As we’ve observed before, Mark Latham is very much playing the revenge
game as he adds more barbs to his diaries with media appearances and
his gloomy public lecture at Melbourne University on Tuesday night.

Why did he say this on Lateline?

TONY JONES: You named one press gallery reporter as being a regular dope smoker, you’ve
accused another prominent journalist of actually supplying drugs to the rest of
the gallery. I mean, these are very serious allegations for professional people
to have to deal with.

MARK LATHAM: Oh, Tony, I mean, this is on Triple
J, joking around with comedians who appear on this network – the ‘Chaser Program’
– you need to, you know, perhaps understand the context, but also what am I
supposed to say about Tony Wright? He turns up at my function in Lismore in
early 2004 telling me that he’s stoned off his face, he’s been down to Nimbin
and been on the hoochy coochy all day. What do you want me to say, Tony? What do
you want me to say?

TONY JONES: Well, first of all, I’d like you not to name people on this program,
if you wouldn’t mind.

It’s obvious. Tony Wright was part of last week’s furious assault on Latham in The Bulletin.
Packer raised Latham a first wife slur and feral Laurie Oakes column and
Latham came back with a dope allegation against the magazine’s federal
political correspondent on national television.

The same goes with Jeff Kennett, who entered the debate yesterday declaring Latham “the new Pauline Hanson.”

“All he’s done is reinforce in people’s minds that he’s unstable,” Kennett told the Herald Sun,
once again highlighting Latham’s call for Kennett to be sacked as
chairman of Beyond Blue for going around making public comments on who
he thinks suffers from depression.

In his ring around of key journalists, Kennett also used the word “unstable” when talking to Michelle Grattan.
Is there anyone else out there that the Federally funded
anti-depression campaigner would like to insult by accusing them of
having a mental illness when this has already been vigorously publicly
denied?

Latham took some public revenge on Kennett and now Kennett is firing
back, although he still hasn’t answered Latham’s challenge to explain
why he wouldn’t be sacked for his reckless public diagnosis.

It was also curious to see Tony Jones going into bat defending Murdoch’s Sunday Telegraph editor Jeni O’Dowd over this entry:

Saturday, 13 December, 2003

“An attempted rapprochement with News Ltd: dinner last Thursday at
Azuma’s in Sydney with John Hartigan, Campbell Reid (editor, Daily
Telegraph
) and Jeni Cooper (editor, Sunday Telegraph). Cooper and I
once had a fling, so it was weird to see her in such a senior role –
who would have thought?

When you consider what Jeni O’Dowd published
about Latham in 2004, of course he would be inclined to return fire
with a bit of embarrassment. Glenn Milne’s efforts about Latham in
Jeni’s paper were a disgrace. Given that Jeni only got married last
year, it’s not as if the
revelation could have damaged her marriage.

The media is used to dishing it out and embarrassing politicians but
they get incredibly precious and protective when they cop some of their
own treatment. Jeni and News Ltd’s spinner have still not replied to my
email asking if the fling is true and whether it happened when Latham
was on Bob Carr’s staff and Jeni was covering state politics for
Murdoch.

Peter Fray

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Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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