Tim Blair


New Criterion



Thursday, February 27, 2003

No more the grey accountant, Auntie's chief flunkey, Russell Balding is beating the boards in a drive to snare the quarter billion Auntie needs to put JJJ in every Australian shanty.

"Rap for the RARAs" is Russell's slogan, but it may not be enough.

The ALP is upset. If it isn't enough to give comfort on an hourly basis to the ignorant intransigents of the Labor left whose megalomania then has to be massaged by every backbencher and office-holder, Auntie has cut Simon Crean's reply to John Howard's take on "blood, tears and sweat". In favour of Playschool.

Probably did Simon a favour - it certainly did parents a favour, but the ALP Senators on the Estimates Committee are not showing any gratitude.

A similar credibility problem confronts Russell when he tries to call Piers Akerman to account for claiming, in a column in the Telegraph, that Auntie was sponsoring the push for West Papuan independence.

Unlike some columnists, such as Mr Akerman, the ABC cannot and does not advocate on behalf of political causes. thunders Russell, in a letter he has run through Crikey since the Tele won't play.

This minion has more chutzpah than his own Gastropod, and equal credibility.

Not only does his commentariat peddle leftism day in, day out, explicitly and with sneering contempt for even the idea of giving a hearing for another point of view, but a consistent leftism infuses much of the remainder of Auntie's 24-hour day.

JJJ thinks the adult world a hoot, but the political agenda of the left is promoted like holy writ, without reflection.

For Radio National it's just a matter of "collective - good; profit - bad", to paraphrase Napoleon the Stalinesque pig from Animal Farm.

The embarrassment of association with the push for civil war in West Papua does not lead Russell to reflect on RN's practice of sharing its political agenda-setting with left-wing NGOs and quasi-faculties like UTS's activist kindergarten for hacks. He just denies that it's policy.

If Auntie's indigenous affairs pulpit, Speaking Out, is pushing its liberationist ideology into other people's backyards, not to worry, they also talk about sports legend Eddie Gilbert so there can't be a problem.

At Auntie's shop, mindlessness is regarded as an excuse.