The media scum

No it’s not a misprint for ‘scrum’; I mean ‘scum’. 

This piece has been evoked by this morning’s media story in News Limited papers lead by The Daily Telegraph with headlines PM’s jet temper tantrum – Rudd made hostie cry complete with a picture of him waving at the VIP jet’s door, and a video.  The accompanying piece Kevin Rudd blows up over special VIP jet meal describes how he became upset when the vegetarian meal he ordered was not available, as he was trying to lose weight.  The article goes on to say that a 23-year-old air force staffer wept and reported the matter to the senior cabin attendant after Rudd reacted ‘strongly’ when told his meal request could not be met.  Terms used in other Murdoch papers to describe this incident  include: ‘abused’, ‘berated’, ‘rage’, ‘air-rage’, ‘rant’, ‘tirade’, ‘temper tantrum’, ‘air-hostess blast’, ‘blow-up’, 'mid-air serve', ‘red-meat incident’, ‘mile-high meltdown’; all examples of literary licence I suppose, but more flagrant than what appears to be the official term, ‘reacted strongly’.  We’ve come to expect this sort of florid language from the media, particularly the Murdoch tabloids. [more]

An official report was filed by the crew; the report went onto say "The crew were distressed but later in-flight apologies were made by all."

The front page of the online Telegraph, the same paper that featured fake nude photos of Pauline Hanson, features the Rudd meal story, but makes no mention that I could find of news of the outcome of the G20 summit, which must rate as quite the most newsworthy item for the people of Australia, indeed the world, that has occurred for a very long while.  Of the most read items in the other listed New Limited outlets, the G20 story does not appear at all.  It tells us something of the quality and thrust of the Murdoch tabloids, but what is surprising is that the G20 story did not even rate in the top ten stories read in the online Australian, although it did give the G20 due prominence.  Fairfax papers, not to be left behind, followed suit, and Michelle Grattan reporting by video from London said that Rudd’s successful overseas trip to the US and Britain was ‘soured’ by the embarrassment of being asked about the meal story at the concluding press conference of the G20 summit.

This brings me to the point of this piece and its title.

Why was it considered appropriate by the Telegraph’s Malcolm Farr to ask about the incident at a time when the crucial news was the G20 outcome?  Farr is a reasonable fellow who one would expect to know that it is not responsible journalism to embarrass Australia’s PM publically at the end of a summit where Rudd has been acknowledged by senior world leaders as having played a key role behind the scenes, a summit that had ended positively, and one that had adopted many of the initiatives and reforms for which he had been campaigning?  Was Farr under instructions from his paper to raise the issue, knowing it would embarrass?  The video mentioned above, which is in all Murdoch papers, is of Rudd responding to the question, clearly upset and embarrassed by it.  He acknowledged the episode, said he had apologized at the time, that it was a mistake, that being human, despite being the PM, he made mistakes, and apologized again.  Not enough for Farr, he then asked ’”Are you bad tempered?”  He was going to nail him whatever it took.

 Why is the Telegraph’s ‘exclusive’ story being broken now?  It is reported that it has just emerged.  Really?  The incident took place in January on a flight from Port Moresby, over two months ago.  If it’s only now surfaced, how did that happen?  Has someone in the public service in the know just leaked it?  If it is true that The Telegraph has just heard of it, why not wait until the PM has returned and confront him then?  Why embarrass him, and Australia, on the world scene?

Knowing the reputation of the Murdoch press, it’s hard to believe that this is ‘breaking news’.  What is much more likely is that New Limited has had this story for a while and deliberately chose this moment to publish it.  With what purpose?  It could only be to embarrass Rudd, to take some of the gloss off his overseas success, but in the process the media has succeeded in diminishing Australia in the eyes of the world.

This is not smart journalism, this is not clever journalism; this is stupid journalism.

No one would suggest that the meal incident should have been swept under the carpet, or that the PM should not be quizzed about it.  Rudd himself considers his actions were inappropriate, and was prepared to give an explanation and public apology. But why not leave it until his return where it could have been addressed in the relative privacy of the national scene, in which the overseas press is almost totally disinterested?

I suggest two reasons. 

The first is simply to denigrate Rudd personally as part of the political process of putting him down.  He continues to enjoy record popularity in the polls, he has done well on this trip, has received plaudits from world leaders, even a star-billing by several, has achieved many of his objectives, and all the while his opponent languishes.  There are some in the media, particularly in News Limited, who find that situation repugnant and are ready to use the power of the press to reverse it.  A media conspiracy?  Well we’ve all seen this behaviour often enough from the Murdoch press; why should anyone be surprised or affronted by that suggestion?  And this isn’t the only episode.  We saw Rudd confronted about the Fitzgibbon affair in a press conference in Washington in the presence of World Bank president Robert Zoellick.  Why embarrass our PM then; why not do so when foreign officials were not present?  Ask the media.

But there seems to be a more deep-seated and worrying reason, born of a colonial cringe that still exists in the minds of many.  Have you noticed how often Rudd’s achievements on this trip have been down-played by media commentators?  How often have you heard Australia described as just a ‘bit player’ on the world scene?  How often have you heard Rudd’s efforts sarcastically described as his attempt to ‘save the world’?  How many times have you heard reporters, reporters mind you, opining that Rudd was unlikely to achieve his goals, as if they possessed some inner wisdom denied us ordinary people?  How often have you head snide remarks from journalists about Rudd’s feverish activity, and his earnestness? 

It seems as if many Australians, sadly many of our journalists, are still cringing with their colonial irons abrading them, unable to hold their head high as Australians living in a great country with a proud history going right back to colonial days, of entrepreneurship, versatility, ingenuity, strength and courage, especially in the face of adversity, in times of war, in times of natural disaster, and through man-made disasters such as the current economic crisis.  Why on earth cannot the Prime Minister of this country give advice to other countries, why should his well-thought-through ideas be discounted as coming from the PM of only a ‘bit-player’ country?  Why is national pride such a scarce commodity among our commentators?  Why are they so sure we have so little to offer?  The dimensions of a leader’s contribution should not be measured by the size or population of a nation, or its GDP, but by the leader’s intelligence, level of understanding and energy to do something to reverse adverse situations.

That some of our most senior journalists, for whatever reason, are prepared to be complicit in embarrassing our PM and our nation in the eyes of the world is reprehensible in the extreme.  It is inexcusable behaviour.  That is why I’ve chosen the extreme term ‘scum’ to describe them.  We deserve better.

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3/04/2009I see I’m not the only one feeling affronted by this media malfeasance. Bernard Keane, writing on this subject in today’s [i]Crikey[/i] in an article titled [i]Kevin Rudd: the PM who can do no wrong[/i] http://www.crikey.com.au/Politics/20090403-Kevin-Rudd-the-PM-who-can-do-no-wrong.html says, [quote]inter alia, “...that this is a leading story in the aftermath of one of the most important meetings in recent history, to the extent of being the subject of questions to Rudd after the G20 meeting, is indicative of the Australian media’s capacity to focus on the trivial. Kudos to The Australian, for giving the story appropriate weight online - reporting it, but not obsessing over it or seeing it as a higher priority than what’s going on in the real world.”[/quote] He goes on to say that [i]Crikey[/i] got [i]Media Monitors[/i] to sample the reaction of talkback callers and found some of them too had had a go at the media. As a side issue, Keane enlarges on talkback callers’ feeling about the actual incident when he says, [quote]“...while there was considerable criticism, there were a lot of defenders of Rudd on talkback. Some said Rudd’s behaviour was understandable - some even applauded him - and complained about service levels in general, or said he shouldn’t have apologised. Others suggested the abused woman should get over it, or get a different job, should be able to take abuse and would have heard worse things in training, or that any CEO would have hit the roof if they’d been treated the way Rudd was treated. Others had a go at the media.” “Empathy for politicians from the public is invariably scarce, and yet here are talkback callers - older and more conservative than most voters – putting themselves in Rudd’s position and supporting his behaviour. The reaction of many to the story was to think of times when they’ve got poor service and wish they could have reacted in the same way as he did. This is Rudd’s scarily effective communication and image-shaping skills paying off.” [/quote] Keane concludes [quote]“Even John Howard at his most popular - and he never reached the Hawkeian heights that Rudd has attained – wouldn’t have got away with abusing a hostie. But voters feel they know, trust and understand Rudd, that even if he isn’t an ordinary bloke, he shares the values of ordinary Australians and views the world in the same way as they do. It will fade, over time; voters will wise up to how he does it, and grow bored with him, as they did with Howard, and more quickly, too. But at the moment Kevin Rudd is a scarily popular man.”[/quote]

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3/04/2009I see that when Malcolm Turnbull was asked about the Kevin Rudd meal apology, he reacted moderately, but not Tony Abbott, who, salivating at the opportunity to inflict damage on Rudd, labelled him as simply 'toxic'. He can now add that to the 'toxic bore' label. Abbott, the prince of toxic bores, must be right. What a pity it would be if Abbott, believing he had scored a political point against Rudd, had his weekend spoiled by today's Morgan 61/39. He'll be hoping Rudd will be punished in next Tuesday's Newspoll. Let's see.

Sir Ian Crisp

3/04/2009Ad Astra, I’ve always found vegetarians to be very aggressive. Let’s all hope Mr Rude doesn’t visit the Iguana nightspot when he is suffering from iron deficiency. To his credit Mr Rude owned up and apologized rather than force the crew to sign statutory declarations saying the incident never happened. And just what is it with pollies and food? Not so long ago we had beef stroganoff rage when one MP’s wife was in fear of starving to death. It was so serious that her husband pushed aside the worsening jobs and financial situation and gave the matter a bit of a run in federal parliament. Now another incident surfaces as we find out Kevin Rude, suffering from severe iron deficiency, was roiled by the in-flight food service. Ad Astra you’ll have to be more convincing about the encomia being heaped on Mr Rudd at the G20 meeting. What do you expect world leaders to say? How ‘bout this from the USA President: “Mr Rude is a complete dunce. He is clueless when it comes to the big picture.” Or this from the UK Prime Minister: “What an insufferable bore the chap is. Let’s not invite him next time.” And so forth. That sort of stuff is hardly likely to foster good relations. As for embarrassing episodes suffered by Mr Rude I think you’ll find one can be traced to Joel Fitzgibbon who seems to imbibe the waters from the Lethe River. Add to that the latest embarrassing episode which can be traced to Mr Rude himself. The press will always seize on such matters. I think you’ll find Mr Rude has salamandrine qualities so he will just brush it off. Will the ‘salad rage’ get a run in the Rude memoirs? Let’s all hope so because one of your contributors judges such episodes as essential in gaining ‘an insight into the author’s psyche’ and it reveals to the reader a ‘certain truth that cannot be disguised or covered up.’ Even you have admitted that you seek the ‘pristine truth.’ I’m sure you’d be mortified if such incidents were covered up by the Kevin Rude spin merchants.

Bushfire Bill

4/04/2009[i]They are acting counter to the national interest by undermining national morale...[/i] I agree, Rx. The pattern of relentless denigration "hopeless", "incompetent", "insignificant", "embarrassing" and now "rude" comes from the mouths of those who claim it is [i]Rudd[/i] who is talking down the economy. The basic message of the conservatives is that not only is our government utterly incapable of ever making a correct decision, but that they possess not an ounce of grace, even as they wantonly destroy our way of life. A path strewn with misery on the way to a miserable future. Once those Labor types get their hands on the reins of power, well, there goes the neighbourhood. It has always been thus: those Labor plebs cannot be trusted to know which is the butter knife and which is the fish, and will probably souvenir the silverware anyway when they leave the table. The repeated references to the 737 being a "taxpayer funded VIP jet" presupposes that Labor Prime Ministers have no legitimate right to be swanning around above the clouds asking for special meals as their subjects far below grind out their daily lives in all but miserable poverty. Forget Howard's [i]daily[/i] 20 minute flights to and from Sydney so his kids (even after they left school, apparently) could "complete their educations" in familiar surroundings. You can almost see the population of Australia shaking their fists at the Rudd aerial junket as it flies high above them, the on-board staff in tears, flight crew with steely visages and "senior bureaucrats aghast" at the oafishness of the behavior of their passengers. Well, you or I might not be able to see it, but some of the journalists putting out this beat-up certainly seem able to. Expect to see more "Kevin Rude" stories put out as this nasty little bandwagon gathers steam. Daily we already hear what the "next big test" is going to be for the Rudd government (as if winning an election against the odds, turfing a sitting PM out of his seat and maintaining stratospheric poll ratings for thirty months aren't pretty viable tests in themselves). The expectation is that, as the bar is raised higher and higher, as the "tests" are made more and more difficult, at the first sign of faltering we're going to get the "Oh, I told you so" stories, the inevitable comparisons with Howard's successes and finally those "Beginning Of The End" editorials as the meme becomes "a government lurching from crisis to crisis". The "VIP jet" affair of recent days will become just another cog in the wheel of the grinding machine that seeks to posit that Labor governments are never legitimate, and that conservative politicians (along with their Colonel Blimp pals in the Defence forces) are the type of chaps we need in a crisis... and how could anyone have possibly thought any different? Joel Fitzgibbon has "failed" because [i]he[/i] couldn't keep the Defence wallahs happy. Kevin Rudd has failed because [i]he[/i] upset a stewardess who couldn't provide a suitable meal for him. What do they want Rudd to do? Fly Jetstar, pay $12 for a cold pie and take his chances with all the rest of the common herd that the bikies won't turn on a stoush at the luggage carousel when he goes to pick up his own bags? Shanahan keeps on saying there is "hardly any" truth in the "Manchurian Candidate" theme being flogged around, and by continually denying - but nevertheless [i]mentioning[/i] - that truth seeks to keep the whispers alive. His main complaint against Turnbull is not that he is wrong on policy or tactics (which he is), but that his being so inept allows Rudd to "get away with murder". Dennis believes Malcolm is not helping The Cause, for whatever reason. He doesn't give a damn about the morality, logic or appropriateness of his tirades. And then his Murdoch stable mate wastes time at a key press conference by elevating the hurt (and, he knew, mollified) feelings of a 23 year old hostie above the outcome of the G20 meeting which is only designed to try to save the world from financial ruin. It's a no-brainer! If you can ask an unanswerable questions about a trivial event that happens a thousand times a day in planes, shops, taxis and businesses all over the world, why not give it a try? Rudd might go crazy and lose his temper again, or he might start "yelling" at reporters to get a life. Hey, it was good enough to get a rise out of Latham when they asked whether his mum was running a brothel out of her Sydney home, why not chance the same outcome with Rudd? You never know, pigs might fly. Actually, given Rudd's nasty behavior, it seems they do, at least over the offices of "the Battlers Friend", Sydney's own Daily Telegraph.

Ad astra reply

4/04/2009Well Sir Ian your anecdotal experience of finding vegetarians aggressive is different to mine. I believe though that Rudd is not a vegetarian but prefers white meat to red. Of course that has upset rural Coalition members who believe that it’s important to feed the man meat. Anyway I hope he has a good family doctor to advise him. Although you seem to discount Rudd’s acceptance and success at the G20 summit because world leaders would have to say nice things about him, I’ve yet to read a media story that says he was not a success. Some acknowledge he did not get all he wanted, but neither did Barak Obama or Gordon Brown. For a media only too ready to disparage, he has come out looking good, even in the eyes of those who often berate him. Oh by the way, I haven’t read Andrew Bolt’s or Piers Akerman’s pieces today. I suppose they saw no good in Rudd’s efforts; I really haven’t the stomach to check them out. Of course the reporting of the wrong meal episode has done its work in taking the immediate shine off Rudd’s efforts, leaving him, as Michelle Grattan asserts ‘red-faced’. Time will tell whether it dents his approval ratings in the opinion polls. If it does, the media scum will have achieved its aim. Bushfire Bill contends that we will see more of this type of episode as some sections of the media try to erode Rudd’s popularity by personal attacks on his behaviour and character. Tony Abbott has already given the lead – he says all this ‘goes to Rudd’s character’. They’ve tried this before by painting Rudd as a Jekyll and Hyde character, nice in public but ill-tempered in private – remember the Glen Milne stories about the large staff turnover? There’s another today by Malcolm Farr [i]et al[/i] – the perpetrator of the ‘are you bad tempered’ question. So I think Bill’s right – it’s game on. You have already taken up the ‘Rude’ label yourself Sir Ian. So what’s the issue? Is it required that this nation’s PM never be bad tempered, or rude? I suppose some would like to have leaders that are benign, cuddly and always smiling benevolently, like Tony Abbott or Julie Bishop or Barnaby Joyce, or our recently departed PM, John Howard. Now there’s a bunch. No bad language, never a sharp tongue, no rudeness, always benign, ever cuddly. As said in the piece no one is applauding rudeness or targeting and upsetting the messenger. But if I had to choose between a leader that, in order to never upset anyone, never complained, never insisted on excellence and endeavour, accepted whatever was put in front of him without complaint be it a submission, a report, a plan, a policy or for that matter a meal, or one that insisted on excellence and endeavour, who demanded things being right and on time, even if that required rudeness or temper from time to time, give me that latter. I don’t mind if people who are not performing get a blister from their superiors. Running a country, especially during such a time of crisis, demands high standards from all who contribute. I expect our leaders to demand it, even if it attracts the ‘Mr Rude’ label from those disaffected with Rudd’s leadership. I wonder how many of us commentators might cope with all Rudd and his ministers are doing with the equanimity we expect of them? BB, Rx and charles all agree the media is complicit in this latest assault. If we’re all wrong, it will all die down. More likely it will exacerbate. Time will tell.

janice

5/04/2009Ad astra, this 'freedom of the press' idea needs to be put through a reform process. Journalists must be held responsible for the mayhem they create - there has to be definite boundaries set which they dare not cross and they must be forced to reveal their sources when a story is proven to be false. Somewhere along the line the media has become a law unto itself and its victims are powerless within the law to get any redress. Serious reform as to the responsibility of journalists to report truthfully and with integrity is desperately needed in our society. If journalists are compelled by law to reveal the source of the information that are based on 'leaks' then I think we would see less political beat-ups and character assassinations.

