Channel Nine News is likely to have more footage of an angry
Mark Latham tonight after a camera crew tried to film him playing soccer with
his sons in the backyard.

“You’ll probably see me giving them a piece of my mind on the news
tonight”, says Latham, who describes the latest invasion as “voyeurism”.
What’s the public interest? he asks. “Me kicking a ball with the boys, well
that’s really going to change the world, isn’t it.”

The news peg for Channel Nine’s antics is that Latham’s malicious
damage, stealing and assault case was up before the Campbelltown Local
Court again today, before being adjourned until 24 May because the police
brief wasn’t complete.

Apparently the police have not yet come up with reliable figures on the
value of the camera he is accused of damaging. This hasn’t prevented
News Limited papers publishing figures of $12,000. Camera retailers
have suggested $6,500 is closer to the mark.

Latham was not required in court today and didn’t appear – but
obviously some people in the media decided he should not be allowed to avoid
the cameras. The Channel Nine camera appeared over the back fence,
Latham says, without warning and without anyone approaching him for
interview.

Latham’s solicitor will be making a formal complaint to the police
about Channel Nine – the latest of a series from the Latham team about
media behaviour. Latham has also made a formal complaint about the
behaviour of the Daily Telegraph photographer on the day of the
incident which has led to the current charges.

Latham described Channel Nine’s behaviour as an “exact replay” of the
media invasion of privacy which led to the original incident. “What parent is
going to put up with cameras coming over the back fence filming their
kids?” he says. “It’s just pathetic.”

The continued invasion of the Latham family’s privacy is surely not
justified. Yes, he receives publicly-funded superannuation. So do
John Hewson, Paul Keating and several other controversial former
leaders. Yes, he has written a controversial book. So have Graham
Richardson, Bob Hawke and Bob Brown, among others. And in any case, how
does following him around with cameras advance public scrutiny on any
of these issues? Nobody pretends they are uncovering anything new.

So why does the media hound Latham in this way? Because he responds.
Because he is good copy. Because he says what others may think but are
too circumspect, politic or wily to say. This is the Latham curse.

Whatever you think about Mark Latham, the media pursuit has been cheap,
ugly and lazy. Find something new to say about him if you can, but keep
the cameras away from his kids, and away from the back fence.

CRIKEY: With a deadline pressing we haven’t had time to get Nine’s
side of the story but will endeavour to bring it to you tomorrow.

Peter Fray

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