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Sep 20, 2017


Liberals against liberalism update: in the same week that the Turnbull government destroyed any chance of amending 18C/18D — by drafting and passing shonky “vilification” legislation related to the plebiscite, that simply confirmed that all major parties now treat speech as an implicitly violent act, i.e. not as speech at all — another minister has confirmed that the Liberal Party is getting out of the business of liberalism altogether.

Simon Birmingham, the engagingly geeky @Birmo, decided to take a piece of the action when Daily Tele journalist and Cold War cosplay re-enactor Kylar Loussikian had another pass at Sydney Uni global politics academic Tim Anderson. Anderson is a dedicated anti-imperialist (and a little too enthusiastic for certain anti-imperialist regimes, for some of us), and Loussikian attacked Anderson for criticising the record of both Trump and Obama in bombing the hell out of Syria and arming “moderate” jihadis.

In the teeth of escalating tensions between North Korea and the US and allies, Anderson took a study group to North Korea, and tweeted back some pictures of Pyongyang citizens in everyday life. Once again, a little too Moscow ’30s tourism for my taste — “your children’s accordions put our Western children’s accordions to shame!” — and Pyongyang is privileged compared to the rest of the country, but good to see them as people living lives, not thousand-columned regiments marching in front of missiles. Not for Loussikian, who had SHOCKING revelations that Anderson’s tour had visited Kim Il-sung’s “palace”/mausoleum and the demilitarised zone (“Dr Andeeersen, we would like to put a missile base in your ‘cultural studies’ department”). I’ve been there too — as has anyone who takes a commercial guided tour of North Korea. It’s a beat-up.

[Rundle: US and North Korea are more dangerous than fiction]

It’s also an attack on the principle of the university and free inquiry with Loussikian thundering, “Yet the university is refusing to take action against Dr Anderson, who is paid up to $130,000 to teach international politics. because [sic] ‘staff can spend their leave however they wish’.”

Good old Birmo was only too happy to jump in:

“It’s one thing to foster debate at university but you cross the line when you back an evil dictatorship that murders its citizens and is posing an increasing threat to global security. Mr Anderson has shown time and time again his extreme views should not be given a platform to shape the minds of students.”

Well, yes, we want our universities shaping minds correctly, i.e. shaped so they condemn the shaping of minds by regimes, such as North Korea, which know nothing of our free thought traditions. The standard hypocrisy, in other words, and with obvious political intent. But I do wonder if such people understand or care that every time they rant on like this, and suggest that universities or the ABC should be organs of social shaping, they simply mirror and reinforce the assumptions by which the things they despise — 18C, Safe Schools, etc, etc — operate, the assumption that speech is wholly material, not discursive and dialogic.

[What Ayaan Hirsi Ali gets right about freedom of speech]

There’s not much difference between good old Birmo trying to shut down Anderson, and students trying to no-platform right-wing speakers on campus. The cultural left wins out of this every time, because it is very interested in placing ever-stricter limits on speech. The right will never win on this territory — the public is much happier to support restrictions on unpopular opinions about race, sex/gender, sexuality, etc, than they are about patriotism and religion.

For many people now, it is “natural” to prefer “safety” and “non-harm”, to free speech on such matters. The refrain “why would you even want the right to be offensive?” has become the standard social setting. But regarding conservative values — the nation, tradition, religion — the “high” and mass culture loves transgression and wants more of it. Try and ban people like Anderson, and the academics who will find it increasingly difficult to speak are those who want to question for example, overly moralising narratives of European imperialism, or advance arguments about biological hardwired sexual differences, or any other of a wide number of topics.

Meanwhile, the opinions of the current Republican President as regards Assad and the Syrian rebels are rather closer to those of a dissident anti-imperialist academic, than they are to the bristling think tank/neocon/News Corp establishment, busy trying to work out if they can arm the “moderate” wing of al-Qaeda, and sell them to the Western public as freedom fighters 4.0 (“Al-Homs, pictured with the heads of nine children, is the George Washington of the struggle for Syria’s soul …”). The final act? Tweet-snark, whereby Loussikian rubbishes Anderson for taking 13 days to put up a graphic filleting Loussikian’s article. That is one recess fight away from Madison not being included on Alex’s farewell collage because of what, etc, etc.

In the midst of all this, would it be possible for those who profess a belief in free speech and the freedom of the university, to not wreck it for cheap shots, nuclear-armed or otherwise?


Sep 13, 2017


Today in Media Files, Rebel Wilson has been awarded $4.5 million in damages in her defamation case against Bauer Media, and Newcastle’s independent Sunday newspaper has closed after just three months in publication.

Rebel Wilson wins record defamation payout. Actor Rebel Wilson has this morning been awarded a staggering $4.5 million in damages, after suing Bauer Media over a series of articles published in Woman’s Day that suggested she was a liar. A Victorian Supreme Court jury found in June that Wilson had been defamed in the articles. The damages are the highest ever awarded in Australia. Wilson argued that she’d been sacked from two films over the articles and that she hadn’t been able to land any further work. She has just filmed a romantic comedy, co-starring with Liam Hemsworth, and features in Pitch Perfect 3, which is yet to be released. The ABC reports that Justice John Dixon said the defamation was “unprecedented in this country”:

“At trial and in the full media glare, Bauer Media tried to characterise its article as true, or as trivial, or as not likely to be taken seriously. Substantial vindication can only be achieved by an award of damages that underscores that Ms Wilson’s reputation as an actress of integrity was wrongly damaged in a manner that affected her marketability in a huge worldwide marketplace.”

Newcastle paper a failed experiment. Newcastle Sunday has folded after just three months. Managing directors Elwyn and Elizabeth Lang put out a statement yesterday saying the paper would close immediately:

“A combination of issues have led to this decision, most notably a lack of paper sales, due somewhat to the difficulty with distribution, the fact that not enough Newcastle people purchased what we thought was a great Sunday read, and thus the lack of profitability.”

Elwyn Lang started the paper in July as an independent Sunday newspaper for the northern NSW city and surrounding region — Fairfax’s Newcastle Herald prints Monday to Saturday.

Maurice Newman’s grab-bag of crazy. Mauuuuuuuuurice! What can we say? After months of boring, competent pfaff on banking etc, Maurice Newman, the space cowboy, couldn’t hold it in any longer! He’s given us a piece that is to op-ed what Mr Creosote is to fine dining. What’s bizarre about it — or in the top three of things bizarre about it — is that it begins with a definition of conspiracy-theory politics, which it then accepts as a program:
“According to political scientist Michael Barkun, conspiracy theories rely on the view that the universe is governed by design, and embody three principles: nothing happens by accident, nothing is as it seems, and everything is connected.

“Divine order or otherwise, you don’t need a tinfoil hat to know the recent co-ordinated assaults on Judeo-Christian culture and history are deliberate.”

No, you can leave your tinfoil hat off as Newman connects the following things: gender-neutral toilets, the pill, divorce, neo-Marxism, single families, rising crime, the alleged criminalisation of gender pronouns in Canada, whiteness studies, the removal of statues of Cecil Rhodes at Oxford, the removal of Confederate statues, the views of anti-Semitic US commentator Patrick Buchanan, and, of course, Gramsci. “Some call this progress,” Maurice intones. We call it a greatest hits package. It’s like the right-wing crackpot version of the ABBA Gold album, not a dud track in the mix.

Connoisseurs of Mauuuurice’s batty grasp on Marxism will not be disappointed. The man who approvingly quoted C. Wright Mills on the “power elite” once again miscredits Gramsci with the phrase “the long march through the institutions” (it was first used 30 years after Gramsci’s death), but he’s done that at least twice before.

He’s got a new one now:

“They [the left Illuminati] employ the Marxist technique of ‘repressive tolerance’, which often involves violent opposition to contrary views.’

Yeah, nah. “Repressive tolerance” is a concept from Herbert Marcuse, describing the way in which liberal societies use an “open” public sphere as a release valve for dissent, to frustrate change. It’s the exact opposite of the sort of thing Maurice appears to be trying to describe.

Ah, Maurice. You’re like the dim kid in chinos in second-year cultural studies, who struggles bravely with the material, but never gets it. You pass him anyway. You’ll never get a gold Kenny – your articles are too mentally disorganised to be pernicious – but you brighten up our midweek just the same. Meanwhile, the pressure’s on Jennifer Oriel, to bring the crazy. Come on, little bird! You’re lagging badly! Time for the full Uhlmann! — Guy Rundle

Fucking AThe New York Times has published a rave review of a play without once mentioning its full name because it contains — shock, horror! — a swear word. Ben Brantley’s review this week of Fucking-A was labelled a “NYT Critic’s Pick”, but the language in the title was too blue to make it into the storied publication:

“Since I am not a character in this work but an employee of The New York Times, I shall be referring to this play only as ‘A’. (The full title places an Anglo-Saxon adjective before the ‘A’, one commonly used on cable television but not considered fit for print here.)”

The Times‘ deputy managing editor Clifford Levy sent a series of tweets last month explaining the decision to use the work “fucking” in full when reporting form White House aide Anthony Scaramucci’s tirade against a New Yorker reporter. Levy said that the paper had decided the use of the word was newsworthy, and didn’t want readers to search elsewhere for what was said.

Front page of the day.

Revolving door. WHO magazine editor Shane Sutton is leaving the mag to “pursue other projects”, staff have been told, Mumbrella reports. Sutton had been editor of the Pacific Magazines publication for two years, and was previously editor of Famous, also owned by Pac Mags. His replacement hasn’t yet been announced.

Glenn Dyer’s TV ratings. Nine’s night in the metros with a small but clear win over Seven (compared with previous nights) while in the regions, Seven did better. The Block again dominated with more than 1.7 million national viewers. Seven returned First Dates (the local version) at 7.30pm with 1.06 million viewers, and 800 Words an hour later with 1.13 million. Nothing to boast about, but equally nothing there to get the sheep crook out and yank them from the schedule. In fact 800 Words proved the difference for Seven in regional markets 

The House ended with an OK 814,000 for the ABC. It is a pity the program couldn’t have shot a final new ep to take account of the horrible security fence now going up around Parliament House. Tonight the ABC returns Gruen at 8.30pm and we are going to be told that companies know a lot about us that we don’t know — go figure. Ten’s Shark Tank sank again — 655,000 national viewers is nowhere near enough — it and Australian Survivor are teetering on the edge of the ratings abyss.

In regional markets it was Seven News on top with 614,000 viewers, followed by The Block with 529,000, then Seven News/TT with 518,000, Home and Away was fourth with 476,000 and 800 Words was fifth with 442,000.  Read the rest on the Crikey website


Sep 1, 2017


Today in Media Files, Fairfax farewells veteran soccer journalist Michael Cockerill, and The Conversation is ready for Indonesian launch. 

Vale Michael Cockerill. Fairfax Media soccer columnist Michael Cockerill has died from cancer, aged 56. He’d reported on the sport for nearly 30 years. Sydney Morning Herald sports editor Ian Fuge told Fairfax:

“As a journalist, Michael was the consummate professional. He had great contacts, a razor sharp news sense and never lost his zeal for calling those in authority to account. As a friend, which he was to many who worked with him in SMH sport and in the wider sports community, Michael was generous, funny and fiercely loyal. He will be sorely missed personally and professionally.”

A new Conversation for Indonesia. Academic news and commentary website The Conversation will launch an Indonesian edition next week. The Conversation now has editions in Africa, Canada, the UK, France, the US, and a global edition, and was founded in 2011 by Andrew Jaspan, who was forced out as editor-in-chief earlier this year.

Masking the problem. When you’re posing for a newspaper photographer, you’re sometimes asked to do things that aren’t exactly natural. But the NT News went a step further with this illustration for a story about the health effects of chocolate. And yes, the health effects are for chocolate consumption, not for chocolate applied topographically. 

Forecasting more weather newsThe ABC has announced a new weather vertical across all platforms funded by a regional funding package it announced in March. In a press release, the public broadcaster said ABC Weather would provide science-based weather stories with increased video, online and mobile coverage. The ABC announced the $15 million in regional funding as part of a restructure.

Front page of the day.

Glenn Dyer’s TV ratings. Nine’s night — but forget that because it is clear the expensive revamp of The Footy Show is going to dust before the network bosses’ eyes. Melbourne has fallen out of love with Eddie, Sam and the others.  So down, down, down she goes — the Melbourne audience is now 43% lower than its opening figure on August 10. The program averaged 218,000 in Melbourne last night against 381,000 for the relaunch. Overall, the regional audience of 93,000 is unchanged from the August 10 figure, while the national audience last night of 343,000 was down 229,000 or 36.7%. That’s getting towards terminal.

The Australia-Japan World Cup qualifier was watched by 445,000 on Nine’s GO and 208,000 on Fox Sports for 653,000 in total. The NRL game on Nine last night was watched by 820,000.

In regional markets Seven News led with 591,000, Seven News/Today Tonight was second with 507,000, then Home and Away with 472,000. The 5.30pm part of The Chase was fourth with 382,000 and A Current Affair was fifth with 380,000. — Read the rest on the Crikey website


Aug 31, 2017


The Daily Telegraph loves Anthony Albanese. And not just #hotalbo whom, obviously, everyone loves — in the Tele‘s eyes, all Albo is hot Albo.

In the aftermath of the “Save our Statues” furore that got the Tele so worked up (after the tabloid invented it), Albanese was once again a beacon of light for the Sydney paper, which describes him as striking a “vital blow for common sense by smacking down demands from his Labor colleagues — including leader Bill Shorten and deputy leader Tanya Plibersek — to whitewash Australian history by desecrating monuments to colonial heroes”.

The story quotes Albanese’s interview with Adelaide radio station FIVEAA, saying:

“There are far greater issues facing the First Australians than what’s on a statue.

“The fact is, it is a historical statue,” he said.

“It’s in Hyde Park, which I used to walk through on the way to and from school every day.”

Asked about Shorten’s shifting rhetoric around adding a plaque to the statue of James Cook, Albanese said: “I don’t follow every word, but what I do know is that Bill Shorten’s been very consistent about supporting reconciliation.”

In recognition of that fiery and unequivocal defence of our shared values and that fearless criticism of his leader, the Tele erected a statue of Albo on today’s front page, above a plaque that credits him with discovering common sense for the ALP in 2017:

“Monument to reason”, the headline beams. The page joins “Save our Albo”, published in the lead-up to the last election, in the pantheon of glowing front pages for the member for Grayndler:

But of course, it was not always so. Shocking though it might be to hear, the Tele‘s sympathies have not always rested with this leader of the Labor left faction. Back in 2013, when he was deputy prime minister and had a drink with disgraced former health minister Craig Thomson, they mocked him up in a Nazi outfit for the lols:


What’s changed? Well, first, as Crikey observed at the time of “Save our Albo”, there is “nothing like the threat of a unionist Green to focus the mind, eh?” Is it the “enemy of my enemy” concept that explains the continuation of the praise? Lavishing Albanese with praise (particularly when he opposes Shorten) and building him up as leadership material is just as destabilising to Labor as unfavourable coverage was when he was of an accord with his prime minister (a man he backed during his exile, and helped deliver back to the top job).

We’re sure that’s naught but a coincidence.


Aug 29, 2017


Today in Media Files, the Daily Telegraph‘s front page exclusive has been debunked quicker than you could read it, and a classic mix-up between a US footballer and Ringo Starr.

Not Quito right on Gallagher citizenship. The Daily Telegraph had barely hit newsstands this morning before its front-page story was reportedly debunked. Sharri Markson’s “exclusive” that Senator Katy Gallagher might actually be an Ecuadorian citizen by descent was splashed on the front page of the Sydney tabloid, citing a passenger card showing Gallagher’s mum was born in Ecuador, and changes to the Ecuadorian constitution in 2008 that would make the Senator a citizen. Gallagher’s denial was limited to one line in Markson’s piece, but in a statement that the ABC received last night, she said her citizenship had been thoroughly investigated by the Labor Party before she stood for Parliament:

“As part of the ALP vetting process, I disclosed that my mother was a British citizen, born in Ecuador to British parents, who were temporarily working in Ecuador. The circumstances of my mother’s birth and citizenship were investigated. As a result of these investigations it was determined that I had not obtained Ecuadorian citizenship by descent from my mother.”

Markson is standing by her story, tweeting this morning a link to the Ecuadorian constitution, noting that she spoke to the Ecuadorian embassy yesterday, which “did not say constitution only applies to those born after 2008. They sent me the constitution”.

Correction of the day. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s correction of a sports story over the weekend has drummed up some attention after mixing up Green Bay Packers centre Jim Ringo with The Beatles’ drummer Ringo Starr:

ABC expands regional radio streams. The ABC has added seven new regional live audio streams under its audiences strategy. New live streams have been added from Ballarat, Bendigo, Warrnambool, Horsham, Mildura, Port Macquarie and Broken Hill. They’re in addition to 16 streams already running from regional ABC stations around the country, and can be accessed on local station websites, the ABC radio website and the ABC radio app. The ABC says it will add streams for the remaining stations “as funding becomes available”.

Story behind powerful flood image. Photographer Louis DeLuca has told Poynter the story behind an already-iconic image of the catastrophic flooding in Houston:

“I certainly understand the power of the still image to move people, and I’m just thankful to have taken one that so many have responded to positively.”


Glenn Dyer’s TV ratings. Back to normal for Seven last night, without any help from Hell’s Kitchen (859,000 nationally) or yet another trip to the Princess Diana well (702,000). To celebrate the advances of CBS, Ten ran a weak fourth as Australian Survivor flopped again (774,000). Once again the program that followed it — Have You Been Paying Attention — out rated Survivor with 886,000 national viewers and deserved more. 

In the regions, Seven News was tops with 649,000, followed by Seven News/Today Tonight with 534,000, then The Block with 502,000, Home and Away was fourth with 469,000 and The Chase at 5.30pm averaged 427,000 for fifth.

Game of Thrones ended with more than 800,000 people watching on showcase on Foxtel — 561,000 for its live telecast and 306,000 for its replay in the evening. — Read the rest on the Crikey website


Aug 28, 2017


Sometimes there’s a contribution so appallingly egregious to journalism that can’t go unnoticed, and Crikey likes to recognise those efforts with a Wankley Award. And one particular effort by an unnamed-author for the Daily Telegraph‘s website over the weekend is particularly deserving.

One of the Tele‘s favourite genres of news story is how well it’s doing compared to rivals. Nielsen’s latest news website rankings came in last week, showing a 4.6% increase in the Tele‘s online readers for July since the previous month, was a perfect example for another tale of success.

But this online-only special took the rhetoric to a new level. More than celebrating its own success, the Tele‘s piece published on Friday evening (without a byline) takes the opportunity to claim that “readers are switching off in droves from left-leaning websites such as the ABC and Fairfax”.

According to the article, the biggest fall belonged to BuzzFeed, “famous for its stupid lists and clickbait”. The Age is described as “Melbourne’s extreme left-wing [newspaper]”. There was even a flattering mention of Crikey: “As many people read the satirical Betoota Advocate as read the Crikey website.”

Editorial flourishes aside, the Tele isn’t comparing apples with apples. While judging its own success by month-on-month change, it has measured the failure of the ABC and Fairfax against figures from the same month a year ago — July 2016, when a federal election was held. Most news websites experienced a bump in their audience numbers then. At the time, Nielsen’s figures were billed by the insights agency as a record, “with Australians keen to see the election results”.

The Tele noted that the ABC’s audiences had “crashed over the past 12 month [sic]” by 28.5%, The Guardian had fallen over the past year (3.97%), as had The Sydney Morning Herald (19.7%) and The Age (26.6%). What the Tele doesn’t mention is that the ABC’s audience increased month-on-month by 3% and The Guardian‘s by 4.13%. And while the SMH might have been down year-on-year, compared to the previous month it was up 12%, to almost 4.2 million — far more than the Tele‘s 4.6% increase to 2.29 million. No mention, either, that the website with the biggest audience, (and owned by News Corp, as is the Tele), recorded a drop from 6.248 million in July 2016 to 5.9 million in July 2017.

And a Wankley honourable mention today goes to the Tele‘s broadsheet stablemate The Australian, which also took a look at the Nielsen rankings in its Media Diary today. After a straight mention of the top three, the Oz notes that it has overtaken “youth-oriented site” BuzzFeed. It then goes on: “This weekend The Australian launched its investigative documentary The Queen & Zak Grieve, while BuzzFeed ran a feature headlined: ‘23 things you’ll only understand if you are obsessed with wine‘.”


Aug 24, 2017


ABC indigenous affairs editor Stan Grant is out to get our Aussie statues, which makes him all manner of deplorable, according to Thursday’s tabloids.

Last week Grant wrote a piece inspired by the recent statue drama in the US, interrogating how Australia interacts with the commemoration of some of the more troubling aspects of its history.  Yesterday he wrote a piece about the “damaging myth” that Captain Cook had discovered Australia, observing “and to dare challenge this ‘discovery’; how impertinent. I can hear someone saying ‘know your place’.”

Grant is not being rhetorical there — people immediately started saying words to that effect. Broadcaster Alan Jones tweeted today: “If Stan Grant keeps going the way he is in relation to AUS history and monuments he’ll go the same way as Yassmin Abdel-Magied”. If Jones means that Grant will encounter a disproportionate, hysterical response aimed at silencing him, it would seem he’s bang on the money. Behold the considered, thoughtful response:

It’s Talibanesque!

The Daily Telegraph quotes New South Wales Shooters and Fishers MP Robert Borsak describing the proposal as “Taliban-like” and uses the word in the headline of its front page story on the matter, thus combining the Tele‘s two favorite topics: politically correct lefties and Islamic radicals. Shame no dole bludgers found a way to get involved.

It’s Stalinist!

Joseph Stalin was a particularly popular choice for comparison in the Tele piece. Indigenous leader Warren Mundine had this — “All this nonsense about changing things — we cannot look back at history with our modern minds otherwise we would have to tear down the pyramids because they were built by slaves”.

“Trying to have a Stalinist approach and whiting out people’s names is false history.”

NSW Liberal MP Peter Phelps hailed Captain Cook and Arthur Phillip as heroes and said “attempts to rewrite our public history for the sake of political correctness — which is what these activist want to do — is little better than Stalin erasing his political opponent from photographs”.

It’s Maoist! (And Stalinist. And French revolutionary…ist)

Andrew Bolt’s column, also in today’s Tele attacks the task of historical comparisons with pick’n’mix enthusiasm — he simply couldn’t stop at one:

“Blanking out history is a true sign of the totalitarian. Stalin did it by having photographic records doctored to remove images of his enemies. The French revolutionaries behind the great Terror did it by destroying monasteries and restarting the calendar as if history started with them.

Mao did it by declaring war on the “’Four Olds’ — including old culture — and tearing down reminders of China’s past, from the old walls of Beijing to the cemetery of Confucius.”


Perhaps most terrifying of all…Tony Abbott told 2GB‘s Ben Fordham on Wednesday that a Bill Shorten-led government would bring about “political correctness on steroids”.

“You can just imagine all the statues of Captain Cook being taken down, all the statues of Governor Phillip being taken down.”

It’s a beat-up!

But, as the Tele points out, Grant’s piece never once suggests that a monument be torn down. Surely the minimum requirement for a proposal to be “Stalinist” is that it actually exist.

Mundine says rather than tear down existing monuments, we need more memorials to first Australians. And that seems to be exactly what Grant actually argues for in his original piece:

“America is tearing down its old monuments; it is hard and it is painful. Captain Cook’s statue stands in the centre of our biggest city. There are Indigenous people who for good reason would prefer to see it removed. Personally I accept that it remains; Cook is part of the story of this nation. But surely we need no longer maintain the fiction that he “discovered” this country. It dishonours the people who reached this continent 60,000 years before Cook.”

Keith Windschuttle, whose column in The Australian was the first return of fire from the culture described Grant’s column as “sheer journalistic opportunism”, concluding “Grant and others in the media are encouraging racial conflict for no good reason, except for the dramatic news reports they would like to see generated. They should be ashamed of themselves for their wanton provocation.” We look forward to a similar rebuke aimed at the response.


Aug 17, 2017


Today in Media Files, News Corp’s prodigal son has returned from the wilderness of Daily Mail Australia, and Barnaby Joyce’s Kiwi cousin wants him to embrace his roots (and the All Blacks).

Back to the fold. Daily Mail Australia editor-in-chief Luke McIlveen is moving back to News Corp as executive editor of Fox Sports. McIlveen has been at the Daily Mail since 2013, when he was poached from — a move that led to a court case, settlement and some time on gardening leave. He had previously been editor of the Manly Daily, and chief of staff at The Daily Telegraph. McIlveen will be responsible for the sports news agenda across broadcast and digital, live sport and magazine shows. He’ll report to Fox Sports head of TV Steve Crawley. A start date hasn’t yet been set.

The move will take McIlveen out of direct competition with his wife, Kate de Brito, who is editor-in-chief of

Kiwi cousins embrace Joyce. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is facing some trouble at home over his dual citizenship bungle, but his Kiwi cousin reckons he should embrace his roots. Joyce’s cousin John Laing is on the front of today’s Otago Daily Times encouraging Joyce to barrack for the All Blacks (“cheer for a winner”).


Garter and Steel. With the tumbleweeds blowing through the floors of Media House Melbourne and Pyrmont in Sydney, Fairfax eds have been scratching their heads on how to fill pages with less. One new wheeze seems promising: get journos to write up the story of getting a story. Thus on Monday, SMage readers were greeted with a story from Adam Gartrell, starting:

“Last Monday I got a phone call from a normally reliable source …”

Woodward and Bernstein tale in the offing? Well, er, not exactly. Gartrell then proceeded to tell the story of the story he’d written about Barnaby Joyce being a Kiwi, which appeared to be that some people rang him, and he rang some people, and it turned out Barnaby Joyce was a Kiwi.

Halfway through, as the pace was lagging, a new character appeared:

“At this point I decided I needed some extra firepower and brought colleague Amy Remeikis on board …”

Was Remeikis going to be a wisecracking redhead, nicknamed “Steel” (Remington …) perpetually lighting up Gitanes and drawling Kate Hepburn style? “Now see here Garty, you’ve buried the damn lead! Unhand that Underwood!” “Steel…” “Don’t ‘Steel’ me! Snap to it, Garter, see!”

Not exactly:

“… I ran her through it and she agreed — there was something here …”

Great work, Steel! So, not exactly Gellhorn and Hemingway in the last days of Free Barcelona, but hey, you got the story, right?

“The story was just about ready to go when Joyce got to his feet in the House of Representatives to tell a stunned Parliament …”


Oh well, you got the story of getting the story that your editors were too timid to run. As consolation they made you write it up for all your friends to enjoy. Win-win. Cue tumbleweeds.

Eighties duo classic Garter and Steel screens on 9Gem at 2.30am Wednesdays. — Guy Rundle

Fairfax follows News Corp into real estate. Fairfax Media is now on the path to emulating News Corp by placing its growth eggs in the Australian real estate listing market via the partial spin-off of 40% of Domain to its shareholders. In his briefing yesterday Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood was upfront about Domain — it is going to continue spending money to grow the business (as is REA). Both companies are investing in financial services — mortgages and other products — which will mean extra money outlaid in the next year or so. Hywood said the first six weeks of 2017-18 had brought a 26% jump in digital revenue for Domain.

But at its briefing last week, REA was a bit gloomy about the outlook for the property sector in Australia over the next year to 18 months. While the company boosted revenue to record levels in the year to June, it revealed a 19% slide in net profit (owing to losses on asset sales) and senior management warned of a slowdown to come.

REA said the solid 2016-17 result was achieved despite a fall in residential listings during the year and “a significant decline in new dwelling commencements”. Listings had increased slightly in July, this year compared to a year earlier when July performance was affected by the federal election.

