Election TV: Kennett v Richo. Feisty former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett has signed with the Seven Network to front its election coverage. It pits the Liberal Party champion against ex-Labor powerbroker Graham Richardson, who left Seven to re-join his old mates at Nine in an election year. Richo makes a mea culpa in The Australian today for inaccurately predicting that Kevin Rudd would challenge, and win, a leadership spill last week. “Alas, I am fallible,” sighs the big man. Perhaps it’s safest to stick with Kerry O’Brien and Antony Green on the ABC …

Seven says Kennett will become “national political commentator”, with appearances on Seven News and Sunrise. “I look forward to the opportunity to make comment on national politics without fear or favour, in layman’s language, and on a constructive basis, with Channel Seven,” Kennett said, in a press release that describes him as “decisive and at times controversial”. — Matthew Knott

The Conversation‘s uni cash play. Andrew Jaspan’s The Conversation website may be expanding to the UK in May — as Crikey told you in February — but the local operation is short on cash. In his characteristically forthright style, Jaspan has told academic contributors the name of their university will no longer appear on their pieces unless it is a financial supporter.

It’ll be interesting to see if the tactic encourages more unis to hand over their dough. “I expect my uni’s response will be a FU and tell us not to publish with them,” one Conversation regular told Crikey this morning. — Matthew Knott

Ford ads and the boys’ club. The recent drama over the Ford ads that were leaked to the internet — which included the depiction of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi with three gagged and bound women in the boot, focused on the fact that such material could be published publicly. My issue with it is that it could be created at all. Someone from JWT India was allegedly responsible for the creative, which carried the tagline “leave your worries behind”. In the Berlusconi ad this was apparently in reference to the controversial parties that keep coming back to haunt him.

The company says the ads were never to be published, so they must have been a private joke for the consumption of the boys in the agency. This from a country that is still reeling from one of the most heinous gang r-pes in recent times. Women bound and gagged in the back of a vehicle is not funny. Another in the series features Paris Hilton in the driver’s seat with her reality competition the Kardashian sisters bound and gagged in the boot. Ha, ha. Really? Surely, you don’t have to be fans of either to know it’s not OK. — Marina Go (read the full story here)

Gratts on Facebook. Press gallery doyenne Michelle Grattan’s forays into digital media continued this morning. Cobber now has her own Facebook page so fans can follow her work …

Front page of the day. The United States press are all waving the rainbow flag as the Supreme Court debates gay marriage laws. The Sun-Times has a story on how the “outing” of so many Americans has fired the debate.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW