I recorded this interview with Glyn Greensmith of the ABC on the future of newspapers.
All you have to do is click and listen.
I recorded this interview with Glyn Greensmith of the ABC on the future of newspapers.
All you have to do is click and listen.
The most entertaining aspect of the slow disemboweling of Two Punch Tony has been the serial flip-flopping by the over-priced keyboard warriors in the NewsCorpse bunkers.
Astute observers of the Murdoch press in Australia are not surprised to see only one version of the hymn sheet being printed each day, but then we watch, smirking, as the various soloists each wobble to the microphone to sing their allotted verses accompanied by the cacophony of the discordant Greek chorus standing beyond the ghostly glow of the footlights.
This sort of thing.
It might just be a case of magical thinking — you know, if you wish really really hard then something will come true. Or, it might just be that for the Right Wing columnists in Rupert’s employ the thought of a small ‘l’ socially liberal Liberal turns them into “bedwetters“.
And the two-faced doublethink is amazing from these Orwellian reptilians.
There’s nothing that the political media pack likes more than a bit of blood-letting.
The entire Canberra Press Gallery is on a sugar high at the moment and there’s no sign that they’re coming down soon.
A leadership crisis makes for good copy and it allows the all-news TV channels to flood the airwaves with blue-tie talking heads from dusk till dawn and then from dawn till dusk – (rinse and repeat).
They really only have one thing to say, but it has to be said again and again by as many people as possible with spin (rinse and repeat) and with varying inflections.
Then the tea leaves, the coffee grounds, the chicken entrails, the pigeon droppings and the contents of the ministerial chamberpots are pored over, poked at, sniffed, taste-tested, licked, chewed, sucked and spat out like so much cheap plonk at a Dan Murphy’s wine-tasting.
But the audience (AKA, the punters, the voting public, the great unwashed) ends up being none the wiser.
There have been two important speeches at the National Press Club in the past week or so. One of them got bucket loads of media coverage and has turned into a national story of gargantuan significance. EM covered it here.
The second NPC speech received some coverage, but there have been few ripples across the pond and the story has died. However, EM can’t let it go because it is a subject dear to our heart — Freedom of the Press.
Just two days after Two Punch delivered his wooden and self-wounding speech on Monday, perhaps fatally injuring his own prime ministership and his political party in the process, the chair of the Australian Press Council, Professor Julian Disney, gave an address to the gathered scribes and interested onlookers.
Disney’s speech won’t kill off the Press Council, but he is leaving soon anyway and his replacement has been announced, Professor David Weisbrot; so, in some ways, the address was a valedictory.
Disney also used the speech to make some thinly-veiled comments about the role of destabilisation and undermining of the Council’s authority by Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorpse.
The killing of 12 journalists from French magazine Charlie Hebdo was a horrible murder carried out by crazed ideologues. I condemn it unconditionally…But…expressing solidarity with mass murderers and the enemies of freedom of speech is a backward step.
Read this statement from Paris-based socialist John Mullen on why the better sections of the French left marched separately and at a distance from the world leaders.
This letter from another French leftist also sets out some very cogent and nuanced arguments that non-French people should probably read. It outlines the difficulties of fighting fundamentalism and fascism at the same time. But it is the necessary form that solidarity must take — not the perverted version of marching with ghouls.
This is the difficult argument I am having with my French friends: we are all aware of the fact that the attack on Charlie Hebdo will be exploited by the Far right, and that our government will use it as an opportunity to create a false unanimity within a deeply divided society. We have already heard the prime minister Manuel Valls announce that France was “at war with Terror” – and it horrifies me to recognize the words used by George W. Bush. We are all trying to find the narrow path – defending the Republic against the twin threats of fundamentalism and fascism (and fundamentalism is a form of fascism). But I still believe that the best way to do this is to fight for our Republican ideals. Equality is meaningless in times of austerity. Liberty is but hypocrisy when elements of the French population are being routinely discriminated. But fraternity is lost when religion trumps politics as the structuring principle of a society. Charlie Hebdo promoted equality, liberty and fraternity – they were part of the solution, not the problem.
Solidarity is a fine and welcome human emotion. It shows that we are not all Ayn Randian sociopaths who will always place our individual comfort and wealth above the problems of others.
Solidarity is an expression of hope that the world can be a better place and it is a recognition that by coming together in collective action we can and we will change the world.
While the murder of journalists in cold blood by crazed Islamic terrorists can never be condoned and is rightly condemned by anyone of conscience; we cannot allow ourselves to be drawn into displays of solidarity unthinkingly and based only on a gut reaction to horror.
Think before you walk, zombie-like in the footsteps of the damned.
It is always sad to witness the murder of journalists. Killing the messenger is never a solution if you don’t like the message.
The murder of 10 Charlie Hebdo journalists and cartoonists by Islamic extremists was a violent hate crime with no justification.
The perpetrators of this outrage seek to clothe themselves in the garb of Islam and claimed to carry out the murders in the cause of defending the Prophet.
They failed in that aim.
Instead, all that the murderers have achieved is to strengthen the resolve of Western powers to prosecute their own war on the people of Aghanistan, Syria and Iraq.
Intensifying the US-led bombing raids (in which Australia is a willing participant) against Da’esh or pouring more Western military aid into the hands of illegitimate governments in Yemen and the Arabian peninsula, will not reduce the threat of further attacks like that against the French satirical magazine.
Only three things are certain as a result of the Charlie Hebdo incident:
1. Western governments will use it as an excuse to continue prosecuting the so-called “War on Terror”, which, by all reasonable accounts is an abject failure and the major cause of increased terrorist attacks inside Western nations
2. Despite all the moralistic outrage gushing from the pages of Western newspapers and dripping from the lips of Western politicians our freedom of speech, our freedom of assembly and our freedom of thought will be further curtailed by the so-called guardians of liberty.
3. The hypocrisy of those in the West now calling for the re-publication of some of Charlie Hebdo’s more racist and vilifying cartoon front pages will know no boundaries; but they will pretend it doesn’t exist.
I will attempt to explain these three points quickly and then link to some of the better commentary on the issue.
It really is like taking cheese from a mouse to pick on this sad excuse for a birdcage liner, but when it get as silly as this, I must call out the editor because, surely, it is his call to put such garbage on the front page. Take this for a lead (and remember the root word in “news” is new):
Sydney siege terrorist Man Haron Monis delivered a chilling lecture calling for an “Islamic society” to a packed prayer hall in 2009 — the same year he dropped off security watch lists.
Did you catch the date? It was five or six years ago, give or take a New Year holiday. And, wow, a Muslim who believes in an “Islamic society”; I bet there are not more than, Oh, I don’t know, let’s guess 1.6 billion people who might fit that description.
But, hey, Muslims; they’re dangerous, right? Yes, they are; not like the world’s estimated 2.2 billion Christians who go to church every week and listen to crazed men in long frocks calling for a “Christian society”.
The first terror-related death on Australian soil tragically occurred on Tuesday night this week in Melbourne. A young man shot dead after attacking two officers with a knife outside a suburban police station. Police say the dead youth was known to them, and that his assault of the officers was unprovoked. Less than 24 hours later new laws giving the nation’s security forces additional powers were “bullied” through Parliament with barely any dissent.
However, the circumstances of Numan Haidar’s short life and his tragic end have been the subject of much ill-informed speculation, including the allegation – not confirmed by Victorian police – that he planned to “behead” the officers he attacked.
Interestingly – and to me quite shockingly too – when you google “Numan Haidar Melbourne” there is very little scooped up by the usually voluminous search engine (see first image below). But when you put “terror shooting melbourne” into the search engine there are thousands of results. [click images to enlarge and see detail]
An interesting comment on how the national security media is framing Mr Haidar’s death. He is constantly referred to by police and government as “this person”, Numan is dehumanised so that he can be posthumously demonised as well.
In the days before the fatal incident in Melbourne, television footage of federal police officers armed with automatic rifles guarding Parliament House in Canberra made for a discomforting sight.
This unprecedented move is, we are told, based on some overheard telephone “chatter” that may, or may not, relate to a real and credible threat to the lives of politicians or visitors to the nation’s capital.
In the past two to three weeks the Australian public has been slowly, but surely boiled like a frog to the point that our worst imagined fears seem all too real.
Now, in the wake of the Melbourne shooting of what the media seemingly delights in calling a “known terror suspect”, even though the young man was guilty of no crime, we can expect to see more calls for more police powers and further new surveillance and data retention powers will almost certainly pass through Parliament unopposed in coming weeks.
Tony Abbott and several of his senior security officials have drip fed the idea of a clear and present danger to Australian lives into a compliant media. The stories have been duly repeated; the raids orchestrated for the cameras and the serious press conferences held. The national security media has been briefed; it has recorded the messages; downloaded the talking points and repeated them back to us with a suitable tone of fear and loathing (aimed squarely at Australia’s tiny Middle Eastern Muslim population).
I don’t doubt for a minute that there are Australians serving with Daesh and al Qaida or its offshoots in Syria and Iraq. No doubt others wish to emulate their mujahedeen brothers and sisters and become ‘shaheed’ [martyrs] to the cause of fundamentalist Islam. There are others here, at home, whose passions have been roused by the attention they are getting from ASIO – passports being cancelled, constant visits from the AFP and round-the-clock surveillance of their movements and their phone calls.
But I also don’t doubt for a minute that there are similarly deranged members of Abbott’s “Team Australia” who habour similar murderous thoughts and are capable of issuing death threats and perhaps even carrying them out.
What I worry about is that the overwhelming police response is aimed at members of Australia’s Middle Eastern, Muslim minority and that the white supremacist, bigoted racist wallies who want to burn mosques and attack young Muslim women in the street are being left to foment their own special kind of trouble.
The police response so far – 800 heavily armed officers to arrest a couple of handfuls of suspects, most of whom have been released without charge – seems more than a little disproportionate to the actual threat level.
It also seems, looking from the outside, that current operational and intelligence gathering powers are adequate to protecting the population from any threat that home grown jihadis might represent. The idea that Daesh can attack Australia from its bases in Syria and Iraq is just a fantasy; or worse, it is deliberate scare mongering by the government aided and abetted by the national security media.
Oh dear, the predictability and monotony of The Australian‘s whining about the ABC was taken to new heights this week on two fronts: firstly, the revelation that the national broadcaster has to pay market rates for its premier on-air talent and, secondly, feigned moral outrage that the ABC would cover the very newsworthy disclosure that the Defence Signals Directorate wanted to listen-in on the phone calls of the Indonesian President and his wife.
Any reasonably briefed chimpanzee would be able to write the coverage of these issues for the News Limited papers. There’s a template, a formula and a draw full of boilerplate copy that oozes vitriol, arsewipe and stinking double standards.
Any casual reader of Ethical Martini will know that I am a critic of News Limited’s newspapers; not because they are bad newspapers, but because of the hardcore conservative political agenda that they execute with extreme prejudice.
Not only do the bulk of News Limited’s senior journalists and columnists regularly indulge in denial of anthropogenic climate change, they also indulge in denialism when it comes to their own warped sense of self importance and political bias.
As a group, it seems that they just don’t see anything at all amiss in their slavish devotion to conservatives’ pet causes — bushfires are just part of the Australian vernacular, the ABC is a vicious nest of left-wing pustules that needs to be lanced and handed over to a junior mogul, school teachers are only marginally less feral than ABC-types, the carbon tax was killing business and Aborigines get all the privilege and none of the pain of being Australia’s first people.
It even extends to the role that these hacks and fluffers think they play in the larger realm of politics and the public sphere.
According to these enlightened bigots, this year News Limited’s news outlets were not campaigning for the election of an Abbott government to suit the political mood of the omnipotent Murdoch, it was for the good of the country. News Limited journalists and columnists know better than most of us what is in the national interest.
After all, as the old adage goes: “If it’s good for business it’s good for the country and if it’s good for the country, it’s good for business.”
