tips” to the ABC. Barry also referred to the ABC paying money to ACON – but did not list the actual amount of taxpayers’ funds involved.
Media Watch said that the ABC’s relationship between ACON and the public broadcaster “raises questions about the ABC’s impartiality”. Barry also covered ABC chair Ita Buttrose’s expression of regret for “serious editorial lapses” in an April 2022 “misleading” ABC story re transgender sport which failed to report a study that athletes born male were 12 per cent faster than those born female. This was covered in the previous issue of Media Watch Dog – which detailed Ms Buttrose’s correspondence with Liberal Party Senator Claire Chandler on this matter.
Paul Barry continued:
Paul Barry: Now, we have not conducted a full audit of the ABC’s editorial coverage, but the concern here is that it is not impartial but one-sided. So does the ABC believe that that’s so? And does it accept that its partnership with a lobby group, ACON, could be a problem? In short, the answer is no and no….
Barry quoted from an email to Media Watch by an anonymous ABC spokesperson who essentially said nothing-to-see-here. This in spite of the fact that some 2020 emails obtained under FOI reveal that an ABC journalist sought and received advice from ACON about the correct definition of the word “family”.
Media Watch concluded:
Paul Barry: The problem here is a media group partnering with and being rewarded by a lobby group — any lobby group. And how that can lead to perceptions of bias in coverage or to bias itself. We think the ABC should review the arrangement.
In MWD’s view, this is most unlikely. It would seem that ABC management – in spite of Ita Buttrose’s intervention in one instance – is operating according to form. First, evidence is produced about the ABC’s unprofessional behaviour in breaching impartiality requirements. Second, ABC management goes into denial and the issue is dismissed by an anonymous spokesperson. How very ABC.
Paul Barry did not dwell on the fact that the ABC pays money to ACON. But it would be interesting to know how much taxpayers’ money is spent on this instance.
For the record, ACON’s 2022 Australian Inclusion Award recipients included David Anderson (CEO of the Year) and Gold Employers (ABC plus others).
The ABC chair, the ABC board and the ABC managing director David Anderson (who is an ABC Board member) would be well advised to provide a detailed account of all information pertaining to the ABC’s relationship with ACON. But don’t hold your breath.
JULIA ZEMIRO’S MURDOCHOPHOBIA CONDITION IN APPARENT REMISSION
As avid Media Watch Dog readers know (see 24 June 2022), Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery program concluded on ABC TV on 10 July 2022. Home Delivery – which went on for years – took the form of Ms Zemiro getting into an old car and driving around with a guest to locations where they lived as a child. The show would have been better termed “Home (left-wing) Deliveries” since Comrade Zemiro only seemed interested in the homes of leftist or left-of-centre types.
Over the years, Home Delivery guests included John Safran, Wendy Harmer, Billy Bragg, Waleed Aly, Kerry O’Brien, Geoffrey Robertson, Ben Quilty, Sam Neill, Annabel Crabb, Derryn Hinch, Brian Cox, Barrie Cassidy, Magda Szubanski, Judith Lucy, Gillian Triggs, Adam Liaw, Karl Kruszelnicki, Craig Reucassel and Ray Martin. Not a conservative among this lot.
Indeed, MWD cannot recall one occasion when Comrade Zemiro hopped in a retro motor (to use the English terminology) and examined the youth abode of a political conservative. But, then, the ABC is a Conservative Free Zone.
Comrade Zemiro is back in the news due to the fact that Foxtel – controlled by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp – has announced that it will revive the music show Rockwiz which aired on SBS until May 2016. Julia Zemiro hosted Rockwiz in its SBS days – and she will present Rockwiz in 2023 on Foxtel’s Fox 8. This was first reported in the Herald Sun on 17 October.
What’s the problem? – MWD hears readers cry. Well it’s this – Julia Zemiro appears to suffer from the condition MWD has diagnosed as Murdochophobia and is (perhaps was – we shall see) a critic of Rupert Murdoch and his media empire.
In October 2021, it was announced that a movement had been established called “Australians for a Murdoch Royal Commission”. The expressed aim was “to end Murdoch’s media monopoly and fight for a free and fearless news media!” How about that!!!!! – especially since there is no Murdoch media monopoly in Australia or elsewhere. How could this be the case in Australia? – since News Corp does not run any capital city free-to-air TV stations and has no radio stations.
At the time of the launch for a ‘Murdoch Royal Commission’ – it was only a year ago – Julia Zemiro embraced the anti-Murdoch, anti-News Corp, anti-Foxtel cause declaring:
I’ve just signed up to @murdoch_rc —the new campaign organisation taking on Murdoch’s control over our media and democracy.
One man should not have this much power.
— Julia Zemiro (@julia_zemiro) October 23, 2021
I need some hope & to hear robust discussion around a media that has for YEARS corrupted truth. So I've RSVPed to join the official launch of @murdoch_rc – Australians for a Murdoch Royal Commission!
Get the details and join me here: https://t.co/7bQKMJ87pL
— Julia Zemiro (@julia_zemiro) October 26, 2021
But now, suddenly, Comrade Zemiro’s Murdochophobia is in remission. And in 2022 she is happy to rock up on Fox 8 next year and collect Murdoch moolah to present Rockwiz – forgetting, it would seem, her 2021 condemnation of Rupert Murdoch’s (alleged) control of the Australian media and his (alleged) corruption of truth.
Verily, A Great Media U-Turn of our Time
THE GUARDIAN/ABC AXIS CAPTURES INSIDERS – AGAIN
ABC TV Insiders’ program has been a bit flat of late as journalists – primarily members of the Canberra Press Gallery – talk to other journalists about Australian national politics. Most of the self-declared “Insiders” have not worked in politics as a politician or as a political staffer or a political party operative. The panellists are more like “In-lookers” than Insiders. But Media Watch Dog digresses.
Wasn’t it great to see The Guardian/ABC Axis in action again recently on ABC TV Insiders? The date was Sunday 16 October and Lenore Taylor (The Guardian Australia’s editor) was on the panel while, as usual, Mike Bowers (The Guardian Australia’s photographer-at-large) presided over the “Talking Pictures” segment.
The ABC’s turn out comprised David Speers (presenter) and Dan Bourchier (ABC Radio Canberra) plus Sammy J. (ABC Radio Melbourne – aka Samuel McMillan) who was your man Bowers’ guest. That makes it two members from The Guardian and three from the ABC. Or, to put it another way, 83 per cent of the line-up belonged to The Guardian/ABC Axis. The Australian Financial Review’s Phil Coorey was the odd comrade out – and he spoke the most sense.
A FRANK LOOK AT FRAN KELLY’s FRANKLY
Avid Media Watch Dog readers will likely be aware that when the ABC announced its new talk show Frankly – get it? – created for Fran Kelly to host, many in the media questioned the choice of long-term ABC journalist Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly as a new face.
Predictably, the oh-so-sensitive ABC couldn’t tolerate the criticism and rushed out in defence of the program.
Appearing on RN Breakfast on 7 October, ABC chair Ita Buttrose defended the program and blamed the criticism as ageism. Ms Buttrose commented that “a lot of our comedy shows are hosted by wonderfully young people”. Perhaps these wonderfully young comedy hosts are a bit like the ABC’s mysterious conservative presenters – they are said to exist, but no one can name them.
Then on October 16, Patricia (“call me PK”) Karvelas, Fran Kelly’s replacement on RN Breakfast and co-host with Kelly of The Party Room podcast, hit back at the criticism of the program in an ABC Online article headlined “Criticism of Fran Kelly’s new gig Frankly drips with ageism — a stubborn form of discrimination we need to call out”.
PK claims that the criticism of her mate Fran Kelly’s show – which has primarily been that a new talent should be given the gig – is all based on ageism. Karvelas states: “Diversity matters not just because any thriving society will include all because it’s the right thing to do, but because it also delivers the best results — a range of perspectives, a plethora of lived experience and ideas.”
Once again, the ABC likes to bang on about the need for diversity while overlooking the complete lack of diversity in its own organisation. The ABC is a conservative free zone without one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets. And as MWD has previously covered, the faces of the majority of ABC’s prominent presenters are so white they could make up a white sight screen at a red ball cricket match.
Despite what Karvelas’ article suggests, the main criticism of Frankly is not that the presenter is too old for television and should be forced into retirement. It’s that the ABC created a job for someone simply because they have worked at the ABC for a long time.
Karvelas’ article makes the argument that Kelly is the right woman for the job thanks to her “unique skill set honed through years on the radio, in one of the toughest gigs there is.” [Was this just a way for PK to call her own job one of the toughest gigs there is? – MWD Editor.].
As viewers of Frankly will have noted, being a current affairs radio host doesn’t necessarily set you up for a gig as a Friday night talk show host. Unlike other talk show hosts such as Graham Norton – whose program The Graham Norton Show has a similar format – Kelly has always been a serious, often combative interviewer. Based on the first two episodes of Frankly, she isn’t proving to be well-suited to light entertainment. On last Friday’s episode of Frankly, her outfit had more stage presence.
This is why the critics of Frankly are asking – if the ABC is going to give a show to someone with no direct experience, why not give someone new a go? Not even someone younger, necessarily, but someone new to the ABC.
Unfortunately for the younger types hoping to get a gig on the ABC, this is unlikely to happen. Once someone has hung around the ABC long enough, they seemingly become entombed in the organisation and never leave.
For example, take the ABC’s Question Everything. Question Everything is another one of those news-comedy hybrid panel shows the ABC loves. Question Everything has two presenters – long-term ABC host Wil Anderson and journalist Jan Fran. There is no obvious reason for the two hosts. The first season of the show may have warranted it – when the program’s gimmick was holier-than-thou, conspiracy debunking – but that has seemingly been phased out in favour of a more traditional news-comedy panel. There is now even less reason for two hosts and Comrade Fran isn’t left with much to do.
Jan Fran could easily carry the show herself. She has television experience and more importantly has occasionally provided copy for MWD over the years. Does Wil Anderson need yet more screen time at the ABC? Jan Fran would have been a teenager when Wil Anderson was hosting The Glass House in the early 2000s. It’s now 2022 and here he still is, hosting multiple TV shows, with someone younger relegated to sidekick. [Anderson has been hosting for so long – has he gotten funny yet? – MWD Editor].
Australian television is notoriously risk-averse, but as an organisation funded by the taxpayer the ABC can afford to – and should – take chances on new talent. (If you’re reading this PK, note the word “new”, not “younger”).
As MWD fave Osman Faruqi noted in his 7 October article in Nine newspapers on the issue, the ABC will discover new talent, fail to do anything with them and they go on to find success on commercial television, online platforms or overseas. And so, the ABC continues to recycle the same faces and critics are accused of age-based discrimination.
NORMAN SWAN’s SCHOOL LOCKDOWN ADVOCACY DURING THE PANDEMIC CHALLENGED IN RECENT TIMES
Avid readers will have noticed the absence of Australia’s self-described most trusted doctor Norman Swan in recent editions of MWD. The ABC’s COVID guru (who has not practised medicine in four decades) is no longer receiving the wall-to-wall ABC presence he enjoyed for much of the pandemic. In recent times, he has been less focused on the COVID and more focused on promoting his latest book.
Despite any literary distractions, your man Swan has continued to plug away at his Coronacast podcast, co-hosted with ABC health reporter Tegan Taylor. The Wednesday 19 October edition of the Swan/Taylor podcast focused on a review of expert opinion published in the Lancet Regional Health journal on 10 October. The review’s authors consulted with a range of experts, asking them to reflect on Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On 20 October, after the most recent episode of Coronacast went to air, another review of Australia’s pandemic response was published. This second review, titled Fault Lines, was led by Peter Shergold, the chancellor of Western Sydney University and former Secretary of the Department of The Prime Minister and Cabinet. It was funded by the John & Myriam Wylie foundation, the Minderoo Foundation and the Paul Ramsay Foundation.
The reviews differ in many ways, but one thing both groups appear to agree on is that Australian schools were closed for too long in 2020 and 2021. From the Lancet review:
At times, children were mainly viewed as potential ‘vectors of transmission’ (using an inappropriate influenza paradigm) without adequately considering the detrimental impacts of school or playground closures on their education, emotional and physical development, and mental health, as well as the unequal effect of these measures on children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Going forward, an Australian national mitigation and recovery plan is needed to ensure that in future outbreaks, equal education access is prioritised and that the damage done to physical and mental health is addressed. Schools should be classified as providing an essential service, with school staff vaccinated as a priority group and remote learning only considered as a last resort.
