Plus we have your thoughts on digital manipulation of images in the
press, A Current Affair on Not Good Enough, Eddie’s sponsors and The Footy Show and much
more:

PM’s problem with Keelty

While John Howard tries to deny the obvious – which is not that we were
always an al-Qaeda target, but that we have become a higher priority
target since joining the coalition in Iraq, what’s interesting is the
way his relationship with the bureaucracy has been revealed in his
reaction to AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty’s characteristic honesty last
Sunday.

Howard said he wasn’t told his government’s claims of children having
been thrown overboard from SIEV4 were wrong, but prevented his advisers
from giving evidence to the Parliamentary Committee inquiring into a
Certain Maritime Incident. He said the intelligence supplied by
the US, UK and Australian agencies supported his claims about Saddam’s
WMD, but we now know from the Joint Committee on ASIO, ASIS and DSD’s
inquiry that he only quoted assessments which suited him, excluding
contradictions and doubts.

Unfortunately for Howard, Mick Keelty’s opinions are now public – which
means this time the PM cannot claim he was never told. Nor can he
argue that his case is overwhelmingly supported by the
bureaucracy. The AFP thinks he’s wrong; and can we really believe
ASIO has assessed the terrorist risk to Australia has not increased
since the decision to go to Iraq? So far, Howard has only quoted
ASIO chief Dennis Richardson saying we were always a target, which is
different to what Keelty said.

If there were any public servants who still harboured any lingering
doubt about the desirability of tailoring their advice to suit the
government’s political spin, Keelty’s public humiliation by Howard and
Ruddock should put their minds at rest. Their reaction has
rendered not credible Howard’s claims he does not seek to influence the
assessments and advice of his bureaucracy.

Keelty was doing no more than stating the obvious. If Howard
genuinely believes Keelty is wrong, then he calls into question the
soundness of his own judgements. In which case, the time is fast
approaching for Brutus of Higgins to sharpen his dagger.

Menzies’ love child.


Images of Madrid

Apologies if this has already been brought to your attention. Looking
over the three weekend papers in Sydney this morning (SMH, The OZ and
The Daily Tele) I notice all three are using the exact same shot of a
destroyed Madrid train surrounded by victims on their front page. But
there are some differences – one of which is perhaps worrying.

The Oz uses a wide version of the shot in which a large chunk of what
is obviously human flesh is visible on the tracks in the foreground.
The SMH crops the picture so that this potentially distressing part of
the image is not visible to their readers. The Tele however has
not cropped the image. Instead they have obviously digitally erased the
offending part of the photograph! I have studied the picture in detail,
and in every other respect it is identical to The Australian’s. I can
understand the desire not to offend their sensitive readership, and it
could be argued that it’s merely a cosmetic alteration, akin to
removing Elle McPherson’s crowsfeet. But I believe this sort of thing
has no place in the news media, and points to larger ethical issues
about the digital manipulation of images and our ability to trust what
we see in the news. Where do they draw the line?

Lisa in Sydney

Latham, what about the rest of us?

Please explain why Tasmanian forestry jobs are “guaranteed” when the rest of us have to take our chances.

A.H.
Incredulous – Hobart

Labor’s super slip-up

Crikey shouldn’t be too quick to agree with Senator Sherry’s
description of Labor’s super slip as a “typographical, definitional
error” and one that only econometrics boffins would understand.
The difference between Male Total Average Weekly Earnings and Male
Average Weekly Ordinary Time Earnings isn’t some esoteric point, but
one that is well understood by:

  • all those thousands of age pensioners who lobby furiously for higher fortnightly payments;
  • anyone who has ever worked for the Department of Family and Community Services (formerly Social Security);
  • a whole lot of others.

The really interesting question is why this error wasn’t identified by
that Rooster, aka the Glimmer Twin, aka Wayne Swan, who has been
shadowing three successive Ministers for Family and Community Services
(namely Jocelyn Newman, Amanda Vanstone and Kay Patterson) over
six years and would know the difference very well indeed.

Was the Rooster exposed to the policy or is he still on the outer with
Iron Mark? Perhaps he did get a glimpse but decided to let the Prime
Minister in Waiting” stew in his juice.

Richard
Tassie

Eddie’s Self Indulgence

Surely it is time that something was done about Eddie Everywhere’s
abuse of his position as host of The Footy Show and his conflict of
interest in that position as president of the Collingwood Football
Club. Last night the show opened with an orchestrated free plug for
Collingwood’s new sponsor Sony. It went for about three minutes!

Next, he ensures that his new Collingwood board member Sally Capp is
included on a panel to discuss sex scandals in football. She
contributed nothing (how could she, she has been involved in the AFL
for five minutes) but it gave Eddie an opportunity to blow his
Collingwood bags about their first female board member in the club’s
history – such appointments are old hat at other clubs. Capp’s
contribution to the entire discussion was some totally irrelevant
comment about how her appointment had been welcomed by her banking
colleagues!

Next, when interviewing Adelaide captain, Mark Riccuito, the entire
segment turned to farce with another of Collingwood’s sponsors, Crazy
John’s mascot carrying on with juvenile antics to the camera while
standing behind Riccuito, who became completely distracted. Also,
strategically placed behind Riccuito were two Emirates airline stewards
smiling to the camera. Emirates of course is another Collingwood
sponsor.

It is time the boofhead sycophants who run the AFL and the management
at Channel Nine did something about this blatant abuse of position by
Maguire – or else give ALL club sponsors equal air time.

Maguire bleats about the salary cap advantage given to the Sydney and
Brisbane clubs while prostituting a television show to give his
football club’s sponsors hundreds of thousands of dollars in exposure
not available to any club except Collingwood.

Paul Clancy
Adelaide


Adelaide’s ABC news strike

I don’t know whether Crikey has caught up with the last storm to
confront ABC management regarding the 24 hr strike by Newsroom staff in
Adelaide. The decision to import a sports wrap hosted by Peter Wilkins
in Sydney as a replacement for a local sports report on ABC TV News has
gone down like a lead balloon. Last night Adelaide viewers were faced
with the unedifying sight of having their nightly TV news beamed in
from Sydney. The Advertiser today reflected the widespread annoyance of
Croweaters by highlighting that the Sydney sports rap mentioned
Adelaide only once (fleetingly) in the 3 minute segment. If ABC
management thinks this issue is going to blow over, they’ve got another
thing coming.

Regards, Ed

ABC Online blocked by the Great Firewall of China

I live in Shanghai, my current location, and I can only access ABC Online if I use an anonymous proxy server in another country.

I did a quick search to see if this was reported elsewhere, but didn’t
have much time, and didn’t see any such report within the first dozen
results.

Mike.

Footy shows and cultural crassness

Your slamming of Fatty and Sterlo for not debating the rape allegations
against several of the Canterbury Bulldogs is a bit unfair. Unlike the
misogynist and sneering cultural superiority which typifies the AFL
Footy Show, the League version is quite different.

While blokey, Sterlo and Fatty’s self-parodying and inclusive Footy
Show is a vehicle for ordinary, working class Aussies to be represented
in all their dagginess. This ain’t no sleek reality tele. Nor is it a
stage for arrogant, misogynist claptrap. A range of women, including
sportswomen, appear on the show − not just the spunky chicks. And the
women who appear on the show are not degraded nor objectified by the
show − well, not that I’ve ever seen. Furthermore, the fearless
self-satire of the homosexual subtext of men’s sport demonstrates that
Fatty, Sterlo and co are not raving homophobes.

As a Victorian I know that many of us like to think ourselves superior
to cultural crassness of NSW and QLD. No doubt the current rape
allegations cement this idea. But when it comes to Footy Shows, the AFL
version is a nasty piece of work, and the NRL version is not.

Going to a game is, of course, completely different. Few women attend
NRL games and those who do tend to be seated next to boyfriend or
hubby. And then there are the cheerleaders. This more than anything
tells you the place of women in Rugby League.

Megan
Petersham, NSW


Re your anti Rugby League stance – You owe us

It is good to see you are making an attempt to redress the Melbourne bias concerning the footy codes.

Crikey’s prejudice against Rugby League was best displayed in the
complete absence of reports and sharing in the euphoria across all
supporters of the game over last year’s magnificent Grand Final between
the battlers at Penrith and the silver tails at Easts. A game from
which thrill and excitement were appreciated by a very large portion of
Australia.

Can I suggest Crikey makes an immediate correction to its bias by
self-banning its use of the term “thugby league”. The term is an insult
to followers of Rugby League who appreciate:

  • the thrill of a Centre’s change of pace to slice though a gap
  • the toughness and sweetness of a man on man tackle
  • the skill of a tactical kick, short, long or high
  • the courage of catching a high “bomb” under pressure
  • the dogged man on man defence of the try line
  • the finesse of the draw and pass to put a man through a gap
  • the spectacle of a flying cover tackle to bring a man down
  • the rampaging and fearless up front attack of the line to soften the defence
  • the “bust” up the middle
  • the precision of footing the ball behind the defence to pin them behind their line
  • the support backup of a line breaker to secure a try
  • the cut out pass to put the attack outside the defence
  • the dance along the sideline of a winger betting his speed against the cover defence
  • the try beneath the post
  • the kick from the sideline to pass over the black dot for a goal.

If there is the odd punch up at least it is one and not the push and shove of a “melee”.

I must admit that with the threat of being dragged before any number of
socially engineered tribunals, I have reduced all of my public
prejudicial statements to the absurdity of Aussie Rules and Basketball,
being both tedious “scoreathon” games. Nevertheless, at least with
Aussie Rules I can appreciate its few but spectacular highpoints and
the ever-present supporters’ culture around it.

So lets enjoy our banter between the codes. However, your offensive term needs to be given a life ban.

Anon subscriber

PS. Have you considered St George’s conundrum with both the Prime
Minister and Leader of the Opposition being fire breathing St George
supporters. Keep an eye out for the seating arrangements. But to be
fair to both of them, they love their game and club so it could be a
love fest.

Re The Footy Shows, Bolt, The Age and morality (Sealed 12/03/04)

Okay fair enough this is perhaps a time to tread a little carefully in
wake of the awful allegations against the Canterbury players… But
this ridiculous piece was just too much! Are you really running that
low on ideas that you are forced to launch into a conservative 1950’s
tirade against a harmless Bill Clinton parody or tongue in cheek radio
stunt. Very disappointing Crikey I think you are once again a little
too cynical for your own good and are squeezing the fun out of our
media.

CJK


Constructive criticism?

I’ve noticed the quality of your entries lowering in quality of
late. To be perfectly honest you seem to be reaching for albeit
convenient, but oh-so boring dribble of the ‘left’. Continuously
attacking Howard? OK the guy’s a mug, but how tired is that
move? Picking on the Footy Show? I mean really, whom are
you targeting? First year student union feminists? What
about some real content for a change? And while I’m at it, what’s
with the sudden deluge of anti-male, pro-feminist dribble? If I
were you I’d watch that stuff because you just might tick off a few of
your state and federal right leaning subscribers.

Have a nice day.

Billy ‘Bob-Cat’ Leroy

NGE vs ACA

For a media tart with few peers, “Doctor” Fiona Stewart (I love people
who insist on being called Dr) shows remarkable disingenuousness in
relation to her A Current Affair experience. At the risk of further
promoting her media profile, it is obvious her treatment is in direct
relation to both her cosy relationship with Today Tonight (therefore
fair game for ACA) and the omnipotent relationship between Major
Advertisers and ACA.

Doc Fi touches up the wrong end of town and, like Crikey, often gets it
either plain wrong or somewhat mistaken – either way, it pisses off the
corporates who spend a lot of money establishing and maintaining their
brands, only to see them cut down for the personal glory of webmeisters
and mistresses on shows that, in turn, would be non-existent but for
the advertising provided by the big brands. Cruel? You bet. Real Media
(said with a Russian Accent)? Absolutely.


Re Crikey’s item on the AEC web site

Last year I was in China and a Chinese friend was asking questions
about our voting system. I wanted to find a web site which explained
our preferential voting system and naturally tried the AEC site. After
searching for some time I could find nothing useful on the site about
preferential voting. I find it remarkable that this most important
aspect of our election system, which I suspect many Australians don’t
understand, is not explained on their web site. We should be promoting
this very fair system of voting. Fortunately the Vic Electoral
Commission site has some good educational material.

A Voter


Queensland’s glamorous Governor

When oh when will the media – and the Courier-Mail specifically – get
over its obsession with the shoes, hand bags, hair and general couture
of Queensland Governor Quentin Bryce? Yes, we appreciate she is a
well-dressed woman, but it seems Her Excellency cannot appear anywhere
without gushing commentary on her “luminescent green shoes” or graceful
lines of her exquisitely tailored suit”. No idea what she actually
thinks or says.

Worse, it is both make and female journalists who perpetuate this sexist garbage.

I would not have such a problem if we also heard about the perfectly
shiny Florsheims of our Governor General (what’s his name again?) or
the glistening and ever-expanding pate of Tasmania’s new Governor, that
Weapon of Mass Self-Aggrandisement, Dick Butler. Or is it just me?

Lady Clayfield Hamilton-Ascot
Self-confessed Brisbane PR Queen


The Passion versus Jesus Christ Superstar

I have not seen Mel’s epic, and have no intent of doing so at this
stage, but I have seen Jesus Christ Superstar, and listened to the
soundtrack a number of times (is Ted Neely the worst ever screen Jesus?)

In that play/film, the crowd (ie the Jews) bay for Jesus’ blood, and get (at least at first) a thrill from seeing him flogged.

In fact, in the play/film, Pilate is shocked at the attitude of the mob
– words to the effect of “you hate us more than him” and “well this is
knew, respect for Caeser, till now this has been noticeably lacking”.
And further, “to keep you vultures happy I will flog him”.

Whilst it is clear that it is Pilate who makes the ultimate decision re
Jesus, the play/film must leave everyone with the impression that it is
the Jewish mob (not just the priests) who want Jesus punished, and
Pilate is reacting to them and not to Jesus.

So why has there never been an outcry about Jesus Christ Superstar?
Would have there been an outcry against The Passion if Gibson had not
said what he said before the film was even released?

Rather than just seeing The Passion (or JC Superstar) simply in terms of
‘anti-semetism’ perhaps they could be viewed as studies of mob dynamics.

Russell
(a Jew)

Peter Fray

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