I’m back in the Press Gallery – Now what?

April 25, 2017

Political editor Dr Martin Hirst talks about being back in the Press Gallery on behalf of IA.

We’ve done it. IA has gained a place in the Canberra Press Gallery. After months of work, putting together our submission, seeking endorsements from IA subscribers and current members of the Gallery, and preparing a portfolio of my work to be scrutinised by the committee.

In the four days our GoFundMe campaign has been live we’ve already reached 75 per cent of our initial goal of $10,000.

Thanks very much to everyone who’s donated so far and to all of you who will donate. With just a little more help, it looks like we will be in Canberra for the Budget session in May.

Originally published on Independent Australia as Rejoining the Press Gallery

From application to attending

Getting back into the game was a labour of love for me. I was curious about my chances of getting back into the Press Gallery after such a long absence and on behalf of an upstart media outfit that makes friends and enemies quickly and in almost equal measure. (I’m sure we have more friends than enemies, judging your generosity so far.)

So now I’m pleased, but also apprehensive. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear from you.

I was only a bit confident about the outcome at first. I knew our application was pretty good and that it ticked all the Gallery’s required boxes, but that was no guarantee they’d accept it.

We applied under the rules for ‘Freelancers, Bloggers and New Organisations’, which required us to get endorsements from existing members of the Gallery. And I’d like to thank the Gallery members who endorsed our application.

I don’t know, but our path may have been made a little easier by the fact that I have previously held Gallery accreditation. I worked as a correspondent for SBS for nearly three years from 1990 to 1993, so I had experience and some credibility perhaps.

Anyway, we’re in.

I was in Canberra on the 28th and 29th of March to collect my yellow pass from the Security Pass Office and took the opportunity to escort managing editor Dave Donovan and Sydney bureau chief Ross Jones around the building.

It was quite a nostalgic trip for me and it took me all afternoon to familiarise myself with all the routes around the non-public parts of Parliament House.

It reminded me that one of the missions we have in being in the Gallery is to show you what’s behind the curtain.

A lot of the important centres of power in Canberra are hidden in plain sight. The non-public parts of the Parliament building, like George Brandis’ diaries, hold a lot of secrets that they are unwilling to share with the public.

Unfortunately, IA’s presence in the Gallery is upsetting for some NewsCorpse scribblers. I’m not going to link to their spiteful drivel and the only comment I’ve got is “Suck it up children.”

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It was #NewsCorpse that hounded BLeak to death, not “teh Left”

March 22, 2017

The mourning clowns at NewsCorpse have made a habit of ridiculing Earth Hour in their columns and editorials, and it’s no surprise that Chris Kenny often leads the charge. If you follow @chriskkenny on Twitter you will know that he is an erudite and learned fellow when it comes to the vexing questions of climate science, the economics of renewables and what causes power outages in his hometown of Adelaide.

Kenny is a seasoned campaigner in the “culture wars”. His worldview is predicated on the crazy belief that every major public institution in Australia, apart from NewsCorpse itself, has been captured by raving Leftists with an anti-business, pro-human rights, green, queer agenda.

Laughable as this proposition is to sane people who see the world as it really is, it is the motivating force – the lifeblood – of Murdoch’s motivated scribblers and calumnists.

It is therefore not really surprising that, to a man and a woman, NewsCorpse employees lined up this past week to eulogise the cartoonist Bill Leak and to condemn anyone who dared utter a disparaging word about him.

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Hate Media Redux: Always was, always will be #NewsCorpse

December 4, 2016

herald-sun-boycott-meme

Have you ever tuned in to Andrew Bolt’s televised hate fest on Sky News?

I personally can barely bring myself to watch even a few minutes for research purposes, let alone choose to give up precious blocks of my time to be insulted and rebuked and spat upon by Bolt and his parade of useful idiots. However, a few days ago, I did watch a few minutes of Bolt and his useful idiot du jour, One Nation leader and Senator, Pauline Hanson.

I’m sure you’ve probably seen the clip too. It’s the one where Hanson displays her idiot qualities in all of their splendid ignorance. You can watch the clip on the News.com website. But, seriously why would you choose to do that? Instead, just read this transcript, provided by the wonderful folk at Pedestrian TV.

“I’ve raised the issues of equality over the years, whether you’re an Aboriginal or a non-Aboriginal.” 

“And I’ll be asked the question: what defines an Aboriginal? Do you know there’s no definition to [sic] an Aboriginal?”

“If you marry an Aboriginal you can be classified [as one], or if the community or the elders accept you into that community you can be defined as an Aboriginal.”

“That’s not good enough because then if you make a comment about it, well what are you? Are you an Aboriginal or not an Aboriginal?”

“I think the whole lot needs to be opened up on this, a big debate on this.”

Thankfully, sensible people responded with their usual civility and good humour and actually provided a history lesson to Hanson via social media using the hashtag #defineaboriginal. For a start, the noun form is Aborigine, but Hanson’s ignorance knows no bounds.

The whole rant from Hanson started with her hare-brained comments on freedom of speech and lasted around two minutes. It was hateful and spiteful and nasty and it reminded me of this.

This is precisely the emotional effect that Bolt is trying to achieve, day in and day out. His program is no more than a collection of such two-minute noodles.

Luckily for Bolt, Pauline Hanson is easily wound-up and she’s guaranteed to voice the darkest fears that hate thrives on. Her appearance in July this year is another classic in the genre. This time Hanson is the foil for a Bolt rant about Muslims and the Human Rights Commissioner, ‘Whatshisname’. Hanson then directs the hate towards “gutless politicians” as well as the bloody Muslims.

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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.

bolt-defends-uhlmann-57

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


Truth goes down the NewsCorpse memory hole

November 10, 2016

In a rambling and almost pointless column in The Australian on 2 November: THE MIND CODDLES, ultra-conservative Murdoch calumnist Janet Albrechtsen lamented the rise of so-called ‘political correctness’ on American university campuses and she cited an increase in administrative attempts to impose ‘trigger warnings’ on the content of some course materials to prove her point.

albrechtsen1

Janet Albrechtsen writes opinion to order for Rupert and Boris

Albrechtsen tapped into the NewsCorpse hive mind in preparing this article. In the first instance, she borrowed the idea from an October 10th column by the Herald Sun’s Rita Panahi, whose intemperate language and abusive tone goes unchecked by her editors. Albrechtsen also returned to the ‘yoga pants man’ imbroglio that we discussed in last week’s Media Sauce.

Then, a few days after the Albrechtsen column, ‘emeritus’ (simply means unpaid) Professor John Carroll returned to the theme in an opinion piece about the evils of Section 18C of the Human Rights Act: ‘Anguish is exquisite for wielders of 18C’.

carroll1

I’ve already been down the 18C rabbit hole and will go there again later this week, but for now I want to introduce you to the News Corp methods of groupthink and pushing inconvenient facts down the memory hole.

Groupthink is easy; it is represented clearly in the way that News Corp editorial and political lines are set at a high level and then all news and opinion reproduces the lines day after day. The current and increasingly vicious campaign against the Human Rights Commission and Section 18C of the anti-discrimination legislation is a paradigm example. I have written extensively on this phenomenon over on my blog, Ethical Martini. The simple point about the memory hole is that it permits the perpetrators of groupthink to deny that they do it, through the simple act of forgetting.

So firstly, permit me a short diversion into George Orwell’s magnificent novel of dystopian state capitalism, Nineteen Eighty-four.

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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.

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Making Headlines: How Chris runs the country after gulping a ‘large Shiraz’

October 20, 2016

Reading the first few chapters of Chris Mitchell’s hastily written memoir Making Headlines, it’s easy to get the impression that the editor-in-chief of The Australian was not only editing what he unselfconsciously describes as the ‘best political paper’ in the country, he was also running the country from NewsCorpse’ Holt Street bunkers in Sydney’s Surry Hills.

It seems that Prime Ministers, Treasurers and leading politicians from both major parties were super keen to get Mitchell’s advice about policy pronouncements, Cabinet appointments and which hand they should use to wipe their arses.

Five of the 12 chapters are devoted to Mitchell’s recollections of his, and The Australian’s, relationships with Prime Ministers. Alongside his character assessments of them, Mitchell recounts numerous instances of invitations to Prime Ministerial digs – the Lodge in Canberra and Kirribilli House in Sydney – and secret and not-so-secret rendezvous with the PM to discuss government policy, Ministerial appointments and political tactics.

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