Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Has Jonathan Holmes reached his use-by date? The pond merely reports in a balanced way and you decide ...

(Above: graph source here, but why not also read about FTTH plans in China in China Telecom extends Alca-Lu contract for broadband transformation).

So what exactly is advocacy?

Well if you wiki it - not always a sure guide - you get an opening line that runs like this:

Advocacy is a political process by an individual or group which aims to influence public-policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions. (wiki the rest here).

The obvious question arising is exactly when the ABC intend to reprimand Jonathon Holmes for his advocacy of Malcolm Turnbull's and the Liberal party's position on broadband in Australia (and while they're at it, how about a reprimand for Holmes' advocacy of Ray Hadley the previous week?).

According to Holmes, it's not the ABC's job - or any of its staff - to point out that Macolm Turnbull's jibber jabber about FTTN is very much like the emperor with his new clothes, a deeply flawed notion, and one vastly inferior to the current NBN plan.

Let's assume that an Abbott government gets in, and begins wrecking the current roll out. The pond is convinced that within the decade after that FTTH would then start being installed anyway, but in a delayed, cumbersome and inefficient roll out, and only to those big city locations and premises that were convenient and the source of a guaranteed profit.

It would be yet another Australian cock-up, up there with the divergent railway lines and assorted other stupidities, rather than getting the job done once, and done right.

The pond has often wondered why Turnbull has argued up hill and down dale for an inferior product, putting himself in the service of Abbott.

All that can be said is that the lust for power always corrupts absolutely the perceptions and implementation of public policy. Here's hoping that Turnbull gets to wear the golden crown one day, because otherwise there's no excuse.

There's even less excuse for Holmes in his outing last night, in The difference between advocacy and analysis.

By his measure, it's simply impossible for anybody at the ABC to analyse the inadequacies of the Abbott/Turnbull proposals, and put them into print, and Nick Ross, for daring to do so, was way out of line.

Yes, there's nothing like a technological luddite and a fool than an old technological luddite and a fool, and it's a measure of Holmes that he should resort to the indefensible:

Now, I'm not going to pretend that I know who's right on the facts ...

Uh huh, so let's just forget the facts and get down to it, because Holmes starts with this disclaimer:

We’re going to spend some time on his role tonight, but let me stress we’re not analysing the media’s coverage of the NBN. We’re looking at what ABC journalists can and can’t do.

Of course we already know what ABC journalists, hosts, broadcasters and such like can do.

They can routinely publish opinion pieces in The Drum, and they can jibber jabber all they like in Fairfax - come on down Waleed Aly and scribble Labor has lost the plot, and the narrative as a fine example (and throw in a forced video at the end of the link to add to your woes).

There are literally hundreds of other examples of ABC staff expressing views and advocating positions.

Your honour, we simply request that the entirety of The Drum be entered into proceedings ... (may we also acknowledge in particular the musings of Jonathan Holmes and the efforts of Jonathan Green, who when not editing all the advocates in The Drum can be relied upon to advocate any number of ideas on radio)

It seems none of this constant opinionated advocacy means anything to the Jesuitical and self-admittedly woefully technically ignorant Holmes.

So let's cherry pick a couple of examples of what he said on Media Watch.

While bemoaning the "he said, I said" school of journalism, that's exactly the game Holmes always plays, and in this case, he quotes Nick Ross on the response to his magnum opus:

One of the first responses came from Malcolm Turnbull who tweeted that I was biased and corrupt and stuff like that. — ABC Local Radio 774, 8th March, 2013 

Holmes - he said - then went on:

We haven’t been able to find any tweet in which Malcolm Turnbull has even hinted that Nick Ross is corrupt.

And then - he said - Holmes goes on to quote a Malcolm Turnbull tweet within the very next few sentences:

Malcolm Turnbull: do you really work for the ABC or is it the NBN Co?

Now even by the most idle definition, that's an allegation of corruption, an assertion that a man pretending to work for one organisation is in reality a deceptive quisling pushing out propaganda for another, such that he deserves a position on the company payroll. (as always it helps to have a dictionary definition of corrupt as an adjective close at hand, with the very first meaning lacking in integrity).

Saying Ross works undercover for the NBN while at the ABC is roughly equivalent to saying that the way he's going these days, Holmes ostensibly works for the ABC, but actually he's in deep cover as a profoundly debilitating hack working for Rupert Murdoch. (Who knows maybe a job at The Australian is Holmes' B-plan when Abbott government cutbacks turn the ABC into a festering black-top roadkill site).

What can you say when someone accuses you of being corrupt like this?

 ABCTech: I work for the australian public. 
 Malcolm Turnbull: ... Your relentless NBN propaganda is an embarrassment to the ABC 
 Malcolm Turnbull: Well here is a challenge to you – set out ... the facts upon which you rely.

Which is exactly what Ross did, in The vast differences between the NBN and the Coalition's alternative, thankfully still online, and a few technical quibbles aside, a pretty impressive effort it is ... which is exactly why Turnbull, wearing his emperor's clothes and and a dud set of ideas and suchlike is so snarky about him.

Now somewhere about this point Ross, and fellow travellers like the pond are usually forced to issue disclaimer, that in fact a liking for FTTH isn't a liking for Conroy, or the Labor party, but simply a preference for new technology over old copper.

In fact at one point the mere mention of Conroy and his great big intertubes filter would send the pond into a screaming fit, a frenzy that might last for days, rushing off to the arms of Big Mal for some sweet solace.

But when it comes to FTTN v FTTH, big Mal lies, distorts and maligns on an almost daily basis, and it's enough to send Ross and the pond into another frenzy.

Take this little exchange, reported by Holmes without comment in relation to its technical implications, because apparently Holmes doesn't have a clue about them, or doesn't think they count:

Malcolm Turnbull: Now your assertion that you can’t have telehealth without fibre-to-the-premise, you should raise that with the rest of the developed world and the rest of the OECD because it is a view that is clearly not shared elsewhere. 
Nick Ross: You’re completely wrong there. — Kickstart Forum, 19th February, 2013 

You heard the astonished laughter. Kickstart conferences are known for robust question and answer sessions. But some people present felt Ross went too far.

Some people? No wonder Holmes likes people flinging around "these people" ...

Too far? Oh I say young chap, pointing out the obvious is a bridge too far ....

Of course the astonished laughter might well have come from people chortling at the way Ross dared to point out the inadequacy of the emperor's brand spanking new clothes ... and so far as the pond goes, the astonished laughter didn't go far enough.

One of the keys to telehealth is to be able to deliver it door to door, rather than centralise it and deliver it to central points. High speed broadband could produce entirely new ways of delivering health services in the home, and it once befell the pond to write an extremely long and tedious report on same.

Let's skip all those boring details, and turn, as invited by Turnbull, to the developed world and the rest of the OECD, just to see how many are engaged in delivering FTTH because of its perceived superiority.

Happily there's a wiki designed for just this purpose which takes a look at Fiber to the premises by country.

Take a look at any country you like - Greece, Bulgaria, France, the long absent lord help us, even confused and troubled Italy ...

The reality is that FTTH is the preferred form of delivery, though naturally it's being delivered first in high population density areas, the big cities where there's a profit to be made with a fast service. 

The roll out is piecemeal, but in Europe, as in China and other parts of Asia, FTTH is the broadband of the present, and the future ...

Why is Australia going to go out of step when an Abbott government lands?

Who knows, ask Abbott and Turnbull, but as a result of the incompetence and the abject corruption in New South Wales (yes the pond watched Four Corners before suffering through Holmes) we now have a premier who thinks Sydney's second airport should be in Canberra, connected by very fast carrier pigeon ...

Anyway, it sticks in the craw that Turnbull can make ignorant remarks, and someone like Ross isn't allowed to stand up to him, because it just isn't done old boy ... (or young and passionate dear boy if you will).

And so we return to that question of advocacy.

Here's Holmes playing the advocate:

Ross is an advocate - and it shows ...
You can't help but admire Nick Ross's industry - and there's no doubt that his passion for the NBN is sincere. But in my view, the chat came none too soon (that chat being a reprimand by Bruce Belsham Head of Current Affairs, which wasn't a reprimand, it was just a reprimand).

And so Holmes becomes an advocate for giving Malcolm Turnbull and the second rate Liberal plans for high speed broadband in Australia a free kick, with no one at the ABC daring or able to point out the déshabillé state of the emperor's clothes.

Remarkably the comments started to flow early on the Internet page for Media Watch, and the trend - Holmes is always big on trends - was against him.

Oldtimer74 offered this analysis:

I think that Jonathon Holmes has just about reached his use by date. 

