Tim Blair


New Criterion



Friday, June 27, 2003
SOME HORRORS ARE BEYOND the capacities of Uncle's stomach, George.

I was surprised to see no commentary on any of the appropriate blogs about the soapbox that Andrew Denton gave to supreme anti-intellectual Helen Caldicott.

Maybe there are younger, fitter and stronger bloggers out there to give the wild woman a whirl. I ruled Helen out of the rational component of the human race twenty years ago.

I bet it was great entertainment, not.

IT'S MY DAMN RIGHT TO EDITORIALISE bleats Auntie news-time commentator Geoff Sims, also responding to Gerard Henderson, and is fisked in bold by reader John.

Columnists mightn't have to ask questions. Reporters do, and should. Provocative questions. If asking questions is editorialising, as Mr Henderson wails, heaven help all of us. And if Mr Henderson wants to justify the war, to slag off Robin Cook and anybody else who might disagree with him, just put the case. His argument is pretty thin if he needs to drag me into it. I'm just doing a job.

Geoff Sims, ABC TV news, Ultimo, June 25.


On this morning's Radio National Breakfast, commentator Gerard Henderson was indulged, as he is every Friday, by morning mouthpiece pro tem Jennifer Byrne (no transcript, but watch Henny's opinion page).

Henderson had a merited whinge about Auntie's supine repeating of the BBC's craven apology for the "Cambridge Spies", Philby, Blunt, Burgess and Maclean. Not to put them in any particular order of monstrosity.

This big budget mini-series, screening on Sunday evenings on ABC television, is based on one dominant assumption that goes as far up Uncle's nostrils as it does Henderson's.

Its thesis, plugged with monocular persistence, is that all four were youthful idealists, devoted to the ideals of universal brotherhood and the odd bit of buggery. We are treated to a kind of Brideshead Revisited spiced up by treachery.

Wasn't it a shame they were so cruelly used by those nasty Russians.

There are a few problems with the BBC spin.

It was popular among the privileged young of the time to be left and pacifist. Few became agents of the Soviet Union like the heroes of this tale.

There were also right-wing idealists, democratic socialists and conservatives who were no happier about the miseries of the depression and the cruelties of fascism of the left and right. These inconvenient types are simply written out of history, BBC version. Instead we have our heroes acting against a backdrop of British anti-Semites and bashers of workers, with nothing between them and the pro-Soviet position.

For example, the Soviet position in Spain, supported by all four, was not just to fight Franco's rebels but also the democratic left. It was the age of the 'necessary murder' of anyone on the left who got in the way of Stalin's agents. Not a problem for these BBC heroes. Except when Philby was asked to pull the trigger on Franco he wimped out, according to the script.

All four are portrayed as distraught at the deal between Hitler and Stalin in 1939 to carve up central and eastern Europe. Given the spin of this programme, can we have any confidence that this is more than convenient fiction? Their loyalty to Stalinism survived every other bastardry perpetrated by the Soviet regime until the end of their lives. Even after they had been uncovered.

As Henderson commented, can you imagine a similar tribute to the idealism of, say, Lord Haw Haw, who broadcast open propaganda for the Nazi regime?

Indeed, why has the murderousness of the left totalitarians, who were much better at producing mounds of corpses in peace time than the Nazis, remained so much more acceptable to the left for half a century. Their hearts were in the right place? Any wonder so many refugees from the Soviet murder machine treated the Western left with contempt.

To be taken seriously this apology for treachery would need to deal also with its subjects' lust for power and privilege, narcissism, sociopathy (Philby had three wives, all of which he abandoned - in the real world, without compunction - when they got in the way of his higher loyalty to himself), incapacity for intellectual honesty and total lack of feeling for the many whose deaths they caused directly. We won't try to compute the numbers who died indirectly because of their aid to Stalinism.

At one point the script acknowledges, indirectly, that Philby knew in the 1930s precisely the nature of the regime he was working for. Philby did nothing to indicate he was critical of his masters, and neither does this script.

Idealism be buggered.

The behaviour of the Cambridge spies stands to idealism as rape stands to consensual sex.

Auntie's communards demonstrate a similarly violent attitude to intellectual integrity in screening such a whitewash without even recognising that there is any ground here for contention. Mouthpiece Byrne, who is usually unsure whether she should be gabbling or giggling, knows in her bones that Henderson is wrong, so interjects energetically, but from total ignorance.

If you know your ideology, do you need to know anything else?

Wednesday, June 25, 2003
YOU REFUSE TO STOP VOTING on Saddam's future, despite my instructions. Now I've stopped the fun.

Congratulations to the large majority that picked the right answer: the Communards' scripter. I just love the way Saddam has got the left in a twist about finding the evidence he spent ten years concealing!

Too much evidence is never enough for some of us. What do you think?

Some suggestions on the new poll in the side-bar. I'm happy to add to the list of acid tests of how to keep your intestines inside without being immoral about it.

