ISSUE – NO. 640

23 June 2023

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Could this be the biggest suck-up interview for 2023?  So far, yes.  The reference is to ABC TV 7.30 presenter Sarah Ferguson’s interview with one-time FBI director and current novelist James Comey last night.

Amelia Lester made an early attempt at this award when she interviewed your man Comey in the Good Weekend magazine on 27 May.  But Comrade Ferguson sure trumped Ms Lester’s effort (to which MWD will return in the next issue) last night.

As avid Media Watch Dog readers are only too well aware, Sarah Ferguson presented the three-part ABC TV Four Corners special titled “Trump/Russia” in June 2018 which commenced: “Tonight we begin our special three-part investigation into the story of the century, the election of US president Donald Trump and his ties to Russia”.  She presented Russian President Vladimir Putin as Trump’s puppet master.  It was all fake news.

The Ferguson claim was discredited by special counsel Robert Mueller’s Report into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential election which was released in March 2019.  It has been further discredited by the recent release of special counsel John H Durham’s Report on Matters Related to Intelligence Activities and Investigations arising out of the 2016 Presidential Campaign.

Last night Comrade Ferguson did not raise with Comey the Mueller or Durham reports – despite the fact that the former FBI director is adversely named in the latter report.  Instead, she bagged President Donald J. Trump – knowing that Comey is a declared enemy of the former Republican president.

The focus was on Comey’s novel Central Park West (Bloomsbury, 2023) and contained the following (soft) questions:

Sarah Ferguson: You loved being a prosecutor, working big crime cases including mob cases in New York.  How much did you enjoy recreating that world for your book? …How did your daughter feel about you making her a character?

Jim Comey did not receive even one tough question.  Perhaps Comrade Ferguson could have learnt a lesson from Tom Switzer’s recent Between the Lines program on ABC Radio National (2 June) where the following exchange took place:

Tom Switzer: But was all this – the Steele dossier, the FBI’s Trump Russia probe, the near breathless press coverage – was all this a case study in what my next guest calls “mass hysteria” and “media credulity”? Aaron Mate, a Canadian journalist who writes at Substack, he hosts the show Pushback with Aaron Mate on the Greyzone, a news website and blog. Aaron, welcome to the program.

Aaron Mate: Good to be here.

Tom Switzer: First, tell us about yourself and your political views.

Aaron Mate: Well, I’m a journalist and I’ve always been left wing my entire life. And, oddly, during the Russiagate era, I found myself in a very tiny minority on the left who called it out as the farce that it was. And it’s been a surreal experience. But not surprising at all that John Durham, after this long investigation, finds the probe to be baseless. Because that was obvious from the start to anybody who actually followed the facts of the matter.

Aaron Mate went on to criticise Jim Comey for playing a key role in the Russia/Trump farce.  But Sarah Ferguson did not raise any matters covered in the Durham Report – preferring to ask the FBI director about his daughter and his next novel.

What a load of absolute tosh. By the way, Sarah Ferguson also claimed that “nobody thought he [Trump] was going to be elected in 2016”. More tosh.



On Wednesday 14 June, Gerard Henderson addressed The Sydney Institute on the topic ”The ABC In Crisis?”. A video of the talk, plus the discussion that followed, is now available on The Sydney Institute’s website.  Hendo made the point that the ABC has lost many of its traditional conservative listeners/viewers while also failing to attract a younger audience.  That’s the problem with the taxpayer public broadcaster being a Conservative Free Zone.

In view of this, it was of interest to hear the spontaneous comment made by Tony Seabrook – president of the Pastoralists and Graziers Association in Western Australia – on Sky News’ Credlin program last night.  At the end of an interview with Peta Credlin, Mr Seabrook made the following comment without the help of a leading question.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Tony Seabrook: I had a meeting with David Anderson, ABC, a little while ago. I said: “David, country people have bolted on the ABC. They’re walking away in droves, mate. They’re walking away. They’re done with your left-wing ABC.” And I asked him a simple question. I said: “I can name for you half a dozen, maybe a dozen, left-wing journos that you’ve got there. You give me one that in any way espouses the values that Sky does. Just one.” And at that point he shook his head and walked away and just couldn’t answer the question.

Enough said.


