Alan Kohler (Image: ABC)

Alan Kohler has been, for most of lockdown, sending us cryptic messages via the placement of books on his desk at home during his finance segment on the nightly ABC TV news bulletin.

His collection last week was filled with relatively straightforward, semi-topical references — featuring Rupert Murdoch on account of the splash made by the new documentary The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty, and Paul Keating on account of his swipe at the Reserve Bank, among others.

Elsewhere there’s been a music-themed night, and a copy of Thomas Piketty’s Capital (which, if the bookmark is anything to go by, appears to have just been cracked).

Last night there was a touch of self promotion — but Kohler hastily pointed out that his book It’s Your Money is out of print, meaning he wasn’t flogging anything you could actually buy and thus cleverly outwitting the ABC’s editorial policies on product placement.

It all made us wonder: what’s the ABC’s policy on this stuff? After all, it’s all good fun until someone flogs a book you can buy, or someone interviews a marine biology expert with a copy of Mein Kampf on their bookshelf and no one can work out what spirit it was read in.

The ABC told Crikey the new reliance on interviews taking place in homes has not resulted in any new policies governing what people can have in the background or on their desks.

We asked Kohler whether he’s had to run any of his selections by a producer, or whether he’d received any requests from the public to do any particular themes and, most importantly, what is the overall message? What are you trying to tell us, Alan? Please, Alan, it’s 2020 — tell us what it all means.

For whatever reason, we never heard back.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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