(Above: narcissist humbug in action)
Did anybody outside the inner city elites and the chattering classes care about the grovelling and forelock tugging of the inner city elites and the chattering herd at the Gala Dinner in honour of the lizard Oz?
Well someone cared enough to put the speeches and an Abbott transcript online here, and what amused the pond is that sometimes in a bid to flatter, a little hoppy toad of truth can bounce on to the tarmac and refuse to be squashed.
So it was with Tony Abbott:
Another cheap shot is that wealthy business-people are only interested in making money. The Australian has been supported despite oceans of red ink...
Oh dear. Oceans of red ink.
And there were the reptiles outraged and in a fury when Paul Barry at Media Watch got the estimate of the actual losses wrong (here) while the likes of Neil Chenoweth tried to penetrate the impenetrable lack of transparency in How much is The Australian losing?
And now there were the sinister elites ... chortling at the words oceans of red ink ...
Yes, it had taken some time before Chris Mitchell turned up in mUmBRELLA under the header Chris Mitchell admits The Australian has not been profitable since 2008.
Out of the mouth of babes, though the babe tried to hastily backtrack and present Chairman Rupert as some kind of benevolent Santa Claus, gifting Australia with ratbag right wing zealotry, crazed members of the commentariat and denialist central:
... it’s been Rupert Murdoch’s investment, not in his future but in his country’s.
It’s been a poor financial return for him but a priceless return for us.
Priceless. What's amazing is that Abbott would peddle this sort of guff, along with all the other forelock tugging, grovelling and supine displays of spinelessness he indulged in during his speech.
As the garrulous twittering of the chairman makes clear, the chairman likes the sound of his voice, and he likes his puppets and the role he can play in the political process, which incidentally allows for lobbying for his commercial interests ...
How far did Abbott go in his suckery? About as far as might be imaginable ... and then a bit further ...
As prime minister, there’s nothing of substance written about Australia that I don’t want to read – which means that I often spend more-time-than-I-have-to-spare reading The Australian.
Could it get any worse? Easy peasy:
He may have become an American by necessity but he’s always been an Australian by conviction.
So he's a faux humbug American, and a faux humbug Australian.
It was as if Onan had returned to bestride the earth:
On our country’s media, I am not a detached observer; still, under editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell, it seems that The Australian has become one of the world’s very best newspapers.
One of the world's very best unprofitable papers.
The pond has always enjoyed the spectacle of the commentariat turning up day after day to explain how profit should drive the world, following the thoughts of James the Lesser:
The only reliable, durable, and perpetual guarantor of independence is profit. (here)
Which suggests that the rag is unreliable, temporary and alarmingly co-dependent, for all the blather about free markets and the entrepreneurial spirit which litters its pages.
Let's not malign teachers with that old saw ' those who can, do, those who can't teach', when a variant can be applied with much more force to the hacks at the Oz: those who can make a profit do, those who can't preach ...
Meanwhile, visiting the denialist central rag each day can be an extremely depressing experience. There's Paul Kelly in his denialist dotage cluck clucking and tut tutting one more time:
Why is this such a wretched piece?
Well it should be refracted through Abbott's claim:
Every other newspaper serves a city. The Australian alone is dedicated to our country.
It has a national perspective, not a parochial one.
This, alone, should make it uniquely influential in our nation’s life.
Abbott later remembered to mention The Australian Financial Review, struggling outsider that it is, but more to the point, it's hard to imagine a more parochial offering than Kelly's look at the pricing of carbon in Shorten bets ETS tide will turn (inside the paywall because masochists need to pay for their pain).
It purports to place Australia's national interests in a world context, but it is in fact a profoundly reactionary piece that proposes Labor was ruined by putting a price on carbon, that Abbott was clever for being negative and destructive, and that the entire question of climate science should be considered through the narrow, wrong end of the telescope of Abbott negativity.
As usual at denialist central, the argument is always mis-stated:
It is obvious that Labor invests a greater ideological priority on an ETS than does the Australian public. It is also apparent that Australians are fair-weather travellers. Sure, they like tackling climate change, but they resent paying higher power prices.
An ETS is ideological? Year after year the reptiles have gone on record saying that a market-based ETS mechanism is the preferred lizard option to respond to the findings of climate science.
Yet Kelly dresses it as an ideological priority.
And then he trots out the usual nonsense about higher power prices.
You have to go elsewhere to read the real story about higher power prices:
Carbon tax merely a blip in power price scandal (forced video at end of link), it's clear enough that Abbott will in the next year or so inherit the wind:
Prime Minister Tony Abbott is right about one thing: the price of electricity has shot up and is now a lot higher than it should be. It's a scandal, in fact. Trouble is, the carbon tax has played only a small part in that, so getting rid of it won't fix the problem.
Until a rotten system is reformed, the price of electricity will keep rising excessively, so I doubt if many people will notice the blip caused by the removal of the carbon tax. (As for the price of gas, it will at least double within a year or two, as the domestic price rises to meet the international price, making the carbon tax removal almost invisible.)
So Abbott will be in bother if too many voters remember all the things he has said about how much the tax was responsible for the rising cost of living, how much damage the tax was doing to the economy and how much better everything would be once the tax was gone.
But Paul Kelly frames the debate as if he was Tony Abbott. Somehow it's the modest carbon price that's to blame for electricity prices.
Why? Well the power of the kool aid is strong, and once you've drunk deeply you're off in elysium, and prone to this sort of nonsense:
Much will depend upon Abbott’s progress in achieving Australia’s unconditional 5 per cent emissions reduction target by 2020. If this is on track, then, he will argue, why the need for an ETS? This debate, in turn, is tied to whether Abbott can actually legislate his direct action policy or is stranded.
Which is a nonsense. Even if Abbott were to legislate his direct action policy, and spend a few billion on a green army and other bits of window dressing, it would be pissing money against the wall. On a sober, kool aid free day even the reptiles know this.
Right at the moment Australia's chance of delivering its target by 2020 has a snowball's chance in hell, because Abbott doesn't really care about it, and neither does denialist central.
As for the national vision celebrated and urged on by Abbott?
Well in Kelly's world, the national vision is to do absolutely nothing, until the rest of the world does something:
In the end, the central question by 2016 will be whether the major countries are embracing ETS models. There is no hope, obviously, of the US congress authorising any such scheme. Without clear national action by the big emitters, it is hard to see the Australian public voting for such a policy. Shorten says the governments of the world are heading towards the ETS model. Abbott says this is nonsense.
And this was the single most important policy constraint that undermined Rudd’s scheme in 2009. The moral remains: the political utility of an Australian ETS is driven by what happens in the world.
That's how it rolls in denialist central. Idle chatter of political utility.
Not much need for Australia - amongst the biggest emitters per capita, if not the biggest, in the world, and that's before it's considered how Australia helps other big emitters by shipping big emissions to them - to actually do anything, or take any measures, until the rest of the world shows the way ... anything else will lead to a loss in parochial power-mongering domestic politics.
Meanwhile, over at Crikey, there's a reality check on the reptiles in Watchdog or attack dog? The Australian at 50 (paywall affected):
The problem is that in recent years The Australian has proved itself extraordinarily thin-skinned in dealing with criticism. The newspaper devoted close to twice as many words excoriating Robert Manne as he had written in his 2011 Quarterly Essay “Bad News: Murdoch’s Australian and the shaping of the nation”.
The newspaper deploys four main weapons against critics: first, it unleashes a torrent of articles contesting even of the tiniest points, so as to wipe the critic’s original point from everyone’s mind; second, it attacks the critic personally and pitilessly; third — somewhat paradoxically — it ignores the critic; and fourth, when all else fails, it simply continues asserting something as true as if no one has ever shown it was false.
In the latest issue of The Monthly, Margaret Simons, the director of Melbourne University’s Centre for Advancing Journalism, urged media commentators to stop talking about The Australian because that only feeds what she terms its narcissistic impulses. She swiftly earned herself schoolyard sarcasm from the newspaper’s Cut and Paste section and finger-wagging from Gerard Henderson in The Weekend Australian.
The Australian’s influential role in national affairs continues to merit discussion, but her point carries some weight. Has there ever been another Australian media outlet whose editor-in-chief, with a daily leader article and the services of hundreds of journalists at his disposal, feels the need to be quoted so frequently in his own newspaper?
We compared the number of times Chris Mitchell’s name was mentioned in The Australian over the past two years to July 5 with the number of mentions of The Age’s editor, Andrew Holden, in his paper. It was not surprising to find that Mitchell was mentioned almost three times more often. And this was before yesterday’s Media section interview, which was accompanied by five photographs of Mitchell.
Yes, there's a narcissist in charge of a paranoid rag, with a ponderous, portentous Kelly pretending to be balanced, but actually following the kool-aid line.
On July 9 in an article headlined “Conspiracy Debunked” (paywall affected) editor-at-large Paul Kelly pooh-poohed the picture of Rupert Murdoch as an interventionist proprietor of a “cult beloved of media polemicists and populist politicians”. The mass of evidence, in former editors’ and associates’ memoirs, in government reports, in academic studies and in biographies of Murdoch, was ignored, as was a diplomatic telegram recently unearthed from the United States national archives reporting a confidential instruction in 1975 from Murdoch to his editors to “Kill Whitlam”, then Australian prime minister.
The instruction was not meant literally, of course, according to Philip Dorling’s report in Fairfax Media newspapers on June 28. It was just a particularly graphic example of a pattern of proprietorial behaviour long associated with Murdoch.
By golly the pond could go on quoting Ricketson and Dodd all day, but let's just settle for this:
...the Media section today is significantly smaller (it usually runs to only three broadsheet pages) and is primarily focused on media business matters, industry news and gossip. It is racy, partisan, sometimes floridly so, and, to paraphrase The Simpsons, nuance is not its friend.
It does provide straight coverage for many stories, but, equally, others appear ideologically charged or driven by corporate animus. It is more likely to attack individuals and to adopt a sneering tone. It tends to pillory those who criticise News Corp, often regardless of the merits of the original criticism, and if the target of the attack responds, the newspaper floods the zone with increasingly tendentious nit-picking until even the most interested reader has lost sight of the original point of the debate.
The reputation for integrity of the Media section, then, has dissolved or, at the least, is dissolving. The number of stories that could be fairly described as the work of a watchdog is far outnumbered by those that are the work of a lapdog, and especially, an attack dog.
These days you can find all sorts of News Corp alumni washing up in all sorts of odd places, a little weird and traumatised by their time inside the fortress - you can even find them in places like the consumer body Choice.
Inside the paranoid narcissist fortress it gets even weirder, and there's nothing weirder than watching Paul Kelly consider a price on carbon as just another matter for domestic ideological and political intrigue, and never mind the science or any reflection on how Australia might best respond to it.
How did the reptiles get to this desperate and pathetic point?
Well there's a clue in Crikey's amusing list of 50 things the reptiles hate (paywall affected), with Climate change clocking it at number 9, ahead of Jihadis, and with a link to a James Delingpole piece published under the Oz banner, Growing evidence of great climate change scams (paywall affected, thank the long absent lord).
Delingpole! Close bosomed friend of the maturing Kelly, conspiring with him how to deny and curse ...
Of course it's always dressed up as printing the controversy, giving balance, like an ABC in drag. Cue Abbott:
Anyone seeking arguments against – as well as for – a price on carbon; support for the monarchy as well as criticism of it; evidence against government spending as well as in favour of it; and the case for smaller rather than bigger government would have found these in The Australian and, often enough, only in The Australian.
But for all the rhetoric, the reptiles are now denialist central.
Amongst the other hates and fears listed by Crikey are feral greens and latte greens, and the ABC and so on, and on, all good 'get off my lawn' peeves, and it's Margot Saville that provides the final clue, the final tile in the floor, in Climate sceptic HQ: undercover at Ian Plimer's book launch:
If I were an estate planner, I would definitely be sponsoring Professor Ian Plimer. Judging by the age of the audience at the launch of his latest book last night, they must need some help with their wills. And while they can’t help being old — it comes to us all — I’m still not sure why they were so angry. Surrounded by about 70 choleric, red-faced elderly blokes (there were only three women), I was terrified that one of them was going to have a stroke.
But that's also the demographic for the reptiles. Angry old men scribbling for angry old men. Even the women who write for it manage to sound like embittered, angry old men ...
Yes, take a trip down memory lane with Janet Albrechtsen when back in 2009, she hit the road with Ian Plimer in A tale of two worlds ...
There's your angry old denialist men, right there ..
And since then, nothing's changed at denialist central ... and chairman Rupert wouldn't have it any other way ...
(Below: Australia, you might, right at this moment, be standing in it)