Laurie Oakes is arguably the most powerful and respected figure in the Canberra press gallery. Today he has ferociously unloaded on TheLatham Diaries in a Bulletin article, which is partly available here.
But Laurie has failed the accountability test by refusing to be drawn on the numerous claims about his own alleged bias and distortions. Jabba, as Latham calls him, cracks 22 mentions in the index, yet the Sphere of Influence has just ignored the lot and instead unloaded in the same way as so many other members of the Canberra Club – with Lathamesque vitriol and over-statement, while failing to address many of the genuine issues raised.
Some of Laurie’s descriptions include “poisonous,” “bucket of bile,” “weird and ugly mind,” “vulgarity” and “horrible” – it sounds like the attacks on his credibility have really hurt.
On the page opposite Laurie’s column today, Bernard Lagan, the Latham biographer who has since badly fallen out with his subject, writes that the diaries are “absorbing, far more considered and interesting than the media coverage has so far suggested.” Put Laurie straight into that category, Mr Lagan.
If only Laurie Oakes had put his ego to one side for a moment and actually focused on the content rather than his own revenge. Instead, he’s done the same to Latham as he did to Cheryl Kernot: “You’ve bagged me in your book – I’ll show you.”
Crikey today sent the following email to Laurie:
Mark Latham has made a series of allegations about you in his diaries. Why did you choose not to refer to these in your piece in today’s Bulletin?
Could you please advise whether you believe any of the allegations are justified, such as the claim that you were the most biased of the four television chiefs during the 2004 election, and whether any other references to you in the book are incorrect? Is your silence an acceptance of everything Latham has written about you?
Regards, Stephen Mayne
The response came back as follows:
my attitude is that Mark Latham is entitled to his opinion.
Cheers, Laurie Oakes
Okay, Laurie’s chosen not to deny that he’s a Packer company man who was the most biased television reporter in favour of John Howard during the last election. The silence is deafening!