Crikey editor Misha Ketchell writes:
A journalist writing for The New Yorker
once described a policeman who was giving evidence in court as “a man
who would never get out of a car when he could disembark a vehicle.”
It’s a great line that perfectly captures the exasperation felt by
journos everywhere when they’re forced to quote the terminally dull
prose so often dished up by officials and politicians.
Australian politics there are also plenty of pollies “disembarking
vehicles” but if there’s one you couldn’t accuse of giving boring
quotes it would have to be Mark Latham. It doesn’t matter if you want
to praise him or damn him; he’s said so many extraordinary things
there’s absolutely no need to put words into his mouth.
Yet that’s exactly what Latham says The Australian‘s political columnist Glenn Milne did in his column
“Missed chance to challenge Latham’s bile” on Monday. Latham says Milne
is guilty of “chronic inaccuracy and incompetence” and tells Crikey:
Consider the following passage from the column:
go to examine (Latham’s) remarks to the students … “Who’s to say
baking a cake for the church fete won’t have just as big an impact on
society as redesigning the country’s industrial relations system? Who’s
to say joining Neighbourhood Watch and dobbing in the people down the
street isn’t just as effective in securing the nation as border
protection legislation?” Completely mad, of course.’
I said no
such thing to the students at Melbourne University during my public
lecture on 27 September (as the attached speech and Q and A transcript
show). Milne has invented the quote and then called me mad for saying
something I never said. It’s another buck’s night video, another
example of this man’s journalistic fantasies. Some might say, of
course, completely mad.
As I advised Crikey readers last week, no sane or discerning person would ever believe anything they read in The Australian newspaper, the flagship of the misleading Murdoch rags.
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We contacted Glenn Milne this morning to find out where the rogue quote
had come from. He said it was incorrectly attributed to the speech
after he’d asked the News Limited library to get him a copy of it but
he’d inadvertently been given another document. He plans to print a
correction in his next column.
also said he hadn’t “invented” the quote, but nor has he been able to
find out what document he was actually quoting. Nor could we find any
reference to the quote – other than in the Milne column. The search