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5/04/2009Macca, you make a good point - the people of Australia have made their judgement about Kevin Rudd from the time he became Labor leader right up until now, when 16 months after becoming PM he has 74% approval according to last week’s [i]ACNielsen[/i] poll. According to the Coalition though, the people are deluded, sleepwalking as Tony Abbott still insists. Anti-Labor bloggers think the same. This morning we saw Joe Hockey on Channel Ten’s [i]Meet the Press[/i] talking darkly of another Kevin Rudd, and Julie Bishop on ABC TV’s [i]Insiders[/i], well rehearsed as any good lawyer should be, reciting Rudd’s misdemeanours, and alluding to the sinister side of Rudd – a bully who made a hostess cry. A ‘bully’, according to my dictionary is ‘a person who deliberately intimidates or persecutes those who are weaker’. So Bishop’s condemnation was scathing, cuttingly delivered with enthusiasm. The pattern that has been around for a while is now crystallizing into what could be styled a concerted [i][b]Jekyll and Hyde[/b][/i] portrayal of Rudd – nice on the outside, the public side, but hiding a darkly sinister private persona, bad-tempered, bullying, even lying. Bishop relished her recital and Barrie Cassidy gave her lots of slack to disgorge her well-recognized malevolence towards Rudd, but I wondered how Hockey felt as his tipped a bucket on someone with whom he’s been friendly for years. We can expect to see a lot more of the [i][b]Jekyll and Hyde campaign[/b][/i]. The Coalition, concerned about Rudd’s continuing popularity and Malcolm Turnbull’s diminishing approval – he’s now in negative territory in [i]Essential Research[/i] polling, unable to score any telling policy points, constricted by its almost wholly negative approach to addressing the economic crisis and the Government’s moves to counter it, have decided to play the man rather than the ball. The Coalition believes it can eventually bring Rudd down, and with him his Government, by painting him as radically different from what he appears to be to most Australians. Expect Coalition members to squeeze as much as they can from the RAAF meal episode, aided and abetted by such luminaries as Glenn Milne, the go-to man if you want some dirt spread around, and expect them to promulgate every subsequent incident that supports their assertions about Rudd. And if they believe they are succeeding in eroding Rudd’s popularity, as well they may, they will redouble their efforts. Their efforts to pull Rudd down over the Brian Burke affair and the Scores episode backfired, literally, so they’ll be hoping to do better this time. Piers Akerman will be in there boots and all spreading the same story. I find his columns so nauseating I don’t read them. The venom he spreads is shocking, and the vitriol and unbridled loathing his sycophantic bloggers add to his blog is beyond belief, deeply disturbing, at times frightening – they exhibit the degree of hatred that drives rioters into the streets. [i]Pure Poison[/i], a [i]Crikey[/i] blog, under the title [i]Piers condensed[/i] gives a summary of Akerman’s piece [i]For Rudd, sorry seems to be the easiest word[/i] http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/piersakerman/index.php/dailytelegraph/comments/for_rudd_sorry_seemsto_be_the_easiest_word/. For those who can’t access [i]Crikey[/i], here’s [i]Pure Poison’s[/i] summary of the Akerman piece. Warning, this is not for the faint-hearted: [quote]“…prime ministerial boorishness… immature bullying… the thin lips of the man who won the hearts of many with his passionate, if ultimately worthless, “sorry” to the so-called Stolen Generation last year… a serial offender to whom apologies are cheap, from whom apologies flow like flooding rivers, even if he cannot remember what he is meant to be apologising for… his millionairess businesswoman wife… his night on the tiles in New York, the boozy dinner that ran over into close encounters of the grubbier kind at the now-closed strip club Scores… St Kevin is not what his spin doctors claim he is, not at all, and he never has been… an immature and petulant person… ill-equipped to deal with reality… his behavioural immaturity… few have revealed themselves to have such flawed characters… weaknesses… Rudd’s chronic flaw… marketing himself to the wider public through a gormless morning television program fixated not with policy but with one-dimensional personality applied in the dressing room and removed as soon as the lights went out… his much-trumpeted diplomatic career — low-level at best… his solemn Christianity has taken a back seat to his old-fashioned socialist ideas… recent irrational rants… fabricate a mythical past that glosses over some mean and nasty stuff… reluctant prime minister… recalcitrant Rudd’s meagre soul.”[/quote] I went to the site to read the whole piece, and gravitated to the comments. Believe me they are much worse, and in responding to them Akerman revs up his bloggers into a frenzy. I’ve learned my lesson; I’ll return to my resolve to avoid his columns. But what to me is so disturbing is that the focus is not on policy, not on addressing the crises facing the nation, not on the policies that might ameliorate the situation, not on the Government’s actions, but simply on demonizing our PM. It does not matter how hard he works, how successful his policies are, however well he performs on the world stage, however earnest he is in working to improve the lot of all of us, he is portrayed as a disaster, an thoroughly disgraceful person, a hopeless and ignorant incompetent, and very nasty to boot. Nothing he has done or can do will ever change the opinion of Akerman and his bloggers. janice, I too wish there was a higher standard of journalism, derived from a sense of professionalism and pride in their craft. I wish that journalists would get their facts right, all the facts, and then represent them in an even handed way, avoiding the extravagant language that so often distorts the truth, but of course makes catchy headlines. If only they clearly separated opinion from fact and gave reasons for their opinions, if only there was balance. George Megalogenis, Lenore Taylor and Laura Tingle are journalists who exhibit these laudable characteristics; sadly so many, the majority I feel, do not, and they are the ones most often read as they inhabit the tabloids. Glenn Milne, a mediocre columnist, amused me this morning on [i]Insiders[/i] when, seeking a sympathetic nod, he said that journalists had to ‘cop it’ over the articles they write. I wondered how much concern he has ever had for those that ‘cop it’ from his, at times, poisonous pen. One of the main reasons behind starting [i]The Political Sword[/i] was to thrust the verbal sword at journalists who misrepresent the facts, draw faulty conclusions and exhibit partisan bias. [i]Pure Poison[/i] specifically addresses the problem of journalistic ineptitude and malfeasance. Victoria, I agree that Barrie Cassidy let Julie Bishop run on [i]Insiders[/i] this morning, and what challenges he made to her assertions seemed half-hearted. The prominence he gave to matters other than the crises facing us all, matters he even admitted were trivial, gives me an uneasy feeling that [i]Insiders[/i] is changing gradually into tabloid journalism. After the excessive time given last week to the Fitzgibbon affair at the expense of the crucial issues, I emailed Cassidy expressing disappointment, and concluded [quote]“Please reassure me that Insiders is not morphing into a political tabloid.”[/quote] I haven’t had a reply. Not an encouraging sign; I hope [i]Insiders[/i] is not heading down the populist route where the trivial, but juicy stories take precedent over the serious. There’s plenty of serious stuff around.

BH

5/04/2009Reading your article has made me feel that Malcolm Farr has morphed into Glenn Milne. What on earth possessed him to agree to ask those questions which he knew would cause embarrassment to Rudd and to us. Does he fear for his job. I agree that Insiders is becoming tabloid. Only George Megalogenis saved it last week with his considered comments. Cassidy's interviewing of Julia Gillard last week was quite rude and in stark contrast to this a.m. with Julie Bishop. Is it right that the host of a program can just allow a politician to rant without intervention. The program is not worth watching now.

Bushfire Bill

5/04/2009AA, I share your opinion about Akerman. That someone so malignant in outlook actually walks the streets is unsettling to me. He's a tub of hateful lard, dressed up as a journalist. I too can't bring myself to read his tirades. They're just too nasty to stomach. I know I should steel up, but when the time comes I squib it. From your summary his latest has "brought all the threads together". The fat wife. The fake childhood memories. The Jekyll and Hyde personality. The Scores beat-up, relentlessly misreported by Milne and followed up by his mates at News. All of these were disproved and shown to be the furphies that they were, but I predicted at the time there would be a summary article - and it seems today is the day - that brought all thse egregiously false rumours and whispers together - and turned them into the dreaded [i]pattern of behavior[/i]. The idea seems to be that even if not all of them are true, or not all of them are [i]entirely[/i] true, there must be [i]some[/i] truth to [i]some[/i] of them, in other words: Rudd is not what he seems to be. The latest incident, the VIP hostie scandal, is just the last in a long line of second rate poor jounalistic exercises that somehow is supposed to synergistically add to the rest, so that they become greater than the sum of their miserable, ruomour-ridden, deluded parts. I take some consolation that they had to write the "in summary" articles so early. They must be really scared. I'd have thought a year or so down the track would have been the perfect time. But then, who am I? I'm definitely not a real Insider.