Can You Bear It


It was not so long ago that Eric Beecher – the chairman and co-founder of Private Media which publishes the Crikey newsletter – was wont to lecture us mere mortals, avid Media Watch Dog readers included, about media standards and all that.

In recent days, however, your man Beecher, appears to have vacated his (secular) pulpit.  How else to explain his apparent silence on two recent matters in which Crikey has made, rather than reported, the news?

On 16 June, Crikey published an article by MWD’s fave Marxist comedian Guy Rundle. It was titled “The Brittany Higgins case: we’re not required to leave our brains at the security entrance”.  MWD has a hard copy of the article – which has now been deleted from the Crikey website.  It would appear that Crikey readers objected to Crikey publishing this piece by Crikey’s correspondent-at-large.

Now Comrade Rundle is a controversial columnist.  But he writes very well.  However, he has now been cancelled by Crikey – for the moment at least.

On 18 June, Crikey published what it termed “An editorial from Crikey’s leadership”.  Signed by Crikey’s editor-in-chief Sophie Black and editor Gina Rushton, it stated that the newsletter’s editorial processes had failed and the Rundle piece should not have been published.

The editorial commenced: “We’ve often marvelled at how erroneous pieces could ever possibly have been published, and yet here we are.”  How’s that for introspection?

It also reported that Rundle stood by his argument. There was no comment by Crikey’s proprietor Eric Beecher – despite the fact that he is head of the newsletter’s leadership team.

More recently, Sky News initially and then The Daily Mail have reported that Crikey’s associate editor Cam Wilson put out insensitive and juvenile tweets when the fate of all aboard the Titan submersible was unknown – but likely to be fatal.  It is unclear whether Crikey will address Comrade Wilson’s unfunny but offensive tweets. For the record, Crikey’s associate editor has responded to criticism by abusing Sky News and The Daily Mail. Courageous, eh?

So, there you have it.  Crikey lectures us all about journalistic standards.  But it has censored its correspondent-at-large and employs an associate editor who believes that the likely death of explorers and their customers is a matter of humour. And a time to exhibit poor taste.

Which raises these questions.  Namely, where is Eric Beecher?  And, more importantly, Can You Bear It?



According to media reports, Black Inc – proprietor Morry Schwartz – is scaling down its book production.  Media Watch Dog is a supporter of the media broadly defined and regrets falling productions or job losses in the industry.

However, it’s fair to say that Comrade Schwartz, a worthy and wealthy fashionable Melbourne leftist on most issues, publishes a lot of worthy stuff.  Including the leftist The Monthly along with The [Boring] Saturday Paper which carries each week turgid and all but unreadable columns by Paul Bongiorno and John Hewson.  They are so unreadable that the late Jackie’s (male) co-owner only reads them at Gin & Tonic Time.  Work that out, if you can. [I guess because it doesn’t matter if you miss a boring paragraph or two – MWD Editor.]

The good news is that Alan Finkel’s Powering Up: Unleashing the clear energy supply chain (Black Inc, 2023) made it to print.  It is a well written but boringly produced book which is devoid of photographs and graphs and an index and zzzzz.  But Dr Finkel, the former chief scientist of Australia, writes well and manages to make science understandable for a non-scientist.

On opening his copy of Powering Up, Gerard Henderson went first to the introduction – as one does. Believe it or not, the Finkel tome commences with the words “It won’t be easy getting to zero, Kathleen”. [I wonder if this woman is related to the one cited in the Irish song “I’ll take you home again, Kathleen”? – MWD Editor.]

It was not quite a first sentence of the Jane Austen kind – but good enough.  It turned out that the very Melbourne Alan Finkel was at a very Melbourne dinner party with the very Melbourne Kathleen on the night of the May 2022 election.  Kathleen was of the view that the election of Anthony Albanese’s Labor government – with the support of the Greens and the Teal Independents – would bring about a situation whereby the end of the world was no longer inevitable due to climate change and that Australia would lead the world to net emissions on carbon dioxide. Or something like that.

As Dr Finkel put it: “Rolling her eyes, Kathleen pressed on in a triumphal tone: ‘With the new political will locked in, surely we’ll get there [i.e. net zero emissions] quickly?’”  Alas, it was a matter of “Not tonight, Kathleen” – as your man Finkel described the situation in the very third paragraph of Powering Up:

Quickly? Kathleen was not in a position to see what lay ahead. Our energy system is a behemoth nourished on fossil fuels. Replacing that rich diet with lean wind and solar energy is a task of barely imaginable proportions. Think forests of windfarms carpeting hills and cliffs from sea to sky. Think endless arrays of solar panels disappearing like a mirage into the desert. What we have now has to be scaled up by a factor of 20.

It will take mining on a massive scale to extract the minerals needed for batteries and solar panels. It will take giant factories to build the parts for towering wind turbines. It will take untold miles of high-voltage transmission lines to carry the electricity to power the mines and factories and the 24-hour buzz of civilisation. It will take engagement with and support for affected communities; financing at unprecedented scale; strategic government policies that convert targets into actions.

It is not known whether or not Kathleen had trouble consuming her main course of Japanese Wagyu rib-eye steak, to be washed down by fine French wine, on hearing the news. After all, well-heeled types such as Kathleen are inclined to think – William Blake like – of building a Utopia on Australia’s brown and pleasant land.  Only to be told by a former Australian chief scientist that net zero emissions by 2050 could only be met by forests of windfarms carpeting hills and cliffs from sea to sky along with endless arrays of solar panels disappearing like a mirage into the desert.

News of Alan Finkel’s brave new net zero world carpeted by windfarms and solar panels, as revealed in Powering Up, was broken by Christine Middap in The Weekend Australian on 10 June 2023. The following Tuesday, Dr Finkel rocked up for interviews on ABC News Breakfast (interviewer Madeleine (“Please call me Mads”) Morris and ABC Radio National Breakfast (interviewer Hamish Macdonald).

During the interviews, Alan Finkel referred to much the same problems as those he had discussed with fellow dinner party guest Kathleen about the impact of widescale renewables and transmission lines, batteries and the like on the Australian land mass.  But neither Comrade Morris nor Comrade Macdonald raised the issue of how Australians – including Indigenous Australians – will cope in a continent with coast-to-coast windfarms and solar panels.  It was as if they did not want to upset Kathleen again. Can You Bear It?


As avid readers are aware, the late Nancy (2004-2017) did not die. She merely “passed” on to the Other Side. Hence MWD has been able to keep in touch and seek her advice about behaviour, courtesy and all that – with the help of the American psychic John Edward of Crossing Over fame. Your man Edward communicates with MWD’s messages via Nancy who, in turn, sends courtesy advice to the discourteous individuals in the hope that these classes from the Other Side will improve behaviour.


Among Media Watch Dog’s media faves are graduates of Catholic girls’ schools like Mandeville Convent in Melbourne’s affluent Toorak – it’s now called Loreto Mandeville Hall Toorak – who went on to become raving, er, leftists.  Like Dee Madigan – she of Campaign Edge – who ran Labor’s advertising campaign in the 2022 election.

Speaking to Mumbrella’s Calum Jaspan in May 2022, Comrade Madigan declared: “As much as people hate negative ads, we know they work and I think this [May 2022] election proved that”.   She added: “We knew the job we had to do on Morrison.”  Ms Madigan appears regularly on ABC TV’s The Gruen Transfer and The Drum.  As you would expect.

Now, it might be expected that Loreto-trained feminists like Comrade Madigan would treat women with respect – along the lines that she expects men to treat women.  Alas, this has not been the case in recent times.

Lotsa thanks to the Loreto Kirribilli – or was it Loreto Ballarat? – alumni who drew the attention of the (male) co-owner of the late Jackie (Dip.Wellness) to this tweet by the Campaign Edge supremo posted on 19 June:

What a discourteous thing for a feminist to say about another woman.  For starters – when sneering at Vikki Campion, Dee Madigan referred to her partner by name. Why?  And then she declared that Ms Campion is as talented at character voices as she is at writing. More mockery.

This, alas, is just abuse. Vikki Campion writes a fine column for the Daily TelegraphMWD reads it every Saturday morning – even at Hangover Time. As to character voices – does anyone care what Comrade Madigan thinks about this?

In any event, irrespective of a person’s views on Senator Pauline Hanson and her One Nation Party – the One Nation videos can be amusing.  Moreover, if the Campaign Edge director reckons that Vikki Campion’s voice-overs are not good – she should state why this is the case. Otherwise Madigan is just engaging in an angry rant.  What would the Loreto nuns think?  And how discourteous can a Mandeville sheila get?

Dee Madigan – Off to Nancy’s Courtesy Classes for you.

[I’m shocked by Comrade Madigan’s rudeness in this instance.  As to turgid writing, I thought that Dee Madigan’s The Hard Sell: The Tricks of Political Advertising (MUP, 2014) was a hard read. – MWD Editor.]



As avid Media Watch Dog readers will recall, the Stop Press segment in the previous issue recorded the fact that ABC management has terminated the employment of Andrew Probyn – formerly political editor in the ABC’s bureau in Parliament House, Canberra.  This despite the fact that recently on two occasions, Justin Stevens – the ABC’s Director News – described Mr Probyn as a “fantastic journalist”. Shortly after he had been shown the door, so to speak.

The Weekend Australian on 17 June published an article by Nick Tabakoff and James Madden titled “Office Politics: An ABC show worth watching”. This upset the powers-that-be at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. So much so that on that very day it put out a release titled “ABC statement on offensive comments published in The Australian”. Believe it or not, the ABC was so offended and so angry about the report that it threatened to take The Australian to the Australian Press Council.

The ABC – which is wont to cite anonymous comments – objected to the fact that The Australian had quoted “anonymous comments” in its article.  In particular, the (anonymous) ABC statement seemed to object to this part of the Tabakoff/Madden report.

One source said the push to put “diversity” concerns ahead of everything else was compromising the ABC’s news coverage. “These demands for 50/50 ­diversity targets on absolutely everything – let’s call it for what it is, it’s woke shit,” the source said. “But that is all ABC management seems to care about these days.”

A Canberra press gallery ­insider said: “While there is some merit in the ABC’s stated diversity targets – insofar as they are intended to reflect a changing Australia – it’s not always an easy fit with the pursuit of straight-down-the-line journalism.”

In response, the ABC statement declared that “these anonymous comments do not represent the values of the ABC and what we stand for”.   It quoted Justin Stevens as saying: “To suggest that anyone on the ABC News team is a ‘diversity hire’ to ‘meet a target’ or to ‘tick a box’ is completely wrong and offensive.”

In fact, Tabakoff/Madden did not quite say this.  In any event, has your man Stevens forgotten that the following exchange took place on ABC TV’s Insiders program on Sunday 28 May?:

David Speers: [interjecting] You’re talking about racism?

Dan Bourchier: Yeah, yeah.

David Speers: In the [ABC] organisation?

Dan Bourchier: Well, yeah, when I come on this program and am dismissed as your “diversity pick” or your “box ticker”. You know, that comes from within our organisation, and then that sends a message that that type of language is normal. And it’s not. It’s unacceptable.

David Speers: It is unacceptable….

So, it was the ABC’s very own Dan Bourchier – the ABC’s correspondent for the Voice Referendum – who said on ABC TV’s Insiders that some of his (anonymous) ABC colleagues had suggested that he was a diversity pick to tick a box. Which would suggest that the ABC News Director does not watch ABC TV Insiders.  Fancy that.



Avid Media Watch Dog readers expressed enormous interest in the last issue of this (hugely popular) segment which contained a report titled “Professor Sally Young misreads the 1954 election campaign when the Coalition’s Robert Menzies prevailed over Labor’s Bert Evatt”.

The reference was to the learned professor’s appearance on Phillip Adams’ ABC Radio National Late Night Live on 13 June. This interview occupied the entire episode of what the ABC’s-Man-in-Black calls his little wireless program. Dr Young (for a doctor she is) was interviewed about her book Media Monsters: The Transformation of Australia’s Newspaper Empires (UNSW Press, 2023).

When the previous issue of MWD went out at around Gin & Tonic Time on 16 June, Gerard Henderson had not purchased a copy of this 554-page tome. He has done so since. Hence this additional comment on Sally Young’s view of history.

Sally Young seems to be one of those “Bert Evatt Good/Robert Menzies Bad” kind of left-of-centre historians. By the way, Media Monsters has been endorsed by such fellow left-of-centre historians as Frank Bongiorno, Bridget Griffin-Foley and Rodney Tiffen.

In her oh-so-soft interview with Phillip (“I was once a teenage commo”) Adams, Sally Young ran the left-wing interpretation of Australian history line on this issue. Namely, that the Labor Opposition leader Bert Evatt was robbed of victory in the 1954 election because the Liberal Party Prime Minister Robert Menzies manipulated the defection in April 1954 of Vladimir and Evdokia Petrov from the Soviet Union Embassy in Canberra and used the Labor Party’s association with communism as a weapon in the campaign.

This is absolute tosh. In fact, Petrov’s defection was barely mentioned in the 1954 campaign and Menzies’ narrow victory was due substantially to the economic recovery which was underway in early 1954 and to the fact that Evatt could not explain how a Labor government would pay for his extravagant and uncosted election promises. Also, the May 1954 election took place shortly after the Royal Tour of Australia which was hugely popular and provided a “feel good” factor which would have been of benefit to any incumbent government.

Hendo has now read the segment titled “The Petrov Affair and the 1954 election” in Media Monsters. As with her LNL interview, Comrade Young makes no mention whatever of Evatt’s unfunded election promises. Moreover, she asserts – without evidence – that the issue of communism dominated the election campaign. It didn’t – as Anne Henderson documents in her forthcoming Menzies Versus Evatt: The Great Rivalry of Australian Politics (Connor Court, 2023).

UNSW Press needs to either employ a fact-checker or replace its existing one.

But there is more. In Media Monsters, Professor Young gives vent to the old rumour that Robert Menzies nearly lost the 1961 election due to hostile coverage of his government by The Sydney Morning Herald. Warwick Fairfax, the SMH proprietor, was critical of the Menzies Government’s performance during the economic downturn of 1961. This is what the author of Media Monsters has to say:

The strong rumour in the press gallery was that the hostility between Menzies and Warwick Fairfax “stemmed from an affair Menzies had with Fairfax’s wife” [the quote is from Rob Chalmers]. Ian Fitchett, who was the Sydney Morning Herald’s chief political correspondent during the critical period of 1960-61, told younger journalist Rob Chalmers that the affair was “taken as fact by hundreds”, including government staffers, senior public servants and Sydney’s society set. Mungo MacCallum, who was a member of the press gallery from 1969 to 1998, also found the rumour was considered fact by many journalists and staffers …

Comrade Young also cites journalists Peter Costigan and Alan Reid as believing the rumour. She failed to mention that the 2006 discussion on this matter commenced with an article by Mungo MacCallum in The Monthly which led to a follow-up discussion in Crikey. Likewise the learned professor failed to mention that, after investigations, Crikey’s editor Misha Ketchell found that “there’s no evidence that Sir Robert Menzies and Betty Fairfax had an affair”. See Crikey, 7 November 2006. Media Monsters continues:

Those who revere Menzies’ memory consider this rumour both false and distasteful. Gerard Henderson of conservative thinktank, the Sydney Institute, has pointed out that there is no evidence for it (although MacCallum responded by asking what evidence would there be for such a private event). Menzies’ biographer, Allan Martin, and Vic Carroll, who was finance editor of the Sun-Herald in the early 1960s, were also sceptical.

This is absolute crap. Neither Gerard Henderson nor the late Allan Martin – both of whom have written about Menzies – “revere” the memory of the former prime minister. This is just a sneer.  Nor did the late journalist Vic Carroll. The fact is that there is no evidence whatsoever to support Mungo MacCallum’s rumour. That’s all. Moreover Gavin Souter, who knew the Fairfax family as well as any journalist, said that there is no evidence of such an affair having taken place.

This issue was discussed in the Crikey newsletter in November 2006. Writing in Crikey on 3 November – in a response to a Henderson comment sought by Crikey – MacCallum had this to say:

The story [of the alleged affair] was told by politicians, staffers, journalists (notably Ian Fitchett and Alan Reid, the gallery’s doyens) and Commonwealth Car drivers. I never heard it denied or even questioned by any of the above. I had always assumed it did not appear in the official histories (especially Martin’s biography, written with Menzies’ co-operation) through a desire not to cause offence.

