After a (very) Long Weekend, Nancy emerged from her kennel this morning and switched on the ABC 1 News Breakfast program – with Virginia Trioli and Michael Rowland in the presenters’ chairs.  Then, at around 6.45 am, Jonathan Green turned up to do the “Newspapers” gig. What (potential) fun.  And, believe it or not, the discussion went on for a staggering 11 minutes. [I believe it – Ed.]

MWD just loves those occasions when ABC presenters (like La Trioli and Young Mr Rowland) interview ABC staff (like the ABC’s Sneerer-in-Chief Mr Green) about the ABC. However, this morning’s program ran the risk of giving self-indulgence a bad name. Never before, in the history of the taxpayer-funded broadcasting Down Under, has so much self-indulgence been exhibited by so many ABC types in the interests of so few.


First up, Jonathan Green appeared on the set with, you’ve guessed it, a copy of his brand new book The Year My Politics Broke which is published by the taxpayer subsidised Melbourne University Press.  The first question gave viewers a hint that they we were in for a feast of taxpayer-funded self-indulgence.

Virginia Trioli: Let’s take a look at today’s newspapers. We’re joined by the presenter of Radio National’s Sunday Extra, Jonathan Green, who is also the author of The Year My Politics Broke which is not a campaign diary but  a series of reflections on life in politics and the media these days –  but in relation to  the  last election in particular. Jonathan, good morning.

Jonathan Green: Hello.

Virginia Trioli: Why’d you write it?

Jonathan Green: I guess I sensed there was a,[sic] and I found this myself, but I think a lot of people shared this; there’s a growing sense of disengagement with politics. I think politics has drifted away from belief, you know, from a really deep set of convictions. And I think people still expect that of their political process. I think they still expect politics to deliver outcomes, to have ideas. But increasingly politics becomes this thing of being political. Of pursuing power for its own sake, of doing everything through the construct of “what will give me political advantage”. And I think that’s what’s leading people to drift away from it, to question it. 

Now Mr Green is an embodiment of the contemporary ABC. An inner-city leftist bicycle-rider who wears sandals and joined the ABC from The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra (aka The Age) via the Crikey newsletter. Enough said. The presenter of RN Sunday Extra, who also appears regularly on News Breakfast and The Drum and Radio 702 and other ABC places, certainly impressed his fellow ABC staffers.  Nancy, too, was that-much impressed.  Especially with Green’s contention that “increasingly politics becomes this thing of being political”. Brilliant. [This is worth an honorary doctorate, surely – Ed].

Michael Rowland agreed wholeheartedly with the Green analysis and declared : “And both sides are just as guilty as the other – and let’s not forget the media.” Then, lo and behold, Jonathan Green agreed with Michael Rowland who agreed with Virginia Trioli who agreed with Jonathan Green who agreed with himself.  Or something like that.

The Green thesis is the fashionable left-wing view that the electors are disengaged and disillusioned with both the Coalition and Labor.  No one provided any evidence in support of the proposition and no one considered that the Coalition’s big victory might be evidence that a majority of Australians were directly engaged in getting rid of Labor and deserting the Greens on 7 September 2013.

Sure, Trioli said that her position was consistent with that of “viewers of this program”. Well, that would be correct – since a lot of viewers of News Breakfast  who contact the program appear to be Greens’ voters.  Green went on to criticise the media’s “tabloid” focus – he was directing his attention to the commercial media and not his mates at the ABC. Clearly such News Corp papers are the Courier Mail, Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun were his targets.


Then it was time to have a go at Tony Abbott as the discussion turned to the issue of the parliamentarians’ expenses controversy – which, currently, is focused on claims by Coalition, not Labor or Greens, MPs.  Once again Green agreed with Trioli who agreed with Rowland who agreed with Green. There were sneers all round.  Green pretended to cough when he spoke about Tony Abbott’s pre-election commitment to be careful with taxpayers’ money. Trioli joined the sneer.


Then it was time to discuss developments in the proposed Australia-China trade agreement which was discussed at the APEC Conference in Bali.  Green implied that, due to its “line”, The Australian had not adequately covered the expenses issue.   Here Trioli had to interrupt – she pointed out that the expenses controversy was covered in the right-hand column on Page 1.  But Green complained that Prime Minister Tony Abbott was not specifically mentioned in The Australian’s headline.  Green extended the criticism to some of the tabloids – meaning the News Corp publications, of course.

As it turned out, no one during the “Newspapers” segment discussed the proposed Australia-China trade agreement which happened to be the big news story of the morning and was the lead story in both The Australian and the Australian Financial Review.


Then it was time to discuss John Masanauskas’ article in today’s Herald Sun title “Ratepayers must pay for Tim Flannery’s Climate Council”.  It reported that Dr Flannery (for a doctor he is) has decided to take the hat around to local government in order to fund the Climate Commission following the withdrawal of funding by the Abbott Government.  This seems to contradict Flannery’s promise to “crowd-source” funding from private sources.  Let’s go to the transcript as Trioli agreed with Green who agreed with Trioli who agreed with Green:

Virginia Trioli : And now let’s turn to the Herald Sun, what’s this yarn about.

Jonathan Green: The Climate Commission, Tim Flannery’s organisation – that’s a little bit unfair but –

Virginia Trioli : How’re they going, have they managed to kick-start themselves?

Jonathan Green: Well they’ve actually made their million dollars in public donations but the Herald Sun is upset that some councils may be putting rate-payers money towards this…

Virginia Trioli : Your money!

Jonathan Green: Your money! Your rates! Notably leading the way is none other than Melbourne’s Yarra Council which as we all know is a nuclear free zone and a council of –

Virginia Trioli : They took the reactors out of there years ago.

Jonathan Green:  –  a  rather leftist disposition. But the  Herald Sun, and quoting here “the rent-a-quote” from the Institute of Public Affairs, both of them together are outraged that rate-payers’ funds should go towards this climate warmist hoax.

Virginia Trioli: That’s right. It’s only because the issue of climate has become in Australia a political one. In many other countries [it’s] actually a bipartisan issue. 

In fact, as Tim Wilson (the so-called “rent-a-quote” from the Institute of Public Affairs) has pointed out, he did not complain that rate-payers funds are going to a “climate warmist hoax”.  As the Herald Sun report made clear, Wilson’s position is that local governments should not waste money outside their area of direct responsibility – whatever the cause.  This is his consistent position – which was re-enforced when he was reported in today’s Herald-Sun as declaring: “Ratepayers should not be funding Tim Flannery’s pet projects in place of necessary services.”

Needless to say – in the traditional ABC way – Green and Trioli have refused to make a correction.


Then it was time to discuss a story in The Age this morning concerning senator-elect Ricky Muir and the Motorist Enthusiast Party.  Jonathan Green used the occasion to sneer at Mr Muir as the 32 year old “father of five”.  Neither Ms Trioli nor Mr Rowland objected to this sneer.  But just imagine what might have been said if, say, Tim Wilson had described Greens MP Adam Bandt as a “41 year old father of none” or Labor MP Tanya Plibersek as a “42 year old mother of three”.  Just imagine.


Then, finally, it was time for ABC types to do what ABC types do best.  Namely, talk about the ABC and to verbal and bag News Corp commentators (who have no right of reply). And so it came to pass – yet again – that Green agreed with Trioli who agreed with Rowland who agreed with Green.  And a wonderful sneering time was had by all.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Virginia Trioli: And your final yarn today is about us. Why are you wasting time being with the navel-gazing Jonathan? What’s that about?

Jonathan Green: Let’s just ignore it. Oh you want to talk about it? Okay.

Virginia Trioli: I don’t know what it is.

Jonathan Green: The Australian’s  leading culture warrior, Nick Cater

Michael Rowland : I thought he’d left The Australian.

Jonathan Green: Well he has. But he’s still doing their stuff on the opinion page as a writer. Commission an inquiry[sic] into the ABC and we haven’t had one of them since the Dix Report, I think thirty years ago. He [Cater] says that time is due. Through an extraordinary collection of straw men and selective quotations of statistics he makes this argument. But it’s also interesting to see a guy in a newspaper getting very hot under the collar about digital media and social media, saying that the ABC is old fashioned as he writes on his newspaper column –

Virginia Trioli: The ABC is old fashioned?

Jonathan Green:  – in a newspaper in print, on paper.

Virginia Trioli: I thought it was our new fashioned The Drum website that was getting us into so much trouble with the old fashioned media.

Jonathan Green:  Well, it’s treading on people’s toes.

Virginia Trioli: It does. We’ll look forward to being in “Cut & Paste” tomorrow. Thanks so much Jonathan.

Jonathan Green: Always an honour. [Green laughs with Trioli and Rowland].

Michael Rowland: KPI achieved this morning; let’s go to sport now. It’s “Good morning”, Paul [Kennedy].

Whereupon Paul Kennedy continued the “joke” saying that, if there is to be an inquiry into the ABC he would have to tidy up the  Sports Department.  La Trioli spoke about cleaning up dirty coffee cups. And Young Mr Rowland suggested that the current state of ABC offices resembled a “brothel” [How would he know? – Ed]. LOL time, to be sure.

Needless to say, no one bothered to tell Jonathan Green that Nick Cater’s so-called old-fashioned newspaper column was in The Australian’s  online edition. And no one bothered to say that, rather than being replete with “straw men” and “selective quotations”, Cater had written a considered critique of the ABC.   And no one told viewers that your man Green was the inaugural editor of the ABC’s The Drum.

Still what’s to be expected when the taxpayer funded Jonathan Green is interviewed by the taxpayer funded Virginia Trioli and Michael Rowland on the taxpayer funded ABC?  Nothing but taxpayer funded self-indulgence.

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Until next Friday’s regular edition. Keep morale high.