Those rumours, the Sunday program and Mark Latham’s numerous media appearances have prompted a stream of
letters from Crikey. Find out what’s gotten
under their skin here:

Directing emotional energy

There was more heat coming off that letter from the Angry Labor Staffer
(subscriber email, 5 July) than I can ever remember feeling in Canberra
in the depths of winter. But as a meat and two veg voter and taxpayer,
I am at a loss to work out what the Latham thing is all about and
whether I should care.

Imagine if the same depth of feeling and emotional energy could be
turned on to things that really matter for the country, instead of game
playing and name calling. The whole thing is a disgrace and
mostly because the ordinary voter and tax-payer is footing the bill for
these guys to play “searching for the moral high ground on Planet

Well, you can search all you like guys. It doesn’t matter for the rest
of Australia. We live on a different planet called Earth where we have
more important things to worry about, like working hard enough to pay
our taxes to keep Planet Canberra supplied with oxygen.

Perplexed of Melbourne

What ever happened to good journalism?

It has always been considered “un-Australian” (a very overused and
confusing epithet!) to drag politicians’ private lives into the
spotlight. I, for one, thought that we were more sophisticated and
grown up than the Americans who insist on going right back to
candidates’ college years to dig up personal dirt.

However, the current rumours circulating about Mark Latham signal a
move down in the food chain of disgusting behaviours. I have to add
that, if I heard rumours about the private life of John Howard I would
be disgusted and that I was disgusted when Mark Latham talked about the
private life of Tony Abbott.

The time has come now to immediately draw a line under all of this
sewerage and for newspapers to begin concentrating once again on real
news. It is rapidly becoming impossible to tell which are the tabloids
and which are the broadsheets in Australia, regardless of the size of
the pages. If the bean counters got their sticky fingers out of the
journalism pie and appoint some more and better writers, brought back
some of the good sub-editors they just “encouraged” to take redundancy,
and stopped thinking that journalism is the pesky bit between the ads,
maybe our journalism would look up rather than down in the sewer where
it is beginning to belong.

Penelope Toltz

Overstepping the mark

“…don’t be afraid to have a go at us if you reckon we’ve overstepped the mark as well.”
– Crikey, subscriber email, 5 June

No, you haven’t “overstepped” the Iron Mark. You’ve run with the pack
in a gleeful stomp right on top of him. You’ve run “reportage” of media
“speculation” of “rumours” as your lead item for the past six editions
of the sealed section. Reporting media coverage of rumours is doing
nothing more than repeating them. Spreading them like head-lice. And
how “bane-and-antidote” of you to then spin that Latham’s playing “the
victim card”. How disappointing that Ross Coulthart’s piece was “not
particularly damaging”.

You say all sides of politics rake up dirt. I would agree. But what we
don’t see is the media embarking on “serious investigations” of rumours
about all sides of politics. I mean we’ve all heard the rumours that
have been kicking around about Howard ever since he assumed “total
power”. Where are the teams of cub reporters digging up the details?
It’s actually a pity the little bloke won’t get some equal time here.
Howard would play the indignant, wounded victim much more effectively
than Iron Mark. But I’m being specious.

What an extraordinary admission, Crikey, when you wrote: “We have no
idea where the bucks video rumour originated, but suspect Crikey was
first to run with it on Friday.” Just think about it, you were the
first to “run” with a rumour! What kind of respect do think you deserve
after that?

Are you just another rumour monger peddling dirt? Whatever happened to
whistleblowing? Are you working too hard? Maybe you should drop the
sealed section back to twice a week; it would allow you to deliver less
running (dog) media commentary and start generating some quality
“intelligence” again.

Michael Hutak

Crikey’s tabloid tendencies

Crikey, you’ve been exposed as just another media outlet that can be so
easily seduced and sucked in by rehashed innuendo and rumour.

Like the tabloids you so often deride, the prospect of a Latham
towelling on Sunday was too much for you to resist, and you – more than
anyone – poured fuel on the fires of speculation, and thus did the
dirty work of the propagandists who are so obviously behind this
coordinated attack.

The result – collateral damage, despite virtually no new revelations –
was utterly predictable, and you, Crikey, played a central role.

The powerful coalition of the National Nine Network’s pre-publicity
machine, a compliant and lazy media with no collective memory, and a
willingly dormant Government, allowed this fire to burn unchecked. At
the precise time Crikey readers might have expected one of the very few
and certainly very influential independent media outlets to blow the
whistle on this outrage, we had to read paragraphs of the same rehashed
drivel in your emails. Lift your game, or admit defeat and go tabloid.

Lady Hamilton Ascot Clayfield

The “dirt machine’s” poor timing

What puzzles me is the timing. This has been Liberal dirt stirring,
obviously, but why so early? Why not so close to the election that it
really causes damage? A sobbing leader would be worth far more, surely,
a few days before polling day. Or is that too cynical?

And no, you’re not going too hard on this. The stench of smugness and
hypocrisy is overpowering. I hope Howard’s categorical denial of
Liberal involvement is proven to be a blatant lie, and early.

Melbourne Scarey

Don’t mention Latham’s family

In Mark Latham’s “emotional” press conference he asked the media to say
whatever about him but to lay off his family (and almost started crying
at this stage).

Now it may just be my imagination but I haven’t read/heard/watched
anything in the media criticising his family. It has all been about him.

And if anyone wants to say ML is getting hard from the media compared to JH. Just take a look into the past:

1. JH’s son and that speeding fine
2. His daughter living at Kirribilli House

I’m sure a lot can be added to this list.


Sunday’s review on Mark Latham

Have to say the idea of a punch-drunk PM doesn’t excite me too much,
but even more worrying to me is the expose given by Mr Heyhoe; Latham
is a an double-crossing, deceitful act and certainly doesn’t deserve
our vote – his treachery is not representative of Australian ethics –
it was 100% unAustralian.

Latham pretends to be up front and to “say it as it is”, what a mockery
he makes of the truth. He maybe hasn’t broken any civil law but in my

books this action shows he has no ethics whatsoever – only problem for
most of us is that we don’t like Howard’s lies and conniving
either. Why do we always have to vote for the lesser of two evils
– I’m looking for an alternative to the Libs, Labor and the Greens!


He can dish it out but can’t take it

An interesting thing about the tears and hurt dignity accompanying Muck
Loathsome’s little performance yesterday is how close it mirrors
Boo-Hoo Bob Hawke’s carry-on those many years ago.
Then Hawke was trying to cover up the speculation surrounding the family drug taking and the theft of money.

Again, how interesting that those who hand it out without mercy turn
into jelly babies when the truth comes close to home. The long bony
finger of hypocrisy should also be pointed at those who were so eager
to sink Blimps Beasley and Slimy Creep for such a fine, upstanding
citizen as Loathsome. Long after the footy season finishes, there
will still be heaps of headkicking over the choice of the New Messiah.


Latham and the Sunday Program

As one who never watches the Nine Network, the hype about the Sunday
program and Mark Latham saw me tune in. What a waste of viewers’
time, watching a complete beat -up that will surely not grab headlines
anywhere. A flimsy plot, using tired news in a very sad attempt
to discredit someone who is clearly seen as having the Prime Minister’s
role in his grasp – hence the fear mongering from the conservative
media. And I am a former Labor member, resigning last week because I
see Labor as deserting its traditional support base: maybe that’s where
the media should be focusing its attention.

Who know, perhaps, but only perhaps, Labor will be power sharing with
the Greens – therein lies yet another, more fearful, story.


Angry Albretchsen on Sunday’s Latham story

Despite any other commentary that Sunday’s profile on Mark Latham will
inevitably generate, the spurious attempt by Albretchsen to somehow
link the flinging of parliamentary jibes to the alleged gang-rape
mentality of rugby league players is not only ludicrous but is far more
insulting than anything I’ve ever heard come out of a legion of
parliamentary stoushes.

What a high-minded social commentator Albretchsen is. She truly is a marvel of balanced and objective thought.

Jeremy Apps

How old is elderly?

With all the talk around at the moment about anti-Labor media bias,
particularly that emanating from Rupert’s stables, I think it’s
interesting to look at how subtle bias can be.

In a lot of the coverage surrounding the ‘king hit’ allegations about
Latham, the constituent who alleges he was assaulted by Latham is
frequently referred to as ‘elderly’. The guy in question might be
elderly now, but he was hardly ‘elderly’ fifteen years ago. He
was 58 – about six years younger than Howard is now.

When was the last time a Murdoch journalist, or any other for that
matter, referred to Howard as elderly? Maybe because the Howard
Government’s media releases never do?


Latham: an untested commodity

Mark Latham had many attractions for Labor when elected. One of the
chief of these was that in reality not much was known of him. He had
made very few mistakes as he had not been in parliament for long. He
looked tough and had a heritage through Bob Carr. That’s the good side
but now the bad side is apparent.

Not having experience in politics means that he has not really been
tested. Will he panic and raise interest rates? Will he raise taxes
to buy votes? Does he believe that more paperwork should be created
for small business? We don’t know these things. All we have is the
track record of previous Labor governments and we know that many of the
“old guard” are still around although with a low profile.

I don’t want to scare anyone; if Mark Latham is elected we won’t die.
We won’t even be wounded, but will life continue as we have known it
for the last decade? I don’t know and neither does anyone else because
he and Labor haven’t told us.

What we do know is that Mark Latham currently looks like the schoolyard
bully who has been abusing political opponents, US Presidents, ex-wives
etc but when confronted goes to pieces.

How will he handle Al Quaeda or any future terrorist incident? Does he
have the “right stuff” to stand up to the Asian people movers? Will he
be a hostage to the greens?

Who knows? Will he tell us?

Allan Morton