ABC stars line up to plump Peacock. A bevy of ABC luminaries including Kerry O’Brien, Leigh Sales and Tony Jones has endorsed current affairs journalist Matt Peacock for the coveted position of ABC staff-elected director. According to Peacock — whose reporting on James Hardie Industries formed the basis for last year’s miniseries Devil’s Dust — he has secured the backing of over 100 ABC staffers.

Supporters include Radio National Breakfast host Fran Kelly, PM host Mark Colvin and Late Night Live presenter Phillip Adams. ABC legends Geraldine Doogue and Caroline Jones are backing Peacock, as is the Community and Public Sector Union. Peacock’s rivals include Adelaide-based emergency services boss Ian Mannix, Darwin sports broadcaster Charlie King and former board member Ian Henschke. Voting ends on April 19. — Matthew Knott

Bolt beats Insiders? Not quite. Andrew Bolt is up to his old tricks, claiming a win over Insiders when it wasn’t the case. He wrote on his blog Monday:

“Thanks to you, we beat Insiders yesterday morning. The Bolt Report scored 168,000 to Insiders’ 166,000.

“Unfortunately I no longer have a repeat in the afternoon, so Insiders will now beat me for total audience. (I don’t yet know the figures for Insiders’ repeats yesterday.) The revamped Meet the Press lifted to 123,000, with another 155,000 for its afternoon repeat.”

Yes, The Bolt Report had 168,0000 on Ten’s main channel to 166,000 for Insiders on ABC1 on Sunday morning. That’s in metro markets — Insiders is simulcast so you have to add in the 71,000 who watched on ABC News 24 in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, meaning Insiders had 237,000 metro viewers. But TV is a national business, with audiences in regional areas. The Bolt Report used to get some benefit from those, especially the 4.30pm repeat.

So, nationally, Insiders was a clear winner in all respects. It had 263,000 viewers nationally on ABC1 from 9am to 10am (beating Bolt with 207,000). Insiders had an extra 127,000 on the News 24 simulcast, for a total of 390,000 viewers. The Bolt Report got 207,000 on Ten, Meet the Press got a total of 344,000 for what is two programs (10.30am for an hour and 4.30pm cutdown and repeat for half an hour). Insiders had another 40,000 in a repeat on News 24 later on Sunday afternoon, making 430,000 all told for the program, and an easy winner on the day over Bolt and MTP. — Glenn Dyer

Berg strains Tea on Republican Right. US Senator Rand Paul’s 13-hour old-skool filibuster in protest against the Obama administration’s attack on civil liberties got everyone talking — and got Chris Berg sweaty under the armpits over at The Drum. Paul’s stand was evidence the Tea Party is libertarian, he said, arguing:

“Our ideas of the Tea Party are pretty entrenched. Either you think that the Tea Party is a white, racist, gun-toting, revolt of the middle class, or … well … in Australia it’s not clear there is an alternative view.”

Actually, if Berg looked at your correspondent’s views of the Tea Party in the 2010 and 2012 elections, he’d find, ohhhhh, tens of thousands of words on how the Tea Party was a hybrid beast, with a mix of conservative, libertarian and anarchist traces. He’d also benefit from some basic facts about the movement. By and large, the Tea Party isn’t libertarian to any significant degree — not even in the limited constitutionalist sense it has in America (minimal laws and maximum rights at home, no interest in human rights beyond borders). It is overwhelmingly a conservative authoritarian movement, pro-war-on-drugs, pro-prison, anti-euthanasia, anti-abortion-rights, in favour of active restrictions on Muslims at home (no mosques, for example) and of US military involvement abroad.

Its “libertarianism” is largely confined to property rights. Even here it wimps out — it has made no defence of Washington state and Colorado, which have both voted for the full legalisation of marijuana, bringing them smack up against federal law. If that ain’t a constitutional libertarian cause, what is? When Paul was deprived of dozens of delegates at the 2012 Republican Convention by a post-hoc rules change, the Tea Party raised nary a peep.

True, it had a libertarian spark at its very beginning, when the proto-movement was formed by Paul activists. Then it was subject to a double hijacking – first by the Republican Right, led by the delightfully named former congressman Dick Armey, and secondly by a “Tea Party caucus” of reps and senators, many of whom predated its foundation, professional politicians acquiring its anti-establishment gloss. The “libertarian” credentials can be seen by comparing a list of the caucus, and then a list of Republicans who voted for an extension of the Patriot Act without amendment – and seeing that there’s about an 80% overlap.

The truth is Paul and a group around him are playing a complex game: they would like to be Paulite in their politics, but realise that’s a bridge too far for most Republicans. So they are in an alliance with the Republican Right, branded as the Tea Party, even though they would be diametrically opposed to many of its positions.

Should Paul and others be able to get stuff going about drones, the everyday “soft” restrictions on liberty in the US (by the TSA for example) etc, then more power to their arm. But I doubt they will tackle the real problems head-on: the “war on drugs”, the prison-industrial complex, the vast informal powers of the police in the land of the free, and the liberty-sapping maintenance of empire. Should they do so, it’ll be a toofer – not only will the issues get raised, but the Republican Party will be consumed in a years-long internal war, with no guarantee of unified survival at the end.

Berg is either unaware of these complexities – in which case he really shouldn’t be writing about the Tea Party – or he’s ignoring them in order to project a cartoonish vision of a heroic freedom-loving Right, for domestic purposes. Either way, this tea is a little strained. — Guy Rundle