(Above: a parade of likely media rogues).
There's not many television programs that call to the pond these days, but Media Watch is always fun, and what fine form it was in last night.
First up was a piece about the reprehensible, distorting, shameless lizard Oz doing a beat-up on climate change (Lost in conversion), which had a great pay-off when that buffoonish member of the chattering classes, Alan Jones, got on to a rant about carbon dioxide but somehow lost his ruler. Or disremembered his arithmetic and its various branches. Ambition, distraction, uglification and derision. Never heard of uglifying as deployed by Alan Jones? Why it's higher than a studio ceiling ...
And then there was a nice sorbet about a South Australian government instrumentality paying celebrity twitters seven hundred and fifty bucks to tweet about the joys of Kangaroo Island (Nice tweets if you can get 'em). A classic case of cash for comments.
Then blow the pond down, but wouldn't you know, there was Anthony 'the Ant' Sharwood over at The Punch going into a kind of ecstatic rapturous meltdown, not just about Kangaroo Island itself, but a lame, wretched advertisement that was concocted off the back of an Eddie Vedder song.
This might be the best tourism ad ever made, declaims the Ant (some might wonder why the Pea isn't a better nick), embarking on a rave that is as astonishing as Morag Zwartz's rant about a Daylesford advertising campaign in Government's moral compass gone awry in tawdry, offensive ad campaign.
The pond wants whatever they supplied the Ant with on KI, at least until he gets to his final par:
This ad has really struck a chord, even if in reality not every KI experience is as windswept and moody as the tourism folk would have you believe.
Well it surely is windswept, and if you're on the wrong side of the island at the wrong time of day it's fly-blown as well, but to each their own. Let's just leave cash for comment social media aside, and judge The Punch for the freebie plugs it publishes in the guise of journalism. Wouldn't a tweet have paid more?
Speaking of Media Watch, it's well known that Gerard Henderson suffers from the delusion that he'd make an ideal host of the program, but it's likely the world will forever be denied his first revelatory scoop.
What might that be? Well no doubt he could provide startling new evidence of the sources of funding for the Sydney Institute, a lobbying body that means each Tuesday Henderson lands in the Fairfax letter box to plug the conservative dause.
This week Henderson seems to have taken some kind of vow of verbal chastity, because the pond notes, with some sadness, that in Gillard the ace negotiator deals Labor into trouble again, there's not one mention of how deviant and perverted the cardigan wearers at the ABC are, nor a celebration of the wonders of western Sydney McMansion dwellers, nor even a blaming of public servants for everything that's wrong in the world.
As a result, the column is exceedingly dull, a kind of coulda woulda shoulda explanation of what Henderson would have done if he was Julia Gillard (sorry, now there's a shuddering image).
Not to worry, there's always a villain in Henderson's world, and this week it seems it's the independents - Windsor, Oakeshott and Wilkie - who are likely responsible for everything that's wrong in the world, at least in the world of Julia Gillard, though of course the Greens are also always responsible for everything that's wrong in the world.
You have to admire Henderson's capacity for sustaining madly buzzing bees in the bonnet.
Take this throwaway line:
Oakeshott declared on the day Abbott became Liberal leader that he was concerned that a Catholic like Abbott might become prime minister.
Now you have to get into a little forensics to track down this particular hare, by haring off to Henderson's Media Watch Dog of the 1st of October 2010, wherein Henderson impersonates a dog sniffing out media bones.
A hapless punter by name of Noelle Kebby wrote an email to Henderson about a column he wrote:
I am writing to tell you how disappointed I am in your article in today’s Herald. I have always had a lot of respect for the integrity of your reporting but today I am afraid that respect has disappeared. For you to paint Rob Oakeshott as anti-Catholic is, in my view, totally inaccurate. I have lived in Port Macquarie all my life, I am a Catholic and work in the Catholic school system. Rob Oakeshott has always been totally dedicated to his community and a champion of the Catholic school system here in Port Macquarie. Why you would wish to join in this disgraceful campaign against a man who stood up for his principles is completely beyond me.
Naturally this got Henderson agitated, and he referred to a piece on 2nd December 2009 in the Port Macquarie News, and quoted a piece of it:
“I know Tony Abbott personally having ridden on the very first Pollie Pedal with him way back in 1996,” Mr Oakeshott said. “He is a good man who listens when allowed. However, his natural starting point is of concern for Australian politics, where no separation of church and state exists in principle, and language is inflammatory by design.”