Ad astra reply

6/04/2009BH, I agree that Cassidy was easier on Julie Bishop than Julia Gillard. There’s history there. Cassidy has long been annoyed that Kevin Rudd has consistently refused to go on [i]Insiders[/i] (I can’t remember if he ever has; correct me if he has), and has sent Julia instead. There was that famous exchange when, at the beginning of an interview, Cassidy bitterly complained to Julia about this, to which she replied [quote]“Well Barrie you can behave like a jilted lover, or you can ask me some questions.”[/quote] Barrie was suitably embarrassed. I’m sure he’s never forgiven that taunt. Moreover, Julia outmanoeuvres Barrie every time. He is no match for her. So I suppose he keeps on hoping that his sharp questions will one day unnerve her. He’d be wise to give up on that hope. I get the impression that there’s still forces within ABC ranks that pedantically insist on ‘balance’ in reporting, and that pushes some journalists towards always giving the Coalition ‘a fair go’. Remember that the ABC board is still heavy with Howard Government appointees. I’ll write again to Cassidy about the slide to tabloid journalism, but don’t expect a response. BB, like you, I find Akerman’s writing repulsive and his respondents even worse, although that might not seem possible. What surprises me is that [i]The Daily Telegraph[/i] is prepared to publish such vitriol, although after the fake Hanson nude photos and the RAAF meal beat-up, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. It must be among Murdoch’s most irresponsible tabloids. Expect the [i][b]Jekyll and Hyde campaign[/b][/i] to continue, expanding with each new Rudd misdemeanour. Akerman never gives up – he’s still banging on about the Heiner affair, which dates back almost 20 years, long after everyone else has declared it a dead duck.

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6/04/2009Although [i]The media scum[/i] was precipitated by the RAAF meal episode, it did mention the Fitzgibbon affair, which still lumbers along. Brad Norington, writing today in [i]The Australian[/i] in a piece [i]Liu links reach to heart of the ALP[/i], continues the saga. If you want to read a classic beat-up that takes up lots of column space but says almost nothing, read this http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,25294617-2702,00.html There are lots of new facts, but none of them advance the case against Helen Liu or Joel Fitzgibbon. All they evoke is a shadowy feeling they are somehow implicated in something sinister, which I expect the author hopes will stick in people’s minds. It’s a frightening example of how people’s reputations can be trashed in the minds of gullible readers with irrelevant facts, unfair implications and sinister undertones. Norington is better than this; he seems to have got himself into a confusing maze, and can’t find his way out. So he thrashes around hoping the exit will magically appear and he can escape. He’d be wise to desist and call someone to lead him out.

lilitMBA

6/04/2009 I agree there seems to be a more and more frenzied campaign to "get Kevin Rudd" among the media in Australia. What is so insulting about it all is the way the media views the readers as idiots who will swallow anything. The patronising attitude displayed by a number of the players to "the mob" (their denigrating term for readers) has parallels in psychology. I'm only hoping they never stumble on the knowledge that Kevin Rudd has at one time PROBABLY EATEN.............VEGEMITE!!!!!!!!!. WOW! SHOCK & HORROW enough for at least two weeks and appearances on Sky News, the morning show, and yes, Insiders in its present downmarket form.

Just Me

6/04/2009Ackerman and Bolt are not worth the stress. They add nothing to the public conversation, and, like their rabid fan pack, they are not in the slightest bit interested in a genuine debate. One of the main reasons I gave up on 'Insiders' a long time back was those two, especially Ackerman, who has clearly become borderline deranged in the last 2-3 years. Whenever I am reminded of either of them, I just recall the defamation judgements against them. Brings a quiet smile to my face. Don't have Bolt's, but the caning Ackerman got from the judge is a doozy: From Richard James Talbot v Nationwide News Pty [2006] NSWDC 59 "61. The inaccuracies of fact by the defendant [Piers Ackerman] on this topic are gross. In particular, to accuse the plaintiff of failure to attend committees that do not exist when in fact he consistently attended meetings of the Board which did consider such issues, is so extreme a misstatement of fact as to vitiate any defence of comment for any imputation based on it." Let me repeat the really good bit: "is so extreme a misstatement of fact as to vitiate any defence of comment for any imputation based on it." Ahh, almost poetry.

lilitMBA

8/04/2009 It's a belated response to Just Me but Andrew Bolt did have a defamation charge instigated by a Melbourne Magistrate a few years ago. The Magistrate (Yelena Popovic) won judgement against Bolt and his paper and was awarded damages of about $350,000.00 plus costs. Lilit MBA
I have two politicians and add 2 more; how many are there?