by Glenn Dyer

Mark Latham has booked in his first public appearance since quitting the ALP leadership – a TV interview on Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope in September.

Enough Rope is not paying for the interview and it’s a considerable coup that’s likely to seriously upset rivals like Sixty Minutes and Sunday.
The timing is hardly coincidental – it’s designed to whip up interest
in Latham’s diaries, which will be published by Melbourne University
Press in October.

MUP is believed to have paid as much as $300,000 for the diaries, but, as the Sydney Morning Herald
reported the weekend, their commercial appeal may have been seriously
dented by the publicity surrounding the release of the Latham biography
by Bernard Lagan. Jeni Porter writes:

One selling point for the extracts was Latham’s silence
since he quit in January and went into self-imposed exile. But the
release of Bernard Lagan’s Loner-Inside a Labor Tragedy cruelled that sales pitch.

Latham’s bucketing of Kim Beazley and the Labor Party in Loner
has had such blanket coverage that you wonder what is left to say,
especially given the pledge by the boss of MUP, Louise Adler, that the
diaries are not “splenetic outpourings”.

Word was that Rupert
Murdoch’s News Ltd had paid up for the extracts, but its spokeswoman
Janet Fife-Yeomans said talks were continuing. Fairfax, publisher of
the Herald, had withdrawn, said the editorial executive Mark Scott, and The Bulletin was not in the race. The editor of The Bulletin, Garry Linnell, said the price was too high, and after a big response to its extracts of Loner “that’s the end of the Latham story as far as I’m concerned”. Adler did not return calls.

Crikey informant suggests the Latham diaries will be published under
the Miegunyah Press imprint, which is reserved for MUP books “produced
to the highest standards of printing and design in the best traditions
of the great learned presses of Britain and North America.”

books are partly funded with money from a bequest to Melbourne
University by philanthropist Russell Grimwade. If the rumour is true,
rival publishers might be entitled to be a little peeved that the money
was used to give MUP an edge in the bidding war for what is a very
commercial book that hardly needs philanthropic assistance.

would the full treatment of leather binding and beautifully cut pages
really be necessary for the scribbled musings by a Labor bovver boy who
describes his political colleagues are “a*seholes”?

We rang MUP publisher Louise Adler this morning to check, but so far she hasn’t got back to us.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey