Bolt v Langton and the ABC. Aboriginal academic Marcia Langton attacked conservative columnist Andrew Bolt on Q&A last week, and the fallout is still continuing. On the program, which aired on March 10, Langton said:
"In my opinion, the articles that [Andrew] Bolt wrote about several Aboriginal people were far from the subject of politics and simply abusive. Now, just to take one instance, there was a young woman who was the victim of his abuse ... Dr Misty Jenkins ... the victim of foul abuse from Bolt now, nothing that he said about her was political. It was simply racial abuse. He argued that she had no right to claim that she was Aboriginal and, like most fools who put this argument in public, we are expected to deny our parents and our grandparents because somebody believes in race theories."
Bolt was very upset by the Q&A appearance -- "I was so bruised by Q&A that I didn’t go into work on Tuesday" -- and devoted his regular Thursday column to defending himself and detailing his hurt feelings. Two days later, on March 12, Langton and Bolt clashed again, on radio station 2GB. Bolt included a transcript of their conversation -- in which Langton said "I will apologise to you" and "I don’t think he’s a racist, but I think he goes too close to the line" -- on his blog. But Bolt said Langton's apology wasn't enough; he was gunning for Aunty. He wrote on his blog:
"Langton’s slurs devastated me and were false and defamatory. The damage should be repaired as best the ABC can."
The words "false", "defamatory" and "damage" send all journalists (and journalists' lawyers) into a tizz. Bolt's News Corp colleague Piers Ackerman demanded the ABC apologise, and even Media Watch host Paul Barry last night implied the national broadcaster could be in legal hot water if it did not apologise. Immediately following Media Watch, Tony Jones addressed the issue at the end of Q&A:
"Last week’s Q&A included a robust debate about the Racial Discrimination Act and during that discussion Professor Marcia Langton made statements suggesting she believed that Mr Andrew Bolt was a racist. Later, Professor Langton publicly said that she does not believe Mr Bolt is a racist, although she profoundly disagrees with, and disapproves of, his views and statements on Aboriginality. She apologised to him for her comments, and as a result the ABC also apologises for broadcasting her remarks."
It was too little for Bolt, who posted on his blog:
"The ABC's apology did not go far enough, failing to include a specific acknowledgement that claims I’d subjected Dr Misty Jenkins to 'foul abuse' and driven her from 'public life' were utterly false. But it is a start."
He won't be thrilled with the long letter by Langton put on the Q&A website explaining exactly what she did and didn't apologise for:
"I apologised for causing offense to him, because he stated that I should apologise to him because I had ‘hurt his feelings’ and offended him. I did not apologise for my beliefs or my intention of trying to explain my beliefs ... I believe that his obsessive writing about the colour of the skin of particular Aboriginal people is malicious and cowardly."
She writes that while she thinks Bolt sincerely believes he is not a racist, he is having a damaging effect on many Aboriginals, and she lists several examples, using them as evidence for why the Racial Discrimination Act should be kept as is. You can read the whole letter here. Something tells us this is not the end of it. -- Cassidy Knowlton Democracy rejected at MEAA. When the votes were counted, democracy didn't have a chance. The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance's federal council has voted 68 to 24 to abolish direct election of the head of the union, which represents journalists, actors and performers, despite a campaign by several prominent councilors to retain direct election of the position. Instead, the federal secretary position will become an appointed CEO role. On the Democracy for the MEAA Facebook page, the journalists representing the push to keep direct election wrote that they respected the federal council's decision. The decisive vote, in which the union's equity section (representing actors) voted in a bloc to back the proposal to appoint the head of the union, appears to have killed off talk of a plebiscite of members opposing the change, which had earlier been mooted should the vote succeed. -- Myriam Robin Ten's big boost. Regular readers of Glenn Dyer's TV ratings would be surprised to see a graphic in this morning's Australian showing Channel Ten clearly leading the way, with 40.4% of advertising market share ...

Ten graphic

Given that Ten is in fourth place in the ratings night after night (behind Nine, Seven and the ABC), something dramatic must have happened at the company. Or not; here's the accompanying text: