By Crikey reporter Lucy Morieson

Mark Latham’s publisher, Louise Adler of Melbourne University
Press, has defended the publishing house against claims they couldn’t
control their author. Last night, Media Watch ran a chronological run down
of the Latham Diaries saga, including this statement from Andrew Denton
over the early airing of the Enough Rope interview:

“Our problem was not with Lateline, which was just doing its job. Our
problem was with Mark Latham and the publisher…we knew they could not
control him…”

And yesterday, Crikey received an email from Anita Jacoby, Executive Producer of Enough Rope,
clarifying their stance on the ABC fracas over the airing of the Latham
“exclusive.” Jacoby writes:

At no stage have we blamed Lateline for scoring an interview with Latham. It’s
a competitive world and we applaud Tony Jones for getting this interview.

Our beef is with MUP and the Publisher, Louise Adler. We clearly had an
agreement to broadcast the TV exclusive. As soon as Latham recorded another
interview, this agreement was broken. After all, what was to stop him from
talking to everyone from 60 Minutes to Bert Newton before our interview had
gone to air?

We’re not alone in pointing the finger at MUP. News Limited’s Director of
Corporate Affairs, Greg Baxter in Saturday’s Financial Review blamed MUP for
being “unable to control its author. We’ll be talking to them about that.”

Adler rejects claims that MUP failed to hold their author to
publicity agreements – “manifestly, MUP does not ‘control’ Mark
Latham,” she says – but points the finger elsewhere. “This saga indicates
that if control is lacking anywhere it is between journalists and
programs within the ABC intent on gazumping one another in knowing
breach on contractual arrangements with others.”

News Ltd, who had arranged their “exclusive” deal with MUP, were
furious about the early screening of the Enough Rope interview, but
according to Adler, “pre-recorded interviews for the
print and electronic media are standard industry practice, as is the
commonly accepted principal that embargoes are sacrosanct. The
publisher and author had a strategically planned media campaign
that would inevitably include interviews on such premium programs as
the The 7:30 Report and Lateline.”

And any questions over whether MUP – which is a university
publisher after all – should have steered clear of the grubby memoirs
of a political has-been, are put firmly in their place by Adler.
The Latham Diaries are an “extremely important contribution to the
understanding of our political culture,” she says, which makes them
“perfectly appropriate” material for MUP.