Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

In praise of Alan Jones

April 29th, 2015 Comments off

Political speech for most people can be expensive rather than free. Australia’s defamation laws make it so. And it’s not even a matter of losing a court case at the end. Even for winners the costs of lawyers along the way are crippling. The system is stacked against any person trying to expose what they consider to be impropriety.
So thank goodness for public figures like broadcaster Alan Jones. Call him a shock-jock if you will but he is one of the few media commentators well paid enough to say what he thinks despite the attempts by politicians to silence him with legal actions.
Some times Jones pays a high price for his outspokenness. Damages payments can be expensive. But that does not stop him from keeping on speaking out. As he did during the last Queensland state election when he relentlessly kept pursuing Liberal National Premier Campbell Newman and state Treasurer Jeff Seeney by suggesting they “prostituted” themselves in support of an LNP donor’s controversial coal mine.
Jones ignored the legal stop writs and kept on campaigning. After receiving the legal notices he commented that it was “nice to hear from you, Mr Newman”.

“You remain a bit of a political novice if you think that’s the way to win an election or to silence people, you need to actually think again, but thanks for writing,”

So how good to read today that calling the bluff of Messrs Newman and Seeney worked. The pair of defeated politicians today withdrew their lawsuit. I can only hope that they will have to pay a sizeable amout to cover the broadcaster’s legal costs

Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

Murdoch loses his cool because The Sun not attacking Labour vigorously enough

April 22nd, 2015 Comments off

murdoch loses his cook

  • Rupert Murdoch, fearing company’s future, told Sun journalists to get ‘act together’ on Labour coverage – The News Corp chairman –  who owns The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times – visited London at the end of February, and reportedly warned journalists on his tabloid newspaper of the threat a Labour government would have on the company. Last week, in its manifesto, Labour pledged to ensure that no “one media owner should be able to exert undue influence on public opinion and policy makers”. It said: “No media company should have so much power that those who run it believe themselves above the rule of law.” This appears to be a reference to the News UK (the UK’s biggest national newspaper publisher) and the hacking scandal. The Independent reports this morning that the News Corp boss, who has made no secret of his dislike of the Labour leader, told the editor of The Sun, David Dinsmore, that he expected the paper to be much sharper in its attacks on Labour.

    the asun n milliband k.itchensA hint of his frustration was evident on Twitter when the News Corp bosswrote: “Cameron’s Tories bash vulnerable Miliband for months with no effect on polls. Need new aspirational policies to have any hope of winning.”

    Two days after Mr Murdoch’s visit the paper devoted a two-page spread to the election – with the left-hand page containing a 10-point “pledge” to voters written by David Cameron. The right-hand side of the spread was an attack on Ed Balls under the headline: “I ruined your pensions, I sold off our gold, I helped wreck [the] economy, Now I’m going to put up your taxes.”

    It is understood that Mr Murdoch reminded executives that Labour would try to break up News UK, which owns The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times. The party has suggested that no owner should be allowed to control more than 34 per cent of the UK media, a cap which would force News UK to sell one of the titles.

Categories: European media, Media Tags:

Another remarkable Telegraph column – Do as I say not as I do

March 10th, 2015 Comments off

A wonderful addition from this morning’s Sydney’s Daily Telegraph to my “Journalists talking about each other” section. The regular Tuesday purveyor of the paper’s vitriol column – Sarrah Le Marquand – has reached heights of which her peers Piers Akerman, Miranda Devine and Andrew Bolt surely would be proud.

Ms Le Marquand spent a couple of hundred words putting the boot into Mark Latham for his “I hate-youse*-all bile dressed up as an opinion column” that appears in the Australian Financial Review.

haterNothing wrong with that. If you hand it out like Latham you must expect to get it back, and as the Le Marquand writes, that “is the very result he so craves.”

Rather it is the “do as I say rather than what I do” hypocrisy that follows that puts this column onto the Tele’s top shelf.

Latham has proven beyond a doubt he has nothing of substance or merit to impart.

His columns are little more than the attention-seeking tantrums of a self-entitled toddler, so why waste time and energy in reading them? Responding hysterically to every new insult he hurls is only prolonging his shelf life.

Left to his own devices, he is nothing more than a washed-up, embittered has-been.

Ironically it is only the noise made by his detractors that affords him any oxygen. Only when his work attracts the attention it deserves — which is none — will his supply be cut off.

Practising what you preach might have been a good way to start such a process.


Changing views on drug smugglers by the Sydney Daily Telegraph

March 8th, 2015 Comments off

Contrasting from pages – then and now.


(Click to enlarge)

My thanks to James Carleton for drawing this change in attitude to my attention.

Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

Farewelling Mr Spock today and Tony Abbott on Tuesday?

February 28th, 2015 Comments off


That’s how 7News saw things this morning. It pretty much sums up the attitude of most of the media. Notable exceptions were the two biggest selling Murdoch tabloids and the ABC.

The socialist leaning ABC? Yes the ABC website preferred Mr Spock and a Russian murder. For the PM it was a straight report on meetings in New Zealand.

The Melbourne Herald Sunalso  was very low key on page seven while the Sydney Tele relegated its coverage to page nine with:


Up in Brisbane The Courier Mail brought out the egg eater to whip the leadership speculation along.

courier mail (1)Laurie Oakes had his column elevated to page one, where soe people might actually notice it, rather than being hidden in the boring opinion pages as in the other tabloids. Laurie’s message?

Uncertainty about whether a leadership coup would help or hurt the NSW Coalition could be a key factor if Abbott earns another reprieve.

That is all it would be. The last couple of weeks have provided strong evidence for those believing Abbott cannot change his style. The constant flow of damaging leaks and leadership gossip have left no doubt that efforts to undermine him will continue and promises of time to turn things around were hollow.

The Fairfax tabloids went searching desperately for a different leadership angle.

the age (1)smh

Not much in the story that I could see.

The main story in the Oz was a balanced attempt to look forward.


TONY Abbott will seek backbench approval for a recovery plan for his government, including a likely move within days to dump the Medicare co-payment, as he stares down attempts to panic Liberal MPs into another leadership showdown.

The Prime Minister’s fightback strategy will be to refocus the budget, cement his national security credentials and show he is listening to the concerns of the Liberal partyroom.

Conscious of consulting his colleagues, Mr Abbott wants to discuss options with MPs before any decisions are finalised, but he is considering making a health policy statement to quell concerns about the future of Medicare. He also plans to take announcements on a further troop commitment in Iraq to the partyroom.

Paul Kelly was looking forward in another direction.

THE terrible risk for the Liberals is that they destroy Tony Abbott as PM yet undermine Malcolm Turnbull as the next PM. The media frenzy of the past 36 hours, based on aggressive briefings, shows this danger.

At The Guardian they could barely contain their excitement.

guardianAnd The Saturday Paper was not going to be out done in the sacking stakes.

saturday paper


A real Sydney Telegraph exclusive – political correspondent abolishes Tasmania’s upper house

February 23rd, 2015 Comments off

Reporting on an opinion poll giving the public view of the New South Wales upper house:clennell1clennell2

From the website of the Tasmanian Parliament:

The Legislative Council of Tasmania

A Message from the President of the Legislative Council,

The Honourable James Scott Wilkinson, MLC.

The Legislative Council, which is the Upper House in the Tasmanian Parliament, is a unique parliamentary institution.

Established in 1825 as the original legislative body in Tasmania (then Van Diemen’s Land) it is the only House of Parliament in the Commonwealth, and probably in the world, that has never been controlled by any government or any political party. It has always had a majority of independent members making it a truly genuine House of Review.

The Legislative Council has extensive constitutional powers, but Members are conscious of their powers and responsibilities and make their decisions accordingly.

The independent nature of the House makes for meaningful debate of the issues without the rivalry and regimentation which is involved in the process in Houses of Parliament dominated by political parties.

Jeremy Paxman is my new favourite columnist

February 15th, 2015 Comments off

Staring nightly at the giggle box in Canberra not London, Jeremy Paxman’s Newsnight meant nothing to me. Now things are different. Among other things he has turned columnist for London’s Financial Times where he almost justifies on his own making that paper one of the only two I actually pay to read on the internet. Most assuredly his Saturday musings are worthy of being on everyone’s short-list of monthly freebies that apply before the FT’s $ sign goes up.

After a plug like that I hope the journal I used to write for in the days of the first iron ore boom so many years ago will forgive me for ignoring its plea not to copy its words because good journalism is expensive to give this sample from this week’s Paxman’s Diary:

salmon fishing

Categories: European media, Media Tags:

Echoes of his master’s voice – Credlin should go

February 10th, 2015 Comments off

28 January 2015

murdoch on credlin


10 February 2015 – The Australian editorial:

australian editorial on credlin


10 February 2015 – Melbourne Herald Sun editorial:

Herald sun on credlin

Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

His Master’s Voice – and the Murdoch underlings seem to be taking notice

January 27th, 2015 Comments off

Categories: Media Tags:

A nice test of the power of Alan Jones

January 19th, 2015 Comments off

Radio talk show hosts like Alan Jones have an influence on our political life because politicians think they have an influence on public opinion. I have never seen objective evidence of such impact but politicians are not mugs when it comes to deciding what influences their voters so I don’t completely dismiss the idea. Which is why I am intrigued by the entry of the Sydney based Alan Jones in to the Queensland election campaign.

Now this intervention is no ordinary pre-election rant by a conservative commentator. Alan Jones has moved to Brisbane to broadcast for the duration of the campaign to turn his form of vitriol on to Liberal National Party Premier Campbell Newman. Consider this morning’s offering as summarised  by the ABC:

Jones told radio 4BC the Newman government had an appalling track record.

“Make no bones about it – this is as bad as anything we’ve ever seen in government in Australia anywhere,” he said.

He described Mr Newman as a bully and that he “couldn’t back the Premier to win a chook raffle”.

Jones said Mr Newman lied to him in 2012 when he promised there would be no stage three of the Acland coal mine near Toowoomba, where Jones grew up.

“What’s happened on the Darling Downs under this government is a disgrace,” Jones said.

He’s first best friends with the mining giants who are plundering this state and not improving our bottom line.

“Our debt is worse than it was when Newman came into government – and our agricultural land is being squandered and he’s done nothing about the debt he said he would address.

“This is the bloke who won’t investigate why a dozen people died in the Grantham floods.

“You can’t believe a word this bloke says.”

Jones said no-one in the LNP Government was prepared to listen.

“[Health Minister Lawrence] Springborg has had a million letters about the health concerns by the people at Tara living in a coal seam gas field and those letters are unanswered.”

Not that Alan Jones is going as far as urging a vote for Labor. He points out to his audience that there are plenty of good independents worthy of support and has gone as far as endorsing some of them with campaign material.


 (Picture from Margo Kingston’s Twitter feed – )

It is an intriguing intervention although the latest opinion polls still have the LNP government ahead as does the Owl’s political indicator.

qld indicator (2)

The crusade by the Sydney Daily Telegraph

January 3rd, 2015 Comments off

Quite a performance by the Sydney Terror this last month. The fear creating headlines began before the Martin Place siege. And they are still going – perhaps more stridently than ever.

December 3

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2 January

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4 January

3 January


Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

Fox the clear US cable news winner again

December 31st, 2014 Comments off
The O’Reilly Factor the top news program

“The O’Reilly Factor,” was again top dog among all cable news programs

  • Fox News Dominates Cable News Ratings in 2014; MSNBC Tumbles – In a generally overall down year for the cable news genre, Fox News remained the dominant ratings force in 2014, while CNN made some meaningful demo strides relative to a sagging MSNBC. Behind the highest-rated programs in cable news — including “The O’Reilly Factor,” which was again top dog among all programs — Fox News finished on top in both total viewers and the adults 25-54 news demo for a 13th straight year, according to Nielsen’s “most current” estimates through Dec. 26.
  • Greece’s election: The euro’s next crisis – Why an early election spells big dangers for Greece—and for the euro
  • A Greek Crisis, but not a Euro Crisis
  • Pot Pie, Redefined? Chefs Start to Experiment With Cannabis – Recreational marijuana is both illegal and controversial in most of the country, and its relationship to food does not rise much above a joke about brownies or a stoner chef’s late-night pork belly poutine. But cooking with cannabis is emerging as a legitimate and very lucrative culinary pursuit. In Colorado, which has issued more than 160 edible marijuana licenses, skilled line cooks are leaving respected restaurants to take more lucrative jobs infusing cannabis into food and drinks. In Washington, one of four states that allow recreational marijuana sales, a large cannabis bakery dedicated to affluent customers with good palates will soon open in Seattle.
  • The big kill – New Zealand’s crusade to rid itself of mammals.
  • Working Too Hard Makes Leading More Difficult
  • Broken sleep – People once woke up halfway through the night to think, write or make love. What have we lost by sleeping straight through.
  • 31-12-2014 yachtingforsaleCYC bans Oz reporter Sue Neales from Sydney to Hobart for her story – ‘When seemingly unbeatable Wild Oats XI glided first across the finish line of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Sunday afternoon for the eighth time in 10 years, cheers rang out from thousands of admiring spectators lining Hobart’s historic wharves. But elsewhere around Australia there were collective groans from less avid sailing fans. Social media was full of posts and tweets that repeatedly linked the great race with the words “boring”, “predictable” and, most worryingly for race organisers, “yawn” and “I’m not interested any more”.’

An editorial in “The Australian” that should be read by all political journalists

December 9th, 2014 Comments off

Forget you prejudices. This morning The Australian has an editorial that deserves to be read; an editorial that puts the political adventure of Clive Palmer into a proper perspective.

The conclusion from the well argued Media can’t see story for dinosaurs and twerking:

Mr Palmer is our very own Silvio Berlusconi; a cashed-up bully willing to use his lawyers, money and, apparently, his business partner’s funds to get his way, even at the expense of our country’s future. But to what end? To settle scores, sure, and, perhaps, to advance his business interests, but certainly not to assist the national fiscal challenge. In fact, he does great harm. The only eventuality more humiliating for our national political discourse than Mr Palmer’s ability to win seats and hold sway in our national parliament is the parallel willingness of the bulk of our journalists to indulge his antics, ignore his failings and refuse to report or investigate his business affairs.

I, for one, plead guilty to having, in the editorial’s words, “suspended normal scepticism about Mr Palmer’s political plays and business dealings.” I will endeavour to do better.

Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

Hobart Mercury urges independence on Jacqui Lambie

November 20th, 2014 Comments off

Quite an endorsement this morning for Senator Jacqui Lambie from Tasmania’s leading daily The Mercury.

2014-11-20_lambieIt is advice she would be wise to follow. Tasmanians have a liking for maverick independents but don’t much like mainland big-noters like Clive Palmer.


ABC boss explains the Murdoch method

November 19th, 2014 Comments off

So where was ABC managing director Mark Scott referring us? To “The pervasive power of Rupert Murdoch: an extract from Hack Attack by Nick Davies” where you will find:

… they say that his primary interest in politicians is not political; it’s commercial. He may be a highly political animal, they say – obsessed with the details of life in the corridors of power and personally possessed of some extremely right-wing opinions – but what he most wants from politicians is favours for his business. He’ll betray his own principles, he’ll embrace politicians for whom he has very little respect, just as long as they have the power to help the company get bigger.
… The man’s character, in turn, is at the heart of his approach to business. Rupert Murdoch is a man who will crush an opponent like a beetle beneath his boot, and he will do it for one simple reason – for News Corp. One of the guests who is closest to him says: “Rupert does not discriminate – he does not care about anybody more than he cares about the business. That includes himself, his kids, his political allies. The business comes first. His plan is “kill or be killed”. Every single corporate battle that he’s fought over the last 50 years, he’s gone head-to-head to win. You have to win. You don’t acknowledge that politics is a higher power. You don’t yield to the law of the land. You don’t submit to any higher code than your own.”

And does it work? Nick Davies gives some interesting examples and I am amused by the current campaign of the Sydney Daily Telegraph to get the state government of New South Wales to continue the system that has newspaper sales by newsagents subsidised by a government imposed monopoly on selling lottery tickets. If you missed it have a read of the Owl’s piece yesterday When free market principle and self interest collide – which will the Murdoch team back?


And this morning’s headline is one you can believe in. There will certainly be more of the same until Premier Mike Baird joins the Labor Opposition Leader John Robertson in running up the white flag with words similar to Robertson’s as the Tele story recorded:

He said the government needed to “ensure they act to protect the thousands of newsagencies across the state who currently rely on acting as lottery agents to maintain a viable business”.

Categories: Australian media, Lobbying and PR, Media Tags:

When free market principle and self interest collide – which will the Murdoch team back?

November 18th, 2014 Comments off

“We’re for Sydney” the page one banner declares. To which, if today’s Daily Telegraph is any guide, we could add “But self interest comes first.”

Hence the Tele’s big issue of the day. Newsagents might lose their monopoly right to sell lottery tickets, it told us on page one.



And what a terrible thing that would be for these brave and battling small business people.

NEWSAGENTS in NSW have warned they face annihilation if lottery ticket sales are opened up to big players such as Coles and Woolworths.

As a condition of privatising NSW Lotteries in 2010, the then Labor government agreed to a five-year moratorium with new owners Tatts that prevented supermarkets and other big retailers from selling lotto tickets and scratchies. But the arrangement is due to end on March 31 — the week after the state election. …

Lottery sales provide between 25 and 90 per cent of newsagent income and the Newsagents Association of NSW and ACT (NANA) said allowing big retailers into the market would devastate hundreds of retailers.

To make matters worse, Tatts wants outlets to shell out up to $25,000 on mandatory shop refits and fresh branding once the moratorium ends.

They will also demand payments from lottery agents twice a week, rather than the existing weekly arrangement, which NANA says will put fragile cashflows at risk.



Not a mention there of what the closure of newsagents might mean to newspaper sales. But plenty of room on the opinion page for the newsagents’ lobbyist to make his special pleading for “all sides of politics to enshrine in legislation the current network of small businesses.”



And so to the editorial verdict from this stout media defender of competition and the merits of more and more deregulation. It started off being true to these fine principles: “The sought-after outcome in any deregulated economic sphere is an increased number of participants.” But by the end? Well, what do you know.

… some 1500 newsagents now face the possibility of losing lotto sales revenue to the two largest supermarket operators. That loss would be considerable. Such sales provide between 25 and 90 per cent of newsagents’ income. You can see why a dramatic decrease could very likely see them be forced to close.

There is a reasonable argument for the maintenance of current limitation of lottery products to newsagents.


And still not even a mention of the impact of all this on newspaper proprietors.


Categories: Australian media, Betting, Media Tags:

Enough to bring tears to an old sub’s eyes

October 27th, 2014 Comments off

From the media section of The Australian this morning:


Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

Miranda Devine finds an anti commo mum to hide her Gillard hatred behind

September 14th, 2014 Comments off

Another gem this morning to add to my “Views of Miranda Devine” collection. This time our intrepid Sydney Sunday Terror columnist has found a granny to hide her views of Julia Gillard behind.

Emilia Pastuszka, a “stay at home mum” from Wahroonga, has a remarkably similar life story, that propelled her into the public gallery on Wednesday. Her father was part of Poland’s anti-communist Solidarity movement. “He was in prison a few times. I lived through it. You had to accept corruption or shut hut up … social socialism is supposed d to be about equality but who’s ever in power is the new bourgeoisie,” Pastuszka said.

In a moment of candour last week, Gillard lamented the lack of a time machine. “If one got to do the whole thing again you would do things differently.” She’s not the only one. “Things would have been different if this evidence had come out 20 years ago,” Emilia says. “Julia Gillard would not have come to government.”


Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

Hastening the death of a newspaper’s influence

September 12th, 2014 Comments off

11-09-2014 heraldsunp1

The blatant political partisanship of the Murdoch tabloids is spreading. The Sydney Daily Telegraph led the way with distorted coverage of the Labor Party and the Brisbane Courier Mail joined in last year. And now it’s the turn of Melbourne’s Herald Sun.

The biased prejudice that once was confined to those hysterical columnists Andrew Bolt and Terry McCrann has now reached the front page – as in this morning’s early edition.

The good news is that the combination of declining readership and the good sense of voters is confirming that tabloid hysteria now just preaches to the converted. A win by Labor in the forthcoming Victorian state election will confirm the approaching death of the political influence of newspapers.


Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

The views of Miranda Devine – cycle path advocates are like Israeli settlers

September 10th, 2014 Comments off

Just another little snippet to add to a “Views of Miranda Devine” collection. From this morning’s Daily Telegraph column supposedly about Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s cycle paths and their destructive impact on the city of Sydney:

She uses cyclists as cannon fodder for the green-Left’s war on cars. They are like Israel’s settlers, ideologically driven to colonise ever more dangerous territory.

Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

The Australian’s editorial fires a warning shot over Abbott’s way of ruling

September 9th, 2014 Comments off

9-09-2014 ozeditorial

  • Labor’s coup was brainless and doomed two prime ministers – Similar danger signs are starting to emerge under the Coalition. – “… A year after Tony Abbott’s election victory, there are similar danger signs emerging. The May budget was riddled with policy inconsistencies. Promises have been broken and his government’s policy priorities are unclear. The Coalition’s messaging is too scripted to be effective. The Prime Minister’s Office has replaced cabinet as the fulcrum of government. Mr Abbott, so aware of the failures of the RuddGillard governments in opposition, must be careful not to repeat them. … To be a successful, long-term reforming government that maintains the trust of voters, it is essential to focus on only two or three core policy areas in a term. The danger is that governments that try to do too much too soon end up doing nothing well. A clear set of priorities leads to a disciplined message about the government’s overarching purpose. Key lines cooked-up in focus groups and compiled by the Prime Minister’s Office are not the most effective way to communicate to voters. Governments have been infiltrated by an army of political staff, devoid of substantial policy or governing experience. Their focus is pure tactics rather than long-term strategy.”
  • New Mexico nuclear waste site may be hobbled for years – “It may be years before an underground nuclear waste dump in New Mexico shuttered by a radiation leak is fully operational … An investigation into the incident at the site, where contaminated refuse from nuclear labs and weapons sites is buried in a salt mine a half-mile below ground, has centered on a container whose contents included a chemically reactive mix of nitrate salts, organic matter and lead. Preliminary findings from the probe indicate that a chemical reaction generated excessive heat and caused the waste drum from Los Alamos National Laboratory near Santa Fe to rupture, releasing high levels of radiation in the mine and low levels aboveground, where 22 workers were contaminated with amounts not expected to harm their health.
  • The death of the political interview – “… for the most part interviews with frontbenchers are an arid, ritualised affair: interviewer suggests politician’s policy or position is flawed/inconsistent/unfunded; politician denies the charge/ignores the question/suggests that real people in his or her constituency care about something different. They repeat this a few times, typically for somewhere between four and 10 minutes. The interviewee considers it a success if he or she hasn’t said something that will attract the ire of their party’s PR capos. The interviewer considers it a success if the exchange has produced “a line”, though more often than not it will be the line the politician came to deliver.”
  • Teachers Day speech: PM Modi says no climate change

9-09-2014 co2

  • The Keeling Curve Gets a Much-Needed Boost from Google’s Schmidt – “The new Schmidt grant will allow the Scripps team to chip away at a years-long backlog of air samples to measure changes in the ratio of carbon isotopes, which provides information about manmade sources of CO2. Eric Schmidt is the executive chairman of Google, and the Schmidts have a history of funding environmental projects. This video, from the American Museum of Natural History, expands on the history and importance of the Keelings’ observations.

9-09-2014 keelingscurve

  • How to see into the future – “So what is the secret of looking into the future? Initial results from the Good Judgment Project suggest the following approaches. First, some basic training in probabilistic reasoning helps to produce better forecasts. Second, teams of good forecasters produce better results than good forecasters working alone. Third, actively open-minded people prosper as forecasters. But the Good Judgment Project also hints at why so many experts are such terrible forecasters. It’s not so much that they lack training, teamwork and open-mindedness – although some of these qualities are in shorter supply than others. It’s that most forecasters aren’t actually seriously and single-mindedly trying to see into the future. If they were, they’d keep score and try to improve their predictions based on past errors. They don’t. This is because our predictions are about the future only in the most superficial way. They are really advertisements, conversation pieces, declarations of tribal loyalty – or … statements of profound conviction about the logical structure of the world.”

Eagerly waiting for 60 Minutes and its story on Peter Slipper and the secret plot. What was PM Abbott’s involvement.

September 4th, 2014 Comments off


It’s been a long time since I have been waiting with eager anticipation to see a political item on 60 Minutes but they have got me tonight by interrupting my footy viewing with a preview about a Peter Slipper story. I can hardly wait to get another version of this most sordid story of an political assassination. The little hint in the promo that Tony Abbott may have had an involvement just makes it all the more tantalising.


Categories: Media, Political snippets Tags:

A clue to the Murdoch view on what to do in Iraq and other news and views for Wednesday 3 October

September 3rd, 2014 Comments off

3-09-2014 nyposteditorial

  • Attempt to split Commons clerk role is no ‘power grab’ – “Since he did not have Commons approval to split the post, Mr Bercow advertised the job of clerk in its traditional form and hired recruitment consultancy to conduct a national and global search. A panel of senior MPs conducted interviews and ended up nominating Carol Mills, a senior official from the Australian senate. Ms Mills is a respected administrator but a person with scant knowledge of Westminster procedure. Mr Bercow admits there was “something a tad incongruous about expecting one person to be both the procedural expert and the top-flight manager/chief executive”. The panel decided to go for someone with the latter experience.”
  • Sandhurst’s sheikhs: Why do so many Gulf royals receive military training in the UK? – “Four reigning Arab monarchs are graduates of Sandhurst and its affiliated colleges – King Abdullah of Jordan, King Hamad of Bahrain, Sheikh Tamim, Emir of Qatar, and Sultan Qaboos of Oman. Past monarchs include Sheikh Saad, Emir of Kuwait, and Sheikh Hamad, Emir of Qatar. Sandhurst’s links have continued from the time when Britain was the major colonial power in the Gulf.”
  • Labour cannot be complacent about Ukip’s advance – “Ukip is creating a divide between those with the skills, education and resources to adapt, and those who have little and feel angry.”

You had to turn to page 37 last week to get the most appropriate political comment in the Sydney Morning Herald about Tony Abbott and his coalition government.



How Murdoch News Corp could shift 11% of the votes and other news and views for Sunday 24 August

August 24th, 2014 Comments off

24-08-2014 powerindex

  • How can we measure media power? – “The potential for political influence is what most people think of when they talk about the power of the media. A new media power index, proposed in this column, aggregates power across all platforms and focuses not on markets but on voters. It measures not actual media influence but rather its potential. Using the index, the author finds that the four most powerful media companies in the US are television-based and the absolute value of the index is high. This indicates that most American voters receive their news from a small number of news sources, which creates the potential for large political influence.”

24-08-2014 findings

24-08-2014 oroof

The challenge for journalists in finding new ways of reaching the young and other news and views for Thursday 21 August

August 21st, 2014 Comments off


  • A sense of destiny inspires China’s maritime claims – “China’s creeping occupation of the South China Sea is not primarily motivated by oil, let alone by its diminishing stock of fish. It is about two things: strategic position, and what the nationalists running the country today view as its ‘manifest destiny’, to borrow a phrase from American history.The sense that China is entitled to possession of this sea lies deep in the nation’s history of viewing its neighbours, especially those untouched by Chinese culture, as inferiors.
  • Teenagers and the news game – “Let’s not be too depressed about teenagers and news because they are getting plenty of it, just via different means than their parents. But the challenge for journalists is to find new ways of reaching them while building a reputation as trusted guides to what is happening in the world. And, as we know, ‘trust’ and ‘journalist’ is not an obvious piece of word association for many people these days.”
  • I watched the media turn away from explaining the world – Anjan Sundaram, the author of String Stringer: A Reporter’s Journey in the Congo – “The western news media are in crisis and turning their backs on the world, but we hardly ever notice. Where correspondents were once assigned to a place for months or years, reporters now handle often 20 countries. Bureaux are in hub cities, far from many of the countries they cover. And journalists are often lodged in expensive houses or five-star hotels. As the news has receded, so have our minds.”


