The Oz, Islam and Crikey – Part 1. Dicky Kerbaj makes it a hat-trick, today managing to extract his third article on Griffith University’s Islamic Research Unit (GIRU). This time his article in The Australian cites various people from Griffith Uni (including its Vice Chancellor) who have defended the measley $100,000 donated by one of the wealthiest royal families on the planet. The university authorities also refer to similar arrangements Saudi royalty have made with universities as controversial as Harvard, Oxford and Georgetown (a private Catholic university in Washington). I’d love to see His Honour Judge Wall (again quoted today by Kerbaj) suggest the Catholic Church established educational institutions akin to extremist Pakistani madressas. Kerbaj finally shows his own lack of expertise on what he describes as “the secretive Muslim group Tablighi Jamaat”. In doing so, he shot his own argument in the foot even more. The TJ’s operations are extremely limited in the Saudi kingdom. TJ textbooks are banned from the country as they allegedly contain “deviant” Sufi teachings. Hard-line Saudi Wahhabi religious authorities have severely criticised TJ’s methodology and teachings. Anyone with even a kindergarten understanding of Muslim sectarianism knows of the fatwa issued by the former Mufti of Saudi Arabia attacking the TJ and forbidding Wahhabis from spending time with them unless it is for the purpose of correcting them. Kerbaj’s silly attack on GIRU head Dr Mohamad Abdalla reflects more on Kerbaj’s poor research skills than on Dr Abdalla. To its credit, The Oz did run an opinion piece today by Griffith University Vice Chancellor Ian O’Connor. Professor O’Connor reveals that the university had received 10 times the amount of the Saudi donation from a Singaporean Buddhist elder. He also gave Crikey a plug. Grouse. — Irfan Yusuf

The Oz, Islam and Crikey – Part 2. You have to hand it to The Australian. If you whack it, as Crikey has done this week over the newspaper’s use of a Queensland District Court judge to fortify a beat up over Griffith University being a hotbed of terrorism for taking a donation from the Saudi Embassy, then The Oz will fire back undeterred. But today’s effort, taking yours truly on over The Oz’s hypocrisy in using an activist judge when the paper hates such creatures, was like being flogged with a wet lettuce. In its Strewth column The Oz said of my attack on it:

Political commentator and barrister Greg Barns seems a little confused. In yesterday’s edition of Crikey, Barns accused The Australian of “breathtaking hypocrisy” for publishing Queensland judge Clive Wall’s concerns about Griffith University accepting funding for its Islamic studies course from the Saudi embassy. Barns said The Oz “has run a relentless campaign against what it calls ‘activist judges’ who it accuses of entering the realm of politics and not sticking to judging the law”. He claimed this newspaper was using an activist judge for its own ends. But if you follow Barns’s line, his publicly expressed opinions as a political commentator could potentially compromise his role as a barrister. Which, of course, is rubbish.

Now this is seriously weird. Judges are independent arbiters of fact and law. That is why judges do not engage in public controversy through the media. That’s why when barristers become judges they resign their posts as spokespeople for various causes and no longer write for publications like The Australian or Crikey. — Greg Barns

It’s Official: Murdoch Moves to Buy Newsday for $580 Million. New York Times: Rupert Murdoch is moving to tighten his already-imposing grip on American news media, striking a tentative deal to buy his third New York-based paper, Newsday , and getting his first chance to appoint the top editor of The Wall Street Journal . His $580 million bid for Newsday and his urgency in remaking the Journal worry his competitors and cause angst in many newsrooms, including his own.  Editor & Publisher: Newsday sale could raise big antitrust issues. Gawker: Murdoch is rushing to consolidate his empire because of newspaper publishing economics; the broader synergies available to a media group with heightened political influence; and mortality. New York Observer: When Murdoch takes over a new spaper, he doesn’t take much time to get things done. It can look slow at first — the preparations for war are often quiet, faraway strategic affairs involving a rather small magic circle, after all. But when it starts, it’s Shock and Awe. Fortune: Inside The Wall Street Journal ‘s editorial shuffle. New York Times: Murdoch taking on FCC media rule. Editor & Publisher: Newsroom union members at The Wall Street Journal are looking at the resignation of managing editor Marcus Brauchli as the loss of “a buffer who would maintain editorial independence.” Washington Post: In a note to the staff, Brauchli made clear that he no longer felt welcome in the Murdoch era. Columbia Journalism Review: Brauchli’s exit is the end of the beginning of the end of what made the Journal so special, writes Dean Starkman. — Roundup via Mediabistro

Something smells at Nine. The Nine Network has bought three “factual” entertainment programs from a British company, one of which is titled Help! I Smell of Fish! It apparently follows the desperate journey of three people suffering from Fish Odour Syndrome as they try to find a cure for their stigmatising condition, which causes sufferers to emit a variety of pungent body odours. Are you whiting, trout, leatherjacket, bream, flounder or snapper? That will go well with The Moment of Truth, The Power of 10 and My Kid’s A Star, not to mention Monster House . The two other series sound just as tasty: Help! I’ve Got A High Maintenance Wife and How To Have S-x After Marriage. Seriously.

Sky on the feigning fainter: Objective news reporting at its best

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
RSPCA Animal Rescue was the most watched with 1.765 million people at 7.30pm, from Seven News with 1.625 million and Today Tonight 1.489 million, and The Real Seachange in 4th spot with 1.371 million. Home and Away picked itself up and won the 7pm slot for Seven with 1.261 million and Nine’s Underbelly won the 8.30pm slot despite the hole in Melbourne, with an average 1.237 million viewers. Ten’s The Biggest Loser averaged 1.230 million for 7th and 8th was Spicks And Specks at 8.30pm with 1.194 million for the ABC. A Current Affair was 9th with 1.103 million and Ten’s Back To You was 10th averaging 1.097 million at 8pm. Nine News was 11th with 1.096 million and the 7pm ABC News was 12th with 1.082 million. Nine’s repeat of Two And A Half Men averaged 1.009 million and Ten’s repeat of House at 8.30pm averaged 1.001 million. Rules of Engagement averaged 982,000 for Ten at 7.30pm.

The Losers: Nine, My Kid’s A Star at 7.30pm, 659,000. 4th in its timeslot, again – it’s the worst show on TV. Canal Road at 9.30pm, 831,000. It is not doing well: that’s down 250,000 on last week. If this continues we can add it to the growing list of Nine flops. The James Bond movie on Seven averaged 914,000, but it did over Canal Road. CSI Miami was shifted into 8.30pm (a repeat) in Melbourne and Canal Road was moved to 9.30pm. That hurt it, but also gave a better indication of its future. The ABC is persisting with Travel Oz at 6pm: 238,000.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market as did Today Tonight. Ten News averaged 796,000; the late News/Sports Tonight, 406,000. Nine’s Nightline, 258,000. The 7.30 Report, 828,000, Lateline, 233,000, Lateline Business, 112,000. 6.30pm SBS World News Australia, 180,000, the 9.30pm edition, 176,000. Dateline, 201,000, Newstopia at 10pm on SBS, 169,000. 7am Sunrise, 402,000, 7am Today, 285,000.

The Stats: Seven won 6pm to midnight with 31.3% (24.9% a week ago) from Nine with 24.5% (22.7%), Ten with 22.5% (23.5%), the ABC with 16.5% (17.4%) and SBS with 5.1% (5.7%). Seven won all five metro markets and lead the week 30.5% to 26.5% for Nine. Ten won 16 to 39 and 18 to 49 in the 6.30pm to 10.30pm commercial battle, Seven won 25 to 54s and All People. In regional areas a win for Prime/7Qld with 30.0% from WIN/NBN with 26.4%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 20.4%, the ABC with 17.5% and SBS with 5.7%. In the 6.30pm to 10.30pm battle including Pay TV, Seven won with a share of 25.24% (22.75% a year ago), from Nine with 20.35% (23.19%), Ten with 19.30% (18.87%), Pay TV 15.87% (14.77%), the ABC with 14.76% (16.75%) and SBS with 4.47% (5.67%).

Glenn Dyer’s comments: This week, Seven will win the week, despite Richard Attenborough’s Life In Cold Blood on Monday night. Seven’s on-air promos have been crisper, more directed, especially earlier in the week. Desperate Housewives had a big story line on Monday night that was promotable, for some reason viewers returned to Grey’s Anatomy on Sunday night after tuning out for several weeks and It Takes Two did well Tuesday night with its finale, but not at Dancing With The Stars levels of viewing. Last night Seven simply cleaned up, despite Nine’s strength at 8.30pm with the crippled Underbelly. Tonight Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and The Footy Shows stand out. For the next three days, consult your local guides.

Source: OzTAM, TV Networks, Fusion Strategy reports

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW