Crikey editor Misha Ketchell writes:


CNNNN’s Julian Morrow was lying in bed in his Sydney home yesterday morning when a reporter from the Melbourne commuter rag MX, rang him. She was looking for some witty quotes for a story she was doing on a cross-media forum Morrow was fronting in Melbourne last night. He was looking for a snooze button on his phone, but he did his best to be funny.

“For want of a good angle I said I was opposed to media diversity but I suppose media diversity is important because you need to be exposed to the full range of opinions in the Murdoch family,” Morrow says.

“I can’t publish that. We’re owned by the Murdoch family,” replied the reporter, Inga Gilchrist. “Can you think of something else to say to that question?”

Morrow couldn’t. But he told Crikey this morning that a few minutes later he got another call from Gilchrist. “I’ve had a think about it,” she said. “I’d really like to run that joke, but can we change it to Packer?”

“No you can’t. It kinda only works if it’s about Murdoch,” Morrow replied. “You should publish it, but you’re right, it’s probably better to self-censor.”

A few hours later Morrow was in the make-up chair at the ABC when Gilchrist rang again. And this time he was able to come with a joke aimed at an appropriately soft target – the ABC. “We’ve got enough diversity at the ABC. We’ve got a the full range of opinion from soft-left to hard-left,” he quipped.

Inga Gilchrist’s story ran in yesterday’s MX under the headline “Diversity to Morrow”:

Putting his name to a media diversity campaign has proved to be a burr under the saddle of CNNNN’s Julian Morrow.

“It’s an awkward situation because I’m actually opposed to it,” he said in Melbourne today.

“We’ve benefited a lot from a lack of competition in the satire market.”

Morrow will join speakers from the media – Robert Manne, Margaret Simons and Eric Beecher – at a city public forum tonight critical of Federal Government plans to drop restrictions on foreign and cross-media ownership.

“We’ve got enough diversity at the ABC – we’ve got the full range of opinion from soft left to hard left,” Morrow said.

Morrow says he shouldn’t have agreed to play along and change his gag but “as the Jesuits taught me, just because you’re a hypocrite doesn’t mean you’re wrong.” Last night he used he used the story in his speech at the Media Matters forum.

“I thought it was hilarious. I’d been meaning to write something, and trying to work out what to say. In doing a media interview I got a revealing anecdote,” he said. “It was the definition of irony live on stage.”