Tim Blair


New Criterion



Friday, October 17, 2003
SHOULD OUR NATIONAL MUSEUM, which thinks the political system crafted for this country over two hundred years is beneath notice except as an assault on the continent's hunter-gatherer past, be running a competition for political satire in the form of cartoons?

Well of course! According to this museum's post-modern doctrine, if you can't label it a victim you can only smirk at it.

The museum is helping us by showing the kind of 'satire' they want. (You'll find it at the bottom, labelled 'Howard's fantasy'). If you haven't guessed that it involves rubbishing little Johnny you might as well put your pencil back in your pocket.

Uncle can't draw for nuts, but here's my script for a cartoon:

Bank Manager: I'm sorry to have to bring this to your attention, Ms Ryan, but your account is several thousand dollars in overdraft.

National Museum curator: No it isn't. I put ten thousand dollars in just yesterday.

BM: But why doesn't it show on this statement? It was printed out five minutes ago.

NMC: Of course it doesn't show up on your records you dill. I just made it up and wrote it on my cheque butt.

BM: You surely don't expect me to honour your cheques do you?

NMC: Of course I do. I'm a professional Australian historian and I'm telling you there are different accounting systems, all equally valid in a post-colonial world, and mine shows me in credit.

Alright, it's not that funny, but have you seen the Nicholson model cartoon yet?

Thanks Al.

WHILE AUNTIE IS STROKING FELLOW-JIHADI MAHATHIR she is in full mischief mode over the 'Sheriff' beat-up.

You may recall that the term 'deputy sheriff' was inserted into political commentary by a journalist looking for a good headline, and given life by John Howard who failed to stamp on it hard enough.

Then another bit of journalistic mischief had George Bush rejecting the notion of a subsidiary role for Australia, but leaving the noun 'sheriff' to anchor the rejected qualifier.

That was all Auntie's hacks, and others of equal mendaciousness, needed to run it around usual suspects for the standard bout of Aussie-bashing. How did it run?

According to ABC news today it got a mixed response in Malaysia. They found one commentator who took them seriously, and another who thought it a joke. And then attached this headline:

Malaysian labels Australia a US puppet

That 'n' on 'Malaysian' is not a typo. A single person of Malaysian nationality libelled Australia. Enough for a communard headline.

But according to PM last night, all Asia was putting the boot in: Asia unhappy with Bush's sheriff comments.

They forgot to put the 'ns' on the end of 'Asia'!

So, on the same day our national broadcaster is apologising for anti-Semitism (see previous blog) and helping to fabricate a case for ridiculing the nation that funds that national broadcaster.

We don't need this, and we don't deserve it.

Later: In this interview John Howard gives us the text of President Bush's comments.



The US President says we are the sheriff in this region. That can’t be helpful to our relations here, can it?


Neil, he didn’t say that. For the first time I have in front of me the full transcript of his answer. Let me read it to you – it’s quite short. The question was “and secondly, does the United States actually see Australia as its deputy sheriff in South East Asia?” The President “no, we don’t see it as a deputy sheriff, we see it as a sheriff [laughter] there’s a difference. I see you're playing off the Crawford visit to the ranch, the sheriff thing [laughter] anyway, no equal partners and friends and allies there’s nothing deputy about this relationship.”

How would you describe any journalist who used this comment as the basis for concluding that Bush expects Australia to be a policeman in the region, deputy or otherwise? (Answers must be limited to one word, beginning F and ending T).

I KNEW IT WASN'T JUST MY SOCKS BEING KNOCKED OFF last night by PM's reporting of the latest anti-Semitic outburst by Mahathir the Mad.

Dr Mahathir said that Muslims may control the world's oil resources but the community was oppressed and dominated by Europeans and Jews. ...The Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule this world by proxy, they get others to fight and die for them.

To which our razor-brained presenter responded:

PETER CAVE: That was Dr Mahathir.

(to Peter Lloyd) Peter, he has toyed before with the idea of a great Jewish conspiracy. Is that what he was hinting at here today?

Hinting? Well, no, he wasn't, actually. According to Peter Lloyd.

PETER LLOYD: Yes, it's nothing new for him to attack Jews and Europeans and pinpoint them for the blame for many of the ails [sic] of the Muslim world. But at the same time, his rhetoric was going the other way, and to a large extent he was saying that the Muslim world are the architects of their own problems.

And much of what he said in the rest of the speech was a rallying call, trying to get Muslims to stop blaming other people and to start confronting their own economic and social problems in order to develop and get themselves out of the poverty trap.

Several readers were equally amazed to find they live in a country whose national public broadcaster apologises for and mitigates the views of a man who promotes the global Jewish conspiracy fantasy. Who thinks that the world's 1.3 million Muslims who own most of the world's oil need protection from Jews in backrooms. Who credits all 'Europeans' with the Holocaust.

Peter Lloyd seems to be impressed by the fact that Mahathir hasn't said, out loud, let's push the Jews into the sea, let's bomb them flat, murder them, expropriate them and mount counter-conspiracies.

Neither did Hitler, before he did it, that is. He just built up the story, of how Europe's most powerful state was threatened by Jews, and the animus, and then, when he had the power, he did it.

Should we humour Mahathir?

I think we've been there before.

Our national news service is fast becoming a national embarrassment.

Thursday, October 16, 2003
WOULD YOU WANT TO JOIN A CLUB of which this man is a member?

Jews rule the world - Mahathir

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has called on Muslims to use brains as well as brawn to fight Jews who "rule the world".


If Uncle were to write a polemic against the evils of All-In Wrestling, where nothing is what it seems but what it seems to be is what its audience wants, you would think me a humourless old dill. Or, at least, more so than you did yesterday.

Perhaps, then, you are the kind of person for whom Auntie pays our Peter Thompson to perform his Presenter-as-Authority routine on Radio National's breakfast. (You'll have to wait a while to play Auntie's audio lottery if you want to hear it).

Today's stand-out performance involved as Thompson's straight man a Professor of classics from the neighbouring dependency of Tasmania. An excellent chap. Like so many classics types he convinces us he knows his stuff while making us puzzle our brains as to why anyone would bother. Pity, that.

The only point of this interview, as far as Uncle could see, was to give Peter the opportunity to use his minders' notes to pretend he is as complete in his knowledge of the Roman world as he is in respect of his vanity.

It's a common routine on Auntie, employed by the higher-profile presenters like our Gastropod. You lead your expert talent with questions from the minders' script, pretending that they are flowing from your well-furnished mind like music from the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

Limited as they are by the presence of other people's journalism, presenters like Kerry O'Brien on television's 7.30 Report, and Linda Mottram on Radio National's AM, often have to make do with a short intro, or a "hooray!", or "tut-tut-tut" at the end of the other person's work. It serves the same image-building purpose.

Today's score had Peter Thompson offering classical Roman information to his talent in the form of questions, questions that were met with admiration-inspiring affirmation from the talent, probably because the talent first supplied the minders with the information which the minders then turned into questions.

And our talent, being a polite person, and grateful for the attention he's getting, can be relied upon to let the presenter down gently when the presenter, or the minder, stuffs up. You hardly notice it's happening.

Sometimes the talent is too kind, and fails to correct. When this happens, a listener will often call in so our presenter can correct before blogdom gets busy.

So today, after our ramble around the Roman world, Peter has to come back on air to tell us that he got the order of early Popes wrong. Pretending, of course, that it was just a slip of the tongue. Within his memory the classical chronologies remain, we are to suppose, intact.

If the manual prestidigitator performed so clumsily he would be booed off the stage. Why does Auntie expect us to cheer Peter Thompson?

It is embarrassing for the audience to see such a gap between vanity and talent.

And does it mean that our news presenters are no more ethical than Auntie's commentariat? What a frightening thought!

And all of them as admirable as my favourite performer, Killer Tim Brooks.

I don't like it, Auntie. And I don't want to pay for it, Minister.

Monday, October 13, 2003
THIS IS THE KIND OF MORAL EQUIVALENCE that helps the ABC maintain its 'balance'.


MARK WILLACY: What we're hearing is that his spokesmen are saying, no he hasn't suffered a mild heart attack despite media reports, no, he's not wracked with stomach cancer. What his spokesmen are saying is that Mr Arafat is suffering from a stomach infection, possibly gastroenteritis. ...

PETER CAVE: But as you say he is obviously well enough to keep fighting the good fight.

MARK WILLACY: That's right Peter......

