So old Paddy has not lost his sense of humour, then. You could have taken his rant in last Friday’s Oz, struck out the name Ramsey and replaced it with McGuinness, and who could have argued with it?

“The
decline of once great figures … the stuff of tragedy … what used to be
a sharp critical intelligence turns into pure curmudgeonry”, blah blah.
It fits the burgher of Balmain to perfection. Talk about hoist with
your own petard. The News Ltd paranoia about its Fairfax competition
has been running riot of late. For years now the Tele’s
resident village idiot, Piers Akerman, has been unable to string six
paragraphs together without a lumbering swipe at Fairfax (and the ABC).
He was at it again just last week.

The egregious Andrew Bolt, on those rare occasions that I read him, seems to do much the same in the Hun. Now they are all going for it. To give just one example, a leader in the Weekend Australian, a fortnight ago I think, was a near hysterical diatribe about a supposed Vietnam-era mindset in the Herald’s coverage of Iraq. It was ludicrous in its virulence. And just plain pig ignorant. But the editors of the Oz
have been chucking those particular toys out of their cot ever since
Paul McGeough won last year’s Walkley award for international
journalism, a category in which their crew didn’t make the finals. No
surprise there. Obediently embedded in its proprietor’s prejudices, The Australian has been wrong about the second Iraq war since day one.

So
back to Ramsey. I declare that he is a mate. But he writes with a fire
in the belly, an insight and a sense of political history unmatched in
Australian journalism. He is an adornment to the trade. Herald readers constantly tell me he is the first thing they turn to in the Saturday paper.

If the heroes of Holt St want to go him for the occasional error, then let the editor-in-chief of The Australian,
Chris Mitchell, step forward to do it himself. While he’s at it, he
could explain why he offered Ramsey a job last year. And if there’s
time after that, it would be interesting to hear Mitchell’s account of
his bizarre delusion, in his old job at TheCourier-Mail,
that the late Manning Clark had copped an Order of Lenin. Ramsey should
ask for the cartoon that accompanied the McGuinness piece, though. That
was rather good.

CRIKEY: Read our subscriber feedback on McGuinness and Ramsey on the site here.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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