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ABC Watch

Experts are concerned about a “deluge” of alcohol advertising during lockdown encouraging unhealthy drinking.

In just one hour on a Friday night, 107 sponsored alcohol advertisements were displayed on a user’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, around one every 35 seconds.

So we were gravely informed on ABC Radio Melbourne yesterday, followed by an interview with Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education chief executive Caterina Giorgi. The item is based on a report by the group which tracked the number of ads on “a personal Facebook and Instagram account”.

But, wait, “a” Facebook and Instagram user’s account? Like, singular? Did this person, perchance, spend a lot of time searching for information about alcohol as part of their job as an … alcohol researcher?

Host Virginia Trioli didn’t inquire about the sturdiness of the research — though Alcohol Beverages Australia CEO Andrew Wilsmore did raise those questions in an SBS item on the same report, as you would expect.

There has been a huge amount of speculative reporting on the matter since lockdown started — report after report on what can be expected to happen during isolation, often buttressed with anecdotal evidence and speculation.

Of course, mental health and substance abuse in traumatic times is a real concern. But should we not wait until something actually happens?

That was then, this is now

Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge in Question Time, May 13 2020:

We live in the greatest multicultural country in the world bar none, and when the chips are down in this country all Australians chip in and we have absolutely seen that this year from all walks of life, from all backgrounds, all religions and all ethnicities.

Minister for Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge addresses the Australia/UK Leadership Forum, July 19 2018:

Diversity can be great, but not when it includes those who want sharia law and will use violence to achieve their ends. Tolerance is generally a good principle, but we should not be tolerant of female genital mutilation or child marriage or women being prohibited from learning English, studying or even driving.

Three stories that would have never seen the light of day without BuzzFeed News Australia (number two will shock you!)

Another morning, another blow to the diversity of Australian media. Like every publication, BuzzFeed News Australia had hits and misses, but its closure is a great loss. Here’s a few reasons why:

  1. Abortion in Australia: Probably no Australian journalist has dedicated more time to the patchwork of laws relating to reproductive rights in Australia — and the absurd material conditions this creates — than BuzzFeed’s Gina Rushton.
  2. Refugees and COVID: While the crisis dragged the nation’s attention elsewhere, reporter Hannah Ryan (often with Saba Vasefi) was assiduously collecting stories on the human impacts of the crisis on one vulnerable and otherwise forgotten group.
  3. The Death of Mark Haines: A BuzzFeed News and NITV investigation into the 1988 death of Aboriginal teenager Mark Haines produced a searing indictment of institutional indifference — one which would have never otherwise been told.

Wacko Watch

Here’s a thing: remember when the president of the United States more or less explicitly accused a high profile journalist of murder, and we were all so used to this sort of thing that it barely made the news?

Wacko watch II

In case you missed it, celebrity chef Pete Evans spent several days demonstrating the long term benefits of staring directly into the sun, with a series of posts describing all sorts of bananas conspiracies. 

The one that really caught our eye was the content referring to the QAnon conspiracy theory — which argues, among other things, that US president Donald Trump is a hero who will clean up the secret group of Satan-worshipping paedophiles that runs America’s political, cultural and economic elite.

All of which reminds us… where is Australia’s other well known QAnon proponent — the man who claims he can influence the PM’s rhetoric — the one and only “Burn Notice”? 

Burn Notice is the twitter alter ego of Morrison family friend Tim Stewart. We checked in on Burn Notice — who adopted this persona the day Morrison became PM, by the way — to find that after a hiatus of some months at the end of last year, the man who is two arms-lengths from the Lodge is back and tweeting furiously on the “Obamagate” conspiracy.

This week he produced a rambling, 27-tweet thread which says little but alludes at a hell of a lot — dark references to the unmasking of elites, asking his 35,000-plus followers to look forward to “The Awakening”.

The question as ever, remains, does he actually have the PMs ear?

Have you heard a tip or murmur that you’d like to send to Crikey? You can contact us by writing to [email protected], or visiting one of our anonymous tips channels.

NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect that it is only BuzzFeed’s news division that has closed in Australia.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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