Friday, May 25, 2012

In which the pond says and does things for the price of a cup of coffee ...

(Above: click to enlarge and solve the problem. Found here).

So here's a conundrum beyond the feeble mind of the pond to solve.

First there's a follow up study to a previous study where the header says it all: Study Finds Fox News Viewers Least Informed Of All Viewers.

There's more details at Survey: NPR's listeners best-informed, Fox viewers worst-informed. And the conclusion? Drum roll please maestro:

The largest effect is that of Fox News: all else being equal, someone who watched only Fox News would be expected to answer just 1.04 domestic questions correctly — a figure which is significantly worse than if they had reported watching no media at all. On the other hand, if they listened only to NPR, they would be expected to answer 1.51 questions correctly; viewers of Sunday morning talk shows fare similarly well. And people watching only The Daily Show with Jon Stewart could answer about 1.42 questions correctly.

Yes you're better off watching a comedy channel than chairman Rupert's channel for news and information.

No doubt pedants could have fun with the structure and the methodology of the study, but the pond thinks it's grand fun, and even better when taken in the context of today's reported whingeing and whining by James Murdoch about the full takeover of BSkyB.

So how did the craven Jeremy Hunt respond, when confronted by some jibber jabber about multi-platform operation as an excuse for monopoly?

The UK has the chance to lead the way on this as we did in the 80s with the Wapping move, but if we block it, our media sector will suffer for years.

What? The media sector will suffer? In the same way as Fox News viewers have suffered for years?

In the end, I am sure, sensible controls can be put into any merger to ensure plurality, but I think it would be totally wrong to cave into the [BBC and Guardian] line that this represents a substantial change of control given that we all know Sky is controlled by News Corp now anyway. (here, and in more detail at The Guardian here).

Put it another way. There's the steam-roller, would you like me to lie down here?

What a fop and a lackey ... and amazingly, still in his job, never mind that he drank the kool aid and kept blathering on about the Mark Thompson/Channel 4/Guardian line. As for all that talk of multi-platform technology, what did Hunt really mean when he evoked the spirit of Wapping?

In evoking the spirit of Wapping, Hunt was reminding David Cameron of the way Rupert Murdoch was allowed to buy the Times and the Sunday Times after vociferously supporting the Conservatives in his tabloids and holding a secret meeting with Margaret Thatcher at Chequers. Murdoch then famously broke the power of the print unions by moving his operations to Wapping, where police helped staff brave picket-lines.

Uh huh. Class warfare. Who'd ever thunk it. Can we have an editorial at The Australian please, in favour of class warfare and stupefying the natives with ignorance?

And now the pond pauses for a joke:

"At a human level I have a great deal of sympathy for the member for Dobell," Mr Abbott said yesterday. (here)

Presumably this is what the snake said to the chicken. At a species level I have a great deal of sympathy for the fowl standing in front of me ... but hey, a snack's a snack, and a snake's gotta eat.

Whatever the sins of Thomson - the pond is prepared to think the worst and more - the relentless negativity means that when Abbott comes to power he will have a poisoned chalice of resentment, fear and loathing to carry around with him. It brings out the biblical and the Shakespearean in the pond.

Meanwhile, the Thomson saga lurches on, and A Current Affair - a show which routinely makes Fox News look as if it's run by Newton and Einstein - has confirmed yet again that if you get something for free, courtesy advertising, it's probably worth what you paid for it.

It's not the discovery of a smoking gun, or a smoking hooker, or a smoking hooker gun, which has provided the excitement, so much as the contorted denials surrounding the question of payment of the said smoking hooker gun for the firing of the bullets.

The program's spokesperson started off with an acknowledgment that the smoking gun wouldn't smoke for the price of a cup of coffee, followed by all sorts of devious denials and righteous explanations of how the program hadn't paid for the story, when in truth what they meant was that they hadn't forked over the cash, and wouldn't fork over the cash until the story ran.

There were all sorts of denials - what, is anyone suggesting a fine upstanding "current affairs and smoking hooker guns" program would indulge in sordid cheque-book journalism?

How outrageous. Can't recollect we've ever done this in the past. And after all the chest-beating and foot stomping came this belated admission:

A Current Affair executive producer Grant Williams confirmed on Channel 7 today that they had offered payment to the prostitute in the range of $60,000 if the show went to air. (here, behind the HUN paywall).

Indeed. Well the pond wouldn't get out of bed for the price of a cappuccino but 60k? Hey ACA, have we got some scandals to sell you ...

In short, the progam did a Thomson, equivocating, hedging, using circumlocutions, and downright cheating in its representation of how it goes about its foot in the door, "buy a smoking gun" business.

And then they got gazumped by Thomson going public. The foot in door folk got their foot caught in the door.

