Wednesday, February 13, 2013

An exclusive from the pond about yet another lizard Oz exclusive ...

(Above: there's bias and then there's just doing business).

This turned up in Crikey the other day:

...We heard this snippet from a tipster: 
 "The Australian is commissioning a nationwide poll to ascertain the degree to which householders believe the ABC (radio and TV) to be biased for or against the ALP, Lib/Nat coalition and The Greens in their coverage of national politics. Also, whether they think the ABC are biased in their reportage of climate change. If punters answer that they think they're biased, they're asked if it's toward climate change 'believers' or climate change 'rejectors'. They're also asked who they voted for last federal election in the House of Representatives and who they intend to vote for this year. They're not asked if they read The Australian." 
Interesting to know that anyone who accepts the vast majority of peer-reviewed science that anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are affecting the climate is apparently a "believer". It's a religion, is it? We put this tip to the folks at News Limited but didn't hear back by deadline.

We'll probably never hear back from the folks at News Limited, by deadline or by drop dead time.

But it's a favourite distinction of the pond's, between abject belief, and contingent acceptance in relation to risk assessment and the viability of taking action.

The snippet also says everything you need to know about The Australian and the bulk of Murdoch hackery and commentary. Including the tendency to paint everything simplistically, into black and white corners, good and bad, foolish believers and sensible "rejectors" (any folks here up for a push-pull poll?)

The moment you attempt a little equivocation, a little balance, a middle of the road, well yes, but on the other hand ... you're gone, a dead rabbit in the mouth of the leaders of a pack of feral baying hounds (come on down baying Bolter, addled arfing Akker Dakker, snarling Janet, snapping Miranda, yipping and yapping poodle Tim Blair).

You're either for or against, or you're a lickspittle fellow traveller with the cardigan wearers at the ABC and Fairfax (come on down Guardian, we're waiting).

Once you reach this mindset - the pond is unable to cite Stalin for reasons of Godwin Law considerations - you have your enemies, and you continually pound away at them, like any decent paranoid obsessive compulsive conspiracy detector would.

There's a classic example at work today:

First let's consider the matter of the "exclusive". It turns out that the ratings season this year in Australia didn't start until February 10th, and thus we've yet to be blessed with a tracking on the performance of the ABC.

It turns out that the "exclusive" is actually quoting fluffery from that tedious Tasmanian wretch Senator Eric Abetz, and briefing notes for managing director Mark Scott's Senate estimates appearance ... last October.

Second let's consider how in the simplistic header the fate of one program is made to stand in for the entire ABC, so that a discussion of the Insiders becomes Viewers turning off ABC1.

Has there ever been a better example of a brazenly dumb subbie anxious to toe the corporate line?

Now let's address the bizarre notion that The Insiders is an ABC flagship Sunday morning current affairs program.

It might be in the addled brain of a raging ideologue, but Sunday mornings, in terms of ratings, is asterisk territory. Which is why the Ten network dropped the Bolter in to Sunday, to please Gina, and because, well, where's the harm ... all they've offended is the teenagers (and the pond) still mourning the loss of video hits.

Now if we were talking about meaningful prime time flagships ... like 7.30 or Four Corners or even outside the cusp of current affairs Lateline ... (it sticks in the pond's craw to say Q&A has anything to do with current affairs).

There's a not so hidden and bizarre agenda in this latest lizard Oz beat-up of Abetz speak, of course, and it goes way back to last December when someone in the ABC thought it was a good idea to invite Janet Albrechtsen to appear as a "conservative" voice on the Insiders.

Albrechtsen took the opportunity to sink in the slipper - well a kick to the temple with steel-toed boots might be a better metaphor - as you can read in Leftie insiders keep Aunty locked into groupthink, (happily inside the paywall so you can keep on not giving a stuff).

The fuss led to The Australian mounting a war on the program, for no discernible or apparent reason, except that Dame Slap had taken offence, and the rag was determined to make off with the gate.

