Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Brendan O'Neill, and believe it or not, you couldn't make this stuff up ...

(Above: the feral jackals go on another team hunt).

Hey guys, here's a great idea. Let's get the guy who delivered panem et circenses and the Sydney Olympics and a totally fucked infrastructure to Sydney - he's a civil war buff so he knows what it feels like to fuck over a state, and could easily make the leap to fucking over the nation - and send him around the world as the spruiker of Australian foreign policy. And here's the kicker. We'll make it a behind closed doors offer, and it'll never leak, guaranteed ...

Chalk another bright idea up to the pond. By golly, each day in every way, we're leading the Labor party to the light on the hill. It just happens to be the left-over light at Callan Park ... (if living in Adelaide, please feel free to substitute "Z" Ward at Glenside).

And now for a visual joke:

In other news, Crikey announces that Alan Jones stars in Crikey's quality radio broadcasting project, and Janet Albrechtsen and Christopher Pearson star in Crikey's quality commentariat writing project, and Tim Blair, Miranda the Devine and Andrew the Bolter star in Crikey's quality blogging project, while Piers Akerman stars in Crikey's balanced, even-handed quality opinion piece writing project. (No link, it's a joke, right? What, seriously, you want to find out what Derryn Hinch has done for quality journalism?)

Meanwhile, the ABC continues on its own quality journalism project, which is to employ a troll to get amongst the cardigan wearers like a fox amongst the chickens.

These days you won't find Brendan O'Neill's valiant defence of Chairman Murdoch against all-comers in the opinion pages of The Drum, you'll find him doing the headliner routine on its home page in Leveson inquiry: the anti-tabloid campaign.

And how did the pond immediately recognise it was a quality journalism? Why, by the fetid, cranked up, over-heated, over-blown rhetoric, which has all the charm and conviction of a boofhead bovver boy out on the streets looking for some Clockwork Orange or Godwin's Law action:

... it is an all-out clash between the state and the press, between jackboots and journalistic liberty, between police who want to punish the press and pressmen who want the right to publish and be damned.

And I know which side I'll be taking: the side of the tabloids ...

Not satisfied with a reference to jackboots, and fanciful exaggerations of the It Happened Here kind? How about some bonus North Korea?

She first decreed that the kind of journalism pursued by The Sun is just "salacious gossip rather than anything that could be regarded as remotely in the public interest". (Thanks Sue, but if I want the police to tell me what journalism should look like, I'll move to North Korea.)

Oh that's so witty, so elegant and intelligent, and such an effective response to copper Sue Akers pointing out that officials and coppers had been in receipt of quite substantial amounts of money, in a way that could only be described as corrupt and against the law.

Law-breaking? Corruption? Criticise Chairman Rupert and his minions? Why of course one immediately thinks of North Korea ...

Now how to take denialism to new and epic proportions?

... this weird broadsheet celebration of police power over the tabloid press (which is not unlike turkeys cheering the arrival of Christmas) overlooks the fact that there is no reason whatsoever that we should believe what Akers said about what has been going on at The Sun.

Because all her info was from ongoing inquiries, from investigations that have not even come to court yet, far less been judged on by a jury of 12 men and women.

Yes, of course. Why on earth didn't the pond think of it? Akers, in a breathtakingly cynical move, without any thought for the consequences, has simply lied to the inquiry. All her allegations are a mere tinsel of fantasy, unlike the allegations of Brendan O'Neill, sole repository of the truth.

Here, let O'Neill deploy a little more rhetoric. Pardon him while he extracts it from his truth fundament:

In revealing an unusual and "destructive" amount of information from her ongoing inquiries, Akers was desperately trying to reclaim the moral high ground following this alarm that greeted her officers' Stasi-like raids on Sun reporters' homes and offices.

Yes it's a trifecta. Jackboots, North Korea and the Stasi!

Wonderfully, O'Neill rabbits on endlessly about freedom of speech and the freedom of the press, as if the press in Britain was actually free. It is, like most presses in most places, an owned press. There is a freedom for the press to be owned, and then freedom for the owners to do what they think they can get away with ...

Is it any coincidence that today comes news that James Murdoch has tendered his resignation and scarpered off to New York? (James Murdoch resigns as News International chairman).

Lordy lordy, the bleating and the posturing and the O'Neill rhetoric will now have to go into overdrive, perhaps up from eleven to thirteen or perhaps seventeen. And if you're in the owned press, you might begin to think about a change of owners:

Carey had a number of talks with News Corp. executives about selling or separating the publishing unit from the company, he said on Tuesday at the Deutsche Bank (DBK) media conference in Palm Beach, Florida.
“There certainly is an awareness” that New York-based News Corp. would trade at higher multiples if it didn’t own newspapers, Carey said in response to a question.

But lordy if that were to happen, what would the newspaper scene look like in Britain? Perhaps it would begin to look a little less like Putin's Russia, with a cynical oligarch using a regime of corrupt payments and idle gossip to curry political favour?

Sorry, that reference to Putin just slipped in. Reading O'Neill is a bit like being infected by a malaria-laden mosquito. Sorry, that reference to a malaria-laden mosquito just slipped in. It comes from reading this sort of jibber jabber:

... to mark the start of the second sitting of the inquiry, which kicked off on Monday, Leveson has decided to bare its authoritarian teeth, to reveal the iron fist of anti-press sentiment that lurked beneath the velvet glove of all that celeb chatter about naughty hacks.

By golly, a quadrella. Yep, O'Neill has managed to drag in Thomas Carlyle and Napoleon (Iron hand in a velvet glove).

O'Neill, who has the sense of humour of a gnat, and all the social airs and graces of a Shrek attending a party of celebrities, sees no irony in his talk of an iron fist, while in the previous par having used his iron fist against the celebrities who moaned and blubbered to Leveson about the way they'd been treated.

Because, you know, Charlotte Church was just a pussy for complaining about being hacked and stalked, in the purest sense of the word, and having her privacy violated, year after year, to the point where News felt it needed to cough up £600,000 to make amends. (Charlotte Church settles NoW phone hacking claim for £600,000). Damn you Charlotte Church for being so unfair to noble News and Rupe.

What's interesting is the way that the toxic O'Neill sees the need to defend the toxic tabloid culture that's infested Britain for many years, as if somehow the relentless regurgitation of trivia and gossip and page three girls amounts to anything much at all.

Happily for him, the tabloid press is now online, and the level of argument available there can be measured by the references to North Korea, jackboots, Napoleon and the Stasi in any one piece (bonus points if Iran can be woven in).

Yep, the ABC online is now the lowest form of tabloid press at work in Australia, and Brendan O'Neill one of its sleaziest, laziest, verbaling practitioners.

Here's the thing. O'Neill has at Akers for revealing to the inquiry evidence in relation to the culture of corruption at News, never mind that it's patently obvious that there was a culture of corruption, and that James Murdoch handed in his resignation and hared off to New York to be well clear of the mess. None of it, he declaims, has been decided by twelve good and true citizens.

Yet Leveson has yet to deliver any of his findings, or issue a report, or make any recommendations. He's conducting an inquiry, an inquiry he was asked to conduct. So O'Neill must tiptoe through his conduct of the inquiry (as a representative of "British state power"), and produce his own findings, which naturally need not be submitted to twelve good and true citizens for idle vetting by noxious riff raff.

So O'Neill rounds up a few speculative allies. According to Michael Gove, education secretary in a failing government, Leveson could give rise to a chilling atmosphere, threatening the owned media. Could give ...

Or it could give rise to a some minor recommendations, and a realisation that the toxic world of tabloid culture should change a little, as The Sun now risen on a Sunday has piously promised.

And naturally O'Neill quotes Trevor Kavanagh, political editor of The Sun moaning and blubbing about the witch-hunt against the tabloids, and the way Britain is down below Slovakia in the owned media league tables ...

It all builds to a rousing finale:

In summary, then: the British state is on the warpath against both cocky tabloids and anyone who dares to defend them, and the "liberal" press is cheering it as it goes. Truly, only that old tabloid turn of phrase will suffice to describe this warped state of affairs: You couldn't make it up.

The pond prefers this as a closer:

In summary, then: the ABC, funded by the state, is on the warpath against a British inquirer conducting an inquiry, and British coppers going about their duties investigating corruption and breaches of the law, by publishing up hill and down dale abuse by cocky defenders of tabloids and Rupert Murdoch, and their right to do anything they like, even if it proves that owning the press proves the old saw that absolute ownership corrupts absolutely, and it almost goes without saying that the ABC approves of anyone who dares to defend the tabloids and Murdoch routinely referencing jackboots and the Stasi and North Korea, and Napoleon, and cheering on the denunciation of the "liberal" press and cardigan wearers around the world.

Because it will deliver hits to The Drum, and stir controversy. Always print the controversy, and never let actual facts get in the way of an argument or rhetorical abuse ...

Truly, only that old Brendan O'Neil turn of phrase will suffice to describe this warped state of affairs at the ABC, once supposedly worth eight cents a day, but down around a cent these days: You couldn't make it up. Certainly not at the illiberal press the ABC runs ...

(Below: could anybody make Brendan O'Neill up? Such a mass of neuroses)

Or perhaps O'Neill was thinking about Ripley. The bit about Sumo referees carrying a dagger for use in case of bad decision reminded the pond of the "believe it or not" true story about how tabloid hacks carry a dagger in case they get a story wrong, mangle some facts, or use half-arsed rhetoric.
It reminded the pond of that old Jesuit saying, Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re, roughly translated as "gently in manner, strongly in deed" or "agreeably in manner, forcibly in act".

Where could one find the Latin for O'Neill, and "strongly in manner, derelict in deed"?

(Below: a tradition begun before Brendan O'Neill or tabloid culture, when jackboots actually meant something other than cheap, idle rhetorical flourishes, found here).


  1. DP, if you missed 730 last night, here's a snap!/earlhose/status/174973397523111936/photo/1 and be assured there was enough footage to bring a tear to Chris U's eye.
    What that has to do with artificial insemination at the ABC is anyone's guess.

  2. Imagine my surprise when I heard that Brendon, like the divine Niki Savva, is a self described lefty. They know which side of their bread is buttered. All hail Rupe the Snoop!


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