REA and Domain are both moving into financial services and other products, but REA has warned there is a slower outlook for home building and sales. And that isn’t too good for Fairfax, which is trying to convince its shareholders and others that Domain will be the next REA. And one of Fairfax’s big selling points has been the strong ties between Domain and its print assets, such as the metro papers. There the news from 2016-17 was very poor — print revenue in Domain (those glossy property inserts on Wednesdays and Fridays and Saturdays) was down 13% to $88 million and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation off a massive 29% to just $19.9 million. Now that is bleeding. — Glenn Dyer

They weren’t all Nazis. The US papers have reacted to their president’s latest comments about the Charlottesville rally earlier this week.

Glenn Dyer’s TV ratings. Nine’s night thanks to The Block with 1.444 million viewers nationally and the returning Doctor Doctor with 1.154 million nationally (it it a touch too frothy and sudsy? Time will tell in the next couple of episodes). That was enough to push Nine comfortably in front. Ten sparked up, but once again there was a nasty fall in viewers from The Bachelor (994,000 nationally) to Offspring (725,000) which is a pity because the latter is closer to reality than the faux events on The Bach will ever be. It is LCD (Lowest Common Denominator) TV.

Oh, Seven, left behind again by Nine and chugged into a distant second. The ABC’s Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell was a classic and viewers responded with the national audience back over the million mark to average 1.037 million.

In regional markets Seven News led the way with 614,000 viewers, with Seven News and Today Tonight 100,000 behind with 513,000, third was Home and Away with 460,000, The Block was fourth with 444,000 and The 5.30pm bit of The Chase Australia was fifth with 408,000. — Read the rest on the Crikey website


Aug 11, 2017


 The Daily Telegraph spat out a shocking revelation this morning  — that the Australian Army has banned male recruits! To wit: 

“The Australian Army has put a ban on male recruits in its politically correct push to increase female ranks, including those on the frontline in combat roles.” 

“‘PC brigade’ exclusive”, all caps, sits atop the story like a jaunty but furious little hat.

The story, by Matthew Benns, quotes a “distressed army recruitment officer” saying, of course, that it is “political correctness gone mad”. Benns gets similar quotes from Cory Bernardi and Bernard Gaynor, both of the Australian Conservatives. After all, why quote one member of a party whose view on these things could be seen from around a corner when you can quote two?

News Corp stable mates The Australian and Sky News jumped aboard this sturdy ship of outrage and threw the word “ban” about gleefully. The Oz even added more shocking revelations to the Tele scoop — “in its desperate attempt to double the number of women in the Australian Army to 25 per cent, the fitness test for new recruits has been dropped to just four push-ups and 20 sit ups”.

Is Australia really building a women-only army? The story makes the claim that “This week’s target list of Army jobs is looking for recruits in 50 roles — but 35 of those are only available to women”. One can only assume the Tele is hoping readers will be so consumed by political correctness-induced apoplexy that they throw their paper across the room before finishing the story.

At the very bottom of the story, below the distressed recruitment officer, below Bernardi and Gaynor and below some months-old quotes from from Chief of Army Lieutenant General Angus Campbell about the aspiration to have 25% representation of women in the army by 2025, is the response from the army:  

“A Defence spokesman said: ‘While Defence maintains targets to encourage greater participation of women, every candidate must meet the required standards. Successful candidates are selected based on merit and their capacity to do the work, not on their gender.’

“He did not answer questions about recruiters being told specifically to target women, but said men or women could apply for any role.”

A Defence spokesperson confirmed to Crikey this morning that men were not excluded from any ADF roles, pointing out “men continue to represent the majority of all ADF applicants at a ratio of 2:1”.

“There are no ADF employment categories which are open exclusively to women,” the spokesperson said said.

And as for the claim the Australian Defence Force dropped entry requirements to make it easier for for women? “The entry standards for ADF recruitment have not been reduced.”

So not so much a ban as a beat-up.

Media Files

Aug 7, 2017


Today in Media Files, new research shows kids are watching reality TV and consuming content on more devices, and Adam Harvey has set himself a new challenge as he recovers from being shot in the Philippines.

How kids watch TV. Kids are using more devices to watch children’s programming, but the old-fashioned telly is still where they’re doing most of it. According to new research from the Australian Communications and Media Authority, children up to 14 years old watched 92 minutes of live broadcast TV per day in 2016, compared to 122 minutes in 2005. But on average, a child uses about three different devices to watch kids’ programming. Acting ACMA chair Richard Bean said: “The ACMA research findings confirm what many of us may have suspected, that is, children are watching screen content on television as well as on-demand on a range of devices and platforms.”

The research found that ABC2 was the most-watched channel for children, particularly pre-school children, while older children watched more family-oriented shows on commercial TV. Commercial reality programs were the five most-watched programs by children aged up to 16 in 2016. MasterChef Australia was the most popular, followed by The Voice, I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!, The Block, and My Kitchen Rules.

Adam Harvey’s next challenge. It takes more than being shot to keep the ABC’s south-east Asia correspondent Adam Harvey down. Hit in the neck while covering the Islamic State battle in the Philippines last month, Harvey is now planning to trek the Larapinta Trail in central Australia to raise money for pancreatic cancer research — the disease that killed his father, veteran Nine correspondent Peter Harvey, and Adam’s stepfather-in-law Ian Carroll, a former ABC executive. Harvey will do 83km of the track and is raising money for the GI Institute.

Missing: Dean Smith. Senator Dean Smith is inexplicably missing from The Daily Telegraph‘s headshots of Liberal MPs planning to bring a same-sex marriage bill to Parliament:

Vanity Fair shuts down Jolie’s correction request. Don’t expect to see Angelina Jolie on the cover of Vanity Fair again for a while. The magazine has refused to correct part of an article about Jolie that was widely picked up in other media, which detailed the story of how an actor for a film was picked from a Cambodian slum school. The VF feature describes a game in which children were asked to snatch money from a table and then come up with a lie about why they stole it. As these things do, it picked up some steam, and Jolie’s lawyers asked VF to remove the paragraph, providing a statement they wanted the magazine to run in its next edition. In response, VF has published the part of the interview transcript and says it stands by the story and will not change the original copy.

Another Fox host stood down on harassment allegations. There are more sexual harassment claims for Fox News to confront, this time involving yet another high-profile host of Fox News, a Trump supporter who allegedly “sexted” several female colleagues. The allegations against Eric Bolling first surfaced in HuffPo on Friday, taking Fox News by surprise. The company took a day to suspend Bolling and bring in lawyers Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to investigate. The law firm also investigated other sexual harassment claims at the network in the wake of allegations against former Fox News CEO and chairman Roger Ailes, now dead, and high-profile prime-time host Bill O’Reilly.

HuffPost cited 14 anonymous sources who are current and former colleagues of Bolling saying that he sent an unsolicited photo of male genitalia by SMS to at least two colleagues at Fox Business and one at Fox News. Bolling’s lawyer Michael Bower told HuffPo that Bolling couldn’t remember any inappropriate communications and would “vigorously pursue his legal remedies for any false and defamatory accusations that are made”.

Turmoil from sexual harassment scandals have already led to the exits of the network’s two top executives, Ailes (in July last year) and Bill Shine (his former deputy earlier this year), as well as O’Reilly. Last month, Fox Business Network suspended longtime host Charles Payne after an allegation of “professional misconduct” by a female political analyst. At last count there were a reported 20 or more women who had levied sexual harassment charges against senior Fox managers and hosts over the past decade. There are also a growing list of cases where racial discrimination and harassment charges have been made against FNC managers and hosts.

Rupert Murdoch is now the chairman of Fox News and while the senior management has been changed, responsibility for the scandal is now his. For much of this year Murdoch has been in the UK because of the delays to the US$18 billion bid for the rest of Sky that Fox is trying to wrap up. — Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer’s TV ratings. If the biopic’s death throes were signalled by the disasters that were The House of Bond on Nine and the Paul Hogan story on Seven, then last night’s reception for Seven’s Blue Murder: Killer Cop should provide convincing evidence of the genre’s demise. Now to shut the corpse in a lead-lined vault somewhere with silver nails, attach a sprig of rosemary and some water from Lourdes and hide it deep, deep in the earth. Viewers may have loved the INXS story, Molly Meldrum and Peter Allen, but that seems to have been the limit of the forbearance. It is a message to Nine as embarks in disinterring Underbelly from a lead-lined vault and trying to attach some ratings Packer Whackers to get a program up.

The Block (1.787 million national viewers) crushed Blue Murder (1.093 million nationally, which is not enough for the expense involved in making what is a fine program. No problems about the content) and Hell’s Kitchen (1.189 million nationally, which is barely OK for the expense involved) — the cooking show hosted by Marco Pierre White, a grumpy British chef who apparently taught Gordon Ramsay to speak. 

Australian Survivor (785,000 nationally) remains on life support as it clings to a small audience on Ten. Ten’s main channel was in fact pushed to fourth by an average night on the ABC (and Ten’s main channel averaged 5.7% on Saturday night, close to an all-time low). Are the network’s woes returning now that its in the hands of the corporate undertakers?

In the regions, Nine dominated — Seven News was tops with 646,000, then came The Block with 576,000, Nine News 6.30pm with 474,000, Nine News with 454,000, while Blue Murder was fifth with 376,000. Read the rest on the Crikey website