In response to Media Watch, Radio National presenter Phillip Adams writes: On Monday Media Watch took a swipe at the ABC’s response to the coup against Rudd. Though we’re not a news program and do very little local politics (about 15 minutes a week with either Laura Tingle or Christian Kerr) apparently I was singled out as the worst case, making only a passing reference to the crisis.

MW didn’t contact me before running the story and, clearly, they hadn’t listened. When I went to air Laura was still unconvinced it was “on” and declined to comment. So I did — choosing the glummest version of our theme:

… Canberra is catching fire and there is trouble in the federal parliament. We’re hearing stories and can neither confirm nor deny that there’s a move against Rudd happening right now.

Now I must declare an interest. Kevin Rudd is a friend of mine and I met him on this program, would you believe on on March 8, 2001. At the time support for the Howard government had sunk to its lowest level ever — the Morgan Bulletin poll had support for the Coalition at 30%, the lowest since the 1940s.

So we were looking at the situation with the conservatives, focusing on the National Party and my guests were Bob Katter, the National Party MP from Queensland, Mike Horan, the Queensland National Party leader and a young bloke who I’d never heard of — Kevin Rudd, a federal Labor MP.

At the end of the program I said: who was that bloke? I said let’s keep an eye on him — he’s going places. I had rarely heard such a smart cookie in Australian politics and so I started backing him for the Labor leadership a long time before anyone else did. I was a lonely voice trying to get him up against Beazley, then Latham, and then Beazley again.

Okay, I have been very critical of Kevin Rudd and I’ve been very cross with him over what I thought was a knee-jerk response by him over refugees and nor was I happy over the climate change strategies. But if it is true that they’re moving against him I would regard that as an outrage. I would regard it as totally unjust — an act of incredible treason against a Labor Party leader who hasn’t even completed his own first term.

But also an act of political suicide. It won’t work and I hope that it isn’t true. That what we’re hearing is just a furfie. But certainly it’s a possibility because we’ve been talking to our contacts in Canberra and the more sensible of them simply don’t want to discuss it yet.

You can dispute the analysis, but as an opening gambit at a time of confusion it’s not a bad effort. And between stories and at the end of the show I gave updates.

And one other thing: my program fills two time slots, the repeat at 4pm the next day has a bigger audience and had I had half-an-hour of confused waffling that’s what they’d have heard on the Thursday. When it was all over, including the shouting. on Thursday we had Tingle and David Marr doing what we do every night: not delivering breaking news but discussing it; “ideas and opinions” as the disclaimer warns listeners. MW owe my program and my producers an apology.

Spies in the dark on Julia? Hardly. News agencies provide a low-cost way for media organisations to get up-to-date content from regions where they don’t have a presence of their own. While different organisations running the same copy means that no one gets an exclusive it also means that no one gets humiliated by completely missing a story. The down side to using wire copy is that it can sometimes lead to some really stupid things being published under your masthead, as we saw courtesy of AAP this week.

News.com.au, SMH online, NineMSN, and Yahoo7, among others, all ran the following ridiculous headline on Monday night: “CIA unaware Gillard is PM”. How on Earth did AAP manage to get such an embarrassing revelation from inside the CIA? The short answer is, they didn’t. AAP, and the news organisations who ran this story, all decided that the frequency with which a public CIA website is updated accurately reflected the total knowledge of the organisation. Australia’s page in the CIA World Factbook hasn’t been updated since May 27, therefore it still lists Kevin Rudd as the PM and Julia Gillard as his deputy.

CNN knew that Julia Gillard had become prime minister of Australia. So did MSNBC and Fox News. Barack Obama even gave her a phone call, so I’m fairly confident that the CIA were up to speed on the question of who was our prime minister. — Dave Gaukroger of Pure Poison

Murdoch adds to ads

“Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper publishing arm is set to put the squeeze on advertisers with a major new commercial initiative across its titles. News International is proposing to establish a new pricing regime said to be more in line with rival media, such as television.” — iwantmedia

‘Slactivists’ activate!’

Once social activism meant protest marches, civil obedience and sit-ins. But for today’s 20-somethings — sometimes called “slactivists” — supporting or denouncing a cause is as simple as hitting the “like” button on Facebook or posting a hashtag to Twitter. — AdAge

ABC warns Kirby film has ‘distressing content’

“The ABC claims a computer glitch was responsible for a film about retired High Court judge Michael Kirby and his same-s-x partner being broadcast with a ‘distressing content’ warning.” — Canberra Times

After 25 years, Larry King to leave CNN

“‘It’s time to hang up my nightly suspenders,’ King said in a message sent to fans via Twitter.” — New York Times

Peter Fray

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