For the record, Menzies died in 1978. The first volume of Martin’s Menzies biography was published in 1993 – it was not written with Menzies’ co-operation. Indeed, it’s unlikely that Martin ever met his subject. The late Mungo MacCallum got this wrong.

As to his sources, your man Mungo cited anonymous politicians, anonymous political staffers and anonymous Commonwealth Car drivers along with two deceased journalists – Ian Fitchett and Alan Reid.

On 5 November 2006, the late journalist/editor Trevor Kennedy sent the following email to Gerard Henderson:

Hi Gerard

Mungo’s response to you in Crikey on Friday is total bullsh*t …  For Mungo to rely on two dead men and “Commonwealth Car drivers” as his authority is a complete joke.

Alan Reid was a great friend of mine over 20 years (I made the speech at his funeral) and never at any stage was the subject ever raised. In fact, it is the sort of gossip Reidy would never have involved himself in.

I’m not sure when Mungo arrived at the gallery but it must have been in Fitch’s last days. I can’t believe that Fitchett gossiped about such things with [Mungo]. I have trouble believing Fitch would have anything to do with him. Fitch was closer to Menzies than any other reporter, didn’t gossip about sex (though he had a vicious tongue) and Mungo stood for everything he detested – from his dress and language to his politics.

As for Commonwealth Car drivers –  if they’re alive, they were not the type in those days to peddle gossip in the way it seems to have become fashionable these days. Further, they didn’t drink at the bars where Mungo spent most of his [time] becoming as delusional as he illustrates in this piece.


Trevor Kennedy

Towards the end of her section on the 1961 election, Professor Young seems to have doubts about the very rumour she has advanced earlier. But then she concludes the section with a long quote from left-wing Labor MP Les Haylen promoting the rumour. Somewhat unprofessional, don’t you think?

This is mere gossip posing as scholarship-with-endnotes. As well as UNSW Press being in need of a fact-checker, it would be well advised to also engage a rumour-



Nine’s Shane Wright has risen without trace (as the late Kitty Muggeridge once said about the late David Frost) to become the senior economics correspondent for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald – not having published anything of note apart from newspaper articles and columns plus the occasional essay. Even so, you would expect a person in such an elevated position to know about the international energy market.

It’s only a few years since your man Wright ridiculed anyone who said that coal had any future as a part of energy supply – even in such markets as India, China and Indonesia.  He declared on ABC TV Insiders  on 11 June 2017 that “coal is like candlesticks” and compared those who said that there is still a demand for Australian coal exports with members of the Candle Makers Union circa 1870 who (allegedly) argued the case for candles over electricity. Now read on.


It’s been a matter of Quiet on the Candlesticks Front – as far as Shane Wright is concerned. Just when many commentators are concerned about possible energy shortages, along with increasing energy prices, Nine Newspapers’ economics correspondent has focused on other matters. Today his topic is speculation about Australia’s next Reserve Bank governor.  Next time, speculation about the winner of this year’s Melbourne Cup perhaps and the odds available.

As far as Media Watch Dog can work out, Comrade Wright has not reported much on energy in recent times.  However, he may – or may not – be interested to note how the good people of Britain are handling the northern summer in so far as energy is concerned.

On 13 June The Telegraph in London ran the following report by Melissa Lawford, Chris Price and Benedict Smith – which commenced as follows:

Britain has started burning coal to generate electricity for the first time in a month and a half, after the heatwave made solar panels too hot to work efficiently.

One unit at Uniper’s Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal power plant in Nottinghamshire started producing electricity for the first time in weeks on Monday morning, while another coal-powered plant was warmed up in case it was needed by the early afternoon. The National Grid turned to coal to generate electricity as a rush to turn on air conditioning and fans across the country during the heatwave led to a spike in demand.

High temperatures over the weekend also reduced the amount of energy generated from solar panels…. Supply was also lower because of depressed wind speeds, which hit turbine output, and some gas power plants being shut for maintenance

How about that?  Given the option of solving Britain’s recent energy difficulties, Britain took a temporary coal option – despite Comrade Wright’s assurance that coal is so very 19th Century.  What’s more, no consideration was given by the Brits to throwing the switch to candlesticks.   Yet Shane Wright remains senior economics correspondent for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.

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Until next time.

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