ANDREW WILKIE'S EVIDENCE to the UK Select Committee on Foreign Affairs is now available, and the Bunyip has read it.

As the circumstances indicated, and despite attempts by Auntie and Henny Herald to boost its significance, it's pathetic.

These extracts give a fair representation of Wilkie's case, or lack of it.

Q587 Mr Pope: Mr Wilkie, you said in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald that: "The fictions about Iraq's weapons programmes could be a best selling fairytale". In the British Government's assessment, which I am sure you are very familiar with, the British Government came to the conclusion that: "Iraq has a usable chemical and biological weapons capability in breach of UN Security Council Resolution 687, continues to attach great importance to the possession of WMD, has ballistic missiles, has the capacity to deliver chemical, biological agents"....

Mr Wilkie: Mr Pope, I found, and I still find, the British Government's September dossier fundamentally flawed for a number of reasons..... I think over-playing the unaccounted for weapons was quite misleading because, for a start, there is still a question mark over exactly what was unaccounted for. I do not think UNMOVIC ever tried to say "there are exactly X tonnes of precursor" or whatever, all they were trying to say was "We cannot account for it"....

...I am not saying that Iraq did not have a WMD programme. There is so much evidence that has been accumulated over so long that I do not think there is any doubt that Iraq had some sort of WMD programme.

Q590 Sir John Stanley: Mr Wilkie, in your interview on the Today programme in this country on 4 June you said: "I am satisfied that governments have exaggerated Iraq's WMD capability. Governments in all three capitals have exaggerated Iraq's links with al-Qaeda. The governments in all three capitals have exaggerated both the general risk of WMD terrorism as well as the specific risks of Iraq passing WMD to al-Qaeda. The governments have exaggerated what their intelligence communities have offered them". .... Just taking the Executive Summary [of the JIC September review], the Executive Summary, as far as I can see having just reread it very quickly, does not make any reference to the phrase that you used, "massive programme". It talks about a "current threat" and I know the words "imminent threat" have been used by some British politicians, but I am not sure that the phrase "imminent phrase [i.e. threat]" actually appears in this document. Certainly I do not see any reference to "massive programme". Just taking the couple of pages of the Executive Summary, could you tell us what is the wording there that you feel is unjustified against your information as to what intelligence was available?

Mr Wilkie: Okay. Before I look specifically at the Executive Summary, Sir John, I just want to remind us all that there was an awful lot more to the three governments trying to justify this war than just this dossier. In fact, I think the most emotive statements were probably oral statements in our Parliaments and so on, people standing up and saying what they said. ...

Q593 Sir John Stanley: Could I ask you to go back to my question, if you would be kind. This is a very important document for the Committee. You made this accusation of exaggeration and this is the base written document of the British Government, this was the one and only document which was an authentic document and stated to be derived from JIC [Joint Intelligence Committee] sources, unlike the "dodgy dossier". From the Executive Summary, what wording in this do you consider is an unjustifiable exaggeration against the intelligence that you knew?

Mr Wilkie: I will ask for a moment just to read and think, if you do not mind. I am sure you will appreciate that this is a very quick look.

Q594 Sir John Stanley: I assume before making the claims you have made you studied the document minutely. I hope so.

In vain, Sir John. What follows from Wilkie is pure flannel.

Wilkie's reasons for opposing the liberation of Iraq are no more based on intelligence information than are Uncle's reasons for supporting it.

Wilkie is just another citizen with an opinion, and that is why he needs the assistance of Henny Herald and Auntie to look like something more.

You may have a low opinion of the critical faculties of politicians. In this case they leave some of our best and brightest journalists for dead.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003
THE PHLOGISTON THEORY of combustion has been sadly neglected these last two hundred years, you might say.

Would you find any reputable branch or twig of the public media to listen to you?


But you would get a good run on Late Night Live (tonight). And in Henny Herald.

All you'd need to do is find some anti-Yank angle, like the latest campaigner against the use of depleted uranium in (US) weaponry.

Trouble is, there's not a shred of logic or evidence to justify bringing out the bell, book and candle. Or the compo claims.

There's probably more evidence to think DU is good for you (via Bizarre Science). But don't add it to the Weetbix just yet.

Monday, June 23, 2003

New Zealanders sure know how to have fun.


At least that's the way Henny Herald would describe his lovable, quirky, popular racism.

Guess who's a candidate for an Adjunct Chair in Whiteness Studies.

I KNOW THIS WILL SHOCK reader Ian and a few others, but Auntie's participation in the BBC's review of what people think of America failed to keep Uncle out of bed.

Peter Ruehl in the Weekend Financial Review of last Saturday gave the dismal exercise a restrained, balanced, intelligent and good-humoured review.

It's under the headline "US or them; bleating around the Bush" and if it weren't against my religion I'd recommend you pay to read it.

ANOTHER RESPONSIBILITY of a good newspaper in Sydney is coverage of the politics of Islam in Sydney, the heartland of Islam in Australia.

On page 36 of Saturday's Herald is a brief report on the uglies of the Islamic Youth Movement, whose hatred of the culture and society that welcomed them will be well known to followers of some bloggers, notably Professor Bunyip, but mysterious to those who depend on the Herald.

By neglecting their duty to inform, the Herald has made the work of the Islamic moderates harder, reduced the credibility of moderates when the lunatics catch public attention, and threatened the credibility of the security services that keep watch on these dangerous extremists.

Since it appears that the same security operatives provide Henny with most of the little they deign to publish, their misplaced covering-up is indeed rich.

Sunday, June 22, 2003
HENNY HERALD COMES CLEAN, sort of, but it doesn't mean to.

You won't find it on Henny's website, of course, but on page 38 of Saturday's very large newspaper it is revealed that:

What remains at issue is whether Wilkie is a credible witness for Howard's - or, for that matter Tony Blair's - prosecution. The former senior analyst with the Office of National Assessments... has conceded that he was not privy to some of the most sensitive prewar intelligence material (a "small amount").

He has also admitted that his opinions were not shared by any of his former workmates, though outside the hearing he said there "are many people in intelligence community [sic]" who felt the public had been sold a pup on Iraq.

I know who's been sold a pup. Wilkie has been squired around by Herald journalists for weeks, given a front-page send off to his supposed moment of fame in London, and it took some pommy politicians to extract a couple of simple truths about the man that have been staring at us all from the first time this pathetic limelighter called a media conference.

He's not the conscience of Australian spookdom, he's a narcissistic self-promoter whose views are not shared by a single one of his former intelligence colleagues. On his own admission.

Last week, according to the ABC on-line news report, Wilkie insists there are serving officers in both countries who agree with him.

Do you think Henny, left to its own devices, would have asked the questions, or told us the answers?

Even now they try to bury their shame. The continuing campaign to turn the victory against Saddam into a political defeat for Howard is now lead on Henny's front-page by Marian Wilkinson, with the discredited Wilkie dropped to the back of the bus.

Front page for the promise of significance, back page for the reality.

Henny's London correspondent, or a Sydney editor, further obfuscate their embarrassment with a weird introduction that seeks to make much of the fact that a Wilkie's evidence was followed by "a handshake from Canberra's own "spy" at the proceedings".

The disqualificatory quotes around 'spy' mean that Peter Fray has no reason to think the High Commission staffer was a 'spy' and didn't bother to try to find out. He would rather have us believe this was 'an unexpected gesture from an Australian high commission staffer."

"But then," says Fray, "it's hard to doubt the sincerity of someone who who chucks in a well-paid public service career on a principle and then sticks his neck out to tell the world about it."

Peter Fray has never before met a politician.

Strange, since he's employed by some of the shiftiest political operators to disgrace the calling of journalism in this country.

Friday, June 20, 2003
The ABC is just one long running Aunty Jack show. And it does try to rip orff the arms of right wing bastards opposed by the good-time communards in ABC according to Doug. There, I hope you feel better now.

You may be right that the attention paid by Auntie to the Crean-Beazley contest for the right to lead Labor to the next electoral disaster is a symptom of communardism.

Does the ALP no good, but. However it was decided that Simon Crean deserved the free kick that Australian Story provides, to have it screen the day after the leadership vote just prolonged the agony.

There are times even politicians would rather be left undisturbed under their log.

JAYSON BLAIR, high-flying news-maker of the New York Times, has come back to earth, in Sydney, and behind the desk of the editor of the Henny Penny Herald.

How do we know?

Consider first the evidence of Henny's promotional campaign for Andrew Wilkie, the ex-Army man of less-than-stellar achievement who droppped in to the Office of National Assessments long enough to find an opportunity to follow his true career goal - punditry. He resigned from ONA claiming that the Australian Government had grossly exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction , and that he wasn't going to put up with it any more. And off he goes to leap on every soap-box available in the pre-war shout-fest.

The evidence of Wilkie's character as a political commentator rather than an expert witness can be found throughout his contributions. He tells the Herald ("outside the [committee] hearing", for reasons I'll explain further down) that the US has interests in Iraq including "gaining access to Iraq's oil reserves". Does Wilkie, or the Herald, expect us to believe that conclusion is based on classified intelligence to which Wilkie had privileged access? He asserts that John Howard was motivated by "a rare opportunity ... to be a player" in world politics. Do we believe that Wilkie is John Howard's confidant? Or has ASIO bugged Howard's bathroom and been feeding the transcripts to Wilkie?

Wilkie's usefulness to the anti-Yanks is based on the presumption that he had enough access to classified information while at ONA to speak on behalf of all the voiceless spooks. And the intelligence to be able to do so. And the integrity to try to do so.

So, on Monday Henny shows us that news value counts for nothing when there's a political campaign to pursue, and gives Wilkie a front-page send-off to London.

How does it pan out when Wilkie is invited into the mother of Parliaments to advise the British Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs?

Auntie's on-line news report says:

Despite suggestions by committee members that Mr Wilkie spoke alone on this out of his former Australian or British colleagues, Mr Wilkie insists there are serving officers in both countries who agree with him.

The morning bulletins on Radio National put it differently. They had Wilkie conceding, in response to questions from MPs, that his view was a minority view, but insisting that he was not "a voice in the wilderness". This is a very different story. It spikes the tyres of the Wilkie campaign.

How did Wilkie respond? He accused the Australian Government of conspiring with British MPs to set him up with difficult questions. They had a "long letter" from the Australian Government he said. Has he seen a copy? He didn't say. Uncle suspects that Andrew hasn't yet learned that Parliamentary committee staffs routinely provide their committee members with scripted questions, and saw conspiracy where none existed.

Isn't the question from the UK committee just what any competent journalist would have asked him?

So Andrew Wilkie is not the voice of conscience-stricken spookdom. He is, after all, an eccentric, limelight-seeking minor official whose time in the spotlight is being artificially prolonged by a newspaper campaign.

How did Henny Herald handle this? In a word, dishonestly.

While Wilkie's departure from Sydney rated page one, his evidence in London was dropped to page four. And left off the website entirely. Perhaps from bad conscience.

Because what Henny did this morning was lie to its readers. It reported Wilkie as having given evidence when in fact it was reporting only Wilkie's untested assertions available to them, and the rest of us, before the Select Committee sat. Unfortunately, the British Parliament is inconsiderate enough to meet overnight, Sydney time, even when it doesn't help Henny's campaigning.

According to the Herald report, written before the event, Wilkie "has told a British Parliamentary enquiry" about Australian Government exaggerations. And so on, all in the past tense.

It pretends the Herald correspondent was there to hear Wilkie's evidence being presented. Perhaps he or she was there, but not before the report was written.

Does this kind of media invention matter? Certainly. The clear implication of Henny's deception is that the Wilkie evidence went unchallenged before the UK Parliamentarians. And, clearly, it did not.

This matters when we consider how limited some of Wilkie's claims - if not his indignation - really are. One person's exaggeration is the next person's prudence.

This is the kind of creative journalism for which Jayson Blair was, after several years of doing it, dismissed.

Another case of media malpractice to be ignored by Other People's Media Watch, presented by David Marr, "on leave from the Sydney Morning Herald".

Tuesday, June 17, 2003
UNCLE IS NOT BY TEMPERAMENT an Agony Aunt. So when Jim asks me

Can you please explain the point of last nights MW sneer at Channel Nine's" The Block"? As an unenthusiastic occasional watcher - the wife loves it - I can certainly attest to the fact that;

*it is a product of commercial television

*it attracts sponsors who pay for product placement

*the sponsors are acknowledged by the station in the credits

*the station "doesn't make a secret " of any of the above

*Channel Nine probably makes a shirt load of money due to the fact that the program rates highly (unlike MW)

What am I missing??

it is a struggle to retain my customary courtesy.

Where have you been these last thirty years Jim?

The trouble with "the Block" is

* they are in trade

* the people who watch them vote for John Howard, even if it takes the ALP to make them do it

* and admit to enjoying material prosperity, while earning a quarter of David Marr's income, if they're lucky, that is,

* in short, they love what this country offers them.

Jim, you didn't ask why Marr and the Gruesome Crew picked on poor old Sally Loane of Sydney local ABC radio for that "Laksar Jihad" stumble. It's a mistake made at least a dozen times before, including on Radio National.

The answers are similar:

* ABC local radio has an audience

* and it earns it, unlike Media Watch which is a parasite on Four Corners

* and their audience are the sort of people who also vote for John Howard, even if they hate advertisements with their radio programming, and can't stand the platinum parrot,

* and without local radio, Radio National would have disappeared without trace years ago, not to mention that

* the communards of Radio National hate anyone who is supported by the Australians they despise.

Jim, please don't ask such a stupid question again.



NOW WE KNOW WHY the ABC has banned discussion of the student-led revolt in Iran.

On tonight's national television news service, the unrest was referred to as "the US-backed street protests".

This formulation is unforgivable. It interprets the events as the result of US initiatives, and not of local frustration with oppressive theocracy.

Whoever authorised that formulation of the news deserves an immediate "please explain" from anyone who might be playing the role of Manager of the ABC.

If that doesn't happen at the staff level, the Chairman should initiate it.

If he won't, Board members who believe in professional journalism should shout until action is taken.

Monday, June 16, 2003

It's like Tian An Men in 1989, Prague, Budapest, etc, during the Soviet occupation. A critical moment for freedom.

Late Night Live, with Philip Gastropod Adams doesn't think it's worth talking about. The "threat" of US aggression against the peace-loving peoples of Iran, and North Korea, do of course worry the Gastropod.

Radio National Breakfast is worried about the possibility of US action against Iran's WMD programs.

Green pulpit Earthbeat is worried about Iraqi refugees in Iran.

Trendy leftist air-head Frances Leach on Radio National's evening Deep End of Carlton program is juiced about the looting of archaeological relics in Iraq and Iran.

The pre-schoolers at Background Briefing are doing a Broinowski about illegal entrants from Iran being sent home.

Apart from that, nothing from the commentators and serial commentators in our employ.

ABC News has carried the story, based on President Bush's condemnation of the mullahs' repression of the dissent. No direct reports.

What is it about freedom for Iranians from the tyranny of the mullahs that makes the subject unmentionable on Radio National?

MORE ON OUR LEADING APOLOGIST for racist bigotry directed against Australia, from Andrew Bolt, again.

WHAT A PLEASURE TO HEAR Norman Swan's peformance as stand-in presenter of this morning's Radio National Breakfast programme.

Intelligent and business-like, and how often can you say that of an Auntie presenter.

True, for a presenter intelligence is often diagnosed from the absence of stupid utterances. Uncle learned years ago to disguise his ignorance in silence or anonymity, but the average communard is too arrogant to recognise he or she needs the assistance.

And from the absence of such meretricious tricks as pretending you've just thought of the question your minders have scripted for you. And then getting it wrong.

Business-like is easier to do, provided management values it. And Auntie doesn't.

Now, if Auntie could just teach Norman to speak English.

But have you ever heard a native-born Scot who could do that?

WOW! is a word that has never before appeared in ABCWatch, but in response to this morning's Henny Herald front page all Uncle can think of to say is Wow!

And this. Here is a broadsheet newspaper that used to claim to be a journal of record using its front page to boost the rackety political campaign of the self-promoting activist Andrew Wilkie.

Henny is not reporting what Andrew has done or said. So far all he's done is get on the plane to London.

She's promoting, in vague terms, what he says he's going to do, that is "tip a bucket on the Government's use of the now-suspect intelligence to justify Australia's role in the war".

Henny's assuming that whatever Andrew Wilkie says to a bunch of British politicians will carry weight. Why?

Nothing he's said to date informs us of anything beyond Andrew's state of mind.

Andrew Wilkie's case is this: There is no doubt that Iraq did have weapons at one time and something will eventually be found and dressed up as justification, but it won't be anything of the magnitude we were led to believe existed.

That is, Andrew believes that if Saddam had destroyed most of his WMD capacity before the inspections, there was no prospect that he would reconstruct them.

And that's the best the "show me" faction can do? Worth a business class ticket to London?

Certainly worth a front page in what's left of Sydney's broadsheet.


Sunday, June 15, 2003
"You pay, she complains". Andrew Bolt (whose links just don't seem to bookmark today - try the Herald Sun at "") has done a better blog on literary tear-drop Marion Halligan than I did.

TALK OF THE EFFECTIVE RE-COLONISATION of the Solomon Islands, temporary we hope, creates a particular problem for the left, as Pastor Terry Lane reveals in his Sunday Sermon on Radio National today.

How has the liberation of these half million people from British oppression led to such a pathetic result? A lawless, insolvent, hopeless basket case, a kleptocracy constrained only by incompetence and disorder.

The Pastor thinks it's all a matter of size and remoteness. This should lead him to advocate the immediate dissolution of the State of Tasmania in favour of rule from Canberra. After all, the rest of us are already paying most of the bills.

His talent, journalist Marie-Louise O'Callaghan who is married to a Solomons Island MP, blames it on the former Colonial power. Britain left the tropical paradise ill-equipped for governing itself, no doubt at the insistence of every right -minded commentator.

Take the lack of political education, she says. Expectations were raised, especially among the young, but 'they didn't know what they should be able to demand from their political leadership' (Uncle's paraphrase), a faultlessly leftist interpretation of how to promote the public good.

Neither the Pastor nor his talent will point out to you some more powerful forces for backwardness. Like the cosily collectivist culture. And the lack of clear title to land on which investment might be based.

Like indigenous people everywhere, the Solomoners have the right to cultural maintenance, but should not be expected to cop the consequences. They are, after all, victims.

And who's going to pay for this rescue? The Australian tax-payer of course. How much? Your guess is as good as mine, but I suggest you work in multiples of $100mill.

Uncle has a good idea where to find the money. And I don't mean our aid budget for East Timor.

What about those south east Asian countries who think Australians are crude, ignorant, insenstive, smelly and over-paid, if we are to believe the conclusions of the Pastor's next guest, Alison Broinowski. Especially Aussie women.

It seems even Australians of Asian background think their white-skinned compatriots are trash. Or is it just those Asian-Australians whose writings are funded by the Australia Council?

None of this is surprising. The average Chinese mainlander would think that about Europeans generally. I doubt that the average Greek migrant to Australia thinks of his native-born compatriots as his equals.

The Pastor, as a good communard, must agree with the Asians about the faults of his fellows. "Astonishingly insensitive" is his description of John Howard's approach to our neighbours. We can't help the Solomons says Broinowski, unless we get the support of ASEAN. Otherwise Mahathir the Mad will be rude.

Not to worry. They won't be hounded by the anti-vilificationists in HREOC. That bludgeon is just for use on whities.

And inter-marriage is going gang-busters.

Perhaps Alison Broinowski has chosen a skewed sample of commentators to base her report on, and attitudes straight out of Foreign Affairs.

Clearly our overseas aid hasn't helped our image, if the Pastor and his guest are correct. Let's re-direct the money to the Solomons where the people at least smile at us, even if they cut off the occasional head.

Friday, June 13, 2003
OTHER PEOPLE'S MEDIA WATCH'S website is slow to update, charges Reader Rod.

Could be, but today has comments from yesterday. Including these apposite words:

Margaret: that's a straw man you're beating. Our complaint is not that MW attacks right-wing outlets, but that it ONLY attacks right-wing outlets, while ignoring similar or worse sins when they're committed by MW's ideological allies.

MW pretends to be about media standards, but its real agenda is to discredit media outlets and personalities with it disagrees politically.

I have absolutely no time for Piers Ackerman (who Paul Vautin described best . . . but I probably can't repeat that here), but, to take one example, Phillip Adams is at least as bad as Ackerman in terms of laziness and dishonesty . . . but you'd never know it from MW.

It is true that the Gruesome Crew are not rushing to correct this correspondent.

"FAT AUNTIE!" rages right-wing bastard Doug B at Big Donald McDonald's dismissal of his claim to Auntie's attention.

More like Auntie Jack.

ON MONDAY NIGHT'S Late Night Live a cosy stroke-fest between the Gastropod and two former Auntie heavy-weights, Bob Raymond and Tim Bowden.

Raymond, the founding producer of Four Corners when that was ground-breaking stuff for Australia, stepped outside the zone.

I regret, he said in Uncle's paraphrase, that the distinction between reporting and commentary has been lost in much of the ABC's news and current affairs programming.

He needs re-educating.

No wonder Bob Raymond only got the OAM. Not enough commentary for social change to win him Auntie's backing.

WHAT A WEEK! Unlce is just recovering from the hangover after celebrating last Monday's good news that Geraldine Doogue has been appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia.

As leading front-person for Life Matters, Geraldine's innocence has survived more years than I can remember of assaults by the harsh realities her minders occasionally serve up to her.

Those of us who've moved beyond the communard coccoon under the pressure of the same forces can only admire Geraldine's tenacity, her capacity to be forever surprised at the failure of the world to serve the communard cause, to refrain from leaping one step ahead of the audience that Auntie wants.

The Honours Secretariat finds its own words for the citations provided for their awardees. You will see from the words they've chosen for Geraldine that deep within the de-Hollingworthed intestines of Government House at Yarralumla is to be found a sound appreciation of Auntie's purpose in life:

For service to the community, particularly as a commentator for social change

Saturday, June 07, 2003
HELP LINK DARWIN TO AUSTRALIA. Log on to tropical Ken Parish at his new address.

UNCLE LOVES BEING ADDRESSED by comics. The following is from David Barry, otherwise known as "Deevo".

I went to your site hoping to see something reasoned in the way of critique. Instead all I see is rubbish that says more about your sad neo-con state of mind than it does about any legitimate criticism of the ABC. You are nearly as big a joke as Richard Alston (known internationally as "The Luddite" due to his appalling lack of knowledge about his portfolio).

Uncleabc0001 indeed! Who the hell do you think you are?
I think you're just another sad-arsed prat trying to be the big man!

PISS OFF, RIGHT-WING BASTARDS! is Auntie's current marketing policy, according to Big Donald McDonald's helpful response to his Minister's dossier on ABC bias.

Further, I remain unconvinced that for this purpose there is any value in surveying people who do not watch or listen to the ABC. Therefore, the Newspoll survey is a perfectly valid way of assessing the balance and even-handedness of ABC news and current affairs – as determined by those who actually listen or view such broadcasts. I seem to have far greater faith than you in the capacity of ABC audiences to make reasonable assessments about news and current affairs broadcasts.


Having written a good book called Eat me, writer Marion Halligan (Weekend Australian, page 20) seems to think the rest of us have taken her advice.

It seems her life has been ruined by John Howard, who is staying on as Prime Minister. Or, perhaps, by the rest of us who have voted him there, and keep confessing to pollsters that we find him a less worse prospect than the alternatives.

I feel horror because we've become less and less a country of imagination... We used to be open-minded people embracing new ideas and new people but we're becoming conservative in dangerous ways. The conservatism is turning into a kind of selfishness and greed - and it comes from not having any imagination.

What's going on here? Has the Arts Council stopped paying for her to write and publish? Has the output of our book printers diminished, are the tubes of paint hardening on window ledge, are actors refusing to perform, poets to preen, sculptors to chip away, peformance artists to clutter our public spaces? Apparently none of the above, or if they are happening Halligan and fellow battlers in the "coalition of the unwilling" fail to mention it.

Has immigration fallen, or are immigrants turning to book burning as they leave the airports? Same answer.

There is a sense now that artists are beleagured because they're not valued by the Government ... I can't imagine you'd find an artist anywhere saying: 'I love working under the Howard Government'.

Read that again, slowly. Or let me translate: artists want to work for the government and their self-esteem depends on government approval. Or is it just Ms Halligan and her mates.

It gets worse. Nor are historians ... relishing the continuation of the Howard years.

Henry Reynolds - you know, that naughty historian who, apparently, can speak for them all - believes Australia is more fearful now than at any time since the Cold War in the 1950s.

These are the Australians whose taste for travelling and working overseas has continued to grow exponentially under Howard, at least until slightly dented by the deeds of the Islamists and the SARS bug.

Henry claims, from the evidence of a "recent indigenous affairs conference in Canada" - we presume a conference he addressed - "Now people overseas have gone back to the 50s view of Australia as right wing and white - the image we spent enormous effort trying to escape in the '70s and '80s." Better try something else, Henry.The truth would be a good start. Like explaining the composition of our immigration intake. How many of the junketeers in your audience were alive in the 1950s?

It must be true that historians do think as Henry Reynolds does. Historians David Day and Stuart Macintyre agree with Henry, and that makes three. Social and cultural policy are being determined from the Prime Minister's office, and people aren't bucking it. As evidenced by this article in the oppressively neocon Australian newspaper.

Here's the clincher.

Former broadcaster Terry Laidler, president of the Friends of the ABC, expects more government efforts to "ideologically re-engineer" the broadcaster.

Coming from an organisation that has stoutly defended the right of the ABC's communards to run their lines through Auntie's microphones, you'd have to wish he were right. Unfortunately, it's a gross exaggeration of the Government's intentions and capacities. All they can do is pull out some of our money.

Daffy old Marxist Humphrey McQueen thinks Howard is driven by a passion to suppress not only his ideas, but the wild liberalism of Red Pete Costello, aspiring Prime Minister.

It really can't get any sillier.

Yes it can. Geoff Clark, chief trader in Aboriginal disadvantage, who junkets while his people struggle with poverty and hoplessness, tells Howard he should " reflect on what it is Aboriginal people require to become a functional part of Australian society". Presumably a gravy train big enough for half a million Geoff Clarks.

On the next page of the same newspaper, Clark's colleagues Max Stuart and Noel Pearson reflect on the total failure of native title land rights, the acid test of non-racism and compassion according to these bleaters a few short years ago, to deliver for the Aboriginal people of this country.

Not only witless, but shameless.

Richard Yallop, who put this pastiche together, should really have included a translation.


After a shitty (bzzzt*** ban this site!!!****) week we all turn to the weekend paper mountain for spiritual refreshment, and are rarely disappointed.

Uncle had barely puffed into the foothills of the Weekend Australian (page 13, Chemical Ali alive and ticking) than he found his soul uplifted by the spiritual insights of Major Brad Lowell, a spokesgrunt for the US Central Command and his anonymous colleague.

Brad was speculating on the location of Chemical Ali or his by now very smelly remains. The US once claimed to have killed him. Are they now saying they think they didn't?

"We're just more confident in saying "We don't know"." came the military correction.

In such simple ways is history made. The best euphemism since "I am not lost; I am uncertain of my precise location."

Major Brad tried to improve on his anonymous colleague. Who wants to be standing next to a lottery-winner?

"there is no disposition next to his name [on the Army's list] therefore he's at large." It just can't compete, Brad.

Memo to Tommy Franks, or whoever: please tell me the name of your anonymous khaki spinner. Uncle wants to do his little bit to give him the posterity he deserves.

EVER ALERT for opportunities to puff the qualities of ABCWatch by adopting the latest pretentions, Uncle's eyes were drawn to the following feature of a North American bloggist who shall remain nameless.

The e-mail policy.

Here it is:

1. I don't do it, well
2. hardly ever, but
3. I like to read them,
4. except yours Homer, they're deleted immediately, but
5. especially the ones offering penis enhancement or millions of poor people's money (just window-shopping) and
6. any good ideas are pinched faster than our national champion plagiarists absorb a rotting ideology.

Any blogger who needs to enhance his or her intellectual standing, and has computer skills, can pinch my policy for their side-bar.

Friday, June 06, 2003
AS THE MASS GRAVES OF SADDAM'S VICTIMS ARE UNCOVERED, and UNCOVERED , so the campaign against the liberators of Iraq for what they have yet to uncover continues, and continues and continues and continues and continues and continues and continues and continues........

Tuesday, June 03, 2003
THROUGH IT ALL, he wore a smug satisfied grin complains Douglas B of David Marr's Media Watch last night.

Of course he did, Douglas, it's part of the uniform.

More weighty is Douglas's observation turning Media Watch into a soapbox [promoting their version of media policy] doesnt' gel with the fulcrum of M.W., pointing up bad journalism ... but that would mean starting with ABC

Like Marr saying he'd run out of time to deal with the Alston dossier, and then doing a Cudgels Manne on it.