Thanks to JS.


From a reader:

On the Gina Wilkinson post, it's worth mentioning that the ABC had
signed on a young woman, - clearly inexperienced, (and married, I'm told,
to a UN official), who was required to film her own stories as well as
report them. This seems to be a disturbing trend at the ABC News Dept
these days. Youngsters with handycams may be ok in some corners of the
world and for some stories, but covering the biggest and most consistent
story of the year in such a fashion is plain unprofessional. Surely an
experienced hand with a capable cameraman would be more appropriate.
It's not as if Iraq is only an occasional story. And, I'm told, her tapes
were sent to ABC Sydney news room for editing. Why then did someone in
management not see the problem early and decide not to put it to air at
all? It seems many people should face the sword before it reaches poor
young inexperienced, (and UN compromised), Gina.

THE NUMBER OF ATTACKS on Coalition forces in Iraq "is increasing" according to ABC TV news tonight.

While the number of attacks against coalition troops in Iraq has remained constant, the tactics enemy forces use have changed, coalition officials said today. (October 6th, 2003)

Is this "serious bias" or just normal bias?

Sunday, October 12, 2003
GINA WILKINSON, Auntie's disgraced Baghdad correspondent, has fallen on Auntie's sword which happened, at that moment, to be moving in the precise direction of her heart.

You may recall that Gina subjected two Iraqi children to danger by having them pose on one of those rockets that Saddam sprinkled throughout the residential areas of his cities.

This was not, of course, a problem while Saddam was in power.

The camera tapes showing Gina setting all this up were quickly leaked to David Marr at Media Watch, and Gina's fate was sealed.

Consider this. Gina's position was indefensible because her story was based on the assumption that these rockets were a danger to Iraqi civilians and the Yanks should do something about it. What if Gina did what she did with those children because she didn't really believe there was a significant danger? Perhaps because few people in Baghdad believe it either?

Or because it's more UNICEF self-aggrandisement than a real priority, and another plank in the "quagmire" platform? And the whole stunt was set-up by UNICEF who led Gina to believe, by leading her to the story and the site, that the danger was more notional than real?

In fact that was part of Auntie's John Tulloh's defence of Gina:

It is worth noting that UNICEF had no compunction about taking the media to the sites.

As UNICEF's Australian boss conceded:

while UNICEF did conduct a tour of these discarded missile sites as part of a media briefing, it did not accompany Wilkinson when she returned to film her story.

Furthermore, Wilkinson had taken full responsibility for her action:

She writes [to UNICEF Australia] that she is “sorry that UNICEF has been dragged into the debate over my stupid and irresponsible mistake.. Geoff and UNICEF have been unfairly linked by Media Watch to my own stupid behaviour”.

That just won't do. While Wilkinson should not be handing over her responsibilities as a journalist to either UNICEF or Auntie's communards, they share responsibility for giving her comfort in doing so.

It is now established that it is part of Auntie's self-admitted, and self-accepted, "serious bias" against the liberation of Iraq to highlight the potential risks to Iraqi civilians. Were those Gina's riding instructions?

If Media Watch were interested in fulfilling its brief of looking for media malpractice there are questions it would be asking ABC news management.

Instead, it just helps despatch an unpopular outsider who was depriving some tenured ABC journalist of a chance for an overseas posting.

SHIRIN EBADI, the latest Nobel Peace Prize laureate was never mentioned on the ABC website until the Nobel committee made not mentioning her an unspeakable offence.

Auntie has continued her long-running, utterly disgraceful, refusal to cover the popular movement for liberal reform in Iran.

This puts the Iranian theocrats and Auntie's communards into a warm embrace.

Iran's reformist Government spokesman has retracted his earlier official reaction to the Nobel Peace Prize win of human rights activist Shirin Ebadi.

He had said the Government was "happy" at the award.

"We are happy that an Iranian Muslim woman was qualified to be noticed by the world community for her activities in bringing about peace," Abdollah Ramazanzadeh had said.

"We hope that we could use her expert views more in Iran."

However, he now retracts his comments, saying he had only been giving his personal opinion.

For Mullahs and communards alike, freedom for the people of Iran must be a front for US imperialism.

The Mullahs oppose the US, and an enemy of the communards' enemy must be their friend.