And our new prime minister, Tony Abbott, knows all too well, what’s good for uncle Rupert is good for business and good for the good of the nation.
So, perhaps then, it’s not surprising that Abbott wanted to gather the faithful for a blessing and a booze up to cement the too-cosy relationship between his government and the conservative commentariat.
Only one problem in that little plan: it leaked. The Sydney Morning Herald let us know yesterday that the cream of Australia’s rightwing media meritocracy would be gathering ce soir for an intimate “Merci beau coup” from the Prime Minister, an a-la-carte feast and a couple of coldies.
I can’t help but wonder if Abbott says grace at these gatherings and counts his blessings.
The guest list exposes the overly close relationship that senior News Limited apologists (and one or two Fairfax fellow-travellers) will have with Abbott and his inner circle over the next few years.
When entertaining at home Tony Abbott prefers like-minded company, if the guest list to his Saturday soiree is any guide. The Prime Minister’s first gathering of the Australian media is an invitation-only affair of conservative columnists and broadcasters.
Many are disagreeable, but, happily, rarely so with the nation’s 28th leader. Invited to dinner and drinks at Kirribilli House is a rollcall of Mr Abbott’s strongest supporters: among them Andrew Bolt, Piers Akerman, Alan Jones, Janet Albrechtsen, Miranda Devine and Chris Kenny.
Daily Telegraph editor Paul Whittaker, whose paper backed Mr Abbott to the hilt, will be in attendance. News Corp editor Col Allan is believed to have flown back from New York in time for the intimate gathering of friends. The Australian editor Chris Mitchell was invited, but told Fairfax Media he was unable to attend.
That most of Mr Abbott’s guests come from News Corp would surely please Rupert Murdoch, who is back in Australia. Fairfax Media columnists Paul Sheehan and Gerard Henderson were also invited to the knees-up, which was orchestrated by Mr Abbott’s chief of staff Peta Credlin.
Guests were asked to keep details of the evening strictly confidential. ”We do not release details of the Prime Minister’s private functions,” a spokeswoman said. She declined to respond when asked whether the taxpayer would foot the bill for the dinner and drinks.
In my view being on the guest list for this “private” soiree disqualifies those who attended from ever writing another word about federal politics. The guests at last night’s benediction are fatally compromised and beholden to Abbott.
And it’s not private, what Abbott wanted was secrecy. If the PM is entertaining at his official Sydney residence and the invitations were arranged by his staff, then it is a public matter. The guest list should be public and we should also be told what the guests were talking about. Did Margie and the girls do the catering — fairy bread and communion wine? If Kirribili House was the venue then surely staff were on hand (paid time and a half perhaps?) and it is an official, not a private engagement.
There is an air of secrecy already surrounding the actions of this government and it is a shroud that the PM has pulled tightly over many areas of public policy that we should be privilege to. It is not OK for Abbott to entertain this bunch of flunkies at taxpayer expense.
Most of the guests were already firmly in the PM’s camp politically and the News Limited posse had shamelessly displayed their fevered loyalty to the coalition during the 2013 election campaign.
Whether writing out of personal conviction, romantic attraction to Abbott, or because of Murdoch’s unwritten, but unmistakable, orders, many of the gathered faithful have been loyal foot soldier’s in Abbott’s culture war for some time.
Now they need to be publicly exposed for the sychophantic arse-wipe, lickspittle, jumped up little Hitlers that they are.
Like most sociopaths, they bully down and kiss butt upwards.
Chris Kenny has recently been promoted to “associate editor” at The Australian, no doubt in recognition of his excellent service, which continued this week with another poke at the ABC and Insiders host Barry Cassidy in a fusilade of fury about the so-called “culture wars”. I can’t help but wonder where these stories come from, surely not an insider tip from a minister’s office. Kenny has once again proven his effectiveness as a doer of dirty work on behalf of the Liberal Party.
