If you thought Mark Latham was only
going after Coalition sympathisers in the media, think again. Channel
Ten’s veteran Canberra chief Paul Bongiorno copped it in the neck
yesterday on ABC Victoria when Iron Mark outed him as regularly giving
tips to his office. Let’s go back to the diary for some context:

Thursday, 9 December, 2004

Hosted Christmas
drinks for the press gallery in our new press office. Gritted my teeth
and tried to be pleasant. Naturally, all the grubs bagging me were
there to drink my grog and see if I’m still alive. I have hardly any
allies left. One of them, Paul Bongiorno, told me that during the
election campaign Howard rang the head of Channel Ten to complain about
his reporting. That’s what I should have done: rung my mate Kerry
Packer to fix up Jabba (Laurie Oakes). Situation hopeless.

Bongiorno is one of many journalists who has refused to engage with Latham’s claims. We sent this email to him last week:

Hi Paul, is Latham’s tale about Howard complaining about
your coverage an accurate claim. Can you confirm that it was Howard
himself. Who did he complain to and what was he specifically
complaining about. Any other thoughts on the book?

Regards, Stephen Mayne

The reply came back as follows:

Dear Stephen,

You’ll find the PM’s office won’t
confirm or deny it. Neither will I. This book would have been an
interesting addition to political science libraries in thirty years
time. The fact that it is written by somebody who led the Labor Party
just nine months ago and is salacious as well as creative gives it
enormous, damaging currency now. Latham obviously has junked any notion
of private conversations, off the record, casual remarks etc for his
own malicious purposes. I just wonder if he believes his life
expectancy is so short, he doesn’t care.

By the way his view
of Laurie Oakes’ coverage of the election is jaundiced by his Packer
fixation. Oakes after all broke the story of the “lying rodent” on the
eve of the election which then became a theme for cartoonists and
commentators up until polling day. My experience is bias is in the eye
of the beholder.

Cheers, Paul Bongiorno

After I
read the first half of this out to Iron Mark on air yesterday he went a
lot further, accusing Bongiorno of being partisan in favour of the ALP:

Bongiorno used to ring our media office every second day
with snippets and tips about the Liberals, so people who are partisan
in their job, as opposed to independent commentators, well, when the
wheel comes around you’ve got to be accountable for your partisan
activities.

Just as a I think a Glenn Milne should be
accountable for his obvious support of a Costello, his running of Tory
agendas and the like, I think your barrackers on the other side have
got to be accountable too.

And what’s wrong with calling the
media for what’s goes on? People who want to be participants, as
opposed to independent commentators, well eventually someone is going
to say, ‘well, that’s the case and let’s talk about it’.

It will be interesting to see where this one finishes.

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