Who could argue with that after Holmes' abject Jesuitical form of advocacy, but then Oldtimer74 went on to have a rant about all the "teach the controversey", let intelligent design have its moment in the sun up against evolution, and let The Australian and the AFR and Turnbull and the rest of the pack get away with everything on broadband, FTTH, the NBN and the whole damned thing, all in the name of balance:

Why should a well researched and referenced article on the NBN have to be balanced by political propaganda from the opposition spokesperson. The article should stand on its own merits to inform the audience of the ABC. If the opposition want to refute the conclusions reached then they should be given the opportunity to do so, but to insist that the article should also reflect views of other than the writer is ridiculous.
 The same situation occurs in the area of climate change where there is an insistence (for perceived balance) that views contrary to the overwhelming scientific view that climate change is real and is caused by human activity are balanced? By non scientific crackpot views to the contrary which are given equal weight. 
 The overall effect of this editorial policy is not to inform the public of the truth on any subject but to introduce a guessing game where people not familiar with a subject are presented with two scenarios for them to decide which is the truth. How is the ordinary person in the street able to decide which is the truth if the media are too frightened to provide them with an honest assessment of what is in fact the truth on a subject instead of prevaricating and denying their responsibility by claiming that they must be balanced in all things.

Another noted some disappointment with the closing message:

... both myself and my (non tech minded) wife were extremely disappointed with the concluding message of tonight's episode, which seemed to be: don't you dare criticise politicians, even when they're full of it.

And here's the reason Holmes is as full of it as Turnbull.

He somehow imagines he can separate out the technical issues and talk abstractly about advocacy.

It is, if the pond may be so bold and arcane, just another variation on The Heresy of Paraphrase, and the notion that somehow form and content may be separated out, and that somehow the blatantly obvious conclusion that Turnbull is being misleading and devious in relationship to broadband technology should never be stated, even when it's blatantly obvious ...

Sadly Media Watch, which was once a must watch, has now become a watch only if you want to grind your teeth and shout at the screen experience ...

Oh dear, look at the time.

Dealing with past the use-by date Holmes has left absolutely no room for that fearless advocate, that prattling pious Polonius, Gerard Henderson, who today pronounces Labor must learn art of government.

Yes, presumably they must learn the art of government from Billy McMahon, Malcolm Fraser, Harold Holt (carry breathing equipment while governing), and such fine state examples as Joh Bjelke-Petersen,  Henry Bolte and Robert Askin (go on google corrupt NSW premier and see who comes up first).

The man is such a tiresome caricature of himself that the pond is almost pleased Holmes became the distraction for the day ...

The funniest thing is that Hendo really thinks he comes across as balanced. After trawling the Whitlam years yet again - which were followed by the man Hendo loves to hate - Hendo ends up doing what every other member of the commentariat has done this week, which is chat about Mark Latham's talking points.

So we leave you with this classic Hendo line:

Latham advocates, correctly, that Labor should embrace the Hawke/Keating approach. He neglects to mention that Howard continued the economic reform process and voters remember this. 

Yes they remembered it so well they dumped Howard like a chilled potato frozen too long in the freezer fridge of predictability.

And this, as the closing lines, which is what passes for Hendo's notion of balance:

Whatever its current difficulties, Labor's political fortunes will almost certainly recover. Above all, Labor needs to demonstrate that it can be efficient and professional. In politics, good government is usually enough.

Tell that to the raving ratpack of media commentators, who only ever want to talk about polls and leadership crises ...

But what a final exemplary last par of balanced praise and insight into Labor government, who according to Hendo have always been dismal, and probably always will be, unless they learn to pull up their socks ... (a tidy pair of nicely elasticised nylon and cotton will produce the proper efficient and professional air, especially in tropical climes).

Oh yes, there's no way Jonathan Holmes could find that Hendo's a mealy mouthed advocate for the Liberals ... why he speaks in such measured and balanced tones, and he never ever goes too far.

And if you believe that, have we got a gutless, confused, technically ignorant ABC to sell to you, and it's cheaper than the Harbour Bridge ...

(Below: more Nicholson here).

1 comment:

  1. Yes, DP, sadly I have to agree that J Holmes Esq. is past his 'lose by' date. But then, I suppose if you're sh++ scared of the prospect of an Abbott government and what it might do to your budget, you too might learn to love the taste of licking arse. Indeed, isn't our beloved NBN CEO doing much the same ? Lie down and die so your conquerors don't even have to waste a single bullet on you ?

    But though indeed we've got an epidemic of "he said, she said", I haven't yet seen much of the "both sides do it" meme. I'm just waiting for the even handed exposure of Lib-Nat rorting (eg Premier-emeritus Askin, as you mention, but there are others) to 'balance' out the Obeid-MacDonald saga.


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