Kenny is probably an obnoxious toad and even his teenaged son has had reason to question his father’s journalistic and political judgment. How’s this for character assassination en famile:
Kenny is a staunchly neo-conservative, anti-progress, anti-worker defender of the status quo. He is an unrelenting apologist for the Liberal Party. He was one of Alexander Downer’s senior advisers at the time of the Iraq War. He’s been known to argue for stubborn, sightless inaction on climate change. He spits at anyone concerned with such trivialities as gender equality, environmental issues or labour rights from his Twitter account on a daily basis. Recently, he characterised criticism of the lack of women in Tony Abbott’s Cabinet as a continuation of the Left’s ‘gender wars’. He is a regular and fervent participant in The Australian’s numerous ongoing bully campaigns against those who question its editorial practices and ideological biases. The profoundly irresponsible, dishonest, hate-filled anti-multiculturalist Andrew Bolt has recently referred to Kenny on his blog as ‘a friend’.
Kenny is a former Liberal staffer and, according to Mark Latham, (and Wikipedia) a failed candidate for Liberal pre-selection in South Australia. He also used to work for the ABC and is proof of its left-wing bias in action. It’s no secret that there’s a revolving door between journalism and politics. Reporters often jump back and forth between the newsroom and the politician’s staffroom and some even make it into Parliament. Kenny is treading a well worn path here.
Legend has it that Tony Abbott was once a journalist, or at least a “leader writer” at The Bulletin and other journalists have been electorally elevated to the position of PM in the past. I am not complaining about people who make these moves, but it does indicate that there is a certain cross-over and shared sense of privilege between journalists and politicians.
It’s clear that the Abbott regime intends to bring these two groups even closer together and that he wants to keep this gang of trained attack dogs inside the tent pissing out, rather than pissing on his tent.
Perhaps keeping these tame flacks happy not a difficult job when your chief of staff moves effortlessly in the same rarified and privileged social circles as high-flying politicians like Liberal Party boss Brian Loughnane, Peter Costello, Alexander Downer, Janet Albrechtsen and her partner, former Liberal Party headkicker Michael Kroger. It’s good to see that these folk can keep it all in the family.
Dog-whistler-in-chief, Andrew Bolt is also comfortable in these circles, there’s a few square kilometres in Toorak that is home to quite a few of his close friends and confidants. Abbott has early-on in his reign signaled his fondness for Bolt by granting him an exclusive interview (only the second since taking office a little over six weeks ago).
Writing in The Guardian, Katherine Murphy was keen to be seen to be fair to Abbott in relation to the interview with Bolt and she points out that on privatising the ABC and the recognition of indigenous Australians in the constitution, Abbott did not concede ground to the more gung-ho Bolt.
Bolt and Abbott may not (in public at least) see eye-to-eye. After all, the PM has to at least be seen to be governing for the whole country, not just his favoured few in medialand. If the PM were to concede that Bolt is right on all issues, it would give the game away. Abbott’s credibility demands that he been seen to be disagreeing (even slightly) with Bolt.
However, I am not so sure that this is the Prime Minster’s true face on display here.
There is no doubt in my mind that Abbott would love to privatise or close down the ABC, but he knows it would be a long and expensive political fight and one that might split the conservative coalition down the middle. I also don’t think that Abbott’s heart (while on his sleeve) is really in favour of greater respect, autonomy and funding for the cause of Aboriginal sovereignty.
Changing the constitution is an easy one for Abbott to champion — much like Malcolm Turnbull’s treacherous double game on the republic issue — but he has an easy out; he can simply shrug his shoulders when the referendum fails.
On the essentials there is no gap between Bolt and Abbott, as this exchange on bush fires and climate change shows.
AB: I’ve been struck by the insanity of the reaction in the media and outside, particularly linking the fires to global warming and blaming you for making them worse potentially by scrapping the carbon tax.
PM: I suppose, you might say, that they are desperate to find anything that they think might pass as ammunition for their cause, but this idea that every time we have a fire or a flood it proves that climate change is real is bizarre, ’cause since the earliest days of European settlement in Australia, we’ve had fires and floods, and we’ve had worse fires and worse floods in the past than the ones we are currently experiencing. And the thing is that at some point in the future, every record will be broken, but that doesn’t prove anything about climate change. It just proves that the longer the period of time, the more possibility of extreme events … The one in 500 year flood is always a bigger flood than the one in 100 year flood.
AB: The ABC, though, has run on almost every current affairs show an almost constant barrage of stuff linking climate change to these fires.
PM: That is complete hogwash.
AB: It is time to really question the bias of the ABC?
[Note the redundant question mark here, it was really Bolt telling Abbott that IT IS TIME to move on the ABC, EM]
PM: But people are always questioning the “bias” of the ABC.
AB: Yes, but you’re the bloke that is handing over $1.1 billion a year to the ABC to continue a bias that’s against their charter.
PM: If we were starting from scratch we may not have the media landscape that we do, but we’re not starting from scratch … The ABC is an important part of a pluralistic media landscape, and I’m not going to complain about it, Andrew. I will do what I can to ensure the ABC is well managed, has got a good board, a strong board, and …
AB: But would you agree that the bias of the ABC, as observed even by former ABC chairman Maurice Newman, is in breach of its charter?
PM: I would say that there tends to be an ABC view of the world, and it’s not a view of the world that I find myself in total sympathy with. But, others would say that there’s a News Limited view of the world.
AB: Taxpayers don’t pay News Limited.
PM: But I’m a conservative, I’m a traditionalist. I’m not persuaded that we need radical change here.
The exchange continues and Bolt slips in a question about the ABC stealing an audience from Fairfax, but hypocritically he doesn’t mention the loud complaints from his own boss on the subject.
AB: Does it disturb you that the ABC is venturing into new areas like the internet, in direct competition with Fairfax in particular, offering the same audience the same product for free?
PM: If the ABC were to come to us, this government, seeking more money to do things that took it into competition with the private sector, we’d say no.
Geez, Andrew, the ABC meddling with “new areas like the internet”; thanks for letting us know about this, it’s been nearly 20 years since we had the Internet and I had no idea the ABC was faffing around there rather than just being on the wireless. Can you spell “troglodyte”?
I don’t share Katherine Murphy’s sanguine analysis of Abbott’s answers on the ABC. To me it is a signal that the ABC is going to be cut and cut hard the next time there’s a review of its budgets.
Abbott’s party for the faithful was more than just a way for the PM to say “thanks” to his loyal media lieutenants, it is also a way of keeping them close and, I am sure, that over a beer and snag sanga there was more than a little talk of “What next?”
The “conservative” and “traditionalist” Abbott has found a loyal Greek chorus that can stay on the songsheet and that is more than delighted to sing backing vocals while Australia burns. They are all, caps in oleaginous hands, “glad to be of service”, I’m sure.
Sorry, that last link is to Wikpedia, but I’d rather get my news from there than from this bunch of second-rate apple-polishers.
The final question, which I hope some enterprising journo is pursuing: Who paid for this little gathering?
Was Andrew Bolt flown to Sydney in a VIP jet? Did other guests from out-of-town pay their own way? Were they ensconced in a nice harbourside hotel for the weekend and how much did the party cost?
The coalition has already proven itself to be a very snouts-in-the-trough government that is prepared to live high on the hog.
These well upholstered snouts may well be truffling in taxpayers’ pockets.
Just another example of their sense of privilege and hypocrisy. All of them are free-market warriors who despise (or pretend to) extravagant wastage and frivolous government spending, but not, it might seem, where personal gain and a chance to schmooze with the big boys meets prime ministerial hospitality.
Fuck’em all, their pencil thin, Evian drinking, calorie counting, caffiene limiting, sodium sparing, nutrasweet sweetening, rear view mirror preening, carrot nibbling bunnies and the Range Rover they rode in on.
Fuck your big ol’ Sunday New York Times
Fuck the Wall Street Journal
And the lot
Including Nation, Village Voice, Guardian and the rest
Stupid set of priviliged mutha fuckers
Think its fashionable to have an alternative view
And your idea of multiculturalism
Japanese restaurant on Monday,
Indian on Tuesday,
And on Wednesday, Caribbean,
Not too spicy please
And you can’t tell whether or not I’m joking, can you?
Click the link, if you don’t know BFE you are about to be entertained.