IS LOVE ENOUGH? If you think that murderous regimes like those of Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il just need a bit more care and attention to desist from their murderous ambitions you are certainly a US Democrat or an Australian Laborite.

Last night's Four Corners treatment of the North Korea problem, which makes Iraq look like a pimple in comparison with a tumour, took a carefully Democrat approach and will probably be syndicated to Frontline. With a new narration, of course.

It seems that those nasty Congressional Republicans stopped Clinton being nice enough to the DPRK, and so they had no choice but to go on with their WMD programs and sell their technologies to other problem states. After all, selling WMD technology to the nastiest customers is just what any rational government would do when the only alternative was fixing its economy so its people could be saved from starvation. If the nasty capitalists won't pick up the welfare bills while the stalinists get on with making the anthrax and plutonium they stand condemned in the court of public opinion. In Auntie's kangaroo court, that is.

Still, Jonathan Holmes's report doesn't disguise the nastiness of the DPRK, the routine torture, the deliberate starvation of children, the glorification of military aggression.

Nor does he pretend there are now easy options. None of the DPRK's neighbours want it to do what it is doing. Chine doesn't want a nuclear-armed Japan. But South Korea doesn't want fire raining down on Seoul.

If there's a weakness in the Holmes analysis it's this. It suggests, as China does, that there's a Chirac option here; keep negotiating, keep bribing, send in the inspectors again.

The problem with this analysis is that the risks and the rewards of the options aren't equal. The US knows who will be targeted by the DPRK, apart from South Korea. And it knows the plans of those who are buying WMD technology from the North.

If you refuse to sit back and wait for disaster, and this is the policy of the Bush administration, the options are limited.

Calibrated action against the North is likely to destroy the South. The safer option is not surgical strikes, but massive pre-emption, even nuclear attacks.

For once Auntie understates the potential consequences of current US policies. Perhaps because it can't think of credible alternative to promote.


Uncle was beginning think that by actually reading the Alston dossier on AM's biassed reporting of Iraq he was demonstrating the defects of intelligence and character with which Auntie reproaches him daily.

Not true, Your Honour!

Someone else has done it too. Gerald Stone, the robustness of whose sanity is attested to by a long career working for Kerry Packer, including time in charge of the Bulletin, and as boss producer of 60 Minutes, reads the dossier and finds that "Perpetual sneer and dripping sarcasm justify attack on ABC's impartiality."

There's a big difference, however, between sceptic and septic: the toxic sneer that infects some reports to the point where an audience can no longer separate fact from prejudicial innuendo. As a former senior producer and editor, I must say I didn't find Alston's dossier of 68 alleged offences as far-fetched as some of my colleagues

I noted at least 20 instances where, as an ABC news executive, I would have called AM staff members to task for making smug and gratuitous comments blatant enough to bring the program's impartiality into question.

If Auntie's Board accepts a kinder judgement on the AM crew than Stone's you'll know it's a whitewash.

Monday, June 02, 2003
YOU HAVE TO GIVE IT to Robert Cudgels Manne - he's consistent.

When he joined the gang attack on the gentle historian Keith Windschuttle for his book The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, he took the precaution of ingoring the more important 98% of what Windschuttle had to say. In favour of a personal attack.

He does the same with the Alston dossier on Auntie's anti-US bias in news and current affairs.

Only this time he totally ignores the subject in question; the spin put on AM's reports of the Iraq war.

When you're fighting gang wars it's best not to be distracted from the key issue - how best to put the boot in.

And so we have a McCarthyite conspiracy against free speech and it's all the fault of the usual suspects.

Cudgels should talk to a political scientist. He might find out that Senator McCarthy was out to find traitors under beds (and he found some) and was criticised for identifying dissent with treachery.

In this case the issue is whether the Australian public who pay for Auntie are entitled to a professional public broadcaster, or do we just have to go on paying for one that pushes a line old Cudgels agrees with.

We now know Robert Manne's answer.

BEING MONDAY the crisis discovered by Henny Herald is in the vital field of

Well, it's not entirely clear.

We're getting rapidly richer, but not everyone at the same pace, and we are also taking on more debt and is that a good thing or not?

Henny hasn't a clue either. But it sure looks like some kind of crisis.

THE FOUR CORNERS coverage of the Jewish neocon conspiracy in the US was a direct copy of an eerily similar Frontline treatment of the same subject.

Will tonight's report by Jonathan Holmes on North Korea be a knock-off of the Frontline re-broadcast of the BBC love-in with their North Korean minders? We shall soon see.

To do the BBC report, reporter Ben Anderson had to actually go to North Korea, a testing experience that allowed him to learn absolutely nothing.

Uncle expects that Holmes will satisfy himself with vox pops with pundits.

Here's one absolute certainty for free. The Gruesome Crew at Media Watch will never accuse Holmes of plagiarism, no matter how many good ideas he knocks off. Unlike their defamation of Sixty Minutes for doing the same.