  • Worse than the 1930s: Europe’s recession is really a depression – “Eurozone GDP still hasn’t gotten back to its 2007 level, and doesn’t look like it will anytime soon. Indeed, it already wasn’t clear if its last recession was even over before we found out the eurozone had stopped growing again in the second quarter. And not even Germany has been immune: its GDP just fell 0.2 percent from the previous quarter. It’s a policy-induced disaster. Too much fiscal austerity and too little monetary stimulus have crippled growth like almost never before.
  • Would you pay more to live next to a park? – “Ministers look for ways to fund the upkeep of green spaces that benefit neighbourhoods. Analysis suggests a link between green space quality and house prices, aiding the case for a park tax.”
  • The Advantages of Dyslexia – “With reading difficulties can come other cognitive strengths.”
  • Europe’s Latest Grass-Roots Movement: Cannabis Social Clubs
Categories: Media, News and views for the day Tags:

Budget crisis – what budget crisis? The difference a day makes

August 20th, 2014 Comments off

Tuesday’s paper:


But where has that sovereign risk gone? Today’s front page:


Categories: Australian media, Economic matters Tags:

The Daily Tele welcoming a new columnist to the SMH

August 9th, 2014 Comments off

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The columnist is dead so long live the columnist. John Birmingham filled the Mike Carlton space in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning and the opposition tabloid gave him a welcome. Noted the Daily Telegraph on its editorial page:

9-08-2014 welcome

Veteran Sydney Morning Herald columnist Mike Carlton resigned this week rather than face suspension for his abusive and obscene online comments. The SMH is reportedly considering replacing Carlton with John Birmingham (pictured), who lives in the remote northern Sydney suburb of Brisbane, Queensland. But is Birmingham any less abusive or obscene? Let’s see how Carlton’s possible replacement conducts himself online:

“F… off.” “(The Prime Minister) is such a c….”

“ASIO arse softc..ks.”

“Poor fellow my f…… country indeed.”

“I’d wager a blowjob from a toothless crackwhore hurts more.”

“F… the CIA.” “F… you is more than a policy.”

“Australia’s most f…witted sportscasters.”

“Soft ricotta cheese c..k.”

“F… that old prize stealing wrinkly.”

“Like enduring an aggressive blowjob from a toothless crackwhore.”

“F… them in the nekbeard.”

“(The Prime Minister) f…ed a generation of students.”

“C..kheads. All of them.”

“It’s not really a very conservative government, is it? More like a mob of bugshit crazy f…… radicals.”

Thursday had seen the Tele giving Mike Carlton a farewell with a double page spread no less.

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PROUD hater Mike Carlton has resigned from The Sydney Morning Herald but the controversial columnist is certainly no stranger to the unemployment queue.

Sackings, orchestrated “agreements with management” and inglorious resignations are as customary in Carlton’s colourful career as his aggressive, hate-filled attacks on those who disagree with him.

Carlton’s decision to leave Fairfax Media on Tuesday night is the third time he has been shafted — this time by his own hand. The others were by sacking (Herald, 2008) and happy divorce (2UE, 2009).

Latecomers to the columnist’s modus operandi may be stunned at the expletiveridden abuse towards his Twitter antagonists and appalled Herald readers after his July 26 column lambasted Israel.

But those who knew his ways barely batted an eyelid.

In 2007 on 2UE, on the morning of f late colleague Stan Zemanek’s funeral, Carlton said he would attend only to “check if he was actually dead’’.

Goodness knows what the readers are actually thinking of it all. Not much I would suspect.

Why are Palestinian war deaths publicised more than Syrian ones?

August 7th, 2014 Comments off

With a cease fire between Israelis and Palestinians it’s an opportune time to think again about Syria where a real slaughter is taking place that does not dominate the newspapers and the airwaves.

From the Syrian Network for Human Rights:

Death Toll since the Beginning of the Revolution until the End of June/2014
First: The Syrian Regime
The Syrian regime forces killed no less than 133586 people; including 109347 civilian
(88% of the total) among them 15149 children and 13695 women. In addition, 4892
person were killed under torture.
This suggests that the Syrian regime kills four civilians every hour and 100 civilians
every day as a daily average
A child is killed every two hours
A woman is killed per three hours.
Second: The Armed Factions Affiliated to Al-Qaeda
They killed about two thousand people as we’ve documented no less than 1607 people
including 588 civilian among them 67 children and 53 women.
Third: Other Armed Groups
They killed 438 civilians, among them 29 children and 36 women.

Note: The figures do not include the death toll in the government forces or the IS.

The SNHCR death toll for July was 2549.

Categories: International politics, Media Tags:

Gaza and Australian newspaper circulations

August 5th, 2014 Comments off

The Sydney based duo of Murdoch dailies are having a great time highlighting reports of readers cancelling subscriptions to The Sydney Morning Herald. Believe this morning’s editorial and you might think that old granny has hardly a reader left.


Now I am very much in the camp of those who found the Glen le Lievre cartoon offensive and made that clear soon after it was published.


And I was surprised that my old colleague Mike Carlton (he once was a star on a Mike Willesee current affairs program where I was an abject failure) did not add a note to his last column expressing his regret at the illustration accompanying his words the previous week rather than leaving it to the Herald’ editor to do it yesterday.

But be that as it may, I have no doubt that if people buy newspapers on the basis of the views they contain that the Herald will be winning the circulation battle over the Tele. Public opinion, as I see and hear it in, and on, the media, is very much anti-Israel when it comes to the bloodshed in Gaza. Mike Carlton will have more supporters than opponents for the views he expressed.

A humorous side to a plot to bring down an Abbott

August 2nd, 2014 Comments off

It is one of those stories that you feel guilty about giggling at as you read it. But righteous indignation from a Murdoch paper about journalists hacking computers to get information really does have a humorous aspect.

And there it is on page one of The Australian this morning:


NSW police are close to completing a criminal investigation into computer hacking that led to confidential student records about a $60,000 scholarship granted to Tony Abbott’s daughter being leaked to the left-leaning, online magazine New Matilda.

Wendy Bacon, the prominent journalism teacher and contributing editor of New Matilda, has claimed the leaked information — which also involved a hacker allegedly gaining illegal access to the files of more than 500 other students — was justified in the public interest.

Leaving aside the pot-calling-the-kettle-black aspect, it is an interesting examination by the Oz of the way journalists may gain information and the legal and ethical implications of some of them; another example worth putting on the journalism school curriculum along with the Murdoch press exploits from the United Kingdom.

But what was lacking from this effort by the author Brad Norington is an examination of the merits or otherwise of the New Matilda assertion that the documents it had obtained showed a scholarship awarded to Frances Abbott by the Sydney-based Whitehouse Institute of Design was not based on merit and, being awarded to Ms Abbott only because her father was a “mate” of the institute’s chairman, thus should have been recorded on the Prime Minister’s register of interests.

This matter of substance was covered with “Mr Abbott has dismissed the suggestion he was required to declare a scholarship for his daughter, and the Whitehouse Institute claims it was awarded on merit.”

The Daily Mail gets it right – throw crooked bankers in jail

July 29th, 2014 Comments off

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London’s Daily Mail reports this morning that the clamour grows as the Bank of England chief says Lloyds traders ‘clearly broke the law’. In summary:

  • Mark Carney says Lloyds staff involved may be guilty of ‘criminal conduct’
  • Bank ripped off Treasury during financial crisis with creditworthiness lies
  • It gained access to tens of billions from Government at favourable rates
  • MP says public don’t understand why rogue bankers haven’t been jailed

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The Mail was not alone in taking a hard line on banking practices. That daily bible of the financial community The Financial Times reported how Lloyds Banking Group has been criticised for “highly reprehensible” behaviour by the Bank of England after it became the first lender to be fined for rigging rates to cut the cost of a financial crisis rescue scheme, effectively costing the taxpayer millions of pounds.

Categories: European media, Ticket clippers Tags:

Big hook nosed Jews

July 28th, 2014 Comments off

From my former Crikey colleague Christian Kerr in the Oz’s Strewth! column this morning comes this observation:

SATURDAY’S Sydney Morning Herald featured a nuanced — not — column on current events in the Middle East by Mike Carlton, accompanied by an equally subtle cartoon of a nasty Israeli with little round pebble glasses and a big nose. Just like, as eagle-eyed spotters at Quadrant noticed, this cartoon from Der Sturmer from 1934. How very tasteful.

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Miranda Devine’s selective selection to “prove” Fairfax hating

July 27th, 2014 Comments off

From Miranda Devine’s Sunday Telegraph column this morning:


Look at the original SMH letters page and decide for yourself who has “an obsession bordering on sickness”.

2014-07-27_atlastA critical and, in my opinion, wrong-headed letter, sandwiched between two that praise the government, does not seem very obsessive to me.

But then, I clearly have different view on many things to Miranda Devine. Consider for a moment the implications of this opinion also offered in this morning’s column:


Now I have no desire to support head-lopping terrorists but I do worry about a system that would allow people with Ms Devine’s views to judge which natural born Australian citizens are to be forever banished from Australia. Just a tad sick and obsessive?



A Prime Minister without spin doctors

July 25th, 2014 Comments off

A 70-year-old aide who does not mix with journalists as a public relations officer and for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that’s the media team. This novel approach of largely ignoring the press extends as far as not inviting New Delhi political correspondents to fly on Air India One for international visits. And the flacks, the BBC reports, are sulking about it.

Ministers and bureaucrats have also been reportedly told to avoid the media and speak only when Mr Modi offers an “official line”.

“Mr Modi’s attitude is now percolating to his council of ministers who were once media friendly, but are now avoiding journalists,” says senior journalist Kuldip Nayar.

Even the media-friendly Finance Minister Arun Jaitley offered just a handful of interviews after presenting the federal budget earlier this month.

Mr Modi has deputed Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, both former party spokesmen, to speak on behalf of the government.

Mr Modi has not spoken about limiting access to journalists, but many observers say it may have something to do with his troubled relationship with the media.

When he was the chief minister of Gujarat, he faced severe media criticism for doing little to stop anti-Muslim riots in his state in 2002 which left more than 1,000 dead. He has always denied the allegations.

“He simply doesn’t trust the media very much,” says a senior journalist, who prefers to remain unnamed.

As for the PR man, Jagdish Thakkar, he is described by journalists as rarely interacting with the media. “He simply smiles. And then we smile. There is no exchange of information,” says a senior reporter, requesting anonymity.

Categories: International politics, Media Tags:

A night on the sake for Tony Abbott?

July 9th, 2014 Comments off

A short clip from today’ breakfast television.

Categories: Media, Political snippets Tags:

Blaming Labor and the Sydney Tele versus the NY Times

July 9th, 2014 Comments off
The cartoon backed up the editorial view i the stabbing death this week was Labor's fault. As the editorial explained: An Iranian refugee to Australia yesterday appeared in court on charges of stabbing a man to death at Westfield Parramatta. Horrified witnesses claimed the man, an Australian resident since being granted a protection visa in 2010, allegedly stabbed his victim repeatedly with a large knife. The accused killer, Kazem Mohammadi Payam, arrived in Australian waters in 2009. Officials say he carried no identification, yet he was still granted a protection visa the following year. Until 2013, when then-prime minister Kevin Rudd finally restored measures that would deter unidentified arrivals from obtaining Australian residency, discarding visas was a common ruse used by claimed asylum seekers. Having used visas for flights to Indonesia, they were thrown away for the final leg of the journey to Australia.

The cartoon backed up the editorial view – the stabbing death this week was Labor’s fault.
As the editorial explained:
An Iranian refugee to Australia yesterday appeared in court on charges of stabbing a man to death at Westfield Parramatta. Horrified witnesses claimed the man, an Australian resident since being granted a protection visa in 2010, allegedly stabbed his victim repeatedly with a large knife.
The accused killer, Kazem Mohammadi Payam, arrived in Australian waters in 2009. Officials say he carried no identification, yet he was still granted a protection visa the following year.
Until 2013, when then-prime minister Kevin Rudd finally restored measures that would deter unidentified arrivals from obtaining Australian residency, discarding visas was a common ruse used by claimed asylum seekers. Having used visas for flights to Indonesia, they were thrown away for the final leg of the journey to Australia.

The Sydney Daily Telegraph has moved on from sniping at its Sydney rival granny Herald. The world is now its oyster with this morning’s editorial getting stuck in to the New York Times.

9-07-2014 televtimesThe Times, you see, had had the temerity recently to criticise Australia’s attempts to secure its borders, claiming that Australia is “pursuing draconian measures to deter people without visas from entering the country by boat”.

Aside from this being an intrusion into the sovereign affairs of another nation, the New York Times is clearly ignorant of the circumstances surrounding many asylum seeker arrivals. It isn’t that arrivals didn’t or don’t have visas. It is that the documents were deliberately discarded prior to reaching Australian territory. In other words, the very first act committed by these arrivals upon reaching their potential new home was one of dishonesty, intended to thwart background investigations.
The Times continued: “The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, said recently that “something strange happens” in the minds of Australians when it comes to asylum seekers who arrive by boat without a visa.
On the contrary, there is nothing strange at all about wanting to know in detail the background of potential immigrants. The US requires similar checks, as do most other nations on Earth.
Presentation of a visa or other identifying documentation is simply standard procedure.

9-07-2014 shoveit



The politics of silence and the art of avoiding gotcha questions

July 7th, 2014 Comments off

2014-07-06_nothingYou can love him or, more likely, hate him but there’s one thing you have to admit about Scott Morrison – he is one of that rare breed of politician who realises that when you are doing something that many people find unpopular the best thing to say is nothing. Just imagine how much stronger the controversy would be if he was feeding the daily media appetite for details of every little aspect of his operation sovereign borders. It would be headlines every day to the exclusion of anything else the government is doing and while “stop the boats” might be a broadly popular policy with the masses it is not the only, or even the major, message that will determine this government’s future.

Stopping the boats might be approved by many but publicising the sending of people back to a country where they face torture or worse will worry at least some of those supporters. There are limits even for those with xenophobia so silence about the downsides of the Coalition’s policies is politically sensible for as long as you can get away with it.

For how much longer that will be the case is not something I am sure about. The beating to death of that man interned on Manus Island will have troubled some of the government’s supporters. The disappearance of any of the boatload sent back to Sri Lanka this week will add to the uneasiness. For while many Australians might have hard hears when it comes to boat people trying to reach this country, we are not a totally heartless people.

And while on this subject of political silence, I refer you to an interesting column on a different aspect of the subject by John Rentoul in London’s The Independent. 

George Osborne’s refusal to answer the question “What is seven times eight?” shows how clever he is. He was being interviewed by a group of children on television when Sam Raddings asked if he was good at maths. He replied that he had taken maths at A-level, which I had forgotten, although it is in Janan Ganesh’s excellent biography of him (he got straight As in maths, history and politics). Raddings then asked his follow-up question with the ruthlessness of a junior Andrew Neil.
“I’ve made it a rule in life not to answer a load of maths questions,” said the Chancellor. An answer that will be deployed by many pupils taking a maths test in the next few days. But it is actually the right answer. Asking questions to try to catch a politician out is an old media game, and if children ask the questions it doesn’t make it any better.

Osborne knows, because he is a politics obsessive, that Stephen Byers, when he was schools minister, was asked the same question and gave the wrong answer, saying 54 rather than 56. Byers is only human. Seven times eight is one of the harder questions in the times table, along with 12×8, 8×12 and 12×11 – the order makes a difference, apparently – but not as hard as 6×8 or 8×6, which one study identified as the most likely to trip people up. But it looked bad, just as it didn’t look good that Byers, who was later transport secretary, could not drive.

Osborne might not remember, because it is irrelevant to his calculation, that Gordon Brown, when he was chancellor, was once asked, “What’s 13 squared?” He repeated the question to buy time, but said “169” without further hesitation. I was impressed, but I doubt if anyone else was.

And that is the point. No one cares if you get the answer right. It is a story only if you get it wrong and, crucially, more of a story than if you rather obviously dodge the question. Osborne probably knew well enough that the answer was 56, but there is always a risk when you “know” the answer that a synapse has got crossed in the intraparietal sulcus and you will do a Byers on live television.

Which is a long way of saying that Osborne is good at politics.


Categories: Media, Political snippets Tags:

That knee in the back – the newspapers of the day and Colombia’s Zúñiga is the arch villain

July 5th, 2014 Comments off

A day of ecstasy then agony for Brazilians as reflected by this morning’s papers.

Brasil perde Neyman – Brazil loses Neymar

Neymar leads knee Colombian Zúñiga; back blows are forbidden even in the fiercest fighting in the UFC, and the offender is disqualified from the fight



Categories: American media, Media Tags:

The Australian reaches new heights in journalists talking about each other

July 5th, 2014 Comments off

From this morning’s Weekend Australian:

5-07-2014 kenny15-07-2014 kenny2Can anyone actually remember any of the wisdom in any of those Paul Kelly books?

Find similar media items at Journalists talking about each other


The Guardian Australia charges ahead towards profitability

July 4th, 2014 Comments off


The Guardian Australia has become my proper news source of choice and it seems I am not alone. The industry website Press Gazette reports this morning that according to ABC figures cited by The Guardian, traffic to Guardian Australia has increased to 5.55m unique browsers in May 2014 (compared with around 3m a year earlier). Just over a year after launch The Guardian claims its Australia edition is on course to turn a profit.


In an interview Guardian Media Group chief executive Andrew Miller answered questions about the Australian launch that included:

Would you have moved into Australia anyway, or did you launch in Australia because of the investment from entrepreneur Graeme Wood?

“We were trying to understand how we grow The Guardian. We saw an audience just like the States, in Australia. We met [Wood] and explored the idea of how we do this.”

How does the investment work? Will he get his money back before the Scott Trust sees a return on Guardian Australia?

“We’ve got a confidentiality agreement. It’s a loan, so he will get his money back first. But if we decide not to continue in Australia then there’s no obligation to repay the loan.”

Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

It must be true – I read it in the paper didn’t you? Julia Assange a Fashion Week model

July 1st, 2014 Comments off

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Yes, you read the headline correctly; Julian Assange will model during September’s London Fashion Week.
The WikiLeaks founder will model for Ben Westwood, son of Dame Vivienne, who will showcase the latest collection from his eponymous brand.
The show will take place at Assange’s current residence, the Ecuadorian embassy in London’s Knightsbridge, where ‘celebrity guests’ – rumoured to include George Clooney and his lawyer fiancée, who has acted on Assange’s defence team – will be served Ferrero Roche.

Well, actually, while you might have read the headline correctly and then believed the opening par, the world is not to have a new male model. This morning’s twitter:

1-07-2014 wikileaksIf you had got down to the seventh and eighth pars – and I doubt that many readers would have – this is the information Wikileaks is referring to:

The idea to involve Assange in the show came about a couple of months ago when Westwood was talking with his PR representative, Richard Hillgrove, about the 42-year-old’s case. Hillgrove then duly set about organising the tie-up, though Westwood is yet to actually meet Assange or visit the embassy.
“I haven’t spoken to Julian at all actually yet but I would like to. I’m waiting to hear from him now. It’s funny how these things work – it goes in the press first and then it happens! I don’t see why he wouldn’t do it – after all he needs publicity for his case,” he comments.


Categories: Media Tags:

The reformed Twitterer Mark Textor denounces the social media vanity of journalists and the online chattering classes

June 30th, 2014 Comments off

Ah, with what nostalgia I remember Mark Textor on Twitter. A source of such entertaining, self-opinionated commentary. And then, alas, the day when he judged himself to have gone too far with his barbs and his retirement into a self imposed Twittering exile.

Those indelible Textor memories came flooding back this morning when, with all the zeal of a reformed smoker denouncing the evils of the evil tobacco, he took to the pages of the Australian Financial Review to denounce the new vanity set loose upon journalists and others of the political class by their devotion to social media.

The Press Gallery is showing dangerous vanity. Quite apart from the questionable practice of one them recently posting pictures of a new Porsche, the obsession with their own importance has lead to a “look-at-us, look-at-them”, Balkanised finger pointing war. The ongoing catfight that is the ABC v News Corp v Fairfax Media is so self-obsessed it now demeans the profession. It certainly demeans their audience who want news, not news about news-people. The left erroneously attacks News Corp for “delivering [Tony] Abbott to government”. But in doing so, are they just feeding the vanity of an editor that believes this fantasy? Political biographies lead to incredibly vain behaviour amongst the players. One practice I have sometimes practised is to march into a bookstore, go straight to the index and see how many times, if at all, I have been mentioned. Moreover, as Joseph Conrad wrote: “Vanity plays lurid tricks with our memory” and many significant political events I’ve witnessed first-hand have strangely disappeared from the pages of more than a few famous biographies I have read from authors involved in those same events, but which don’t fit their legend.

… I fear the vain elites and online chattering classes are the modern equivalent of the puffed-up, perfumed and wigged French aristocracy before the Parisian mob cut their throats, bewildered by reality and unable to fight.

A quiet week so Miranda brings back the fat cats – the commentariat daily for Sunday 22 June

June 22nd, 2014 Comments off


  • It’s been a slow news week with those dreaded Labor villains not providing much fodder for biting criticism. So what’s a woman to do for a Sunday column? Get stuck into fat cats. That’s what. Public servants are a tried and true, reliable piece of fair game. Hence Miranda Devine’s Time to take the scalpel to fat cats in The Sunday Telegraph. Did you know the head of Treasury earns $824,320 a year and the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet a whopping $844,000? Well if Miranda thinks they are outrageous sums for running the country I wonder what she thinks of the tens of millions paid to those who run the country’s banks? Maybe she’ll tell us on the next slow-news Sunday.
  • Nobody is laughing as clowns take over senate asserts Piers Akerman in his Tele contribution as he comes to terms with the Abbott government being every bit as much a minority one as its immediate Labor predecessor. Writes Piers: “AT the end of this week, the current moderately sane Senate will sit for the last time. When next it sits — next month — the Senate will be a circus unmatched in Australian parliamentary history. Former PM Paul Keating’s oft-quoted observation that it was “unrepresentative swill” will be more than justified. This situation has been created by the rise of minor and micro parties achieving some success through the clever manipulation of preferences. Thus we see individuals with little or negligible popular support taking senate seats on the basis of preference deals brokered between parties with no shared values. While the major parties will usher in a few new senators — some smart, some not so bright — the loud-mouthed Queensland self-promoter Clive Palmer will be welcoming his team of three Palmer United Party senators, led by former rugby league player Glenn Lazarus.”
  • News Corp’s Samantha Maiden in a column PM can win back votes by burning carbon tax passes on the interesting snippet that “preference whisperer” Glenn Druery has joined Motoring Enthusiast Party senator-elect Ricky Muir’s office as a political adviser and media wrangler.
  • Compromise could save Government from itself – In his column for the News tabloids Peter van Onselen speculates that a $7 co-payment that kicks in immediately for everyone has no chance of winning support. If the rate is dropped and pensioners and concession card holders are excluded, perhaps Health Minister Peter Dutton will get what he’s after. If that happens the Senate may save the Government from itself. We have seen this before. While the laws John Howard’s government sought to pass through the Senate were often made messy by compromises, the outcomes were more politically palatable.
  • Coalition under pressure from within. Everything old is new again. They are having three cornered contest problems again in Victoria. Farrah Tomazin explains in The Sunday Age how hostilities between Liberals and Nationals have broken out over the seat of Euroa, a newly formed electorate in Victoria’s north-east. “Both sides will now head to November’s poll at war in the bush, using resources that could otherwise be spent elsewhere battling the common enemy: Labor. … On one hand, the three-cornered contest gives voters more choice. On the other, the last thing the government needs is to appear as though it is at war with itself, particularly in country Victoria where issues such as TAFE cuts, job losses and ambulance response times continue to bite.”
Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

Gerard Henderson both writes and is written about – the commentariat daily for Saturday 21 June

June 21st, 2014 Comments off

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  • The Henderson gigs – Gerard Henderson writing about other journalists, other journalists writing about Gerard Henderson, Gerard Henderson writing about other … and so on ad infinitum. Mike Seccombe knows how to play the game of sticking with the tried and true with this piece that confirms there’s nothing very innovative about The Saturday Paper.
  • Gerard himself in his weekend piece for The Australian gives an explanation of how ” ‘Occupied’ East Jerusalem stunt confuses fact and fiction” with the Lee Rhiannon’s Green-left line being the culprit because it only undermines the peace process. He notes: “Reports from the committee meeting have tended to run the line that Brandis changed Australia’s attitude to the Middle East peace process by describing some of the territories that Israel attained consequent upon the 1967 Six Day War as ‘dispute’ rather than ‘occupied’. In fact, Bishop had flagged the Coalition’s position on this matter in an interview with ABC Radio National Breakfast’s James Carleton on September 6 last year.”
  • Inaction in Iraq would be far too risky for the West Is Paul Kelly’s argument in The Oz but don’t expect to find out what the action should be. He concludes: “Obama has been trapped. His disengagement from Iraq came undone long before his watch was over. That is the reason he needs to refocus now on Iraq. This is Obama’s problem; he cannot use the excuse that it is all Bush’s fault since we have known since 2004 that Bush’s invasion was a mistake. Obama has got to find the capacity to exert real influence without fuelling the Jihadist frenzy.” Thanks for that sage advice, Paul.
  • And if Iraq does not give you enough to worry about, The Oz has more:


  • Why the Kouk is plain wrong sees Henry Ergas give us yet another instalment of the “are we smoking more or fewer cigarettes” serial that has been The Australian’s crusade for the week. With my tobacco industry history I’m too scared to make a comment other than that all will be revealed over time as the excise duty figures are published.
  • In Lib Senators ponder disgraceful use of conscience vote Peter van Onselen takes to Coalition senators threatening to cross the floor on Abbott’s signature policy – the paid parental leave scheme.  It “represents a disgraceful misuse of the conservative right to exercise a conscience vote on issues even when party policy has been set”. – The Weekend Australian
  • An overlooked hero of reform – Laurie Oakes in the News Corp tabloids remembers the role of Bill Hayden as the Opposition Leader who did the hard yards that enabled the later reform years of Hawke and Keating. “Shorten needs to start demonstrating a similar approach to Hayden’s — and soon. … So far, Shorten is vulnerable to government claims that he sticks like glue to policies of the past. Hayden tackled party reform with the kind of courage that Labor could benefit from now, backing intervention in the Queensland branch — his home state — even though it meant falling out with good friends and facing intimidating abuse. And, often defying the factional heavies, Hayden shaped the frontbench that became the Hawke cabinet — one of the best Australia has seen.”


  • Gadfly: Ashby pulls out – Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation for the Saturday thing. Should be read out of commiseration by every real and wannabe freelancer.
  • You can’t keep hiding the ugly truth – Andrew Wilkie writes in The Mercury of the “systemically cruel” live animal export trade. ” Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has given the green light to live export to Iran after a 40-year boycott. This while regulations are routinely ignored and any effective oversight of the industry is left to noble welfare organisation such as Animals Australia. This is a government content to treat animal cruelty as a growth industry even though the economics of the industry simply don’t add up.”


  • Queensland voters deserve the truth on Labor’s big ideas – “The party’s awesome majority of 78 seats will no doubt be reduced. However those rushing to administer last rites to the Newman Government are moving in haste. … Labor still has not released anything resembling a winning manifesto, and its hapless crew of seven members in Parliament often resemble goldfish tipped out of their bowl. If Labor has any big ideas voters deserve to hear them now.”


  • New Senate, new force or rabble?The Fairfax duo Deborah Snow and James Massola look at the new lineup. “Nick Xenophon, the independent senator from South Australia, is scrabbling for a metaphor to describe how the nation’s upper house will look from July 1. ‘If it were a painting,’ he says, ‘I don’t think it would be a landscape. I don’t think it would be a Picasso. I think the Senate will be more like Blue Poles.’ It’s an intriguing comparison. The famous painting by Jackson Pollock, which hangs in Canberra’s National Gallery a short walk from the Federal Parliament, is a sprawling, chaotic masterpiece governed by eight poles leaning at different angles across the paint-spattered canvas. … The PUP group is already picking off Abbott government measures it won’t support – paid parental leave, the fuel excise increase, the $7 GP co-payment, an increase in the pension age – though its support for the repeal of the carbon and mining taxes look more assured. In the longer term, government strategists believe the Palmer senators can be peeled away on individual pieces of legislation and privately question how long the colourful billionaire can hold his flock together. Coalition party bosses are also keenly aware that a double dissolution could well enhance, rather than decrease, the representation of micro-parties because all 12 senators from each state, not just six as in a regular election, would go to the polls.”
  • No lies in Parliament, just truth deficit disorders – Fairfax’s Tony Wright tackles the use and abuse of liar in the federal parliament.
  • Our politics needs to change. Here’s how Michael Gordon fails to live up the headline but has a good anecdote about the press gallery mid winter ball.
  • The contender. Ben Hills profiles Victorian Labor leader Daniel Andrews for Fairfax’s Good Weekend

Christopher Pyne in starring role – the commentariat daily for Friday 20 June

June 20th, 2014 Comments off

2014-06-20_absurdusNo extra words needed, really, to get the flavour of what the Courier Mail thinks of Christopher Pyne’s plan to provide funding for the teaching of Latin.

  • Abbott learns to walk tall in the land of giants – Mark Kenny at Fairfax reckons the PM has revealed the right touch in his dealings with the superpowers.
  • The sure grip on undiluted power is slipping – Jonathan Green at The Drum writes of  “what if the accustomed rotating absolute authority of two-party politics, the blank cheque of comfortable majority, became a thing of the past? ” and suggests that if “recent polling is any indication, we might be entering a new political era of constant contest and examination, one in which governments may not be trusted as of right to simply brandish their majority and impose their undiluted will.”


  • SA state budget 2014 – Tom offers mixed bag of missed opportunity – At The Advertiser, Jessica Irvine writes: ‘ “DON’T blame it on a decade of Labor. Don’t blame it on a moribund economy. Don’t blame it on an inefficient state bureaucracy. Blame it on Tony Abbott.” Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis whistles a good tune. But his first budget rings hollow. Clearly the temptation to embark on a massive scare campaign against the Abbott Government’s Budget belt tightening proved irresistible for the Labor Government. But South Australia needs a government focused on growth and jobs, not political point-scoring. This Budget marks a missed opportunity. There’s only so much lower interest rates can do to stimulate activity. Households and businesses need the confidence to spend and invest. There is little in this Budget that will help them to do that.’
  • Hockey gifts Treasurer smokescreen for mess – Michael Owen in The Australian: WHEN Joe Hockey handed down an unpopular federal budget last month, South Australia’s new Labor Treasurer, Tom Koutsantonis, could barely contain his glee. Koutsantonis knew he had the perfect script for the weeks leading up to his first budget, already mired in record debt and deficit and falling short of required savings targets and fiscal discipline.


  • Radical rethink needed to achieve justice in rape cases – Gay Alcorn argues in The Age that it just might be that we’ve reached the limit of what the adversarial justice system is capable of doing. If the estimate is true that for every sexual assault committed, only one in 100 will result in a conviction, then the vast majority of women are receiving no justice at all. Alcorn points to work by Rob Hulls, former Labor attorney-general and now the director of RMIT University’s Centre for Innovative Justice, who recently released a major report on restorative justice for sexual assault cases. The report, funded by a $300,000 grant from the former federal government, proposes an alternative to run alongside the regular justice system. In some cases, when both the victim and the offender agree, and where the offender takes responsibility for his behaviour, they would meet with a trained facilitator, sometimes with family or community members present. The idea is for the victim to explain the impact of the crime on them and for the offender to gain insight into the harm they have caused. There’s an outcome, which might be an apology, a commitment to undertake treatment, to stay away from the victim, or compensation. It could be used in cases where police believe there is little chance of success in court, or for historical cases where memory has faded, or in relatively minor cases. Even when an offender has pleaded guilty, a restorative justice conference might reduce his sentence.
  • Axe the tax and save? Peter Fray in The Australian attempts the difficult task of assessing whether the average Australian household be $550 a year better off without the carbon tax. No easy answer apparently but there is this: “The real political problem is that because of rising prices few, if any, voters will see an actual cut in their power bill as a direct result of the carbon tax’s demise. The government will be selling the idea to voters that with the carbon tax they would have been even worse off. This will come as cold comfort.”
  • Labor has no chance in a double dissolution election. Graham Richardson in The Oz gives the conventional wisdom that “the government is unpopular but it would win.”
  • Don’t rule out snap poll is the advice of Steven Scott in the Courier Mail. Not an immediate one mind you. But perhaps next year depending on how Clive Palmer’s senators behave when they gain a say in the balance in power from July. Expect more of these will they, won’t they think pieces in the coming month that tell us just as little as this one.
  • Red card looming amid team Abbott’s own goals – Attorney-General George Brandis and Education Minister Christopher get a verbal slapping as David Crowe in The Australian asserts the government is dangerously close to fatalism about the effect of its policies. “The conventional wisdom is that Abbott’s chief of staff, Peta Credlin, is pulling the strings behind every move. If that’s so, the ministers certainly aren’t responding as they should. If anything, Abbott and his office seem to show remarkable restraint when ministers wander away from the government’s core business.” And the Crowe conclusion? “Perhaps the government will never win the debate over its budget. Still, the hard truth is that it keeps making a mess of its message just when it needs to be persuading voters to accept unpopular change.”
  • The vipers are poised to strike – Simon Benson in the Daily Telegraph makes a case for giiving the intelligence services greater power and worries that Attorney General Brandis has a soft underbelly on all this because as a lawyer he is sympathetic to the human rights argument pushed by not only the lawyers in his department but the right wing think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs, which has a surprisingly libertarian view when it comes to national security.
  • Untouchable truths blind – Piers Akerman covers familiar ground in his column: “The priorities of the ABC and much of the ­Fairfax media have been clarified by their response to the trade union royal commission. The most urgent is to ­protect the Left. The principal goal is to protect former prime minister Julia Gillard from any fallout, the secondary task is to protect the Labor Party and current leader Bill ­Shorten, and the third is to mount a defence (if at all possible) of the trade union movement which permitted corruption to flourish.” After dispatching with that subject Piers was odd to another favourite: “Sarah Hanson-Young cemented her role as a rolled-gold goose with her truly fulsome (offensive to good taste, especially as being excessive; overdone or gross) welcome to a parliamentary delegation from Afghanistan this week.”
  • Labor set for a new battle on the boats – Since being wedged by John Howard after the 2001 Tampa crisis, Labor has struggled to find and fix a coherent policy on asylum seekers says Ellen Whinnett in the Herald Sun. … There’s never going to be an easy resting place for Labor on this issue.
Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

Which team do you think Rupert’s backing?

June 19th, 2014 Comments off

So you thought there was something unique about the way The Australian treated opinion polls. Have a look at this morning’s London Times as it decides to strengthen the anti-Labour message after the first edition:

19-06-2014 thetimes

Categories: Media, US Election Tags:

It’s official: theguardian australia makes the big time

June 16th, 2014 Comments off

16-06-2014 theguardian

And now there are three. The Guardian has joined the ABC and the Fairfax press on the News Corp list of media leftists.

From this morning’s Tim Blair column in the Daily Terror:

16-06-2014 thetrio16-06-2014 leftists

A lack of political voices on Twitter with little creative thinking and other news and views for Sunday 15 June

June 15th, 2014 Comments off
  • ‘Disappointed’ researchers find lack of political voices on Twitter – “Social scientists’ analysis of 290,119,348 tweets from 193,522 “politically engaged” Twitter users during the 2012 presidential campaign conventions and debates found little creative thinking, and a slavish blitz of retweeting “elites” like @billmaher and @seanhannity, according to a new study.”
  • Obama faces limited options in Iraq crisis, doubts over air strikes
  • U.S. to sue Citigroup over faulty mortgage bonds: sources – “The settlement negotiations had involved penalty numbers of $10 billion or more, another person familiar with the talks said. Bloomberg News reported earlier on Friday that the Justice Department had asked the bank to pay more than $10 billion, and that the bank had offered less than $4 billion.”
  • BNP got high-level 2006 warnings on sanctions busting: report – Since France’s biggest bank flagged the risk of a big fine in February this year, sources close to the affair have said it ignored early warnings of the risks it faced. They pointed out that the alleged offending transactions being investigated by U.S. authorities continued until 2009.”
  • Why does inequality grow? Can we do something about it? – “The income inequality has increased worldwide in recent years. This column discusses the role of technological progress, globalisation, and the liberalisation of labour-market institutions on the growing inequality. The liberalisation of labour market institutions has made labour markets more flexible and created many jobs. But beyond a certain point, the net effect of further liberalisation might be negative for society.”


  • Thinking Deep – a review of The Rise and Fall of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger – Liberalism, Boom and Bust, by Seán Ó Riain – “An academic discipline based on idealised economic systems which permit the application of a great deal of theoretical sophistication has produced cohorts of graduates with little knowledge of history or the real world. These idiot savants can manipulate mathematical models but have little to contribute to actual business practice or economic management.”
  • Greens set to give PM double poll trigger
Chinstripe penguin - a global warming loser CREDIT: flickr/christopher michel

Chinstripe penguin – a global warming loser
CREDIT: flickr/christopher michel

15-06-2014 stoningvideo

  • Here Is Your Fun New Oklahoma GOP Candidate Who Would Like To Murder The Gays With Rocks – ” “Have you guys heard about our new favorite…and by “favorite” we mean WHAT THE HELL, DUDE–state legislature candidate? Meet Scott Esk, a Republican running for office in Oklahoma. Scott would be just your run-of-the-mill semi-ginger who is hella mad about his receding hairline except for this one little standout fact: he’s pretty cool with stoning the gays. As in literally stoning the gays. As in to death. How is Scott Esk even possible? The GOP candidate responded to a post on Pope Francis saying “who am I to judge?” on homosexuality by posting numerous Old Testament quotations prescribing capital punishment for LGBT people.”
Categories: Media, News and views for the day Tags:

The hunt for Red Julia – this morning’s views on the guilt or innocence of Julia Gillard

June 14th, 2014 Comments off

You pays your money (and you takes your choice).

Sydney Daily Telegraph:


Matthew Benns and Pia Akerman:

FORMER Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s legal advice to her former boyfriend in the creation of a union slush fund is part of a highly sensitive police investigation, according to documents released by a court yesterday.

2014-06-14_implicatedMatthew Benns:


The Australian

Hedley Thomas:

THERE are two theatres now busily engaged in starkly different productions about the Australian Workers Union slush fund scandal. They are on course for a spectacular clash.
The big theatre is the national royal commission into union corruption. It has hard evidence, forensic examinations, legal rules, witnesses and documents in its lead-up to eventual findings on a fraud that has followed Julia Gillard for 22 years. The noisier, smaller theatre revolves around former union boss Bruce Wilson.
It is rich with vaudeville and make-believe, heavily reliant on helpful reviews from friendly sections of the media, junk on Twitter, Mark Latham and other politically partisan silliness. It is setting up a conspiracy theory devoid of substance and evidence.
The little theatre’s purpose is to diminish the public perception of damning evidence about the allegedly corrupt Wilson.
The even more important outcome from this purpose of the little theatre is the hosing-down of troubling allegations at the royal commission from credible witnesses — such as retired builder Athol James and former AWU archivist Wayne Hem — about wads of cash handed over by Wilson for his then girlfriend, Gillard.
The slush fund she had helped establish by giving legal advice for Wilson generated a lot of cash that went in many directions. It was his only source of extra dough.
The sideshow relies on one slice of Wilson’s witness statement — his evidence-free claims that a retired lawyer, Harry Nowicki, had offered him large sums of money to confess all about the AWU slush fund, and even to make up evidence detrimental to Gillard. The problem with Wilson’s claims, even if true (Nowicki, a former Builders Labourers Federation lawyer who has been researching the AWU slush fund for two years, says they are the “lies of a con man’’ facing criminal charges), is they have zero connection to the actual slush fund fraud.


(Click to enlarge)

An editorial:

A crucial development this week was the admission by Julia Gillard’s former boyfriend, Bruce Wilson, that he extracted large sums from Thiess construction for the secret slush fund he set up with legal assistance from Ms Gillard in 1992. On Tuesday, the counsel assisting the commission, Jeremy Stoljar SC, said Mr Wilson, a former AWU official, should face charges over sham invoices for hundreds of thousands of dollars paid into the fund. Mr Stoljar said Mr Wilson and his then AWU sidekick Ralph Blewitt committed offences that could carry up to 10 years in jail.
Ms Gillard has asserted she did nothing wrong. But whether Mr Wilson used money from the fund to pay for renovations to her home in Abbotsford and what, if anything, she knew about it are also central to the investigation.

Brad Norington:



The most damaging allegation for the former Labor PM at the royal commission this week was evidence from a Melbourne builder, Athol James, that Gillard told him in 1993 while he was doing renovations on her house in Melbourne’s Abbotsford that Wilson was paying for the work. What’s more, James said that on two occasions he saw Wilson hand Gillard “a large amount of cash” to cover the cheques she subsequently wrote as payment for his work. James, hired by Gillard after she spotted his business in a local newspaper ad, could not know whether the alleged Wilson payments came from the “slush fund”. …

At this point, Gillard is relying on firm denials. Her position has been firmly backed by Wilson in the witness box. He went so far as to declare that James, Hem, Ivory, Blewitt and others were all liars. That’s a lot of alleged liars.
What the royal commission does in terms of following the money trail through Gillard’s old bank accounts, if that is possible, could provide some answers to lingering questions about the former PM and her old boyfriend.
In the meantime, Gillard is depending on her credibility as a former PM who, as she has stated, has “done nothing wrong”, compared with the reputation of Blewitt, a man she said in 2012 had admitted his guilt and wanted immunity.
She said Blewitt had been described by others as a complete imbecile, an idiot, a stooge, a sexist pig and a liar. Even Blewitt’s sister regarded him as “a crook and rotten to the core”.

The Age


The Saturday Paper


Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

Covering a Royal Commission – ‘Sentence first — verdict afterwards.’

June 13th, 2014 Comments off

In this new world of reporting where we don’t need a Royal Commissioner to make a finding I’ve been searching for the appropriate words.


I certainly can not do better than Chapter XII of Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

Alice’s Evidence

‘Here!’ cried Alice, quite forgetting in the flurry of the moment how large she had grown in the last few minutes, and she jumped up in such a hurry that she tipped over the jury-box with the edge of her skirt, upsetting all the jurymen on to the heads of the crowd below, and there they lay sprawling about, reminding her very much of a globe of goldfish she had accidentally upset the week before.
Giant Alice upsets the jury (literally)
‘Oh, I beg your pardon!’ she exclaimed in a tone of great dismay, and began picking them up again as quickly as she could, for the accident of the goldfish kept running in her head, and she had a vague sort of idea that they must be collected at once and put back into the jury-box, or they would die.
‘The trial cannot proceed,’ said the King in a very grave voice, ‘until all the jurymen are back in their proper places — all,’ he repeated with great emphasis, looking hard at Alice as he said do.
Alice looked at the jury-box, and saw that, in her haste, she had put the Lizard in head downwards, and the poor little thing was waving its tail about in a melancholy way, being quite unable to move. She soon got it out again, and put it right; ‘not that it signifies much,’ she said to herself; ‘I should think it would be quite as much use in the trial one way up as the other.’
As soon as the jury had a little recovered from the shock of being upset, and their slates and pencils had been found and handed back to them, they set to work very diligently to write out a history of the accident, all except the Lizard, who seemed too much overcome to do anything but sit with its mouth open, gazing up into the roof of the court.
‘What do you know about this business?’ the King said to Alice.
‘Nothing,’ said Alice.
‘Nothing whatever?’ persisted the King.
‘Nothing whatever,’ said Alice.
‘That’s very important,’ the King said, turning to the jury. They were just beginning to write this down on their slates, when the White Rabbit interrupted: ‘Unimportant, your Majesty means, of course,’ he said in a very respectful tone, but frowning and making faces at him as he spoke.
‘Unimportant, of course, I meant,’ the King hastily said, and went on to himself in an undertone, ‘important — unimportant — unimportant — important —’ as if he were trying which word sounded best.
Some of the jury wrote it down ‘important,’ and some ‘unimportant.’ Alice could see this, as she was near enough to look over their slates; ‘but it doesn’t matter a bit,’ she thought to herself.
At this moment the King, who had been for some time busily writing in his note-book, cackled out ‘Silence!’ and read out from his book, ‘Rule Forty-two. All persons more than a mile high to leave the court.’
Everybody looked at Alice.
‘I’m not a mile high,’ said Alice.
‘You are,’ said the King.
‘Nearly two miles high,’ added the Queen.
‘Well, I shan’t go, at any rate,’ said Alice: ‘besides, that’s not a regular rule: you invented it just now.’
‘It’s the oldest rule in the book,’ said the King.
‘Then it ought to be Number One,’ said Alice.
The King turned pale, and shut his note-book hastily. ‘Consider your verdict,’ he said to the jury, in a low, trembling voice.
‘There’s more evidence to come yet, please your Majesty,’ said the White Rabbit, jumping up in a great hurry; ‘this paper has just been picked up.’
‘What’s in it?’ said the Queen.
‘I haven’t opened it yet,’ said the White Rabbit, ‘but it seems to be a letter, written by the prisoner to — to somebody.’
‘It must have been that,’ said the King, ‘unless it was written to nobody, which isn’t usual, you know.’
‘Who is it directed to?’ said one of the jurymen.
‘It isn’t directed at all,’ said the White Rabbit; ‘in fact, there’s nothing written on the outside.’ He unfolded the paper as he spoke, and added ‘It isn’t a letter, after all: it’s a set of verses.’
‘Are they in the prisoner’s handwriting?’ asked another of the jurymen.
‘No, they’re not,’ said the White Rabbit, ‘and that’s the queerest thing about it.’ (The jury all looked puzzled.)
‘He must have imitated somebody else’s hand,’ said the King. (The jury all brightened up again.)
‘Please your Majesty,’ said the Knave, ‘I didn’t write it, and they can’t prove I did: there’s no name signed at the end.’
‘If you didn’t sign it,’ said the King, ‘that only makes the matter worse. You must have meant some mischief, or else you’d have signed your name like an honest man.’
There was a general clapping of hands at this: it was the first really clever thing the King had said that day.
‘That proves his guilt,’ said the Queen.
‘It proves nothing of the sort!’ said Alice. ‘Why, you don’t even know what they’re about!’
‘Read them,’ said the King.
The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. ‘Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?’ he asked.
‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop.’
These were the verses the White Rabbit read:—

‘They told me you had been to her,
And mentioned me to him:
She gave me a good character,
But said I could not swim.
He sent them word I had not gone
(We know it to be true):
If she should push the matter on,
What would become of you?
I gave her one, they gave him two,
You gave us three or more;
They all returned from him to you,
Though they were mine before.
If I or she should chance to be
Involved in this affair,
He trusts to you to set them free,
Exactly as we were.
My notion was that you had been
(Before she had this fit)
An obstacle that came between
Him, and ourselves, and it.
Don’t let him know she liked them best,
For this must ever be
A secret, kept from all the rest,
Between yourself and me.’

‘That’s the most important piece of evidence we’ve heard yet,’ said the King, rubbing his hands; ‘so now let the jury —’
‘If any one of them can explain it,’ said Alice, (she had grown so large in the last few minutes that she wasn’t a bit afraid of interrupting him,) ‘I’ll give him sixpence. I don’t believe there’s an atom of meaning in it.’
The jury all wrote down on their slates, ‘She doesn’t believe there’s an atom of meaning in it,’ but none of them attempted to explain the paper.
‘If there’s no meaning in it,’ said the King, ‘that saves a world of trouble, you know, as we needn’t try to find any. And yet I don’t know,’ he went on, spreading out the verses on his knee, and looking at them with one eye; ‘I seem to see some meaning in them, after all. “— said I could not swim —” you can’t swim, can you?’ he added, turning to the Knave.
The Knave shook his head sadly. ‘Do I look like it?’ he said. (Which he certainly did not, being made entirely of cardboard.)
‘All right, so far,’ said the King, and he went on muttering over the verses to himself: ‘“we know it to be true —” that’s the jury, of course — “I gave her one, they gave him two —” why, that must be what he did with the tarts, you know —’
‘But, it goes on “they all returned from him to you,”’ said Alice.
‘Why, there they are!’ said the King triumphantly, pointing to the tarts on the table. ‘Nothing can be clearer than that. Then again —“before she had this fit —” you never had fits, my dear, I think?’ he said to the Queen.
‘Never!’ said the Queen furiously, throwing an inkstand at the Lizard as she spoke. (The unfortunate little Bill had left off writing on his slate with one finger, as he found it made no mark; but he now hastily began again, using the ink, that was trickling down his face, as long as it lasted.)
‘Then the words don’t fit you,’ said the King, looking round the court with a smile. There was a dead silence.
King reflecting in court
‘It’s a pun!’ the King added in an offended tone, and everybody laughed, ‘Let the jury consider their verdict,’ the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.
‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first — verdict afterwards.’
‘Stuff and nonsense!’ said Alice loudly. ‘The idea of having the sentence first!’
‘Hold your tongue!’ said the Queen, turning purple.
‘I won’t!’ said Alice.
‘Off with her head!’ the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.
‘Who cares for you?’ said Alice, (she had grown to her full size by this time.) ‘You’re nothing but a pack of cards!’
“You’re nothing but a pack of cards!”
At this the whole pack rose up into the air, and came flying down upon her: she gave a little scream, half of fright and half of anger, and tried to beat them off, and found herself lying on the bank, with her head in the lap of her sister, who was gently brushing away some dead leaves that had fluttered down from the trees upon her face.
‘Wake up, Alice dear!’ said her sister; ‘Why, what a long sleep you’ve had!’

Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

The patterns of news consumption

June 12th, 2014 Comments off


This year's Reuters Institute Digital News report contains worrying signals for publishers with further compelling evidence of new disruptive patterns of news consumption - with the smartphone and social media as the most powerful agents of change.

This year’s Reuters Institute Digital News report contains worrying signals for publishers with further compelling evidence of new disruptive patterns of news consumption – with the smartphone and social media as the most powerful agents of change.

  • New threats everywhere from a second wave of news disruption – “In essence, with older groups sticking stubbornly to the patterns of the past, news organisations will have to produce editions for the over 45s AND ‘always on’ content for busy professionals and younger groups in general. That will be expensive and time-consuming.”

12-06-2014 newsaccess

That humble watercress is the pick of the crops. Researchers from William Paterson University in New Jersey have done the sums and rated it top based on the amounts of 17 critical nutrients contained in fruit and vegetables.

That humble watercress is the pick of the crops. Researchers from William Paterson University in New Jersey have done the sums and rated it top based on the amounts of 17 critical nutrients contained in fruit and vegetables.

Categories: Media, News and views for the day Tags:

A vintage day at The Australian writing about its competitors

June 12th, 2014 Comments off

Another vintage day at the Oz for journalists talking about each other. Even the cartoonist got into the act.

12-06-2014 editorialpage

And another tedious lot of reading it all was.

And I should add that even Rupert Myer, chairman of the Australia Council for the Arts, made a contribution with an op-ed containing some veiled chiding of “our national broadcaster” and a reference to an unnamed paper (it was, yes, those dreaded Fairfax tabloids again) that “in a recent clumsy attempt relying on unnamed sources to raise doubts about the fairness of federal government support towards the Australian Ballet School in Melbourne”, wrote about it as being “a creche for some rich kids”.

The most boring read in newspapers – News on Fairfax, Fairfax on News

June 11th, 2014 Comments off

Enough. Enough.

Both of you. Fill the space with something else.

Andrew Bolt and a definition of chutzpah

June 5th, 2014 Comments off

I switched off the comment section of this little blog because all I got inundated with was a barrage of links to advertisements of one kind or another and it was a pain getting rid of them. That I therefore I miss out on a pearl of wisdom or two I regret but this afternoon one did get through to me about this headline on one of my posts: That Andrew Bolt kid’s got chutzpah.

Have a quick glance at that posting and then read on.

By email:

Hi Richard,

Your use of Yiddish today was perfect with respect to Bolt!

Chutzpah – a man who murders his parents and then begs for mercy from the court on the grounds that he’s a orphan!

cheers …


That Andrew Bolt kid’s got chutzpah

June 5th, 2014 Comments off

From page four of today’s Daily Telegraph:



And turning to page 13:

5-06-2014 boltcolumn

Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

Another Oliver Stone political movie – Edward Snowden for the screen

June 3rd, 2014 Comments off

The National Security Agency will no doubt be doing something similar soon:

3-06-2014 nixoncartoon

Click to enlarge

Oliver Stone has a way of irritating the US political establishment and no doubt will do it again now he has the rights to “The Snowden Files, The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man,” written by journalist Luke Harding.

Variety reports that Stone has started to write the screenplay and his long-time producing partner Moritz Borman is fast-tracking it as a European co-production to start filming before the end of the year.

Stone said: “This is one of the greatest stories of our time. A real challenge. I’m glad to have the Guardian working with us.”

Guardian editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, said: “The story of Edward Snowden is truly extraordinary, and the unprecedented revelations he brought to light have forever transformed our understanding of, and relationship with, government and technology. We’re delighted to be working with Oliver Stone and Moritz Borman on the film.”

Categories: American media, Media Tags:

When the News Corp empire reports how people are laughing at Tony Abbott …

June 2nd, 2014 Comments off

Perhaps Tony Abbott does have leadership problems and it’s nothing to do with Malcolm Turnbull. Even worse for the Prime Minister than having Andrew Bolt defending him is having Bolt’s principal employer laughing at you.

Tonight’s lead story on the nation’s most read news site:

2-06-2014 abbottlaughter

In a regular segment devoted to ‘Other countries’ Presidents of the USA’, the HBO satirical US news program Last Week Tonight with John Oliver today aired a segment ruthlessly collating our embattled PM’s most embarrassing moments. reports how the program described our current leader as “hard line right-wing Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who rose to power promising to be pro-business and religiously anti-immigration — literally, religiously anti-immigration.”

It then cut to Mr Abbott on ABC panel show Q&A, explaining to host Tony Jones that “Jesus knew there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia”. Cue much laughter from the Last Week Tonight studio audience.
“Exactly. Australia is for real Australians, like Tony Abbott — who was born in London, England,” the Last Week Tonight voice over intoned.

2-06-2014 birthplace
From there, Last Week Tonight cut to clips of former Prime Minister Paul Keating, protesters and even schoolchildren lambasting the PM. “My mummy calls him Tony Dum-Dum,” said one young boy in an undated interview.
Then followed clips of Mr Abbott’s disparaging remarks about women (“What the housewives of Australia need to understand is they do the ironing”), gay people (telling 60 Minutes’ Liz Hayes he feels “a bit threatened” by homosexuality), the Irish, and his now-infamous wink while speaking to an elderly sex-line worker.

2-06-2014 shithappens
They finished with his silent response to a journalist who asked about his choice of words when speaking about a fallen Aussie soldier:

2-06-2014 abbottsilence

“Yes, Tony Abbott knows, one panicked pant-sh**ting expression is worth a thousand words,” the voiceover said.

A politician quitting on a matter of conscience? Put it on page 10

May 24th, 2014 Comments off

Members quitting parliament on matters of principle are a rare event – so rare that I cannot think of one happening in my 50 plus years covering politics in Canberra. As for state parliaments I am less knowledgeable but a quick googling did not help me find one apart from this week’s resignation by Dr Chris Davis as the member for Stafford in Queensland.

It was, said Dr Davis, “with sadness that I have advised the Speaker of my resignation.”

The passage of recent government legislation affecting critical aspects of our democracy goes contrary to my value system and that of the majority of my electorate. I would never have stood for Parliament on such a platform, nor do I believe I would have been elected. My most recent speech to Parliament offers additional insights.

My sacking has been a catalyst. It is sadly no longer possible for me to effectively represent my electorate in such an environment, despite my best endeavours.

A significant parliamentary event surely.

Well not to Queensland’s biggest selling daily paper. The Courier Mail relegated the story to page 10. The Townsville Bulletin had its four page version on the same page.

Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

And now for something completely different

May 23rd, 2014 Comments off

So that budget business is not going down so well with the punters.

Well how about this:



Or this:


(click to enlarge)

Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

Miranda Devine has forgotten Julia Gillard already

May 23rd, 2014 Comments off

Mmm. So Australian voters rush to embrace what the extreme and malevolent hate. Tell that to Julia Gillard.



Reporting a military coup – this morning’s Bangkok papers

May 23rd, 2014 Comments off


The military seized power, dissolving the caretaker government, suspending the constitution and ordering protesters to return home in a bloodless coup yesterday.
The power seizure took place after talks between the pro- and anti-government camps failed for a second day yesterday.
The army brought them together for talks to settle the country’s protracted political conflict, without success.
Military sources said the negotiations were brought to an end after the government insisted on holding on to power.
Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha, who chaired the talks, left the Army Auditorium, the venue of the talks, as soldiers moved in to detain all negotiators and whisked them away in passenger vans.
Representatives of the Senate and the Election Commission were later allowed to go free.
Radio and television stations were ordered to suspend their normal broadcasts. A curfew between 10pm-5am was imposed and gatherings of more than five people banned.
All schools nationwide were ordered closed from today until Sunday.
In its first coup statement, the military cited the eruption of violence in Bangkok and other provinces which resulted in many deaths and injuries in the past months as the reasons behind the power seizure.
Appearing on all television channels along with other armed forces leaders and the national police chief about 4.30pm, Gen Prayuth read the statement.
He said the violence in the country had been escalating to such an extent that it stood to undermine national security and public safety.
The coup would help restore normalcy and national unity, ensure reform of political, economic and social institutions, and ensure legitimacy to all sides, he added.


How Australia’s winking Tony Abbott became one of the world’s most unpopular prime ministers

May 22nd, 2014 Comments off

In politics it is often the simple things that have the most influence on voters. And so we are seeing this week as university students contemplate paying higher fees while knowing the PM’s daughter avoided the millstone of a HELP* debt because one of her daddy’s Liberal Party friends helped her get a scholarship. The politics of this part of the Coalition budget could hardly be worse. There the story was again tonight at the top of the list of most talked about items on 9 News, just like yesterday.

