Making a non-story a story. The current whereabouts overseas of former Labor government press officer Tony Hodges, whose brief moment of fame came 12 months ago with claims he helped provoke a demonstration against Prime Minister Julia Gillard, hardly seems news to me. What is news is how a little belligerent swearing has made it into one.
Interest in Mr Hodges’ travels and work over the past year appeared to touch a sensitive nerve in the prime minister’s office with Ms Gillard’s media director John McTernan asking “Why are you trying to contact Tony Hodges?”
“A man nobody has ever heard of, doing a job nobody knows what it is,” Mr McTernan said.
“It is not a story, that’s all I am saying. My staff are not stories. My former staff for f…ing sure aren’t stories. I think it is ridiculous. I don’t want to keep that to myself.
“Tony Hodges is not a story. Tony Hodges is a private citizen, an Australian working abroad.”
Journalists should report attempts at bullying even when seeking stupid stories but press officers should not give them that opportunity. And you have to wonder about the wisdom of the use by a prime ministerial underling of the “my” word. John McTernan sure looks like adding some lively flavour to this year’s election campaigning.
At fault over Fawlty. The verdict of my readers could not be clearer. Yesterday’s poll question:
And this morning’s answer:
New trend in political campaigning. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is hopefully setting a new trend in political campaigning. Officials in his Likud party, it is reported, hired cheerleaders to generate a raucous atmosphere at a “victory” rally after it became clear he was sliding to a disappointing election result.
Tony Abbott certainly would brighten up his one-week mini election campaign to begin on Sunday if he borrowed the cheerleaders from his electorate’s Manly rugby league team.
I am not so sure about the benefits that number one Western Bulldogs ticket-holder Julia Gillard would get if she called in the support of her club’s cheer squad members.
A cultural revolution inspires a competitive Crikey search. From Danweicomes a delightful story of the power of social media on Chinese cultural matters that saw this statue removed from a busy intersection in in Urumqi, Xinjiang:
On 6 August last year, the 18-metre statue of the Flying Aspara goddess (whose image comes from the Dunhuang frescoes in Gansu province) for the first time towered over the intersection of Santunbei and Bahaer Roads in Urumqi, Xinjiang …
Yet there was one problem with the Flying Aspara goddess: it was heinously ugly. As soon as the statue was in place, comments started to appear on Weibo denigrating it as ugly, a blemish on Urumqi, and utterly lacking in creativity …
On 14 August the aforementioned official had still defended the statue, yet three days later it was quietly dismantled and flowers planted over where it once stood.
The debate launched a online competition for China’s ugliest statues of 2012. The winner of that poll was not the Flying Aspara but a contribution from Wuhan in Hubei province.
All of which got me thinking that Crikey readers might like to contribute to an Australian assessment of works of public art. Suggestions with photos please of those worthy of consideration as the nation’s ugliest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
South China Sea tensions — “Experts say the potential for an escalated conflict in the South China Sea — while seemingly distant for now — presents an ongoing crisis for the region, as well as for US interests in the area.”
The unbearable vanity of Davos — “The World Economic Forum says it is there to improve the world, but it is really there to exploit rich people’s need to feel important.”