Andrew Bolt
Andrew Bolt (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

The Australian Press Council has ruled that a column in which Andrew Bolt called a teenage girl with autism “deeply disturbed” and a “strange girl” with “so many mental disorders”, amazingly, did not treat the issues of mental heath and disabilities appropriately.

In the column, “The disturbing secret of the cult of Greta Thunberg” online and, “Time to doubt Greta’s dogma” in print, the well-paid News Corp columnist takes aim at the young climate activist.

Bolt has, as he always does, doubled down on the offending language, now coated in the syrup of self pity common to all bullies.

That typical refusal to compromise — by including facts or basic human decency — is sure to help create another round of frantic media “free speech” hype for Bolt.

What is so fascinating about this Bolt cult is not just that he’s published so fervently even though his grasp of facts is about as steady and graceful as a seagull attempting to eat a bowling ball. He’s wrong, and wrong, and wrong again.

Indeed, his columns are often mirror images of the truth, projecting accusations that apply beautifully to Bolt himself.

His routine accusations of left “hysteria” while expressing his terror at government tyranny because he’s not allowed to go to the beach. His bleating about free speech while trying to get women of colour fired for her views. And this week he accused the ABC of falsifying facts in aid of fomenting “race resentment”.

Which he’d know a thing or two about:

Bolt was also a sloppy journalist, [Justice] Bromberg said, that had cynically penned the pieces in a bald-faced attempt to be ‘destructive of racial tolerance’. The provocative ‘manner’ in which Bolt bent his keyboard was crucial.

“The reasons for that conclusion have to do with the manner in which the articles were written, including that they contained errors of fact, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language,” he said.

Far more interesting is why so many adults — including elected politicians and News Corp editors — treat such a strange man with such awe and even rapture.

I have never seen a man so obsessed with race theory and with so many mental disorders treated by so many adults as a journalist.

That’s in part because they are self-admiring frauds, of course: adults who simply reward a clever child for saying exactly what they want to hear and what they taught him to say.

But Bolt has something very rare as well — a sense of absolute certainty. He shows not the slightest doubt and forgives not the slightest compromise.

This allows followers who are tormented with doubt and burden of freedom to relax into his totalitarian certainty.

Andrew, if the second half of this seems petty, offensive, clumsily worded and oddly familiar, it is because we’ve used your words. Take us to the Press Council if you wish, seems like you’d win.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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