Is Peter Costello and his publisher, Melbourne University Press, vetting who the great ditherer talks to?

Or is the Nine Network and its news and current affairs boss, John Westacott so gormless that they can’t use the best talent the Network has in the only remaining journalist of note left in the network?

The questions arise from this piece in today’s Media gossip column in The Australian:

The Nine Network’s 60 Minutes has landed an exclusive interview with Peter Costello to coincide with the release of his memoir and it is scheduled to air on Sunday week. Curiously, Ray Martin, who left Nine after not getting his own show and has since not been shy in bagging the network for axing Sunday, has been given the job. Diary hears Martin is paid $10,000 an interview. Diary wonders how Nine’s other heavy hitters feel about him being wheeled in for the big political interview?

Well the Oz almost asked the right question. there’s only one heavy hitter left at Nine and that is Laurie Oakes, the man they built a Sunday morning news around from the ashes of Sunday.

Nine wants to keep Oakes happy, so his news making, hard-edged political interviews on a Sunday morning remain amid the dressed up overnight news, sport and weather.

His nightly reports carry more authority than the rest of the bulletin put together, so it has indeed raised eyebrows why Oakes isn’t the one doing the Costello interview.

Perhaps he knows too much and could spoil a good book launch interview.

So Nine is using Ray Martin, who, like Costello, is another ditherer. Whereas Costello wouldn’t grab for the top job and oust Howard, Martin would moan and groan about Nine management (remember the carpet strollers quip years ago), but he stayed, took the money and didn’t walk, not even when people he was once close to, like Jana Wendt, were ‘boned’.

So its understandable that Costello would find Martin acceptable.

Martin’s last gig of course was in doing the lead anchor and commentary for the World Youth Day extravaganza, including the stations of the cross in Sydney.

That would have been the ideal sort of warm up for the likes of Petie Costello.

Laurie Oakes would have been just too knowledgable.

Oakes weekly column in the Saturday News Ltd tabloids is the best political writing there is. he shows the dunces at Fairfax and at The Australian why they should have ignored their prima donnas in the gallery and snapped up Oakes’s column when it was available.

Peter Fray

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