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Nov 26, 2012

Latham's Bolt Watch: a lunar Right eclipse? It's a cover-up!

Make no mistake: Andrew Bolt is Australia’s answer to Donald Trump -- a devastating commentary on the moral and intellectual decline of conservatism in this country, declares Mark Latham.


Ex-Labor leader Mark Latham has turned his special skills toward analysing blogger Andrew Bolt’s crusade to bring down Julia Gillard over the Slater & Gordon AWU story. Latham claims to have uncovered a series of false, ridiculous and “outright outrageous” information on Bolt’s blog, a claim rejected by Bolt in a lively exchange of emails and telephone calls between the pair.

Welcome to round four of Latham’s Bolt Watch …

Bolt’s claim: “[Blewitt’s] sister has dumped on him from a very great height … there is no doubt the man has had a very chequered career and his credibility would not be very high at all. He is a self-confessed party to fraud … this scumbag.” (Radio 2GB, November 22, 2012)

Latham’s response: A feature of lunar Right politics is the indiscriminate making of allegations. Cover-up and conspiracy theories are fired off on a regular basis, much like a political Gatling gun. Most people glaze over at this nonsense, but in the case of Andrew Bolt, vigilance is required. His coverage of the Slater & Gordon matter has shown him to be a right-wing media fanatic, specialising in wild allegations, conspiracy theories and the politics of smut (such as his constant demand for the media to investigate Julia Gillard’s relationship with Craig Emerson 10 years ago — whenever the Slater & Gordon smear is not going well for Bolt, he falls back on this smear).

Monitoring Bolt’s false claims is an important part of lifting the standards of our democracy — in encouraging News Limited to focus on facts, rather than slurs, to debate issues of national importance, rather than the s-x life of the Prime Minister. Bolt Watch is tough work: reading and listening to his repetitive psycho-babble on Slater & Gordon can be painful, but somebody has to do it.

Especially when, as often happens, Bolt’s claims collide with each other — a journalistic train wreck in slow motion. Take the case of the corrupt former AWU official Ralph Blewitt. Bolt uses Blewitt in a two-track strategy to attack Gillard. On one track, he criticises Blewitt as a crooked scumbag (see quote above), asking how Gillard could have associated herself with such a person. Here’s Bolt on his blog on Saturday:

“But it makes me wonder again: if Blewitt is indeed a crook and, as ABC broadcast Jon Faine suggests, a sleaze, why was he a friend of Gillard’s in the 1990s, receiving even free legal help? Why was the even dodgier Wilson, a con man, Gillard’s boyfriend? Strange company for a future Prime Minister.”

On the other track, in wanting Blewitt to go to the police and smear Gillard’s reputation, Bolt depicts Blewitt as a good man and a credible witness. He has even argued for Blewitt to receive immunity from criminal prosecution (how many “scumbags” has he done that for previously?) On his blog on November 21, for instance, Bolt declared: “The Bagman returns … good on him. But what Blewitt tells police may take time to leak out.” Then on Radio 2GB the following day:

“There is a ring of truth and authenticity in how [Blewitt] presents, and the fact is too that what he says is strictly limited to what he knows … the wild boy [has] come good, making a clean breast of it.”

In the strange, tortured world of Bolt, Blewitt is the world’s first credible scumbag. What about Blewitt’s partner in crime, Bruce Wilson, who came out in defence of the Prime Minister on Sunday? You guessed it, for Bolt, Wilson is in scumbag territory, an unreliable witness to what happened 20 years ago. Here’s Bolt on his Saturday blog:

“[Wilson’s statement] is helpful to Gillard, if — as Wayne Swan said of Ralph Blewitt — you want to rely on the word of a man who allegedly committed frauds netting up to $1 million.”

The purpose of Bolt Watch is to put the two tracks of Boltism together and highlight the intellectual train wreck that follows. It is called accountability and transparency, concepts Bolt applies to his political enemies but deeply resents when it is applied to him. He has complained on his blog that I am “stalking” him. Like all right-wing media vigilantes, he cannot deal with the thought of his own actions being monitored.

Bolt’s claim: “How come you can count about half-a-dozen senior members of this government that were intimately involved in this scandal, in the cover-up?” (Radio 2GB, November 21, 2012)

Latham’s response: Cover-up, cover-up, cover-up — this is Bolt’s mantra, symptomatic of the lunar Right. On 2GB, Bolt said he would name these members of the government in his newspaper column the following day. They are Nicola Roxon, Bill Shorten, Robert McClelland, Martin Ferguson, Joe Ludwig, David Feeney and Chris Hayes.

There is, of course, no evidence that any of these MPs were “intimately involved in this scandal, in the cover-up”. Bolt has produced no material to verify his reckless allegations. As with so many matters, he just made it up. Apparently this is what News Ltd and Radio 2GB regard as an acceptable journalistic standard.

The allegation is particularly harsh on McClelland who, in 2010, twice accepted Gillard’s invitation to be the attorney-general, the first law officer, in her government. As a lawyer proud of his integrity and standards, it is inconceivable McClelland could have accepted this role if he thought the Prime Minister he was serving had done anything wrong during her own time as a lawyer.

Bolt’s claim: “The cover-up is over, the ABC 7.30 Report [is now doing stories on Slater and Gordon].” (Radio 2GB, November 21, 2012)

Latham’s response: Cover-up, cover-up, cover-up. This time, according to Bolt, the ABC was part of it — with each of its current affairs programs over many months acting to protect the Prime Minister. Poor, innocuous Leigh Sales and Tony Jones, who in terms of journalistic heavy-hitting, couldn’t knock the skin off a custard, have been roped into Bolt’s fantastic obsession with cover-ups.

Again, there is no evidence to support Bolt’s claim. He lives in a fantasy world were anyone who is not dedicated to Gillard’s political destruction over Slater & Gordon is part of a conspiracy to cover-up the “truth”.

Bolt’s claim: “I am told a fourth set of documents has gone missing. If what I’m told is true — and given the alleged place from which they disappeared — this will become a very big story.”(November 18, 2012) / “A box for the Federal Court files in Queensland was found, but was empty. And a police investigation may be needed into what seems a cover-up.” (November 19, 2012)

Latham’s reponse: Nothing makes Bolt happier than a senior Liberal hatching a new cover-up and conspiracy theory against Gillard. Imagine his joy, therefore, when Julie Bishop came forward with one of the most bizarre conspiracy theories imaginable. In the best traditions of the lunar Right, she identified a “a sinister cover-up” relating to the way in which files from the early 1990s could not be found at the Slater & Gordon law firm in Melbourne, the Western Australian Archives and the Federal Court in Queensland. According to Bishop, “somebody is deliberately destroying documents” and therefore it justifies a police investigation.

A few days later, the contents of Bolt’s empty “box for the Federal Court files in Queensland” were found by court officials, highlighting the absurdity of Bishop’s and Bolt’s claim. As for Bolt’s “very big story”, as ever, we are still waiting … and waiting …

Bolt’s claim: “It might be time the Prime Minister finally answers questions about her role in what seems to be an absolutely disgraceful cover-up … Complete this sentence: in the end it’s the cover-up [that causes the bigger problem]. This stinks to high-heaven.” (Radio 2GB, November 21, 2012)

Latham’s response: Despite numerous police investigations into the AWU matter, the Liberal Party first raising allegations against Gillard in the Victorian Parliament 17 years ago, various newspapers examining thousands of pages of documents and an extensive smear campaign by Bolt, Michael Smith and The Australian newspaper over the past three months, for Bolt, the failure to achieve Gillard’s political scalp can mean only one thing: (another) cover-up.

This is one of the defining features of the lunar Right’s methodology.  When their claims are exposed as empty, when the evidence doesn’t materialise, they fall back on an all-purpose excuse: cover-up, cover-up, cover-up. In the dark, freaky recesses of Bolt’s mind, this is how he rationalises Gillard’s continued tenure in The Lodge: we know she’s a crook, but the Prime Minister, the Labor Party, the unions, the ABC and the document-thieves in Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane conspired to cover-up the obvious.

Make no mistake: Bolt is Australia’s answer to Donald Trump — a devastating commentary on the moral and intellectual decline of conservatism in this country.


Leave a comment

31 thoughts on “Latham’s Bolt Watch: a lunar Right eclipse? It’s a cover-up!

  1. klewso

    “Trial by media – good! Trial by social media – bad!”

  2. klewso

    I can’t understand Blot’s fetish with “Gillard’s slack morals”?
    When it came to “Honest John Howard” (of “a myriad non-core promises” fame) the same crusader was decked out like Chaucer’s Pardoner selling his hero’s virtues to the electorate.
    What’s he got against Gillard – “not enough lies”?

  3. David Hand

    This weekly free hit by Latham on Bolt has become peurile and boring. It might have been slightly amusing once.

    Give Bolt an opportunity to reply of just drop it.

  4. oldskool

    you seem to be missing the point, that Bolt takes a free hit at anyone he doesn’t agree with and no-one holds him to account. He has a blog, a radio show and his own television show- exactly what is stopping him from replying? Why should Crikey (especially given the contempt he has shown) give him another outlet to spout his drivel?
    Or his this another example of the curtailing of his free speech?

  5. tinman_au

    Nice work Mr Latham, your scrutiny of Mr Bolt is so much more interesting/amusing than that of Mr Henderson (but then he is a fairly dry subject I have to admit).

  6. John Bennetts

    David, Bolt has more than adequate avenues by which to respond to Latham’s truths.

    The fun of it all is that every time he tries to respond, he only digs the hole a little deeper.

    Yes, it is a bit tedious… that is Bolt in a nutshell.

  7. Edward James

    Most people who are able to post a comment on a Crikey string from time to time are able to think for themselves. Any expectation of balance is certainly adversely affected by the rusted on political nature of certain people Labor and Liberal! Right now my position is Labor from the top to bottom is just no dam good ! Mark Latham may be a clever wordsmith attracting attention to Crikey, but the fact remains he is a Labor quitter! Edward James

  8. SusieQ

    Not sure what your point is edward james, bolt should be held too account.

  9. Edward James

    SusieQ Bolt is exposed to the same defamation laws as you or I am, just like Latham. If they are defaming people or using injurious language the aggrieved parties are entitled to hold them to account. My point is “rusted on political supporters” have no room to move when shown the inconvenient truth. Mostly “ghost posters” just keep sprouting the same old political garbage. Edward James

  10. Edward James

    asked and answered susiQ Edward James

  11. zut alors

    ‘… Australia’s answer to Donald Trump…’ 

    No way, The Donald is a natural performer whereas AB is always trying too hard. Mind you, he’s not past demanding the PM’s naturalisation certificate.

    I eagerly await him breaking the ‘big story’ – with the right timing it will qualify as the Christmas miracle.

  12. Edward James

    Ralph Blewitt tells listeners to 2GB at five 20 pm Monday. Julia Gillard was not present when you witnessed that power of attorney. Edward James

  13. klewso

    “Blot/Murdoch giving his doubters the same Right of reply to his prejudiced PR & vilification campaigns.” And a devotion of similar resources to publicise, grandstand on?
    That would be novel – not least after all this time.

  14. klewso

    Blot has more in common with Beck – devotion of resources with which to bray and spread his unbalanced conservative message – and by Murdoch’s Limited/FUX News too.

  15. klewso

    Please Edward, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
    Let’s not go mistaking “Toady Abbott’s Knot (of toads)” for “good government”?

  16. klewso

    ….. or (keeping the cane toad theme hopping) should that be “… let’s knot …”?

  17. drmick

    They are both mad as cut snakes and It is appropriate that they duke it out. Someone needs to bring blot to account.

    He is as un-australian as it gets. He is gutless, hides from any real scrutiny and is incapable of telling the truth. He hates and mistrusts his fellow man and has never helped when it was possible to hurt. He is morally bereft and uses our own laws against us regarding “free Speech”.
    No society needs rubbish like him or his friends. He is an example of just the type of immigrant we do not need. Has he ever done anything positive to help anyone other than himself? He is the type that avoids paying taxes and then complains about the taxpayer funded police, health and education. Like his friends he is free to leave any time he likes.

  18. Aaron F

    Love your work Mark. Thank goodness someone is calling Bolt to account. Please keep it up!!!

    The Australian Right is heading the way of the American right. Locked somewhere between very twisted facts and complete fantasy (closer to the latter).

  19. iggy648

    Don’t worry drmick, people are coming to the realisation that Andrew’s columns and blogs are redundant. Since everyone knows exactly what he’ll say on any topic, there’s no point in wasting time reading or watching anything he says. He’s so predictable, I could write his columns! (As a matter of fact I do. It’s a little known fact that I am actually Andrew Bolt!)

  20. iggy648

    (I’m also Piers Akerman!)

  21. Christopher Nagle

    We used to be able to say, “Only in America” when it came to fantastical stories that defied plausibility or likelihood. This disease has been relentlessly exported to us as part of the increasing cultural connection between our two countries. Andrew Bolt personifies the fruitcake end of media commentary, which like its original US version, has become mainstream. They and he strut and fret upon the media stage as living examples of Goebbal’s dictam that if you repeat a lie often enough with sufficient sincerity, it will stick.

  22. klewso

    Christopher – we gave America “Murdoch syndrome”.

  23. Merve

    This all reminds me of the campaign against the Carbon Tax. Years of belly aching, tearing of clothes, gnashing of teeth, the imminent demise of Gillard, the approaching storm, the people marching in the street. Then, what?

    The opposition truly believes that theater is reality.

  24. John Kotsopoulos

    Dolt has never let facts get in the way of a good smear. What about his attempt to compare the return of the Sri Lankans who committed piracy to get to Australia with Abbott’s policy of towing asylum seeker boats back to Indonesia

  25. John Kotsopoulos

    As for slack morals I recall Mungo MacCallum once did a number on John Howard’s early years as a backbencher and his late night antics at drink parties in Parliament House Offices and various Canberra watering holes

  26. tonyfunnywalker

    Suggest you add Michael Smith – this guy is on the edge and makes Bolt look like a saint. Try Kangaroo Court as well the nut job of all time.

  27. Dean W

    Mark Latham hahahhahhahahahahah
    Haven’t you got a camera somewhere to break..

    If Bernard and Latham are the best you can offer then props to you for employing the challenged.

  28. negativegearmiddleclasswelfarenow.com

    Bolt’s a birther.

  29. Achmed

    I wonder how many Abbott supporters know he voted Labor.

  30. pritu

    @Dean W: Are you off your meds, mate?

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