Others have now seized on the story - witness Kate mcClymont's assembly of titillating facts and irrelevancies and common gossip in The MP, the escort and a meeting in the Boardroom (forced video at end of link).

Yep, it's not just Fox News that'll make you blind, or at least goggle-eyed.

And finally an apology to reader Sue, with an excuse that there are so many loons, and so little time.

It's true that the pond overlooked Nick Cater's heroic seventy year on anniversary celebration of Robert Menzies' forgotten people in The Australian, not least because the pond refuses to subscribe to the rag, and can now rest in peace as the yabbering and the ranting lurks in oblivion behind its paywall.

But if you want to read Cater's celebration of Ming the merciless, you might google this:

"In a country like Australia the class war must always be a false war. We do not have classes here as in England, and therefore the terms do not mean the same."

Or perhaps this:

"But if we are to talk of classes, then the time has come to say something of the forgotten class . . . the middle class who, properly regarded, represent the backbone of this country."

Yes, let us not talk of class, but let us talk of class, because while there is no class in Australia, there's a forgotten class.

Indeed. Thank the absent lord Menzies was a politician, not a sociologist.

And once again Cater trots out the usual canards and distortions of the truth, long ago covered by the pond:

They have, however, falsely portrayed Menzies as the patron of the privileged elite, promoting the myth that, but for Whitlam, working-class baby boomers would not have got to university.

Yet Menzies was clear in his intention: "Our universities are to be regarded not as the home of privilege for a few, but as something essential to the lives of millions," he told parliament in 1957. By 1961 almost a quarter of students were on commonwealth scholarships and 80 per cent received some form of assistance.

But in the beginning Commonwealth scholarships - yes the pond still uses the capital for this commonwealth of states instead of The Australian's stupid revisionist denial of caps in their French cheese-eating post-modern way - were the work of Ben Chifley. (as his ADB entry here confirms).

The irony is of course that offering scholarships to university - a policy Menzies borrowed and then claimed credit for - produced a new set of articulate, reasoning folk in the nineteen sixties, who didn't much like the censoring, patriarchal ways of the Liberal party, which saw hapless young men conscripted and sent off to die in a useless war in Vietnam.

Unlike Menzies, Chifley was too canny to get into the education business:

...when Chifley was asked to involve the Commonwealth in financing primary and secondary schooling, he declared that education was tied up with state aid to religion and was a State function. Advised of Commonwealth subsidies for pre-school and university education, he retorted, 'That's different—they're for kids before they've got souls and after they've lost 'em'.

Yes, the funniest thing is when you're given an education and the means to think about things, the first thing you think is that Menzies and the Liberal party are just a bunch of geese. You might even study history and remember things as they were, and not as Cater conflates them.

Because the first thing that's flung against people who go to university is that they're elitist college folk who don't know the first thing about the common people. Somehow they've been separated out from the common people and turned into toffs. Why they might even sit next to Ming in the Melbourne club. It's the Rick Santorum routine, and the resentment, fear and loathing is thick on the ground in the News Ltd commentariat.

At the same time, the notion that somehow the Labor party is against the middle class, or intent on destroying it, is risible. Otherwise all this chatter about elites with a taste for coffee is a load of hot air. Why even prostitutes have greater ambitions than a cup of coffee ...

Even more risible is the notion that this country doesn't produce constant meditations on class, or that it doesn't have a class-based structure. That's why The Australian could promote itself to the elites by urging them to Think. Again.

Yes, think again college elitists. What kind of self-loathing makes you subscribe to The Australian?

Why you might as well watch A Current Affair ...

(Below: and now for that Norman Rockwell painting, because we all love to swallow turkey and Murdochian gobblers).


  1. We love to gulp down that turkey because it is as light as air. Study that Rockwell, DP. I defy any granny to hold 5kg in that posture without a visible hint of strain.
    Never mind the triumph of Manifest destiny over the natives. Come to think of it, though, what's happening to the carcases of all those feral camels being shot in the outback? Can't they be converted into something useful, like pet food?
    I've dropped a line to the likeable Mr Paul Barratt (ex servant of the public) who wonders how we are going to disport ourselves amongst the heathen when the Govt seems intent on gutting our "defence" capability. Mr Barratt is a fine chap, but he needs to get out more. The business of contracting out for Defence has a "colourful" history, if the US adventure in Iraq was any guide. I reminded Mr Barratt that he look no further than the Costello Fund to see how a high-level national enterprise may be corrupted. Still, as Rupert was on the Board of Philip Morris for a while, why should we cock a snood at "good" business practice?

  2. I'd never thought of the weight of a turkey EA affecting posture and demeanour, but it suddenly occurs to me that the world is being weighed down by the weight of turkeys ...


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