Interesting about your Latham interview regarding Bongiourno tipping
off Labor before later Tuesday night when he seemed to deliberately
sidestep it.

The speech at Melbourne Uni was handed out to journos beforehand. The hard
copy contained the line: “When I was Labor Leader, Bongiorno would ring my press
office every other day, passing on tips and information picked up from the
Liberals. I now feel ashamed of this association”.

However he skipped over this line when he read the speech. Maybe feeling a
little guilty after his attack on radio when he said the following:

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’.

Or maybe Bongiorno got in contact in
the time in between the radio appearance and the lecture, threatening to
sue?

Stephen Mayne writes:

It certainly is a damaging allegation, although Latham appears not to
understand the way some senior political journalists work. Bongiorno
apparently used to ring the Coalition media office just as often as
Labor’s and exchange information and gossip. It’s just part of the
daily horse-trading where Bongiorno would tell Howard’s pressie Tony
O’Leary what Latham’s people were doing and exchange banter. We’ve all
heard the drum where a press secretary will ask a journalist, “what are
the other side up to today?”

Provided Bongiorno wasn’t systematically spying and on-passing
information for Labor there is no problem and only the Coalition press
secretaries will know the answer to this. Apparently they don’t have a
problem with Latham’s Bongiorno claims.

The real judgment on political bias should be based on what people
write and say publicly. And there is barely anyone in Parliament house
who thinks the popular Bongiorno was biased, although it is interesting
that John Howard complained of a lack of support to his bosses at Ten
during the last election.

Bongiorno went public in Crikey defending his Seven Network rival Mark
Riley for supposedly rifling through Helen Coonan’s garbage (something
he’s denied doing but not explicitly denied big-noting to Latham that
he’d done) and Latham clearly decided it was time to line up his old
mate. It’s not a compelling attack thus far, which might explain his
failure to deliver his prepared line on Tuesday night.

Peter Fray

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