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Friday, July 25, 2003
 
BOLT ON MARR ON BOLT

David Marr presented his response to Andrew Bolt's reply to the highly-privileged attack on him on Media Watch, by means of a somewhat less privileged "exclusive" on Crikey.com. You can find it there.

Andrew Bolt's response to that Marr dismissal is reproduced below. The earlier Bolt volley against the Media Watch cannonade has been deleted from this website and replaced with a link to Bolt's Herald Sun site.

David,

Your ungracious "apology" is not accepted. You admit to one error, but still defend - against all the evidence - seven others you made about me, some of which are libellous. Further, in defending yourself you make several additional false claims about me. Your conduct is immoral and outrageous. Your respect for the truth seems to me to be close to non-existent. Lastly, you accuse me of not being able to take criticism. Wrong again. I can and silently do take criticism - lots of it. Every week. What I can't tolerate, however, is criticisms such as you made on national television - damaging criticism based on obvious and offensive falsehoods and seemingly inspired by personal malice.

So I repeat. You must apologise on next Monday's program for each and every falsehood you stated to my detriment in your previous program. I have in earlier correspondence demonstrated what those errors were and given my proofs. I will not repeat all those proofs here, but I will repeat what your errors were, in the same order, and how your reply not only fails to offer a plausible defence of them, but relies on what seems to me to be deceitful evasions, gross errors and false logic.

1: You now admit that you were wrong - that I had not in fact erred in saying Alison Broinowski had received three Australia Council grants. But in your program you didn't just say I'd made a simple mistake about those
grants. You in fact suggested I had lied about them - that I was "not the kind of man to let the truth stand in the way of an insult". But if my claim about those grants was correct, I clearly had not "let truth stand in the way of an insult".

Your "proof" of my having lied is gone. In fact, I strongly deny having told any lies in that column, or in any other, and
demand you publicly apologise for your libellous allegation.

2. You deny you made a mistake in claiming on your show that I was "hell bent on denouncing her (Ms Broinowski) as a traitor". As you know, I deny saying or even thinking any such thing of her. Indeed, in your response you concede that I did not make such a claim directly (something that your viewers would nevertheless have believed from your show), but you misstate several other far milder criticisms I made of her and claim that these "amount to" a "claim of betrayal".
You must, I'm sure, see how shoddy - perhaps even dishonest - your defence is. You falsely accused me of believing Ms Broinowski to be a "traitor". I deny it. Then you defend your false allegation by citing "evidence" you say proves I think her guilty of "betrayal" - which actually far less serious than calling her a "traitor". Let me illustrate your faulty logic: It
would be wrong to defend a false claim that David Marr is a drunken pub brawler, by simply proving he gets drunk. Nor can you provide evidence even for your new and equally false claim that I "repeatedly accused her in the Herald Sun
of betraying her country". Accusing Ms Broinowski of telling untruths about her country is not the same as accusing her of betraying it. So this latest allegation of yours is false, too. Your defence is absurd, and seems to me dishonest. You owe me an apology for this allegation.

3. You deny you made a mistake in claiming on your show that I said Ms Broinowski believes "we deserved this atrocity" in Bali. Now you admit that "sure, you quote (in the article) her disclaimer - "I don't say the tourists deserved their fate but, with hindsight, what happened to them is predictable". That is not a concession you made on your program, and it is a concession that destroys your allegation. By quoting Ms Broinowski, I made clear - as the context confirms - that the question of whether Ms Broinowski thinks we "deserved" the Bali bombing does not arise.

It is dismissed. Further, you fail to come up with any quote from my article containing words remotely similar to your inaccurate paraphrasing of it - that Ms Broinowski says "we deserved this atrocity". As I said in the article, my problem is that Ms Broinowski suggests we "invite the region's contempt" and implies that we must take responsibility for the wildest anti-Australian beliefs of some Malaysian xenophobe and others. I disagree with her analysis, and her apportioning of responsibility. But the main point is, as I wrote to you earlier, that there is a difference between saying we "invite" a dangerous contempt, and that we "deserve" what atrocities may follow, and it is a difference I
respected in my article, but which you seemingly fail to grasp.

As for Ms Broinowski not endorsing, as you now put it, "a number of (unspecified) racist and extremist statements by Asians hostile to Australia", that is not necessarily open to you to conclude. I draw your attention, for instance, not only to the quotes I have provided in my earlier email, but to Ms Broinowski's comments in her recent interview with
Terry Lane on Radio National, in which she indeed made clear her sympathies with the views of Asian commentators and politicians who hold, in my judgement, xenophobic if not racist views of Australia and its foreign policy for which we should not be held morally responsible.

For further discussion of this point, see my earlier email.

Again, you fail to prove my "mistake" or - in so far as it relates to this point - my "dishonesty", and I demand an apology.

4. You refuse to apologise for falsely accusing me on Media Watch of having "dishonestly" misrepresented Ms Broinowski's views - as in knowingly having twisted the truth. Indeed, you specifically repeat your false claim
that I acted "dishonestly". You repeat the allegation that I dishonestly ignored the difference between Ms Broinowski reporting allegations and endorsing them.

First, I deny - as I explain in point 3 - having ignored any such difference in my article. Nevertheless, as Ms Broinowski has herself made clear in several interviews, she indeed endorses some of the allegations against Australia that I find so absurd and offensive. Again, see her interview with Terry Lane, which I append. In truth, there seems little reason to
believe that Ms Broinowski herself makes any distinction between reporting and endorsing some of the objectionable views she mentions.

But you still fail to prove that even if there was a difference that I ignored, and wrongly so, that I did so "dishonestly", rather than through an honest error. Indeed, your reply indicates you do not understand this
important legal distinction.

5. You fail to apologise for having falsely accused me of being "not a man to let the truth stand in the way of an insult" - that is, of being a liar. Indeed, you again accuse me - and publically, by first having your reply posted on the Crikey webpage before I received it myself - of dishonesty. It is in fact telling that your reply does not give any defence at all
for your libellous claim, or offer any evidence, despite my demand for you to produce it. Indeed, the only "evidence" on your TV show you gave in evident proof of my lying in order to insult - the number of Arts Council grants Ms Broinowski in fact received - you now admit was false. I insist on an apology.

6. You refuse to apologise for falsely saying I accused Ms Broinowski of receiving Australia Council funding for her latest book. In fact, you insist this is precisely what I did mean and that "no other interpretation of (my) opening attack on Broinowski is possible". Not only do I deny that, but I point to the very next sentence in your defence, in which you state that I had first "complained about her getting 'so much help from the Australia Council to write books you've never
heard of' and then ... (had) moved straight into an attack on her latest book." How you put it in that sentence is precisely how I assumed moderately educated readers would understand my plain words, too - that Ms Broinowski,
as you say, had received grants to "write books you've never heard of" and had now produced "her latest book". That is the precise truth. That is the whole truth. First grants and obscure books. Now this one. And if there was any confusion about this history of Ms Broinowski's grants in anyone's mind, it is a confusion of utter inconsequence to the argument I was making.

But you didn't just accuse me on television, falsely, of making a mistake about this, but of lying about it, too. Of "not letting the truth stand in the way". Again, your response offers no proof of my intention to deceive. Nor do you suggest any possible motive or gain I might have had in doing so. You just make a false allegation without any proof of my having told an untruth, let alone a deliberate one. For this, too, I demand an apology.


7. You refuse to apologise for falsely accusing me of having stated that Ms Broinowski committed the "worst crime of all" in being an academic. You unequivocally attributed that opinion to me on your show as a fact. In your reply you now dismiss this alleged statement of fact as a mere "Media Watch quip", and even have the gall to declare it "encouraging" that I in fact believe the very opposite. So if you were wrong about this, why don't you apologise? In fact, I demand that you do.

It is not surprising to me, now knowing you, how you try to justify your unjustifiable inference. You say in your defence that you had asked me to back up my description of Ms Broinowski as a "grant-fed artist". In response, I provided you with a long but incomplete list of grants and other examples of public funding Ms Broinowski had received in her
career that would justify the description of her having been "grant-fed", or maintained by the public purse, just as you requested. For you to then interpret that list as "some philistine rhetoric about 'taxpayer-funded universities' which reeked of prejudice against her in particular and academics in general" is a grotesque stretching of interpretative
licence.

It is to present the answer to one question as the answer to another - and very different - one. It is, in other words, intellectually dishonest or incompetent.

8. You fail to apologise for falsely claiming as fact that what "really rankles" with me is Ms Broinowski's "ingratitude". I denied your claim, and in response you offer no defence of it of any kind. Instead, you simply repeat your false claim of my being irked by Ms Broinowski's "betrayal" - which is a very different motive to the one of "ingratitude". You are
defending a different allegation than the one you actually made. So for this false claim, too, I insist on an apology.

May I add, that for a commentator so used to dishing out abuse, you seem remarkably uncomfortable in the face of criticism. I note that in your anxiety, for instance, you have falsely claimed that I "threatened a defamation suit", "protested to ... the managing director and a number of senior executives of the ABC" and "viciously abused and misrepresented me in your column". None of those things are true, and I wonder why you said them. Nor need any of them be true, if you do the honourable thing and apologise for telling untruths. Telling untruths - isn't that what your own program is supposed to expose, not perpetrate?

I note in conclusion that you have failed to respond to my more important concerns about the way you have hijacked Media Watch and turned it into what seems a $1.4 million taxpayer-funded vehicle for attacking your ideological
enemies, and those against whom you seem to have a personal grudge. Are you aware, for instance, that you have attacked on your show some 69 media figures of the non-Left, usually with great venom, but no more than 17
of the far more numerous Left, and then only to flog them with a feather?

This, I believe, and not any "errors" on my part, lies behind the vicious, libellous and totally false allegations you made against me last Monday. And this is why I demand an apology. On Monday. In full.

Andrew Bolt