It was amusing for a couple of reasons, for the way it shows the lizard Oz commentariat and its acolytes locked into group think, and for the way it fetishes people yabbering away about politics on a Sunday morning, as if anyone cares (disclaimer, the pond never watches political discussions on a Sunday morning when a fuck, a coffee, bacon or eggs or watching a fly crawling on the ceiling are available as alternatives).

At the time Albrechtsen dressed the invite up as people power:

More likely, the invitation arrived thanks to the power of The Australian's letters page. Last week, a stream of frustrated letter writers said "enough"; they were giving Insiders the flick because "Sunday mornings regularly lead off with a Labor or Greens press release" and "progressives lecture me on the evils of Tony Abbott while loosely guided by Barrie Cassidy as Julia Gillard's cheer-leader". Letter writers expressed disappointment about the "continued absence of any conservative voices" among ABC news and current affairs hosts; it is a "slap in the face to half of the Australian population that helps pay for its existence".

Please explain in what possible universe you'd want a conservative news presenter or host? Who gives a stuff if a newsreader is a conservative?

It completely and classically abuses the notion that there should be anything remotely resembling fair and balanced news reporting and news and current affairs hosting. But then the Murdochians have Fox News as their dream world.

Anyway, it seems that Senator Eric Abetz might have been one of the letter writers, but now he finds it easier to bend the ear of Christian Kerr:

Opposition leader in the Senate Eric Abetz, who lodged the FOI request, told The Australian: "I believe the ABC, and particularly its news and current affairs programs, need to focus on being increasingly objective and balanced if it is to lift its ratings."

This is a classic gotcha. No one in the commercial media wants the ABC to lift its ratings, they're quite happy it stays where it is. If the ABC lifted its ratings, what a squawking and a protesting there'd be ...

Which leads to a bigger question. Why are the politicians and the rabid right wingers always ranting about the ABC, which provides an alternative to the broad dominance of the media by Murdochians and commercial television interests?

Well because they fear and loath anyone who stands outside their particular tent, because these satanists, these heretics - or should that be believers - are always up to mischief, dissenting from the rejectors.

If the ABC was as bad as it was claimed, conservatives would organise a boycott. Not one of them would appear on The Insiders (and wouldn't the world be a happier and more contented place as a result, with nattering negativity waylaid).

Instead The Australian has orchestrated a crusading campaign with all the said relentless negativity at its disposal. And why?

Well the new triennial funding agreement is coming up, and because it was deferred for twelve months, it's now being negotiated in an election year, and the coalition, and tyre kickers and boofhead pedants like Abetz and Brandis, along with people like the Bolter, have been arguing that we're now mired in an election campaign, with a government that should be in caretaker mode, and with an ABC that should be acting as if the election period has begun, as opposed to the day the writs are issued (and never mind that the proposed election day could be overturned in a trice with the re-birth of the Ruddster or another miraculous event).

And so the ABC shouldn't get another penny. But if its ratings are dropping, shouldn't it get a little more to help it with its patently stretched resources? No, because if it's ratings are dropping, it should be abused, not supported ...

But back to the Insiders. What are the figures for the program that causes such consternation and concern in The Australian? Well according to Kerr it was averaging 228,000 views with an average 6,000 plays an episode on iView.

In a prime time context, these figures are pitiful, but no more pitiful than the figures for the Bolter's show in 2012. He might beat The Insiders, but he does so by counting both the morning and afternoon screenings, and only by averaging a pitiful 272,000 people (143,000 for the morning, 129,000 for the afternoon - or so Glenn Dyer proposes here).

So what have we established thus far?

Well for starters nobody gives a stuff about these alleged flagships - the general gentler polity doesn't give a stuff about The Insiders, Andrew Bolt, The Bolt Report, Janet Albrechtsen, or come to think of it, Christian Kerr and The Australian, because their weekly sales figures are even more pitiful than the viewing statistics for The Insiders.

How's a circulation figure around 125,000 grab you? And that includes some 23% for accommodation, airline, education and bundled categories ...

Yep, they were giving the lizard Oz away hand over fist in 2012, and right now they're giving it away at an airport near you (Newspaper circulation).

Why those pitiful circulation figures makes The Insiders look like mainstream television. No wonder The Australian is always bleating about taxpayer subsidy when it simply can't make a profit ...

More to the point, we now know that an "exclusive" is code for The Australian and Christian Kerr being a mouthpiece, sock puppet if you will for Eric Abetz...

And it isn't the first example in recent times.

On the 7th February readers of the lizard Oz had the benefit of another scoop ... GetUp! conflicted, says Eric Abetz. Now there's a scoop - a conflicted Abetz talking of others being conflicted (behind the wall so your brain won't be Abetzed).

But at least we know for certain what will happen to the ABC, if Tony Abbott and his team win, with baying Abetz leading the way, and the slobbering, slavering Murdochians like hounds ahead of the horses, keen to see any alternative to their failing, flailing newspaper world exterminated.

The world of the Daleks, gets closer everyday, and research will establish ever more clearly those who are for and those who are against, those who are foolish believers and those who are true believers, and those who accept climate science, and those who insist that the world must be viewed through a religious veil, good or evil, black or white ... and talk of the contingent acceptance of theories based on evidence will be banished as a heresy.

Something happened to Christian Kerr after he joined The Australian, and began to cosy up to the likes of Abetz. It's a pitiful, tragic story, so let's end by going back in time:

CHRISTIAN KERR: There is always a lot of knifing going on. You just work a line, you just work a line. You push a line in the ears of journos and sooner enough it becomes conventional wisdom. 
....It's a sly word. You go up there with what's your message of the day. You have your serious brief and then you have your chitchat. And if you have enough chitchat and enough ears, it all mounts up. People still swapping their chitchat - it will build up. It will become a solid commodity. (here)

Yep, and if you're cheeky, you even call it an exclusive ...

(Below: no wonder lexicographers, linguists, rhetoricians and philosophers have gone on strike).

And while we at it, and sssh, no one mention climate science or climate change, it'll take 3'49" of your time (and an ad) to watch Chasing Ice movie reveals largest iceberg break-up ever filmed. Come on down Guardian, time to give the lizard Oz a real fright ...


  1. Thanks for this Dorothy. I often feel as futile as the striking philospher on the right in the cartoon but reading your analyses cheers me up no end.

  2. Have you been channelling Douglas Adams?

  3. Spot on Dorothy as always. Do you know when the Guardian is opening here for business?

  4. Too bad the Lizard Oz couldn't have rooted out further ABC bias towards science with questions like:
    Do they favour cancer believers, or rejecters?
    Do they favour gravity believers, or rejecters?
    Do they favour genome mapping believers, or rejecters?

    Why is it climate SCIENCE gets all the attention? What about all the barrow pushing scientists who work in leukaemia research chasing grants and one world government?

  5. australia's two greatest statesman, adolf abetz and soapy brandis.

    how about the drum, it's as fair and balanced as fox news. a holding paddock for liberal party has beens, former leaders, former ministers (reith) and even current nsw gov. ministers, along with a daily serve of ratbags from every murdoch toilet paper and fuckwits from the institute of public affairs.

  6. Compulsory daily reading as always, Dorothy. You do more than just run the gamut from A to B.

  7. Sorry Verio Browning, the Guardian's plans remain secret, but the war is hotting up, and it's surely their intention to launch before the Herald rolls out its porous paywalls. Launching ahead of the Murdoch tabloids going paywall would also be handy.

    After the stealing of Lenore Taylor and Katharine Murphy, Fairfax has had a hissy fit.

    The loss of the copy-usage agreement will mean that stories from The Guardian will no longer appear in print or on the websites of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
    Fairfax has traditionally used Guardian News & Media copy in its international coverage as a complement to its overseas bureaus.

    The silly geese don't seem to realise that stories from the Guardian appear on the Guardian's website, which is a nanosecond click away for anyone connected to the intertubes.

    It would seem Fairfax is doomed, and the only prayer to offer is that the Murdochians are also doomed.


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