Tim Blair


New Criterion



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.