If it was a boxing match the doctors would have been howling about a dangerous mismatch. Alas, it was David Marr vs David Flint on Lateline last night and the former Media Watch host comprehensively demolished his old foe.
Marr passionately put the case against cash for comment and even used the c word – corruption. How Flint was able to argue that poor old 2UE copped unfair treatment was beyond Crikey’s comprehension.
Meanwhile, a subscriber writes:
Professor Flint’s answer to the final question on the Lateline debate between himself and David Marr managed to rouse me from semi-slumber, although Tony Jones didn’t seem to bat an eyelid. My understanding of Jones’s question was that he was suggesting war correspondents, witnessing first-hand the horrors of war, might understandably be very critical of the governments leading the war. The point being that Flint seemed willing to overlook bias from right-wing media figures, sympathetic as he was to the difficulties of their profession, but would not extend government critics the same courtesy.
But the spin Flint put on his answer was very different – he assumed that the bias referred to in war reporting would result from the ‘natural loyalty’ to one’s country, and (contradictorily) that the danger of bias was why governments sometimes ‘needed’ to step in to regulate reporting in warzones. Was this a rather sinister Freudian slip, or was the good professor slyly thumbing his nose at Marr and Jones?
CRIKEY: Read the final question from Marr to Flint here:
DAVID MARR: … I was also reading today, I thought if only, if only David Flint had been sitting on those Alston complaints, because he is so miraculously forgiving of the difficulties of commercial radio presenters. It’s: “Keeping all those balls in the air,” he says, “You know, it’s so hard, there are news reports coming in and the weather is there and there are ads to do and there are live reads to do, and under those circumstances you can occasionally forget the proper way to do things.” I was thinking to myself how forgiving he would be of an ABC reporter, reporting a war on the run. He would surely understand how difficult it is.
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TONY JONES: David Flint, a huge rhetorical question thrown in your direction. I mean, do you understand the difficulties and are these complaints overstated?
PROF DAVID FLINT: Wartime is probably the most difficult of all things to report because there is the natural loyalty which you may have, one would expect you have, and which the viewers expect you to have for your country, and the attempt to maintain a certain distance, and the fact that you can’t report everything because sometimes this is something from which you are deprived. I agree that obviously reporting a war is very difficult, that’s why, when we have a very serious war, the governments move in and themselves supervise the reporting. It’s a very difficult thing to undertake.
TONY JONES: David Flint and David Marr, that is where we’ll have to leave it. We thank you both for coming to join us tonight on Lateline.