From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Ten romances News Corp … We’re hearing rumours that certain parts of News Corp are under pressure from Lachlan Murdoch to give special help to Channel Ten to boost its terrible ratings. (If you haven’t been tuned in, Lachlan was director of Ten Network but stepped down recently to become father Rupert’s heir apparent at News Corp, aka non-executive co-chairman). Anyway, are some bright sparks at News being asked to work overtime to come up with good ideas for the Ten PR team? If you know more, drop us a line.

… but will News Corp take it over? The talk from the Australian networks and producers at television conference MIPTV in Cannes last week was the resigned acceptance that Ten will be taken over by News Corp/Foxtel in the next year or so, and that meant program producers would have to deal with yet another set of managers at Ten. By the way, there was a lot of talk about a new Israeli show at MIPTV called Game of Chefs, whose its final episode in Israel earlier this year had a 50% market share on the night. It was one of the hot picks of MIPTV All Australian networks have looked at it, but there’s been no decision yet. Will Nine bite to fill out its reality roster? It’s weak on food.

Young Labor v Young Labor. As Labor tries to remould itself for the 21st century, the party’s young apparatchiks are at each other’s throats about the form their party should take. It’s now up to Young Labor president Edward McDougall, a Right-aligned John Robertson staffer, to find a way to breach the gulf that exists between his faction and the Young Labor Left’s 50 or so delegates, who walked out of the weekend’s national conference in Canberra to hold their own event after their conference proposals, submitted in January to the AYL executive, weren’t taken up.

Crikey has a copy of the agenda (justification here, schedule here) for the alternative conference, which focused on climate change, homelessness, student activism, foreign aid and asylum seekers. The Young Left invited all conference delegates to their alternative conference, saying it was “closer to our vision of an AYL conference that fits these aims” of transparency, representation and growth for Young Labor. The Left rejoined the main conference for an address by frontbencher Tony Burke, but walked out halfway through, according to a Labor Right source.

The Left and Right always fight during the conference, but that’s sort of the point — the conference is a chance to hone the debating skills of the nation’s next batch of Labor politicians. For the Left to walk out is virtually unprecedented, Crikey has been told. The Right and Left could patch things up at the next national executive conference. “There’ll be a bit of a bust-up and a few yelling matches, but everyone will at some point sit down and try to make it work,” one delegate told us. If they fail, it’ll end up at with Labor’s national executive, who no doubt will not appreciate being called in to mediate. Crikey will be keeping an eye on this. If you know the inside story, get in touch.

Stringing the bastards up, anti-vax style. First-term Newman government MP Jason Woodforth is known for his anti-fluoride views — he has called fluoride “toxic poison” (as opposed to all those other poisons) and wants it banned in Queensland. Woodforth also claims to want a balanced debate about vaccination, he says. Today he provided an indication of the kind of vaccination debate he endorses when he twice linked on Twitter to a piece by “Dr Mark Sircus”, a self-described “acupuncturist, doctor of oriental and pastoral medicine” …

In the piece Woodforth linked to, the aptly named Sircus calls vaccination poisoning of children and laments: “In the fight against vaccines we are not yet showing high-grade marks, not demonstrating the quality of consciousness that would organize like Gandhi or Martin Luther King would. We are not pouring out into the streets or demonstrating in front of vaccination clinics, not doing many things that need to be done to bring this sad chapter of human history to a close.”

Elsewhere, however, Sircus has been more forthright. “String the bastards up,” he demanded in 2011:

“For all those who are for the death penalty, my message will be clear. I am calling for the conviction and the worst possible punishment under the law for certain people in government who are in the medical field. There seems to be no limit to what our present society will accept. We are letting the bankers and the shysters on Wall Street destroy western civilization, allowing them the fattest paychecks on earth as a reward. And we are letting doctors in white coats inject poisonous heavy metals into babies and paying them well for it.”

Well done to dogged opponent of the anti-vax wingnuts, Peter Tierney for spotting it.

News in Mega-mistake. One of the country’s finest journalists, ex-Australian scribe George “Mega” Megalogenis, has taken umbrage at being branded an “ethnic commentator”:

Mega, who writes weighty and well-researched pieces on economic and demographic issues, as well as politics, is annoyed by this piece from The Australian on Friday. In it, self-appointed Media Watch Dog Gerard Henderson gave fellow News stablemate Rita Panahi the coveted “five paws” award for taking on “other Australians who presume to speak for members of ethnic minorities” (in Gerard’s own words), including Megalogenis. In the Herald Sun story in question, Panahi wrote this:

“It’s a common mistake to assume all ethnic minorities must be on the same page on a particular issue. One would hope that author and journalist George Megalogenis would appreciate the complexities of the migrant population a little better than most …”

This raises an interesting issue about what “ethnic” means. Megalogenis was born in Melbourne, so is more Australian than Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott (both were born in the UK). Is it fair to label him as a person who “presume(s) to speak for members of ethnic minorities,” as Hendo did? And does “ethnic” mean “has a non-British surname”? Ms Tips has heard stories of Australians with Chinese heritage who get spoken to slowly and clearly in shops — even though their families have lived in Australia since the 19th-century gold rush.

The snags are on Rupert. Well, this is sure going to change those vegans’ minds. Rupert Murdoch — who, it must be said, is showing very good health at age 83, so he’s doing something right — wants them to go back on the meat pies.

Is Rupert right about Bill? We did some detective work — there’s a tantalising recent pic here of Clinton having lunch, but you can’t tell what he’s eating — but most of the media appears to still think he’s vegan (he apparently made the choice after having heart trouble). Daughter Chelsea told HuffPo last month he was “probably the world’s most famous vegan“, although The New York Times reckons he’s not and hasn’t been for quite a while. There are wicked rumours of him being spotted eating salmon. Perhaps Rupert has spotted Bill wolfing down a meaty lunch in secret? We’re not sure if any senior Australian pollies are vegetarians/vegans. If you know, drop us a line.

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed anonymous form

Peter Fray

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