The Latham Diaries will be a unique exercise for Crikey because
we are the only media outlet capable of fearlessly going through the
thousands of allegations, anecdotes and insights.

The ALP has a huge incentive to trash Latham and they are doing their
best to encourage various press gallery hacks to do the same. However,
the press gallery doesn’t need a lot of incentive because most of them
get thoroughly done over too. Any Canberra hack who endorsed or
welcomed the Diaries would quickly find themselves taking a lot of heat
from their sources and colleagues, not to mention their bosses, so
don’t expect it to happen any time soon.

Latham might have called Crikey a “Sh*t Sheet” but we’re big enough to
cop that and still examine the publication of his already norotious Diaries as an unprecedented insight into
the political and media culture of Australia.

Sure, some of it is wrong, particularly the stuff where Latham has
relied on third hand information and blown it all out of proportion.
Lindsay Tanner summed it up well on Insiders yesterday and it seems Latham’s allegations of muckraking against Beazley are hugely exaggerated.

The strategy being being used by the media and political establishment to
demonise the Diaries is to highlight various elements which are
exaggerated or plain wrong and there seems to be plenty of material to work with.
Kevin Rudd is now doing that with the Laurie Oakes leaking story and TheAge’s Misha Shubert pushed another one out on the Insiders
couch yesterday claiming John Murphy is now saying that Robert Ray’s
claims of a Kim Beazley dirt file on Latham could have related to
anything from his public life, such as events at Liverpool Council.

This, of course, will only apply to the blunders. Where Latham lands a
bulls-eye on the media, it will be conveniently ignored and this is
where our role of approaching hacks for reaction will come into play.
There are loads of gems in there, particularly about
the media, which they will not be able to report properly or even
respond to. For instance, this is what Latham writes after
breaking bread with a media mogul on June 28 last year:

Had dinner with Kerry Stokes at his home in Darling Point.
The exact opposite of Bill Gates: he spent three hours talking about
himself. A long convoluted story about what he sees as a massive
conspiracy between Murdoch, Packer, Telstra and the AFL to do him out
of the Aussie Rules broadcast rights at Channel Seven. I couldn’t
follow most of what he was saying, but if only half of what said is
true, it’s the corporate story of the decade. Stokes is going to run it
through the courts next year. But the case might last forever: this
bloke can talk the leg off a chair.

With Kerry Stokes about to step into the box, that is a fascinating
insight into his state of mind. Mark Latham really should launch his
own website and start going to media company AGMs. Imagine Iron Mark vs
Kerry and James Packer on the floor of the PBL AGM next month. Or what
about coming to the Seven AGM and starting with, “about those things
you told me over dinner last year…”.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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