Aug 8, 2013

The trolling, parody genius of ‘Nick Cater’

Nick Cater's claims are so outlandishly ludicrous that he can be nothing other than an extremely well-executed hoax. And what a hoax! The hits keep on coming from "Cater".

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


For years The Guardian ran a column by one Bel Littlejohn, a distillation of the worst of the Left-liberal prejudices of the Grauniad audience. Australian visitors found it hilarious -- especially after one had quietly explained that it was a parody, the work of Private Eye superstar Craig Brown. Now, I don't know who's doing this Nick Cater character at News Corp, but they've got the makings of an award-winning comedy festival character right there. For years we've wondered how you parody the pose taken by right-wing insiders, that they represent the voice of the people against some mysterious left-wing elite. Whoever's writing the "Nick Cater" columns has nailed it --the writer has made him purportedly an executive editor of a company that controls wads of Australia newsprint, and then made his one argument that "gatekeepers" are controlling the culture and leaving people of his views without a voice. In recent times, the gag was taken once stage higher when a whole book by "Cater" complaining of this exclusion was put out by the publisher owned by the guy who owns 70% of Australian newsprint, and who employs "Cater" and others to run it. Ern Malley had nothing on that little episode. I didn't think the "Cater"-ers could top that, but Tuesday's piece did the trick. "Cater" is horrified that inner-city seats contain more journalists than plumbers. Yes, bizarre. Plumbers are evenly spread across cities because plumbing tends to be. What possible reason could there be for people who work in Surry Hills, Docklands, Ultimo and Spencer Street to tend to live closer in? Easier access to chai and sodomy, presumably. Journos, this argument goes, live in a narrow inner-city belt so far to the Left of the general population as to be off the scale. "Cater" then goes to the figures:
"Consider a hypothetical election in a country we will call Media Land, which consists of the 29 federal parliamentary seats where half of Australia's 75,000 media professionals lived in 2011. The Coalition is in government in Media Land with 15 seats; Labor holds 13 and the Greens one."
Yeah you read that right. "Cater's" attempt to prove that "Media Land" is Left-shifted founders on his own mathematical evidence that in 2011 it went for the Coalition 53%-47%, when the country went for Labor 50.1%-49.9% in 2010. How to square this circle? Pose a hypothetical.
"If Labor were to win Brisbane, however, one of the seats considered likely to go its way, the party would be able to form government with the support of the Greens. If the ALP defeats Adam Bandt in Melbourne, or if it were to retake Bennelong, another seat some believe is in play, it would govern in its own right. In other words, Kevin Rudd may have a better chance of becoming the notional prime minister of Media Land than he does of winning a mandate from the other 121 seats."
The take-away from that gibberish is that, with some wild speculation, Labor might win 53%-47% in the 29 "Media Land" seats, while it currently polls 48-52% across the whole of Australia -- in other words, "Cater"'s whole argument for some deviation of "Media Land" from the national norm falls within the 3% error bars of such polling. Given that the 53-47% figure was based on speculation (and includes John Howard's old seat in Media Land) it's a double randomisation. There's no useful statistical information to be drawn off the comparison at all. One can't tell from the piece whether "Cater"'s creators intend him to be duplicitous, or not able to understand his own self-sabotage, but they give him a pretty jaundiced attitude to book-learnin' so maybe it's the latter. He ends with a flight of fantasy about the rollback of social liberalism:
"It is a reminder of the folly of assuming that social conservatism would die out with Labor leader Arthur Calwell, who was replaced by Gough Whitlam back in 1967, and the arrogance of assuming that the tide of history was washing everything before it towards a progressive future."
Really? The Whitlam period brought an end to censorship, no-fault divorce, beginnings of decriminalisation of abortion and homos-xuality, equal pay for women, anti-discrimination campaigns, relaxation of drug laws, the end of the death penalty. These and other values that were then a preserve of Media Land/liberal elite/the elites/rootless cosmopolitans/un-Americans/beatniks/bohemians/dandies/Caveliers/troubadours/Cathars/the Essenes/Babylon are now the values of the mainstream, plumbers included. None of this social liberalisation has gone backward. Indeed the rate at which further liberalisation, such as gay marriage, gains a majority in favour -- which it now has -- has increased greatly. The last great waves of liberal reform took at least half a century of work. These ones have gained majority support in less than a decade. Still, great fiction sets its own rules, and fiction it is. I mean, imagine an organisation whose executive editor had a barely concealed contempt for the people who worked for him! What the hell would that be like? More from the "Cater"-ing committee please.

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

11 thoughts on “The trolling, parody genius of ‘Nick Cater’

  1. Andybob

    Australia’s own Stephen Colbert ?

  2. illywhacker

    The most brilliant aspect of the hoax is the way “Cater” pretends he’s stumbled on something new, as if it isn’t a process that sociologists and political observers have been talking about for decades.

  3. DiddyWrote

    A hatred of the bourgeoisie is very bourgeois.

    I find this confected loathing of educated ABC1 city dwellers in the opinion pages of the Oz always peculiar from a commercial point of view. The advertisers expect the paper to appeal to just this demographic.
    Could it be The Australian is being run for reasons other than direct profit. I think the shareholders should be told!

  4. Col Pot

    Speaking of Whitlam, you forgot to mention one of his greatest crimes – Medicare.

    I can’t wait for Tony and his buddies to start dismantling that mistake and install a Freedom Loving USA-style private health system.

    If you can’t afford it, it will serve you elitists right. Should have spent more time inheriting wealth and importing cheap labour, like hard working people do.

  5. Liamj

    News Corp replaced all the journalists on its staff with churnalists, now is attacking journalists as a class. Fakes always hate the real thing.

  6. jack linsey

    Cater should tell Rupert to move his News Corp HQ out of Surry Hills to Merrylands and balance will be restored.
    Wot a wanka.

  7. CarlitosM

    Today’s effort on the cover of the Terrorgraph is doubly telling: not only it’s using antiquated metaphors that are lost on anyone younger than 35 yrs old, but just like last Monday’s cover it’s just so over the top that it actually does not convince anyone.
    So here we have the deliberate strategy to appeal to really old people in away that it won’t actually change anybody’s vote. So, what is the objective then? Have they totally gone nuts?
    There’s always that possibility when you eat some much sh!t, yet Mr Murdoch did not send his chief-sh!t-thrower DownUnder just for giggles.
    It is totally effective when you realise who these efforts are directed to, who they are really meant to influence: soft-weak-at-the-knees Lib/Lab Pollies. Will Rudd and Labor blink?

  8. shepherdmarilyn

    WEll here is what our pollies and the media do well, they raise racism to a whole new level and just keep right on doing it through sheer derangement.

  9. AR

    The logical Crater was on the Caterwauling Catamite’s hate slot a couple of days ago, though with little opportunity to say owt but “Yes,Alan”, “No, Alan”, “Three bags full, Alan, sir..”.
    On of the gems was CC declaiming that “people are NOT entitled to equal education or health care…” with which Quaker meekly (or unconcernedly?) agreed.

  10. JamesH

    Dear Sir,

    I wish to buy what is referred to by the unwashed masses as a “bumper sticker”, proclaiming to said unwashed that “I am a Media Land/liberal elite/elite/rootless cosmopolitan/un-American/beatnik/bohemian/dandy/Cavelier/troubadour/Cathar/Essene/Babylonian”. Illustrated by that nice Mr Onthemoon, please.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details