There are thousands of controversial new facts and insights about politics and the media placed on the table in The Latham Diaries
and the man himself claims to be an absolute stickler for the truth.
For instance, poor old Bernard Lagan copped a bollocking from Latham
for supposedly making 133 errors in his first edition of Loner: Inside a Labor Tragedy.

However, Latham’s own accuracy has been called into question,
although many of the disputed events related to conversations involving
two people that cannot be verified by a third party. It is worth considering that some of the claims are so explosive
that they almost have to be denied – something that can be done when
only two people were party to the conversation.

So, how is Latham’s credibility holding up? Here is a sample
of some of the more recent claims that have now been denied or remain a little unclear:


1.
Beazley’s a serial muckraker – definitely not true,
Latham credibility dented. However, Beazley supporters and staff sound
like they got up to some occasional mischief.

2. Gabrielle Gwyther: Latham claims she told him she was bisexual. She denies it. Hard to tell.

3. Kevin Rudd: Latham claims that Rudd was crying in a meeting after his mother’s
recent death and threatened to go to the backbench if he didn’t get
shadow treasury. Rudd denies the tears and said he never threatened to
go to the backbench.

4. Mark Arbib: Latham wrote: “The focus group also showed that it’s popular
to bash blacks: ‘You need to find new issues, like attacking land
rights, get stuck into all that politically correct Aboriginal stuff –
the punters love it’.” – Arbib completely denies this, claimed Latham
drank two bottles of red wine at the lunch and is getting legal advice.

5. Mark Riley: Latham claims he went through Helen Coonan’s
rubbish for a story and expanded this apparent exaggeration on ABC Adelaide to “a cadre of
journalists who go through garbage bins to find their stories”. Riley
has denied this and explained that he simply picked up a copy of The
Economist
from Helen Coonan’s footpath. Yes, but what did Riley tell Latham at the time? Was he big-noting himself to Latham?


6.
Paul Kelly is outed for bagging Lachlan Murdoch and John Hartigan to
Latham. Kelly has remained silent but Hartigan has come out and said
“Frankly, I don’t think he said that.” How would he know?

7. Maxine McKew: the same boozy lunch with Mark Arbib where
Latham claims she was offered the seat of Fowler in 2001 but “couldn’t
stand living in Cabramatta or Liverpool.” McKew has corrected one error
in today’s Strewth
column saying that it was 2004 and also denied the Cabramatta claim,
but that could have just been Arbib’s interpretation. Should McKew
really have been hosting Lateline on Friday nights last year
whilst negotiations were on foot with the ALP? We need some answers on
who told what when on this one.

8. Paul Lennon: Latham quotes Lennon saying: “You were
complaining about Butler’s payout. But do you know why I
had to sack him? Do you know what really happened? He got p*ssed at the
wedding and carried on, that’s why he had to go’.” Crikey editor Misha
Ketchell and Greg Barns may beg to differ but Lennon’s refusal to deny
the claim on several occasions in Parliament yesterday suggests there
is something in it. Again, it is important not to confuse the claimed
comment with what happened in real life. Lennon may have been under
pressure from Latham at the time and was looking for exaggerated new
positions to defend his claim. I’m on Latham’s side with this one.

When you consider the huge number of claims which remain completely
uncontested, Mark Latham’s credibility isn’t looking too bad at all
after this week’s assault. I’ve had several journalists decline to
comment or refuse to engage when asked if the claims by Latham are
true.

If anyone has any other errors to bring forward, send it to
[email protected], but so far Latham is doing pretty well.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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