This
is one of those stories where you deliberately don’t ask the parties
concerned for comment because it will cause all sorts of finger
pointing and arm twisting, especially given that Crikey proprietor Eric
Beecher is an investor in Alan Kohler’s new finance journal that will
be launched in May.

Credible sources inside the ABC have told me
that Kohler’s letter reverse ferreting on his “Kerry O’Brien goes
completely berserk” line, which was sent to various newspapers on
Tuesday and published in Wednesday’s Herald Sun, was written
at the behest of John Cameron, the ABC’s head of news and current
affairs. Cameron is Kohler’s ultimate boss at the ABC so he was hardly
going to say no.

The ill-considered comment before the AIRC
which got Kohler into strife was as follows: “I’d like to see how she’d
go with Kerry O’Brien, who goes completely berserk.” The subsequent
letter read as follows:

Nothing beserk about Kerry

My
remark about Kerry O’Brien at the Industrial Commission hearing into
the ABC versus Barakat matter was nothing more than a jocular and
inappropriate aside meant to illustrate a point that sometimes raised
voices are a normal part of a tense newsroom environment.

For
the record, I have never seen Kerry O’Brien go completely beserk, or
for that matter go beserk at all, and I don’t believe he does.

Alan Kohler, Melbourne

The question on everyone’s lips inside Aunty is whether
Red Kerry went completely berserk on reading it was alleged he goes
“completely berserk”? Kohler shouldn’t have made the comment but all
John Cameron has achieved through Kohler’s letter is ensuring more
people have noticed the amusing sequence of events.

Who cares if
Kerry O’Brien gets angry from time to time? Most good news people in
high-powered presenting jobs are demanding. It should be a badge of
honour that Kerry demands the best of himself and those around him.
Those that don’t deliver should get an earful.

Next time John Cameron wants ABC TV supremo Sandra
Levy to break into the schedule for a major breaking news event, maybe
he should pull out the big guns and tell Kerry O’Brien to go completely
berserk at her. It can’t do any worse than Cameron’s recent pathetic
record in failing to move Levy.

Peter Fray

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