Uh huh. Now if you were reading this literally, you might conclude that Oakeshott had actually not said a single word about Catholicism or Abbott being a Catholic. He's talking about a separation of church and state, which might equally apply to an Islamic politician, or former chairman Rudd preening in front of a church, or Peter Costello standing up in front of the Hillsong mob and baying for rapture.
But from this slender thread, the paranoid Henderson weaves and wafts a vast wave of anti-Catholic sectarianism embodied in the hapless Oakeshott:
In other words, Mr Oakeshott said that Australians should be concerned if a Catholic like Mr Abbott became prime minister.
Actually in other words, Henderson said that what's Oakeshott said. What Oakeshott said is that church and state should be kept separate, and who can argue with that? Except perhaps Abbott, Kevin Rudd's sister, and other Christians, always ready to explain their views on why gay marriage is a handy political issue for drum-beating ...
And then Henderson delivers this one, and it's hard to let it go through to the keeper:
The fact is that Tony Abbott held senior cabinet roles in the Howard Government – and there is no evidence that his private religious views determined his administration of public policy. If there is any evidence to the contrary – then, surely, it is up to Mr Oakeshott and others who have engaged in anti-Catholic sectarianism over the past year with respect to Mr Abbott to provide it.
Which naturally takes us back to the RU486 controversy where Abbott used his ministerial power, and misused medical advice to maintain a ban on the drug, an issue which prompted John Howard to allow a conscience vote:
The devout Catholic minister, who appears to take a devilish glee in doing what he thinks is God's work, has been left looking rather foolish. And it is impossible to believe him when he argues that he is denying women access to RU486 out of concern for their health. (Mr. Abbott, minister for meddling).
So Oakeshott is hung for a throwaway line that's little more than a bleating lamb, while the drug-banning Abbott is excused the theft of a rather large sheep.
The evidence suggests that Tony Abbott regards his religious beliefs as essentially private.
So private they have nothing to do with his ongoing desire to ensure that his sister can't get married ...
So private he can't even remember meeting with Cardinal Pell. Who can forget that memorable moment on Lateline when Abbott gave Tony Jones his famous death stare, which gave the Chaser lads a moment of comedy (still alive on YouTube here)?
TONY JONES: Tony Abbott on another matter, have you met Archbishop Pell during the election campaign?
TONY ABBOTT: Not that I can recall.
TONY JONES: Not that you can recall, because we believe that you've had at least one meeting with him quite recently? You don't recall that?
TONY ABBOTT: Well, when? Where?
TONY JONES: At the presbytery in Sydney.
TONY ABBOTT: Ah, actually now that you do mention it, I did met with Cardinal Pell. So what? Why shouldn't I meet with Cardinal Pell?
TONY JONES: Why couldn't you recall meeting him, I think, 10 days ago?
TONY ABBOTT: Look, whenever it was, so what? Why shouldn't I meet Cardinal Pell. Cardinal Pell is a fine man. He made a very good statement the other day about the Labor Party's policy, why shouldn't I meet with him? (here)
Now that's a truly private belief set. And indeed why shouldn't he meet with Cardinal Pell? Not only does Pell have wise words about climate science and Labor party policy to deliver, he's always up for a jab at the Greens:
In an opinion piece in the Sunday Telegraph, Cardinal Pell labelled the Greens "anti-Christian" and "sweet-camouflaged poison". (here)
It would have been a lot simpler for Henderson to acknowledge that Abbott routinely delivers thoughts and policies inspired by his religion, and acknowledge that separating the secular from the religious is an ongoing job for politicians of all persuasions, but he's simply incapable of admitting it, just as he seems incapable of admitting how a closeted Catholicism informs his own scribbles ...
Every time he takes a swipe at Rob Oakeshott, while blindly delivering Abbott an exemption, or an absolution, he merely reveals the bees that keep buzzing around in his brain.
Here's hoping that Abbott has grown up a little since his time as a Minister ... because there's no sign that Henderson has got a better grasp on reality.
Instead he sounds a little like Anthony Sharwood doing a commercial for Kangaroo Island ...
What's that you say?
Update: last night on the ABC’s Media Watch it was revealed that celebrities were paid $750 to Tweet positively about KI. This article was posted hours before that, purely by coincidence, and we weren’t paid a cent. So there,
You mean you did it for free? What cackling geese ...