22-05-2014 ninenews Still near the top of the list as well – tonight just behind the bull – is what the Washington Post on its website has called, surprise, surprise, Winkgate, under the headline How Australia’s winking Tony Abbott became one of the world’s most unpopular prime ministers


Finally, the madness has taken its name: Winkgate. The gate opened when Australia’s prime minister, who has recently bungled his way from one scandal to the next, took a call from a listener on a radio show that was filmed.
The caller was worried about money. She was a grandmother. And a sex hotline worker. “I am a 67-year-old pensioner, three chronic incurable medical conditions — two life-threatening,” the caller, named Gloria, said. “I just survive on about $400 a fortnight after I pay my rent. And I work on an adult sex line to make ends meet.”

Abbott, who took office last September, then smirked for the briefest of moments and winked — unleashing a tidal wave of criticism, tweets and headlines.

This, of course, is nothing new for Tony Abbott, who’s quickly becoming one of the world’s most hated prime ministers. He just unveiled a draconian austerity budget that analysts call the most extreme and least popular of the past four decades in Australia. His approval rating has plunged to 30 percent. And then there’s the irreverent hashtag #MorePopularThanAbbott, which suggests that both toilet paper and flat tires are more popular than the prime minister.

Back on the home front, 7 News also had the winking as its top of the pops.

22-05-2014 7news

Over at the ABC, Sex line grandmother labels Abbott’s wink ‘sleazy’ and ‘slimy’ (video)was the most popular item for the last 24 hours.

And to think that yesterday I wrote that it would be Hard to think of a worse day for Abbott and Hockey as political salesmen. Just mark that down as another one of my mistakes.

*Who is it that came up with the name HELP to describe the cruel debt that is being inflicted on tertiary students?

Hard to think of a worse day for Abbott and Hockey as political salesmen

May 21st, 2014 Comments off

Here is the National Nine News take on the day:


In the Coalition they will be thankful for that small – or perhaps that should be large – mercy of the dancing woman to break up the succession of horrid stories. And there was nothing unique about Nine either. The headlines on the other television websites were just as bad.

The newspaper websites were even worse. Here’s the collection of political stories as per and the Sydney Morning Herald:


From earlier today, have a look at Laurie Oakes in advertising breakthrough – stars in Labor Party ad.


Laurie Oakes in advertising breakthrough – stars in Labor Party ad

May 21st, 2014 Comments off

I doubt that the old fellow will be amused at being used in this way but I’m sure it will be damaging to the government. Laurie is, after-all, far more credible a figure on television than any politician.

Laurie Oakes looking gloriously serious as he turns his attention to the dancing Treasurer

Laurie Oakes looking gloriously serious as he turns his attention to the dancing Treasurer

What you ought to know about Crikey readers

May 20th, 2014 Comments off

From today’s Crikey email comes this disclosure about its readership:

That Mirabella jostle. Yesterday we pointed you to a fresh video showing erstwhile Coalition warrior Sophie Mirabella being jostled by protesting students during a uni lecture. We proposed that protesters should not physically intimidate/manhandle MPs of any persuasion, and asked what our readers thought. You were split; quite a few agreed, saying the jostle was “counterproductive” and “fair-minded people should certainly limit their physical outbursts”. “It’s just not the way we want our society to be,” one reader said. But some thought the jostle was fair enough, given how strong community anger is at the budget. “Some would call it karma I guess,” one reader mused. Check out the conversation and add your opinion here.

Nice to know that Crikey “proposed” that protesters should not physically intimidate/manhandle MPs of any persuasion. What a fair minded lot they are at Crikey. Even prepared to admit, without criticism, that it has a split readership on the issue of jostling a woman. Karma indeed.

Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

The Two-Santa theory – politics as a battle between two forms of munificence and other news and views for Sunday 18 May

May 18th, 2014 Comments off

18-05-2014 deadmenruling

  • How “Dead Men” Fiscal Policy Is Paralyzing Government – “In his new book, Dead Men Ruling, … Gene Steuerle … argues that for short-term political gain, lawmakers have abdicated the future. They have made it almost impossible for government to adjust policy to reflect changing circumstances. … The future is being written by lawmakers who will be long dead when our grandchildren come of age.“We are left with a budget for a declining nation,” Gene writes, “that invests ever-less in our future…and a broken government that presides over archaic, inefficient, and inequitable spending and tax programs.”All this has happened due to a confluence of two unhappy trends: The first is what the late conservative writer Jude Wanniski memorably described almost four decades ago as the “Two-Santa Theory.”Wanniski’s insight was that Democrats had monopolized the role of Santa Claus by identifying themselves as the party of new government programs while budget-balancing Republicans played the unpopular role of Scrooge. Now, it was now time for Republicans to rebrand themselves as the second Santa, only instead of distributing generosity through spending, they’d do it through the tax code.

    No longer would the party of largess be pitted against the party of austerity. Now, American politics could be defined as a battle between two forms of munificence.”

  • No sign of major central banks tightening the reins – “Government bond yields have tumbled on the basis that the world’s major central banks will continue to keep monetary policy easy and in some cases loosen further.”
  • Street by street, Assad extends grip in central Syria – “From his base in Damascus, Bashar al-Assad can contemplate a broad sweep of Syria clawed back from rebels who once threatened to drive him out.”
  • Climate change to hit credit ratings of countries, especially poor ones, warns S&P
  • Lebanon on the brink – “Political gridlock, economic torpor and the machinations of pro-Syrian Hizbollah – the non-state regional superpower – have once more pushed the crossroads of the Middle East to the edge of collapse.
  • The media, the market and truth – “If people are only told the facts that they are comfortable with, they will never change their minds. And as Paul Krugman observes … , if it is only the media read by your political opponents who will cry foul, politicians who just want to ‘play to the base’ are tempted to also distort or manufacture evidence, perhaps leading to descent into a world of fantasy. Does this selection of facts actually influence people? Fewer people in the US think climate change is a major threat to their country than almost anywhere else … The figure for the UK is also unusually low. This is particularly ironic as a good deal of the science telling us it is a major threat is done in these two countries. A major reason … why people in the US and UK think this way is that they are allowed the freedom to not to be told about the science, or to be given the opinions of skeptics as if they carried equal or more weight than the vast majority of scientists.”
Categories: Media, News and views for the day Tags:

Just when I thought there was a real pre-budget story …

May 13th, 2014 Comments off

Wishful thinking?


Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

After 10 years Monica breaks her silence – My Life Sucks!

May 7th, 2014 Comments off

7-05-2014 nypost

The newspaper headline of the year?

Categories: American media, Media Tags:

Still waiting for the first leadership challenge sighting of autumn

May 7th, 2014 Comments off

I thought I had it. The first one arriving just as autumn seems to be turning to winter. “Government MPs are bracing to ‘cop the political flak’ from next week’s budget containing tax rises and welfare cuts,” was the promising intro by Mark Kenny, Chief Political Correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald. But then the disappointing “but”… “but ministers say the unpopular moves will not weaken Tony Abbott’s leadership.” The challenge had flown away.

Perhaps not for long because chief correspondents are experienced leadership watchers with skills finely honed from watching Labor. And the signs were there this morning:

A series of political opinion polls have charted a sharp downturn in support for the Coalition and a fall in Mr Abbott’s personal standing, but senior figures have rallied around him, praising his determination to take hard decisions.

In political journalism that’s like a footy team president saying “the coach has my full support.” And from Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce:

In a strong declaration of support for Mr Abbott, Mr Joyce said there was a ‘‘nobility’’ in doing what was right in public office, describing Mr Abbott as a man with ‘‘a good sense of kindness and strength’’.

That has a Yes, Prime Minister “courageous decision” ring to it, a clue that the first proper sighting is not far away.


Are the consequences of the biffo by the barons getting serious?

May 6th, 2014 Comments off

Just an update: Maybe someone has realised that this could be serious. Australian casino controllers might turn the  blind eye but in other countries they might not be so obliging

See the earlier story here


Categories: Media Tags:

A case of one law for the rich? That certainly seems to be the case for casino owners in Queensland

May 6th, 2014 Comments off

Well, a bit of biff in a main street is alright then. The police are steering clear of the matter, the Sydney Morning Herald tells us, at least for now. “A police spokeswoman said on Monday that no one had come forward to report the matter so it was not currently the subject of a police investigation.”

This, apparently, is not a report:


As for the NSW casino licensing authorities they had no comment yesterday on whether anything that happened in the Bondi punch-up was relevant to this section of their Act:

Casino Control Act 1992 No 15

12 Suitability of applicant and close associates of applicant

(1) The Authority must not grant an application for a casino licence unless satisfied that the applicant, and each close associate of the applicant, is a suitable person to be concerned in or associated with the management and operation of a casino.
(2) For that purpose the Authority is to consider whether:
(a) each of those persons is of good repute, having regard to character, honesty and integrity, and
(b) each of those persons is of sound and stable financial background, and
(c) in the case of an applicant that is not a natural person, it has or has arranged a satisfactory ownership, trust or corporate structure, and
(d) the applicant has or is able to obtain financial resources that are both suitable and adequate for ensuring the financial viability of the proposed casino, and
(e) the applicant has or is able to obtain the services of persons who have sufficient experience in the management and operation of a casino, and
(f) the applicant has sufficient business ability to establish and maintain a successful casino, and
(g) any of those persons has any business association with any person, body or association who, in the opinion of the Authority, is not of good repute having regard to character, honesty and integrity or has undesirable or unsatisfactory financial sources, and
(h) each director, partner, trustee, executive officer and secretary and any other officer or person determined by the Authority to be associated or connected with the ownership, administration or management of the operations or business of the applicant or a close associate of the applicant is a suitable person to act in that capacity.

Down in Victoria it will apparently take criminal charges for the casino regulators to become interested and up in Queensland it appears they could not care less about a little bit of assaulting.

From the SMH again:


Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

Fit and proper people – James Packer and David Gyngell

May 5th, 2014 Comments off

The two of them –  James Packer and David Gyngell – run businesses that require them to meet a government definition of being fit and proper people.

What a great country it is that allows street brawlers to be in charge of casinos and television stations.

Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

Paul Kelly’s strange logic on forecasts

May 3rd, 2014 Comments off

Just choose your forecast to fit your prejudice. That seems to be the view of Paul Kelly writing in The Australian this morning:

The value of the audit commission is proved by the firestorm it has generated. It is not written by politicians. Freed from such political constraints it can launch the national debate Australia needs to conduct.
Anybody who doubts this should consider the business-as usual projections showing the budget stays in deficit for a decade and beyond. This may be based on conservative forecasts but conservative forecasts are necessary after years of forecasting failure on the optimistic side.

Conservative forecasts are necessary? Really? Surely if we are going to be in the forecasting business at all we should be making our best guess? Otherwise it is just a nonsense.

The caution we show should be the realisation that our best guess most probably will turn out to be wrong – sometimes too pessimistic and sometimes to optimistic. Then when we are wrong we change.

Rupert Murdoch’s world – a Twitter update

May 1st, 2014 Comments off

The great man speaks:

Categories: American media, Media Tags:

Beseeching Rupert Murdoch to keep letting Fox rescue the GOP and other news and views for Wednesday 30 April

April 30th, 2014 Comments off

30-04-2014 murdochandfox

Murdoch columnist Terry McCrann calls Sydney Daily Telegraph “silly and venal”

April 29th, 2014 Comments off

This morning’s Terry McCrann column in the Daily Terror:


And today’s editorial from the same paper:

2014-04-29_teleeditorialWho said there was no room for diverse opinion at News Corp?


Whose ally is Putin in another ridiculous attack by the Oz on the ABC?

April 28th, 2014 Comments off

And just when you thought the attacks by The Oz on the ABC could not get more ridiculous, along comes a Sharri Markson item with the added support of a Nicholson cartoon.


The Sydney Tele and the wife of the boss

April 26th, 2014 Comments off

How thoughtful of the Daily Telegraph team this morning to recognise the beauty of the boss’s wife.

2014-04-26_sarahmurdochBut what happened to Lachlan on the male list?

And for a more serious comment on the media have a read of Back to the future – the return of the partisan press


Back to the future – the return of the partisan press

April 25th, 2014 Comments off

An interesting interview on the Quartz website with University of Chicago economics professor Matthew Gentzkow who recently won the John Bates Clark Medal which the American Economic Association bestows on the American economist under the age of 40 who “who is judged to have made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge.” Quartz described Gentzkow’s work as “an interesting mix of the history and micro-economics of the media world.”

For instance, he’s studied the drivers of political “slant” in American newspapers. (Short version: Political slant tends to play to the views of readers, not owners.) Along with his frequent collaborator and University of Chicago colleague Jesse Shapiro, he’s investigated tendencies among consumers to read only online news sites that square with their own ideological biases. (Short version: They found no evidence that segregation among consumers of online news was becoming more pronounced.) His research has also found that television—and the television news which supplanted politics-heavy newspapers—has helped drive down US voter turnout.

The part of the interview that intrigued me most concerned the return of the partisan press. You’ve looked a lot at the history of American newspapers, he was asked, going back to their roots as ideological party organs in the 19th century, as well as the advent of television, and more recently online news. Is there some sort of grand unified theory or thread running through all that work that you were surprised at?

In some ways, the US media today looks increasingly like the US media of the 19th century. Back in the day we had fiercely competitive, partisan newspapers going after each other, wearing their ideological views on their sleeve … not pulling any punches talking about scandals and using all kinds of inflammatory language. That is very much like what we see if you turn on cable TV or you look at political blogs.

And really the exception, historically, is the period that I grew up in and the period that many people grew up in. We had three broadcast networks and everybody got their news from the same places. People would argue about the political slant of the broadcast networks, [but] they certainly presented themselves as very objective and sort of partisanship-free. That was really the unusual period. When you go back and look at partisan newspapers in the past, things look awfully similar to what we see today.
Categories: American media, Economic matters, Media Tags:

Juanita Phillips and Greg Combet – the Tele sees a point but I can’t

April 25th, 2014 Comments off

25-04-2014 juanitaLast April’s gossip this April is the best I can say for this morning’s offering by the Sydney Daily Telegraph. The story of a retired politician who took his partner on an approved trip when he was a Cabinet minister hardly seems news to me even if the partner was an ABC news reader. Yet the Tele’s headline suggests there was something untoward about Greg Combet and Juanita Phillips doing what other ministerial couples do regularly.

It has taken News Corp attacks on the ABC to a new low point.


Court reporting with a difference – Pistorius is lying his head off

April 14th, 2014 Comments off

When there is no jury to prejudice, court reporting can be different. This morning’s South African Cape Argus well illustrates that:


Categories: Media Tags:

What a difference a fortnight and a Liberal lead means to The Australian

April 8th, 2014 Comments off

Labor hits the lead on Newspoll and you will notice it on page one if you look closely enough.


