Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Farewell to Media Watch, Jonathan Holmes and the allegedly republican Gerard Henderson, hello sexually wayward penguins ...

(Above: the pond helps promote responsible Australian journalism).

Well there goes the last program the pond used to watch on the ABC.

And this time it's that holy of holies, Jonathan Holmes and Media Watch.

After hearing the alarums and the fox-hunting cries about the ACA hooker affair, and the way its produced calls for tougher government regulation of the media, Holmes wends a tortured path through the war between ACA and Today Tonight to arrive at this landmark conclusion:

... if you look at what the program actually put to air, and what it didn’t, it seems to me it’s been reasonably responsible. As for Seven, any TV channel, including the ABC, would have run with the woman’s mea culpa. But the righteous indignation at Today Tonight carries more than a whiff of hypocrisy.

And lastly, a reminder: for better or worse, television current affairs already comes under a statutory regulator. (here)

The ACA show and the Nine Network reasonably responsible? Oh go wash your mouth out with soap Jonathan Holmes ...

There's no need to tear off like a rabbit down a hole simply because a couple of Labor MPs used the farrago of nonsense orchestrated by tabloid television to propose media regulation. It will never happen ...

Holmes devotedly spends time digging up some "nuggets" that ACA uncovered - so much cleverer than the Fair Work Australia investigation - and also spends a fair amount of time implicitly blaming the woman involved for changing her tune .... as a way of helping deliver ACA a clean sheet and a tick for acting responsibly.

Holmes seems to accept the special pleading of Grant Williams chattering away on the Ray Hadley show, as Williams is fed a series of Dorothy Dixers by a sympathetic Hadley (yes the Dixer phrase has its own wiki here).

Never mind bidding up the price from 50k to 60k to get the woman to talk, never mind that the stat dec obtained in this way was pathetic and feeble (even Holmes accepts this), never mind that this woman wasn't the woman involved in the specific use of the credit card referenced by the show, never mind that it was proposed to show her pixillated and her voice distorted, never mind that her story was used to a fishing expedition come blackmail attempt to make Thomson crack in a "gentlemanly" way ...

Well, the stakes were high. I think that most editors who had a statutory declaration and an interview in the bag – at least if they hadn’t promised to pay for them – might well have done what Grant Williams did.

That's right, a completely useless stat dec, and a paid for interview, and bob's your uncle and away you go. Journalism hurrah.

So Williams is almost in the clear, except for that matter of the cheque book:

Yes, of course it’s grubby. But we’re dealing with a grubby topic. One thing it isn’t, in my book, is private. The uses to which Craig Thomson has or hasn’t put his union credit card are not private, they are very much a matter of public interest.

Indeed. But at no point does Holmes explain how this grubby, sordid exercise advanced the public interest, nor does he show how it actually enlightened the public, nor cast any light on the matter of Thomson's use of his credit card. If anything, the farce gave Thomson another excuse to hide, and perhaps even turned a little public sympathy his way.

Holmes almost seems as if he's about to get it:

A Current Affair shouldn’t have flourished its chequebook.

But then comes the classic 'billy goat but' we started with:

But if you look at what the program actually put to air, and what it didn’t, it seems to me it’s been reasonably responsible.

Reasonably responsible? Who'd have thought that Jonathan Holmes could be so unreasonably silly?

If the ACA/Today Tonight fracas constitutes reasonably responsible journalism, then it's good night Matt, Tracy ... and Jonathan (and let's hope he reads the comments section, and at some point explains why he's been so half-baked in his investigative efforts).

Still there's an upside. Today's the day the pond usually contemplates the thoughts of our very own desiccated coconut, that prattling Polonius (some prefer Prufrock) Gerard Henderson, and in his own way he's in exceptionally fine, which is to say remarkably tedious, form, in Well may we not sing God Save the Queen, but let it play on.

Henderson fancies himself as a republican, but it's an exceptionally limp and faux form of republicanism. Today it sees Henderson offer mild support for Julia Gillard not singing along to God Save the Queen while the "boisterously vocal" Tony Abbott sang along like a rugger bugger in the locker room ...

Astonished at his boldness and his daring - it's his Charles Pooter moment for the week (oh do read Diary of a Nobody at some point, it will explain everything) - Henderson spends the rest of his column explaining how the British royals are going to be with us for ever and ever (perhaps until the twelfth of never and that's a ...)

There's the "scientific" polling, and Andrew West, and Christian Kerr, and the Queen's Birthday list (and never mind that these are local awards), and the Queen kicking on for another couple of decades, and Charles being loved and kicking on until he's over eighty, and John Howard outflanking Malcolm Turnbull, and Phil Cleary being a spoilsport, and Tony Abbott winning in 1999, and the republican issue unlikely to be a wedge issue for Labor any time soon, and so to the rousing conclusion:

Which suggests that God Save the Queen (or King) will still be heard on occasions in Canberra for some time to come.

So that's what it means to be a faux republican in these troubled times. Doom and gloom and nattering negativity and a certainty that the line of Windsors will be around until William and Kate become king and queen in their seventies.

If ever you wanted a perfect example of why Henderson is such a gloom merchant, read the column. Why doesn't he just admit he's a closet monarchist and go off to lunch with David Flint, and the rest of us can just note the way the Jubilee celebrations resonated in Australia like a damp squib ...

See if you can get through this song without reaching for a bucket ...

It was such a solemn, tedious, defeatist, no hoper read that the pond immediately felt the need to lighten the mood, and what better way than throwing into the mix 'Sexual depravity' of penguins that Antarctic scientist dared not reveal.

It turns out that long before comic books, television and the internet led them astray, some wayward 'hooligan' penguins in the Antarctic behaved badly:

"The pamphlet, declined for publication with the official Scott expedition reports, commented on the frequency of sexual activity, auto-erotic behaviour, and seemingly aberrant behaviour of young unpaired males and females, including necrophilia, sexual coercion, sexual and physical abuse of chicks and homosexual behaviour," states the analysis written by Russell and colleagues William Sladen and David Ainley. "His observations were, however, accurate, valid and, with the benefit of hindsight, deserving of publication."

Levick's lost masterpiece certainly has its eye-watering moments with its descriptions of male Adélies who gather in "little hooligan bands of half a dozen or more and hang about the outskirts of the knolls, whose inhabitants they annoy by their constant acts of depravity". Injured females are mounted by members of these "gangs", others have their chicks "misused before the very eyes of its parents". Some chicks are crushed and injured, others are killed.

The next time a Christian tells you about the sweet orderly way of sexuality in the wild, refer them to the rampaging Antarctic penguins who so shocked George Murray Levick on the 1910-13 Scott Antarctic expedition.

Why it turns out that penguins are little better than gang-raping, homosexually inclined, female-kidnapping dolphins (Not So Cute: Dolphin Gang-Rape).

So the next time a Christian tells you homosexuality is unnatural, remind them of the penguins and the dolphins. It turns out that homosexuality is exceedingly natural, quite apple pie, and occurs in a number of species, as their imaginary god must have ordained in an absent-minded moment ... and what a pity it gets conflated with the pack-raping necrophilic ways of gangs of wayward heterosexuals ...

(Below: eek).


  1. I couldn't get through the whole Jubilee Song (one comment of the site warned that the song can cause Type 2 diabetes). But doesn't James Hewitt's son play a mean tambourine. He might have a worthwhile career ahead of him somewhere.

  2. Poor old Gerard, torn between the anti-Catholic monarchists, and the sneering, muesli-eating republicans.

  3. Well played AJ. To try and give up is sometimes more sensible than to try and catch Type 2 diabetes.

    As for those muesli-earing republicans, Charlie loves his muesli. How will the monarchists cope?

    Prince Charles loves routine and has servants to cater to his every whim.
    One flunkey's job is to put exactly the right amount of toothpaste on his toothbrush.
    A former palace chef revealed that Charles insisted on six types of organic honey on his toast in the morning and six dried fruits with his muesli.
    When he went to hospital after he injured his arm hunting, he had paintings and furniture brought to his bedside from his home at Highgrove.
    He also insisted on drinking out of his own crystal and eating using his own silver.


    The pond feels a sneer or perhaps a snicker or a snigger coming on ...


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