Is Michelle Guthrie remaking the ABC in Murdoch’s image?

December 2, 2016

It’s time to stop mucking around. What Michelle Guthrie and her band of redundancy-happy managers are doing to the ABC is a crime against the public interest. And, as Dr Martin Hirst reports, some ABC staff are already taking the NewsCorpse loyalty tests.

I wrote last Friday about the increasing levels of unhappiness with Michelle Guthrie’s leadership of the national broadcaster. I suggested that, from my reading, the relatively-new Managing Director is running out of friends and that her “honeymoon” is over at the national broadcaster.

I began my report like this:

A LONG-SERVING ABC staffer has told IA that the “clock is ticking” on Michelle Guthrie’s “honeymoon period” as managing director of the ABC.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the senior producer says that “rogue managers” have “tasted blood” and “enjoy” the process of making people redundant. Our source also believes that the ratio of production staff to managers has been skewed and that the decision to axe up to nine producers from the science program Catalyst is a “tragedy”.

At the conclusion of this piece I observed that Guthrie and the Prime Minister would have “mind melded” over what needs to be done to bring the ABC into line with the new conservative orthodoxy.

There will be no smoking gun on the changes in rosters and program line-ups for next year. I’m sure Michelle Guthrie’s contract doesn’t say “defenestrate all left-wing opinionistas”, but her mind and that of the Government will be silently and permanently melded on “what needs to be done”. It is a case of “Rupert, thy will be done”, rather than catering to the public interest.

I am now more convinced than before that Michelle Guthrie’s plan is to remake the ABC in Rupert’s image; this will then pave the way for it to be broken up and for parts of it to be sold to Murdoch’s News Corp.

This has been on the IPA’s planning board for a while and both Abbott and Turnbull have adopted this as their ‘to do’ list. If the ABC is sold-off, expect a wholesale purge of any “freethinkers” who refuse to drink Rupert’s kool-aid.

Only those who are able to freely express loyalty to the new regime will survive, which means that current ABC staff will have to audition for their jobs. I think the process has already started.

My column in early October, was around the time that the ABC’s political editor Chris Uhlmann was feeling the heat for his reporting of the South Australian blackouts. You might remember he went out of his way to blame the blackouts on renewable energy, rather than the failure of a number of pylons carrying Victorian coal-fired electricity into the state.


Chris Uhlmann – Andrew Bolt’s new bestie at the ABC?

There was a backlash and a storm of protest at the time Uhlmann’s ridiculous claims were  broadcast and published. Several people complained about the bias in Uhlmann’s coverage, but he was staunchly defended in the News Corp press including by notorious denier, Andrew “Dutchie” Bolt. “Dutchie” has few principles and fewer friends, but he is big on the motto “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. In this case Uhlmann became a convenient “useful idiot” in Bolt’s daily rampage against the sins of the “Green Left” cabal he sees under every bed.

Read the rest of this story at Independent Australia


Trump’s Aussie friends are a bunch of deplorables

November 13, 2016

Given the US election result, you might be in the mood for a joke; it goes like this.

Set Up: Which one of Australia’s biggest media bullies who pretends to moral outrage at the use of profanities has just broken their own rules.

Punchline: Andrew Bolt.

Yep, Australia’s ‘most read’ columnist calumnist, who howls like an offended snowflake when anybody swears in his presence or anywhere near him, began his column on the Trump victory with this classic line:

DONALD Trump’s win is the biggest “f— you” to all his enemies — the media, the politicians and Wall Street.

Don’t be so coy, Andrew. A f—ing 12-year-old can read those dashes. Why pretend you don’t like dropping the F-bomb?

Bolt goes on to write that the ‘whole world’ and ‘our political class’ has been given ‘a shock and a warning’.

The shock is easy to register and now it’s had time to really sink in, we can begin to process the meaning of it: Donald J Trump, billionaire and reality TV ‘star’ is the 45th President of the United States of America.

But what is this ‘warning’ that Dutchie is warning his readers about?

Stop bullying and patronising the silent majority or they will rise in terrible revolt.

It’s a pity that the worst types patronising bullies are often the last people to heed their own advice.

Like all good NewsCorpse writers, Bolt is wilfully blind to his own position in the media elite. He and they have to pretend that they are not part of the establishment, otherwise their wise words would just read like hypocrisy and cant.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dear Grace, I’m bending over for you

November 1, 2016

It takes a lot to rile the Doc. I’m not easily offended or upset, but the rank hypocrisy of the free speech fundamentalists tends to make me hot under the collar.

Today my blood is at boiling point, thanks to an opinion piece in the Weekend Australian by Grace Collier.

It's behind a paywall, don't bother

It’s behind a paywall, don’t bother

You might remember Grace from her recent appearance on the ABC’s QandA, which is increasingly no more than a free platform for pontificating NewsCorpse hacks. On the 17th of October, Ms Collier told Australia’s more than 700,000 unemployed that they should use their shrinking benefit payments to start their own business. That’s also really helpful advice for the estimated 2.2 million working Australians living below the poverty line.

Collier’s comments were made on a night when the NewsCorpse bias on QandA just oozed from the screen. Alongside Collier were Professor Judith Sloan and the Institute of Public Affairs’ John Roskam. Both Sloan and Roskam can be found tucked up on the op-ed pages of The Australian and Weekend Australian next to Ms Collier.

Ms Collier’s performance was a remarkable display of arrogance and ignorance, and as I always say, there’s nothing worse than a stupid person with strong opinions. Take a bow Grace; if the shoe fits, wear it.

Collier was rude, and constantly interjected over the top of other guests, in particular Greens senator Richard di Natale and ACTU president, Ged Kearney.

I’ve taken the trouble to watch the clip again and provide a transcript of sorts, it makes interesting, if cringeworthy reading.

The exchange starts with Collier

‘Nobody has an entitlement to a job…Society doesn’t owe you a job.’

This is just classic libertarian ideology. The statement contains as much social science as an icy pole; it goes no further than being a common-sense view, too common to the conservative free market proselytisers. Collier then continues:

‘In reality there’s one person in this world that can guarantee a happy future for you, and that person stares at you in the mirror every morning.

‘Work out what you’re good at and try and make a career out of it.’

Again, we’ve heard it all before, if you’re unemployed and unhappy, it’s your fault, etc etc. The last bit of advice here is what a 15-year-old might get from the school careers counsellor – if the school can bloody afford one! It is not a prescription for solving the unemployment crisis.

Then, when Richard di Natale points out that there are more unemployed than there are vacant jobs, Collier interjects:

‘People can start businesses.’

Yep, the solution to unemployment is for all the dole bludgers to steal a second-hand lawn mower, stick a sign on a telegraph pole near their house and start a landscaping business. I told you stupid people and strong opinions were a dangerous mix.

Di Natale tries very hard to make his point and keep the discussion at a level above Collier’s kindergarten commentary, but she continues interjecting, as if repetition can make her wishes come true.

‘People can start their own businesses.’

At this point, there’s an audible groan from the QandA audience, as you might expect, seeing as it is deliberately stacked with Green Left Weekly readers and Labor Party plants (according to Mr C Kenny).

Instead of taking her cue from the obviously bored audience, Collier doubles down on the stupid.

‘Oh it’s terrible isn’t it,’ Ms Collier says sarcastically and she continues in this vein:

‘Wouldn’t it be awful to have to start your own business.’

When Senator di Natale tries to give Ms Collier a simple lesson in real world economics, she’s not having a bar of it and taunts him with this brilliant comeback:

‘Why don’t you start a business and hire some people?’

When Ged Kearney tries to jump in here and make a point, Collier continues her schoolyard taunting:

‘Go on, go on, I dare you.’

This is from a woman who claims to have some expertise in life and enough ego to think that offering advice to senators and leading trade unionists is somehow clever, smart and appropriate for a QandA panel.

Nah, it’s not clever. Let me tell you Grace it comes across as arrogant, rude and stupid.

At least Ms Collier had the decency to start her ranting and taunting with perhaps the only honest and accurate statement she made all night.

‘Oh look, I’m going to offend everyone in the room.’

Yes, you probably were, but then again Grace, you think that’s the role of a free-thinker and iconoclast. Trouble is you are neither a thinker nor an iconoclast, you are just a more simplified clone version of every other well-upholstered armchair philosopher who is given far too much space and freedom to write shite for the Murdoch press.

And that, dear reader, is how you do a segue.

Fast-forward two weeks to the Weekend Australian of 29 October 2016.

Ms Collier is leaving our shores for a little while. It seems she is off to the United States to perhaps offer some advice to presidential candidate Donald J Trump. Maybe she will get to go on one of those God-awful Fox programs and tell 92 million unemployed Americans that they should live the dream and start their own businesses. But I don’t think there are 92 million second-hand lawnmowers lying around along Route 66.

However, to the point.

Before Grace left Australia she wrote one last column for the Weekend Australian under the headline BENDING OVER BACKWARDS TO TAKE OFFENCE AT EVERY TURN (as I wrote last week, Boris uses a crayon to scribble out the headlines before the typographers compose the pages).

I was so disturbed by this column that I woke up in the middle of the night (between Saturday and Sunday) and I wrote Ms Collier a little letter. I was going to hold it over till my next Media Sauce column, but as we say here in Detox Mansion, ‘Better out than in.’ So here goes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Groupthinking or just not thinking? “Bedwetters” in the NewsCorpse bunker?

March 1, 2015

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.

A hatrick of keyboard monkeys, they must be right.

A hatrick of keyboard monkeys, they must be right.

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.

Actually, this is not journalism either.

Actually, this is not journalism either.

Read the rest of this entry »

When a spade’s a spade, let’s not be afraid to say so

March 19, 2014
This piece was published today on New Matilda.

Andrew Bolt’s ‘hurt’ over Marcia Langton’s comments was confected to force another humiliating backdown from the ABC, at a time when it’s already under threat, writes Martin Hirst

Andrew Bolt’s crocodile tears over being called a racist fool” by Marcia Langton were calculated to stir up more anti-ABC bile among his hardcore fans.

Despite claims to the contrary, Bolt himself would not be too much bothered by Langton’s comments; he is, after all, a champion of verbal abuse, nasty insinuation and downright mistruth. That makes this week’s apology on the the ABC’s Q&A program by host Tony Jones even weirder and more inappropriate.

If there was any offence at all, surely it was delivered by Langton and not by the program itself. That the ABC would apologise on behalf of a guest’s informed personal comment is extraordinary.

Where will it end? Will Mark Colvin have to apologise every time a guest or interviewee on PM criticises News Limited or the Prime Minister? Will Fran Kelly have to apologise to The Australian for daring to continue breathing?

This week, Langton herself apologised to Bolt on-air, on a different network, but in my view it was an apology born of hectoring and badgering, a token “sorry” offered to get Bolt and his trolls off her back as much as an indication of Langton’s real regret.

Langton issued a 19-page clarification, published on the Q&A website after the episode went to air, in which she said that she had only apologised for causing offence and hurt feelings, not “for my beliefs or my intention of trying to explain my beliefs”.

“I conclude that his singling out of ‘fair skinned’ Aboriginal people goes to the issue of ‘race’ and could be construed as racist,” Langton continued.

Anyone who pays even passing attention to Bolt’s disjointed meanderings in the Herald Sun can see for themselves that he is a hardened campaigner and a warrior for all that is good and right. A few pointy words would hurt him as much as a slap with a feather.

After all, in Eatock v Bolt, the Racial Discrimination case Bolt lost in 2011, he was judged to have failed to act “reasonably and in good faith”. His infamous comments about “light-skinned” Aborigines that landed him in court in the first place “contained errors of fact, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language”, according to Justice Mordecai Bromberg

Let’s not forget he was not keen to apologise for that offence and also claimed to be the victim in that case.

If Bolt was serious about taking offence at Langton’s comments he could have made an official complaint to the ABC, which I understand he did not do. Instead he chose to make a media circus out of the issue in order to maximise the damage to the public broadcaster.

He was successful in that aim. Jones’ apology on behalf of the network was another abject pre-emptive retreat by the ABC in the face of ongoing and concerted bomb-chucking from the News Limited bunkers.

The conservative commentariat is emboldened by such moves and by the tacit support given to their feigned outrage and conveniently hurt feelings by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his senior ministers.

That the Prime Minister also considers it appropriate to comment on an ongoing legal stoush between the ABC and another News Limited hack, should signal that this government knows no bounds in its desire to nobble any independent and critical reporting of its actions.

His thinly-veiled warning that Cabinet will consider cutting the ABC’s already stretched funds even further in the May budget, because the public broadcaster has dared to defend itself in the Chris Kenny “sex with a dog” defamation suit against The Chaser, should send shivers down the spine of every comedy producer in the country.

If satire can be curtailed so easily through defamation actions, and a flagship current affairs program bullied into an unnecessary and uncalled for apology, then those of us who appreciate the ABCs independent take on the world will need to mobilise.

If we stand back and watch as the political attacks on the ABC gain in strength and frequency, we will only have ourselves to blame when the national broadcaster goes down in flames.

Free speech, vilification and the Herald Sun editorial

September 30, 2011

The Herald Sun editorial defending Andrew Bolt against Federal Court ruling that he breached provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act argues that the offending columns were justified.

In the second paragraph the editorial “maintains” the view that:

What Bolt wrote in this newspaper and online was not based on race, but on the way race was used by those who took such offence. (‘Free speech vital to society’  12011)

This is a semantic point that twists the argument to suggest that the actions of those who claimed to be offended, insulted, intimidated and humiliated by Bolt’s comments are themselves racist.

In the fifth par the editorial insists the paper was right to publish Bolt’s comments:

We say [publication] was [justifiable] and if it is the interpretation of he law that comes into question, then it is the law that should be changed.

This is a key turning point in the argument, which sets up the HWT defence that the unfettered principle of free speech must trump a law, which attempts to curtail it.

The following paragraph makes a stab at defining free speech in this context:

A key measure of a mature society is the ability to publicly discuss unpopular views without fear, no matter how distasteful they are to some of us, and to follow this discussion with vigorous public debate.

But this case was not about tasteful or distasteful comments. It was about the deliberate denigration and traducing of nine individuals based only on their ethnic identity.  The HWT justification on this point seems to imply that anything goes in the freedom of speech stakes. This takes no account of the public benefit and public interest in having a legal means to curtail hateful, hurtful and inflammatory propaganda. Any society that wants to call itself democratic and civilized will have legislative and legal provisions preventing racist speech. There is no right to freedom of speech that involves racial or other defamation based on stereotyping, misconceptions, deliberately deceptive arguments. There is no right to free speech if the aim of that speech is to encourage others to action – even if that action (at this point) is merely an invitation to share such views.

On this point the Herald Sun editorial spins itself a very tight web, but unfortunately it appears caught in the clever strands of its own faulty logic:

This has very much been a trial of freedom of speech [sic]. Those who complained had he opportunity to put forward their own views. They were offered equal space on these pages, but sought to silence Bolt on the subject of the social consequences of their choice to identify as Aboriginal. (‘Free speech vital to society’  12011)

I cannot, at this point, offer an opinion on whether or not the complainants were offered and refused a chance to respond in the paper. However, I can observe that this would not necessarily have been in the plaintiff’s best interests. The only possible outcome I could see would be to add fuel to the fire Bolt was attempting to ignite with an explosion of feigned moral outrage. If I had been advising the nine my recommendation would have been not to engage with Bolt in the pages of his own newspaper. Bolt has previous form in these matters and he would know that anything the accused put forward in their defence would be used to further inflame the mob rule atmosphere that demagogues thrive in.

But on the last line “the social consequences of their choice to identify as Aboriginal” I can surmise that the irony of this comment is lost on the editorialist. One of the social consequences the plaintiffs had to endure was the vilification and opprobrium heaped on them by Andrew Bolt in his offending columns and by his legion of ill-informed fans who lap up his diatribes.


, ‘Free speech vital to society’ 12011, Herald Sun, 29 September, Editorial.



‘Free speech’ …the last defence of cowards and scoundrels

September 30, 2011

Freedom of speech is not freedom to say whatever you like, whenever you want about anything you please.

It’s not OK to use the pages of a newspaper or the bandwidth of a blog to defame and vilify people.

That’s why Herald Sun propagandist Andrew Bolt is crying crocodile tears over the Federal Court ruling that found he breached the Racial Discrimination Act in a 2009 column attacking so-called “light-skinned” Aborigines for – as Bolt would have it – milking the system to the detriment of “real” Aboriginal people.

Of course Bolt plays to his audience of dribblejaws. He stokes their prejudice and fans the flames of intolerance and white Australian grumpiness by simplifying his argument to the point of nonsense and focusing his attacks on the easy targets he knows will excite and agitate the usual suspects among dedicated Herald Sun readers.

He knows his coded racism will also act as dog whistle politics to those on the right fringes of Australia’s underbelly who see Bolt as some Glenn Beck-like messiah of salvation for that small-minded minority of Australian bigots who want a return to the days of the White Australia policy.

That’s why Bolt is a propagandist, not a journalist, not a columnist. He uses his position of influence to deliberately rake over these political coals attempting to catch a spark of righteous indignation.

That’s why Bolt deserved to go down in the Federal Court this week.

But of course, for a seasoned campaigner like Bolt, victory can be snatched from the jaws of defeat. In the Murdoch press war rooms up and down the east coast of Australia the planning included how to respond if Bolt lost his defence.

The editorials were already pencilled in and already paid-for tame opinionistas were phoned and told to sharpen their vitriolic pens ready to do battle on behalf of the Bolter.

One such is Gary Johns writing in The Australian. He returns to Bolt’s theme in an attempt to shore up the wrong argument that ‘free speech’ has been wounded by the Federal Court’s decision.

“The provisions of the act used to silence Bolt are bad law.”

Well, actually Bolt hasn’t been silenced – he had three pages to himself in the Herald Sun the day after the Federal Court decision and plenty of air time. No doubt he’ll come back to this on his TV platform too.

And the Racial Discrimination Act is not bad law. It is designed to prevent institutionalised and indiscriminate discrimination against those who have been historically and consistently marginalised in this still whiter-than-white nation.

What’s more surprising is that this is the first time the RDA has been used successfully against Bolt. He is a familiar face when it comes to racially-motivated diatribes against ‘difference’. Muslims and others have been targets before and will be in the future.

Johns’ defence of Bolt also revisits the ideas behind Bolt’s original offending pieces — that the group of nine who were named (and those like them) are light-skinned but identify as Aborigines “because there are public benefits in so identifying”.

This is the exact same defamatory imputation that Bolt made. It implies that this group chooses to identify as Aboriginal because they can milk the public purse by so doing.

As others have pointed out, Bolt’s words, phrases and meanings carried clearly defamatory imputations. His use of words like “official”, “political” and “professional” “white Aborigines” appear to knowingly damage the reputations of the people named in his columns.

More importantly, any defence Bolt might have to accusations of defamatory speech evaporate because he got even basic facts about his targets wrong. He wrote about one complainant that she had a white, German father. Problem was, Larissa Behrendt’s dad was an Aboriginal man.

When looking at this case over the past two days (I was living in New Zealand during 2009 when events happened and had not at that time read Bolt’s columns) I came to the same conclusion as David Marr:

Perhaps the Herald Sun and Bolt should be thanking their lucky stars not to be facing nine separate defamation trials.

[Freedom of Speech rides on – David Marr, SMH 29/9/11]

Yep, lucky that the nine complainants chose to use the Racial Discrimination Act where the test for harm is actually harder to pass than in defamation actions. The RDA contains a clause that explicitly defends freedom of speech when offensive speech is used “reasonably and in good faith”.

In the Federal Court it was proven that Bolt had not acted reasonably, or in good faith. He had knowingly used offensive speech for an explicit political purpose. To promote the myth of black privilege and to use this lie to incite hatred of his targets.

What Bolt and Johns fail to mention — though they both know it all too well — is that there is also public pain in identifying as Aboriginal in Australia. Just ask any dark-skinned Aborigine living in poverty and subject to daily racism anywhere in the country.

The myth of so-called black privilege is trotted out incessantly by the likes of Bolt – the cultural warriors who would do anything and say anything to carry out their jihad against “the left”.

These professional reputation killers know that they cannot muster any argument based on logic or rational attention to fact, so they make shit up and pander to the most base of prejudice in a small section of the community to rally the troops.

And the proof of this is in the Federal Court decision itself: Bolt got stuff wrong, he didn’t carry out basic journalistic checks on his sources (most of which were from a Google search), but found enough rubbish circulating in cyberspace to bolster his weak argument.

The judge also rightly skewers Bolt for being “intent on arguing a case”, but not making a “diligent attempt” to get the facts right.

Bolt doesn’t deny this point, but he won’t apologise or admit his mistakes to his acolytes and foot soldiers. To do so would expose as another lie the image he wants to present of himself as a martyred victim of political correctness gone wrong.

Johns tries to argue that Bolt has been prevented from discussing issues of what has become “cultural identity” in common parlance. But any honest reading of the Federal Court decision shows clearly that Judge Mordecai Bromberg explicity and rightly rejects this idea.

“In finding against [Bolt & the Herald Sun] I have taken into account the value of freedom of expression and the silencing consequences of finding a contravenion…Given the serious of the conduct involved, the silencing consequences appears to me to be justified…An expression of identity is itself an expression that freedom of expression serves to protect. That expression also derserves to be considered and valued.”

So the principle of free speech has consequences for those who choose to exercise it without due care and who knowingly claim the principle to defend wrong actions. But this point is not recognised by Bolt and his cheer squad.

In his defence of Bolt, Gary Johns intones the holy grail of the propagandist: “nothing is more sacred than free speech.”

This quasi-religious phrase is the last refuge of the coward and the scoundrel. Free speech is of course an important principle in any democratic society, but it is not the most sacred principle that a democratic society should uphold.

More important is a commitment to truth and to principles of common humanity and a commitment to fight racism and prejudice in all forms.

Bolt makes mealy-mouthed appeals to such principles as a sop to his base of supporters. He doesn’t really give a fuck. He is a paid propagandist and a mouthpiece for all that is vile and wrong in Australia today.

He should really just admit it, put on the black, shiny uniform and frog march his way into the history books.

Bye bye Bolter, I for one won’t miss you when you go.