That was then and this is now, a fortnight later, with Tony Abbott’s team back in front:

2014-04-08_APRIL8POLLWith such neutrality is “the heart of the nation” revealed.



Does the picture tell the story? The Age and the SMH preview Peta Credlin differently

April 5th, 2014 Comments off

If the picture tells the story then The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald seem to have a different view of Peta Credlin, chief of staff for Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The front page previews of this morning’s cover story of the Good Weekend magazine insert give decidedly different impressions:

2014-04-05_credlinThe grumpy view on the left is from The Age. And the magazine itself?



The Climate Apocalypse Daily under attack

April 2nd, 2014 Comments off

On a slow news day life can be tough for even “Australia’s leading business commentator.” All that space to fill and nothing to write about. So why not have a shot at the lesser business commentators on the rival daily?

And so it came to pass this morning that the Herald Sun’s Terry McCrann turned his attention to the Melbourne Age. A couple of extracts:


2014-04-02_agelackofenthusiasmWithering stuff.

And all based on a finding in a survey conducted for the Institute of Public Affairs that Australians are reluctant to see their taxes increased when the cause is taking action to curb greenhouse gas emissions. That to me was hardly a surprising finding. Ask the same people if they like paying taxes so mining companies could get tax reductions from accelerated depreciation allowances and the answer would be the same or even more so.

But still, covering the poll was legitimate enough I suppose. Just a pity that there was not enough substance in it to fill up the daily quota of words without the irrelevant excursion into The Age.


Resurrecting journalists writing about each other to welcome Viscount Mike Carlton

April 1st, 2014 Comments off

At last a different theme for my journalists writing about each other section. I got sick of the Murdoch papers slinging off at the ABC and vice versa. The Daily Terror trying to be humorous at Mike Carlton’s expense makes a refreshing change.

2014-04-01_sirmikeI am eagerly awaiting the return of serve.



Will his wish be granted with the words “Arise Sir Alexander Downer”?

March 26th, 2014 Comments off

I had always thought of my old paper the Sydney Telegraph as being a journal of record but it’s not so any longer it seems. Prompted by a twitterer I went looking for a Tony Abbott promise on the question of knights and dames, entered the code – and this was the sad result:

26-03-2014 notfoundBut for history’s sake I was grateful for this from Sir Tim Þe Enchanter ‏@timb07 :

From where I rescued this:

26-03-2014 noknightsWith these being the key pars:

26-03-2014 knightsanddames



Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

Keeping it in the family – dad looks after his Murdoch boys

March 26th, 2014 Comments off

The succession planning in the Murdoch empire has reached a new stage with dad Rupert promoting sons Lachlan and James to key posts at News Corp and 21st Century Fox.

Lachlan now has the titles of non-executive co-chairman at both companies. James becomes co-chief operating officer at 21st Century Fox.


In a statement the proud dad had this to say about Lachlan’s elevation at News:

“This appointment is a sign of confidence in the growth potential of News Corp. and a recognition of Lachlan’s entrepreneurial leadership and passion for news, digital media and sport.

“In this elevated role, Lachlan will help us lead News Corp. forward as we expand our reach and invest in new technologies and markets around the world. We have many challenges and opportunities ahead, and Lachlan’s strategic thinking and vast knowledge of our businesses will enable me as executive chairman and the company as a whole to deliver the best outcomes on behalf of our stockholders, employees and customers.”

And of the pair of his offspring moving up t 21st Century Fox the old fellow commented:

“Lachlan is a strategic and talented executive with a rich knowledge of our businesses. From 1994 to 2007, Lachlan’s executive career at the company spanned the globe, culminating as deputy chief operating officer responsible for the group’s most important publishing businesses in addition to its vast U.S. television station holdings. I’m very pleased he is returning to a leadership role at the company, where he will work closely with me, Chase, James, and the rest of the board of directors to drive continued growth for years to come.

“We are pleased to elevate James into this important role alongside my partner and trusted advisor Chase Carey. I’m confident James and Chase will continue to make a great team during this time of immense opportunity. James has done an outstanding job driving our global television businesses and our shareholders, customers, and colleagues will benefit greatly from his many talents.

“This company has never been better positioned to capitalize on the increased global demand for quality storytelling and news, and our collective future has never been brighter.”

Categories: Media Tags:

Rolf Harris disappears from page one. Maybe Her Majesty was not amused.

March 20th, 2014 Comments off

Buy the paper and see it.

20-03-2014 harriscuddle

20-03-2014 rolfpredator

Look on the web and miss it.


And is this the reason for a British court prohibiting publication?


Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

Australia’s most boring viewing and reading – Media Watch versus The Australian

March 18th, 2014 Comments off

It’s hard to know what’s more boring – other people talking about Andrew Bolt or the ABC’s Media Watch and The Australian taking verbal pot shots at each other. Last night Paul Barry gave us both.

  • Will the ABC apologise to Bolt?
    After comments on last Monday’s Q&A, Marcia Langton says Andrew Bolt is not a racist. But will the ABC apologise anyway?
  • Sorry, John – an update
    Last week Media Watch looked at some selective editing of a letter to the editor by The Australian. This week we bring an update.

Wouldn’t it be nice if just occasionally, just every now and then, the national broadcaster could broaden its horizons to analyse something serious. And no. I don’t mean having another dig at that other Media Watch standby the shallowness of current affairs television.

2014-03-18_tebloidtvOn balance I think I’d rather watch shallow than boring.


Gay rights and Guinness produce the headline of the day

March 17th, 2014 Comments off

17-03-2014 draughtdodge

17-03-2014 gay

Categories: American media, Media, Sexual politics Tags:

Can TV news bulletins remain relevant to young viewers?

March 14th, 2014 Comments off

Broadcasters grapple with the future of TV news –

British news broadcasters are facing a battle for younger viewers’ attention, with new technology exacerbating time-honoured fears that teenagers are not interested in current affairs.

At stake is whether the flagship news bulletins can remain relevant to a generation used to the bite-sized coverage available online.


Categories: Media Tags:

A media veteran on a media veteran – the Phillip Adams view of Mike Willesee

March 10th, 2014 Comments off

Media talking about media – Bolt enters the fray

March 9th, 2014 Comments off

Another entrant in what is becoming one of the major news items of the year – competitors complaining about the ABC. Here’s the Bolt Report’s Twitter summary of its own media watch segment.


Seven network hoping for Schapelle Corby to be returned to prison?

March 6th, 2014 Comments off

Having run the interview with Schapelle Corby’s sister Mercedes that has Indonesian officialdom considering whether Schapelle should be returned to prison, the Seven television network looks to be revelling in just that prospect.

6-03-2014 mercedesapologyIt reported tonight:

Mercedes Corby has apologised for her interview with Seven’s Sunday Night program as fears grow that her sister’s parole is at risk.

However, that apology may not be enough as the Indonesian Government is being pressured to send Schapelle Corby back to jail.

It was a unique approach: apologising for a television interview, by facing the cameras once again.

What a smugly clever comment that was! But wait. There was more. And not even a hint of sorrow at its own role in creating the predicament.

But Mercedes Corby is well aware her sister Schapelle’s new-found freedom is at stake.

Mercedes said: “From the bottom of my heart, I am very sorry to the people of Indonesia if my interview on Australian TV caused unease.”

It was a story on Seven’s Sunday Night program that has angered Indonesian officials.

They are investigating whether it breached Schapelle Corby’s strict parole conditions. The family had been warned not to talk.

The interview is making news in Indonesia too and there is increasing pressure on the Justice Minister to put Schapelle Corby back behind bars.

He has ordered a report into the incident and says he is letting the parole board get on with its task of finishing its investigation before making a decision.

The Justice Minister is not just under pressure from local media and the public, but also from his own party.

If he does not send Schapelle Corby back to jail he could be seen as weak, and face a massive backlash

With general elections due to be held in April, his political career is hanging on this decision.

The better news for Schapelle Corby came tonight, via the Antara newsagency, from the Bali Justice and Human Rights Office which welcomed the apology expressed by Mercedes Corby.,

“I think its a good step and behavior,” Sunar Agus, the head of the offices penitentiary division, said here on Thursday.

However, despite the apology, the office will continue to evaluate Schapelle following her release on parole, he added.

Sunar Agus said the apology did impact what had happened so far after Mercedes exclusive interview with Australias Channel Seven television station.

The local justice office is drafting a report on Schapelles behavior and activities since her release on parole, he noted.

The report will be sent to the Justice and Human Rights Ministry in Jakarta, he said.


Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

The disgusting Aussie media – spy cameras in place next to Schapelle Corby’s Bali home

March 5th, 2014 Comments off

I don’t think it is Schapelle Corby that Indonesian officials should be contemplating returning to the slammer. They should be rounding up Australian journalists and camera people and giving them a taste of prison. The more I read and see about their behaviour the worse I realise their behaviour is.

This was forwarded to me by one of my Facebook readers after my earlier posting “A sick media disgraces itself while covering each other explaining why it cannot actually tell a story about Schapelle Corby“:



Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

A sick media disgraces itself while covering each other explaining why it cannot actually tell a story about Schapelle Corby

March 5th, 2014 Comments off

It has to be the sickest media behaviour for years. The way media groups are treating the release on parole of Schapelle Corby is simply revolting. Almost all of the coverage centres not on telling the story of a woman released after being imprisoned on drug smuggling charges but on how media groups are covering other journalists peeved that they cannot bring any actual news about Schapelle.


Searching an ABC site unsuccessfully for a correction to comments affecting Clive Palmer

March 4th, 2014 Comments off

My morning Twitter glancing led me to this:


A perfectly civil correction and without the lawyer’s mumbo-jumbo in which such things are normally written. It made me wonder how the ABC presented it on its Gold Coast station website.

2014-03-04_nicoledyerI can’t tell you because I could not find it.

Ah well, it will at least give that ABC’s correction column in next Monday’s Australian something real to report on


Categories: Environment, Lobbying and PR, Media Tags:

A Ukraine newspaper’s view – Occupation

March 4th, 2014 Comments off

4-03-2014 theday14-03-2014 theday24-03-2014 ukraineview

Categories: European media, Media Tags:

A dig at the ABC with a sense of humour

March 3rd, 2014 Comments off


Another variation on the dole bludger theme

March 2nd, 2014 Comments off

2014-03-02_notravelnodole2014-03-02_jobsnobsEvery time I see a tabloid beat-up like that I cannot help turning to the website of the Australian Bureau of Statistics where this morning I found this:

  • The number of unemployed persons increased by 16,600 to 728,600 in January 2014 (seasonally adjusted), while in trend terms the number of unemployed persons in January 2014 rose by 5,200 to 717,700.
  • Total job vacancies in November 2013 were 140,000, a decrease of 0.3% from August 2013. (The vacancy figures are only published quarterly with November being the last available.)

2014-03-02_jobvacanciesI for one would be a lot angrier about dole bludgers if there actually were jobs they were all  bludging away from.



Gerard Henderson gracefully accepts an invitation – Fox News versus the ABC in providing a plurality of views

March 1st, 2014 Comments off

Last Saturday, after giving links to some of the strange views of conservative commentators on Fox News, I invited Gerard Henderson to provide some examples in his Media Watch Dog blog of Fox’s left wing commentary that justify a comment he had made that Fox News provides a greater plurality of views than Australia’s ABC. Yesterday he kindly did so:


MWD used to read “Richard Farmer’s Chunky Bits” column in Crikey — until Mr Farmer got sacked. Your man Farmer always managed to be informative and refrained from writing about himself — unlike his successors at the leftist Crikey newsletter like Jane Caro (See MWD Issue 214). And now for something quite substantial.

In his blog Politicalowl last Saturday, Richard Farmer referred to this comment by Gerard Henderson in The Weekend Australian of 22-23 February 2014, viz:

The ABC declines to acknowledge the point. But a greater plurality of views can be heard on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News channel in the United States than on the taxpayer funded broadcaster in Australia. The ABC does not have one conservative presenter or producer or editor for any of its prominent television or radio or online outlets.

Richard Farmer went on to cite examples of some conservative or right-of-centre presenters and commentators and concluded:

I’ll leave it to Gerard to give some examples of Fox’s left-wing commentary in his Media Watch Dog blog next Friday.

MWD just loves a challenge. Here is a list of Fox News presenters and/or paid contracted commentators who are left-of-centre types — or “liberals” in the American sense of the term.

▪ Bob Beckel: Formerly a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in Jimmy Carter’s administration and former national campaign manager for Walter Mondale.

▪ Kirsten Powers: Formerly a Deputy Assistant US Trade Representative for Public Affairs in Bill Clinton’s administration.

▪ Geraldo Rivera: A self-proclaimed Democrat voter and vocal supporter of President Barack Obama.

▪ Alan Colmes: A self-proclaimed left-liberal commentator who is consistently critical of conservatives.

▪ Joe Trippi: Formerly a campaign manager for Howard Dean, Tony Blair and Edward Kennedy.

Fox News has one channel. The ABC has two — ABC 1 and ABC News 24 along with numerous radio stations. There is not one conservative employed by the ABC as a presenter or paid contracted commentator on any of its prominent outlets. But Fox News has at least five left-of-centre presenters or paid contracted commentators who appear on its prominent programs.

The Daily Telegraph’s page 17 sense of humour

February 28th, 2014 Comments off

James Ashby can consider himself a bit hard done by this morning. Last year after a federal court judge ruled he had launched a sexual harassment claim to destroy his former boss Peter Slipper and the claim was thrown out, Ashby was treated by many as a no-good figure of fun. Not by Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, though. The Tele, which had featured the original accusation against the one-time Speaker of the House of Representatives Slipper prominently on its early news pages, consigned a report on Ashby’s case being thrown out to page 17.

With a wonderful sense of timing the full bench of the Federal Court chose yesterday to rule on an appeal that overturned the previous ruling and the Ashby case against Slipper can now proceed. The decision just happened to follow the publication that morning of a tut-tutting finding by the Press Council that the Tele was quite unfair in consigning the story on Ashby’s loss in court to page 17.


So what to do with the news of the man’s vindication by the full bench? Why, put in on page 17 of course.

2014-02-28_page17Humorous but perhaps a bit unfair and not just on James Ashby. Journalist Steve Lewis, now retired from the News stable, saw his reputation sullied a little in the original judgment. The last par of the Tele’s report this morning thus deserves a wider circulation than page 17 provides:

The court was also complimentary of former Daily Telegraph journalist Steve Lewis, rejecting the trial judge’s conclusion he “was lying” in his evidence and saying it was wrong to assume a “We will get him” text message Lewis sent Mr Ashby referred to the harassment claims, because Lewis had been investigating Mr Slipper’s travel entitlements for some time.


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