As the situation in Iraq becomes more uncertain and more contentious, everyone is trying to work out where to place the blame.

Estimates is grilling the Government, Media Watch is grilling the media
and now the Herald Sun’s Andrew Bolt is once again grilling the ABC.

devoted his entire column today to dissecting the ABC’s Iraq coverage,
just as if he were former communications Minister Richard Alston or a
media monitor like Rehame. Strangely, the lad has barely uttered a word
on ganglands or police corruption.

There's more to Crikey than you think.

Get more and save 50%.

Subscribe now

According to Bolt’s research,
of the 135 items on Iraq, run on the ABC ‘s three most important
current affairs shows (AM, the 7.30 Report and Lateline) last month,
“only one was clearly a good-news story” (the escape of US hostage
Thomas Hamill from his captors).

And the damning evidence continued:

  • 54 items “wallowed” in the abuse of Iraqi prisoners;
  • 15 items centred on the strife the coalition leaders, Bush, Blair and Howard were in over Iraq;
  • 13 items on Guantanamo Bay and the Australians Hicks and Habib;
  • 7 reports on the assassination of an Iraqi politician;
  • 4 reports on a beat-up about the US and Britain arguing over the hand-over; and
  • 3 reports on a US attack on a possible “wedding party” – which was almost certainly a terrorist hideout.

not once in the past month could the 7.30 Report find a single
academic, commentator, Iraqi official or retired general to say Iraq
wasn’t doing all that badly. I know they’re there,” wrote Bolt.

a result of his research Bolt contends that with such unbalanced
reporting, it’s probably the ABC’s fault if you think that Iraq is a
cesspit, and that we should never have jumped in. Bolt seems to think
some more “good news” stories on Iraq would make us all feel a lot
better about the war. Hmmm, what if it really is a disaster as most
media around the world are reporting?

In fact Bolt’s readers
would probably feel a lot better about his theory if his media
monitoring were not simply limited to the ABC. Where are the figures
for Channel Nine, Seven and Ten?

More jousting with Andrew Bolt

Second sealed section – 2 June

Crikey had a very interesting email exchange with Herald Sun
editor-in-chief Peter Blunden last week and today we’ve followed up
with an equally lively exchange with Blunden’s favourite right wing
attack dog, Andrew Bolt.

However, with Bolt on the mat, thoroughly defeated and trapped in a
corner, he piped up in his third email that these were all private
thoughts and not to be published. Damn.

Still, we can publish our emails to Bolt. Here is part of the third one
dealing with the Hun’s ban on Crikey and his sycophancy to whatever
view Rupert takes:

Andrew, search ‘Crikey and Mayne’ in the Newstext data
base over the past five years and you get 56 responses in The
Australian, compared with a big fat zero in the Herald Sun. Your claims
of Herald Sun diversity founder at the first hurdle – your own paper’s
5-year ban on Crikey and, even when important public issues
are raised.

Finally, please name one big issue where you have contradicted the
known view of Rupert. Attacking Muslims, the ABC and supporting the
Iraq are three obvious examples where you brazenly sing from Rupert’s

The Bolt responses were lame but at least you can now read his amazing
spray at the ABC today for not being the only media outlet in the world
to try and paint Iraq as a good news story –
Bias: easy as ABC

Bolt has his say

Bolt then sent the following letter into Crikey Letters, our reader feedback email address. He wrote :

Once again, you cannot write about me without making simple errors.
Malice blinds you, Stephen. And your refusal to do basic research
cripples you.

You claim there was “silence” after you emailed me what you imply was a
killer rejoinder. In fact, I sent you two more emails after that,
disputing strongly your ludicrous assertions.

Second, you state I have “barely uttered a word about ganglands or police corruption”.

Let’s see how many of the following words I have barely uttered in just
my most recent three articles you have room to publish. Since you imply
there are so very few of them, I’m sure you’ll let your readers read
them all. So here come the first couple of thousand, followed, I’m
sure, by your usual apology and pledge to sin no more…

Sun 25 April – Struth, I’m a sleuth

Wed 14 April – Judy’s tall tales

Wed 7 April – Normal gets weird

Andrew Bolt

Reader Feedback:

News Ltd is not immune to negative Iraq

Maybe Bolta could tell us which editor – even in the News Ltd stable –
ran all those breathless good news stories on what is happening in Iraq
in the front of the paper. Gee that would get people picking up the

I know News Ltd editors might have been a bit slow to
grasp the breadth of the Iraqis torture stories but when they did, they
– like basically every other newspaper and television station and radio
station around the globe – gave it a whirl. Not sure there is a News
Ltd editor in the world – even those who like Rupert love the war – who
wouldn’t choose controversy and “hard news” over a Government-sponsored
puff picture piece. You leave that crap to the Boltas, Janets, Parkos,
Sheridans and Shanahans of this world.

Know Bolta’s opinions on
journalism aren’t exactly mainstream, but the last time I checked most
news organisations (not just the ABC) still considered as news “Man
bites dog” rather than “dog bites man”, “Army tortures prisoners”
rather than “Army does job we pay it to” or “Government cover-up” over
“Government tells truth” (although given Howard’s efforts the last one
WOULD be news).

I know Andrew has his tongue firmly in his cheek
and he doesn’t really believe what he writes but you just have to
marvel at his attempt to get away with his attempt to keep a straight
face while trying on that old outraged neo-con spin over the ABC’s
“bias” in linking the Iraqi photos scandal to his drop in the polls. It
is such an outrage especially when you consider that in America all the
respected pollsters were blaming Bush’s drop in the polls substantially
on the fallout caused by the Iraqi photo scandal. And fancy the ABC
reporting the mistakes made by the coalition. How unpatriotic. How

I think the Right’s coordinated attack on the ABC
is one of the greatest “spinning” efforts of the past decade. It is
pure genius – totally shameless, totally cynical and totally successful
because – as a result the ABC is becoming even more risk-averse in
covering anything the Govt does. Can’t hurt in an election year.

ABC can give me the shits at times with its sometimes sanctimonious
efforts but reporting where the coalition forces or the Australian
Government stuff up is still news. Even if the Government, Andrew,
Dicky Alston and the rest of the far-right elite don’t want it to be.

“From a long-term admirer of Bolta’ and Co’s feigned outrage on anything and everything – where do they get the energy?”


Andrew Bolt is a bitter man

Hi there Stephen, after reading this afternoon’s Altertee email (so
I’ve never got round to subscribing. I should do soon), I decided
to fire off an email to Andrew Bolt. I don’t make that much
comment with the media, although I once emailed Derryn Hinch and was
quite surprised by the fact that he was actually willing to consider my
opinion on the subject in question, as it was different to his opinion.

Here’s what I sent:

Hi Andrew – Interesting reading in your column today.
Since the Iraq “war” began, I’ve been following the issue in as many
media outlets as possible to try to get as much of a balanced coverage
as possible (because every outlet is biased in some way, no matter how
careful people are), however, I haven’t been keeping score on the
terminology used.

I was wondering if, as a point of reference, you knew how recent
developments had been reported in the commercial media, such as the
Herald Sun or Channel Nine, or where I could find a set of statistics
in this vein with regard to commercial media.

Thanks very much,

Here’s what I got back (three minutes after I sent my message. And I thought I checked my email a lot…):

I guess you’d have to do what I did with the ABC and
monitor the coverage, and check the websites. I know for a fact that
the Herald Sun doesn’t run only 1 good story out of 135 on Iraq. I also
know that no one is forced to subsidise either the Herald Sun or
Channel Nine.

Andrew Bolt

So there’s an answer for your initial question anyway.
While I do generally use the ABC as my main source of news, notice that
I didn’t really mention it in the message. However, Andrew was
ready to jump on the ABC in his usual style as shown in the final

Also, did anyone else notice that he hasn’t made mention of Media Watch
on 24/5 – where David Marr had a good go at various prominent ABC
presenters? Just wondering….

Keep it up,


Some good news from Andrew Bolt

I think that if Andrew Bolt wants to see some good news stories in the
press about Iraq, he should go over there himself. That would be
great news for all of us! Of course, that would actually require
him to be able to think and act for himself. I’m not sure he
could find all that many ‘good news stories’ to plagiarise if he was
actually over there.



Bolt’s ABC ravings

In good old leftie writespeak if you cannot argue the case try ad
hominem! Also who gives as stuff about bias in the commercial
media world where we all know they exist to make a quid. That old “ho”
Aunty uses my money to promote exclusively the rants and ravings of
left wing ideologues – and that really pisses me off. Bolt offers
different views and he gets my vote for that even when I do not agree
with him.


There's more to Crikey than you think.

It’s more than a newsletter. It’s where readers expect more – fearless journalism from a truly independent perspective. We don’t pander to anyone’s party biases. We question everything, explore the uncomfortable and dig deeper.

And now you get more from your membership than ever before.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
Get more and save 50%