And from Fault Lines:
Schools should stay open in future health crises unless there is strong health advice that outweighs the likely educational, mental health, social and economic costs of school closures. Clear cost-benefit and risk management frameworks should be established. Closures should be targeted so that only specific schools are closed and not entire school systems. The same applies to universities and vocational education and training schools. The long-run social and economic costs of closing universities and vocational education and training schools is disproportionately felt by young people. They should stay open unless there is strong health advice that outweighs these other considerations.
That seems pretty clear then. So, what does Dr Swan think about the Lancet review’s comments on school closures (Fault Lines not having been released at the time Coronacast was recorded)? Audiences were left in the dark, as Norman Swan and Tegan Taylor focused on other parts of the report. Fancy that.
Early in the pandemic, during a 16 March 2020 appearance on News Breakfast, Dr Swan was less hesitant to weigh in on the issue. After outlining the arguments for and against closing schools this is what he had to say:
Norman Swan: I have a personal view on this, there is no time to waste. Each day that goes by we are going to lose control of this. We’ve been too late in banning large gatherings, they [the Victorian Government] just cancelled the [Australian] Grand Prix at the last minute. And we’ve just got to stop, we’ve got to shut down schools. A lot of parents are worried, I’m getting a lot of questions from parents saying “should I keep my kid home?”. I mean the thing about keeping your child home, the risk to your child is low but it’s a public health measure because children spread the virus and they can spread it to teachers and so on and into the community.
And my feeling is, we are, to be blunt, dicking around. And we’ve just got to shut stuff down, now. And, you know, the worst that could happen is that six weeks from now the shock jocks are going to say “oh I told you nothing would happen”. ‘Cause when prevention works nothing happens.
At several points throughout the pandemic Dr Swan said he would love to be proven wrong. There would appear to be an emerging expert consensus that school closures did more harm than good. MWD will let readers know if the good doctor chooses to reflect on his early and enthusiastic calls to close schools.
This (hugely popular) segment returns this week to document instances where media personalities declare to listeners/viewers/readers the bleeding obvious while presenting comments as if they are fresh and unexpected. Now read on.
RETIRED ABC “LEGEND” MARGARET THROSBY – WHO STILL CALLS THE ABC “WE” – RECKONS THAT THE ABC IS FANTASTIC
On 19 October, Phillip Adams AO, AM, Hon DUniv (Griffith), Hon DLitt (ECU), Hon DUniv (SA), DLitt [sic] (Syd), Hon. DUniv (Macquarie), FRSA, Hon FAHA, interviewed Margaret Throsby AM (who, alas, does not appear to have any honorary university degrees) about Margaret Throsby. The 40-minute interview on the ABC’s Man-in-Black’s little wireless program was described as follows: “Phillip speaks to ABC legend Margaret Throsby about her incredible 55 years behind the microphone and the most notable interviews of her career.”
How about that? A mere half a century plus behind the microphone at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. A legend indeed.
Ms Throsby referred to the fact that she had once been “sacked” by the ABC. What happened was that Comrade Throsby decided it would be a you-beaut idea to do paid advertisements for Macquarie Bank – which was deemed to be contrary to the ABC’s advertisement-free status. Her contract was not renewed in 1993. But she was re-engaged by Radio National operative Norman Swan in 1994 – and continued at the ABC for almost another three decades until retirement in September 2022.
Towards the end of the oh-so-long discussion, Phillip and Margaret looked back in happiness on their decades-long employment at the ABC. Let’s go to the transcript:
Phillip Adams: And, you and I share a deep affection for the ABC. As someone who’s been around even longer than I have, what role do you think it plays?
Margaret Throsby: Apart from being the most important media company in the world – in the country – do you mean?
Phillip Adams: Yes.
Margaret Throsby: I think the fact – I mean, we – I still say we, isn’t it terrible? Because I have retired but I think of we – I still think that I’m part of the organisation. The ABC is very keen on its reputation as being the most trusted media organisation in the country. It’s no mean feat to achieve that. Although, it has to be said, I think we’re – in Australia – extremely poorly represented by the media. Not the ABC. I think that the ABC is fine, but the rest of the media, I think, is a bit of a basket case in many ways. But I think that the fact that the ABC stands in such high – well, is given such high regard by its audience – people are devoted to the ABC. People – you know, people love the organisation. And I think it’s probably one of the most important institutions in the country.
Phillip Adams: Absolutely agree….
So ABC Comrades Throsby and Adams reckon that the ABC is you-beaut super and the rest of the Australian media is a bit of a basket case. Quelle Surprise!