Alan Ramsey gets nearly $200,000 a year to vent his spleen against John Howard twice a week in the pages of the Sydney Morning Herald.
And with his favourite punk pollie and fellow moody eccentric Mark
Latham long gone, Ramsey’s increasingly becoming a one-tune Johnny.

editor Robert Whitehead retains his bilious columnist largely as a nod
to past glories – and because pensioning him off would cost a fortune
in redundancy. Ramsey repays him by descending ever deeper into the
kind of angry funk one usually reserves for one’s analyst.

On Saturday, Ramsey continued his tradition of filling his column with other people’s words, quoting at length from a piece by Guardian
hack Marina Hyde attacking – who else? – John Howard. The Lounge bar
bore began with a few turgid words of his own, asking: “Did you feel
embarrassed, perhaps bilious even, at the sight of all that vomitous
press and television coverage of George and John and Donald and Rupert
politically fornicating in public this week?” Confident even the most
vacuous North Shore latte-sipper got his subtle point, Ramsey then
switched to autopilot, leaving the next 500 words to Ms Hyde. Check it
out here.

To top it off, Ramsey’s main piece on Saturday consisted largely of a slab quoted from, of all things, a Malcolm Fraser column for The Age.
Ramsey has been taken to task before for his habit of using others’
words under his own byline. Political foe and Labor backbencher Michael
Danby fired off this fusillade last year. Under Parliamentary privilege, Danby labelled Ramsey “the greatest journalism fraud in Australian media history.”

a tad harsh. But it’s sad that the only ripple of excitement the
once-insightful columnist has raised this year came when he returned
from his long summer holiday sporting a modish white beard.

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.


Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey