Tuesday, August 12, 2014

In which the pond strays into the reptile park, but lives to tell the tale ...

(Above: now there's a musical the pond would pay to see, and the rest of the script for the musical is here, courtesy of First Dog. The pond seems to recollect hearing Barners and the Cowpokes Jug Band Orchestra one night at Maguires, or maybe the pond was just as pissed as the parrots on crack cherry blossoms)

It's pleasing to see that the effort to produce a democracy in Iraq - by bombing the country back to the stone age - has produced a quintessential politician.

Yes, having led the country into bitter division, confusion and chaos, and impotence in the face of the barbarians, Nouri al-Maliki has resorted to the courts to stay in power, and deployed forces in the streets, long after his usefulness and use by date had expired. Another winner picked in a decade of Iraqi winner picking ...

And then there was the fine domestic spectacle of a coach explaining that if there hadn't been an investigation, why everything could have proceeded swimmingly, a competitive edge would have been maintained, and players could have kept on injecting themselves with improving substances, because that's what football's all about in Australia ... shoving substances into the body to keep it up to speed (and that's why, a truckie might add, we need speed in the body to keep up to speed). Come on down Lance Armstrong, all is forgiven, the AFL is waiting to apply your skills ...

And there, last night, for all the world to see, Media Watch reminded us - the latest episode is available for downloading here and the transcript is here - of the cesspit that News Corp papers have become, exemplified by the Terror and Bill Leak.

The pond has no idea what happened to Leak. He used to be funny, but then so did Woody Allen, and then he made Interiors.

These days the few examples of Leak's work that filter out from behind the paywall seem to the pond to be resolutely unfunny, as if, as a survival strategy, Leak had decided on a double dose of the Chris Mitchell kool aid (up there with the dose that the SheBolt in waiting, Sharri Markson, seems to consume on a daily basis).

It truly has become the hate media of choice, biased, crusading, foul in heart and mind, and indulging in vicious personal vendettas - the latest war has seen the reptiles assault Julian Disney and the Australian Press Council for daring to even think about spanking the rag with a warm lettuce leaf.

News Corp slams Australian Press Council and its chairman, reported the Graudian, though it might just as easily have been headed Petulant playground bully threatens to take bat and ball home, and yah sucks boo to you too...

The casual reader might have thought that invoking petulant playground bullies is being inclined to lizard Oz-style exaggeration, but then they wouldn't have read the absolutely feral assault in Press Council runs off the rails, which started with this mealy mouthed piety:

This newspaper champions free speech and, naturally, press freedom. We also support the concept of a robust independent arbiter to oversee our industry — a far more preferable state of affairs than government control of media.

Yes as soon as the playground bully starts belting you around the ears saying 'we're only doing this for your own good' you know you're in bully la la land.

Actually the pond only quoted that so the stray reader would have something to google - who knows if the reptile rant is behind the paywall, but then who would invite an innocent reader to pay for the privilege of a tour of the sewer.

That said, it is a standard piece of hyperbolic rhetoric, with Orwellian public interest media advocate and Stalinist-like lunge at the press flung around like paranoid confetti.

This is a rag which has lost interest in the meaningful use of English or temperate language - any Godwin's Law swear jar would fill so quickly, the reptiles would at last have a decent superannuation scheme as their flailing, failing rag contemplates its ever diminishing subscription list.

And for what?

Well the Crikey headler for David Salter's piece, Smelling an adverse ruling, The Australian turns on Press Council (paywall affected) says it all.

Self-regulation, at least in the ethical fantasyland of News Corp, is only a worthwhile system of media accountability so long as it doesn’t inquire into the abuse of a newspaper’s power to pursue vendettas and parade its own paranoia.

As Salter noted, in the usual reptile way, the reptiles went the whole hog, and put the assault on the front page. There it is, down the bottom on the left:

Did the pond say on the left?

Apologies, how silly. The pond meant to say on the extreme far right of the blank space ...

Salter's piece is worth reading for the context it offers to the dispute, which started with allegations that Arthur Gietzelt was a secret pinko commie socialist pervert:

This brand of McCarthyist, reds-under-the-bed smear journalism may seem preposterously old-fashioned, but it’s very much the house style for any paper edited by Mitchell. It was Mitchell, when editing The Courier-Mail, who in 1996 ran blanket coverage of assertions that historian Manning Clark had been a “Soviet agent of influence” and was secretly awarded the Order of Lenin by the USSR. A subsequent APC investigation found these allegations to be false. Their adjudication ruling said, in part: “The newspaper had too little evidence to assert that Prof Clark was awarded the Order of Lenin — rather there is much evidence to the contrary. That being so, the Press Council finds that The Courier-Mail was not justified in publishing its key assertion and the conclusions which so strongly flowed from it. The newspaper should have taken further steps to check the accuracy of its reports.” 
Despite being urged to do so by the Press Council, Mitchell and The Courier-Mail have never retracted their false allegation

Yes there's all the hallmarks of fanaticism. No retreat, no surrender, never acknowledge error, never offer a retraction.

And as Salter notes, it puts the whole self-regulation system into question. If Disney folds, he's damned. If the APC finds against the reptiles, Disney is damned. And all because the reptiles are thin-skinned:

Even worse is reserved for Disney himself. In a remarkably personal attack the editorial deplored his “peculiar tastes and political predilections”, accused him of “poor stewardship”, “biases” and “ideological activism”. He was mocked as the “censor-in-chief” and “emperor of taste”. Disney has been taught a lesson (as if it were needed) on how viciously the Holt Street mafia will retaliate if anyone challenges their methods or opinions. 
More importantly, this whole unpleasant episode demonstrates the hypocrisies that underpin the media self-regulation construct in Australia. In response to the perceived threats of the Finkelstein Inquiry and the Convergence Review, newspaper proprietors rushed to “strengthen” the Press Council’s authority and increase its funding. 
Now we have proof that this was all window dressing. If the APC’s processes and findings don’t suit a powerful member such as News Corp, it refuses to play by the rules and trashes the chair’s reputation. Self-regulation is no regulation at all.

Every so often, the pond thinks of complaining about News Corp publications.

It remains, for example, a complete mystery why Paul Whittaker remains editor of the Daily Terror, as he takes the rag even further into the gutter, down into the sewer that discharges directly into the harbour - a feat that at one time the pond thought unimaginable, and with the visual traducing of a Boston bombing victim just the latest example of the feral Photoshop behaviour of the rag over which he presides. Vendettas, paranoia, hysterical coverage. Why if you look in that mirror, the Terror is the fairest in all the land. Watch out sleeping beauty ...

The pond was therefore startled to see this header by the reptiles in this morning's digital space:

Now there's a fine joke. The pond looks forward to the lizard Oz running another story: If bias at Murdoch papers is systemic, only structural reform will solve it.

Or how about, If the bias at News Corp is systemic and also involves the trashing of the APC, only structural reform and giving the APC more than a warm lettuce leaf to admonish the reptiles will solve it.

As for the actual piece by Paterson, it's just the usual frothing and foaming at the mouth by the reptiles giving the chance for the IPA to lounge on the hot rock.

This week the reptiles had a big win by herding and hustling the Fairfaxians into blind panic and another step down the path to destruction, so now it's back to maintaining the war with the ABC.

Okay, Paterson has to make a living, no matter how peculiar the way of making the living might be, and you'd have to think being "director of communications at the Institute of Public Affairs" is a mite peculiar. Especially when you get down to reading Environment of fear as ABC fails bias test (behind the paywall because some fools will pay to read an IPA press release).

Environment of fear? Oh the pond is quaking, but please do go on:

The ABC is not like any other broadcaster. With more than $1 billion in public funding, we rightly demand the ABC be rigorously fair, balanced and impartial. 
On energy policy, we now know the ABC fails that test. As reported in The Australian yesterday, the Institute of Public Affairs released research that conclusively demonstrates the ABC’s bias against fossil fuels and in favour of renewable energy.

Yep, the IPA confirms that the IPA has discovered bias, because the IPA is completely objective and without a single axe to grind. And no, you can't check if they have a few fossil fuel clients and sponsors ...

Oh wait, there is just one axe worth a little grinding after the usual assortment of faux statistics, bile and prejudice:

If, as David Marr said, you have to be a leftie to be a journalist, then those who choose to work at a public broadcaster instead of a commercial outlet are even more likely to be left-wing. 

Uh huh. If, as the pond once said, you have to be a barking mad right winger to be a member of the right wing commentariat, then those who choose to work at the IPA instead of a sensible think tank are even more likely to be a barking mad right winger ...

Or some such 101 logic.

Now can we cut to the chase puh-lease:

Once surrounded by others of a similar world view, and insulated from their audiences by the absence of a commercial imperative to seek advertising, it’s predictable that the personal preferences of journalists dominate coverage. 
If bias at the ABC is systemic, only structural reform will solve it. A new board or management won’t change the culture. Privatising the ABC is the only way to ensure taxpayers’ money is not used to fund biased coverage.

Ah, it's the old privatising rag ... can anyone play?

If bias at the Murdoch papers is systemic, only structural reform will solve it. A new board or management or new editors or even a new owner, which would see the foreign citizen controlling the rags stripped of his ownership, won't change the culture. Nationalising the Murdoch empire is the only way to ensure subscribers' money is not used to fund biased coverage.

Or some such thing, which shows at the very least that the pond can sound as nakedly stupid as James Paterson of the IPA ...

What else?

Well it is of course Caterist day, and the Caterists have blessed the world with ...

Oh hollow victory, bitter tears, death where is thy sting, and so on and so forth, preferably to a little Vaughn Williams or maybe Holst, though the more arcane might favour Hubert Parry ...

But you don't need to evade the paywall to read Free-speech phobics cling on. You know what's in it already:

It (Australia) is a country of “informality, bloody-mindedness, individualism, self-reliance”, wrote the British politician Daniel Hannan recently. “Here, in short, is Mill’s libertarian philosophy made flesh.” 
Yet most of the thousands of submissions the Attorney-General received favoured the status quo, arguing that restrictions on free speech were less onerous than the risk of giving offence. 

What? Oh that's damned difficult. There the pond was with its barbed wire and stockings ready to fix the ute, and there's all the do gooders wanting to avoid taking a fence.

Is there an explanation?

Who can tell whether the views of, say, the West Australian Somali Cultural Awareness Association were broadly in line with those of the public? Ditto the views of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reference Group, the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care, the Australian Tamil Congress, the Australian Lawyers Alliance, Aboriginal Legal Service of WA (Inc), the Muslim Legal Network, the WA Muslim Lawyers Association and many, many more. 

Oh say no more. That explains everything. Pesky blacks, Islamics, wogs, all ruining things for decent dinkum Aussies ...

And so on and so forth:

Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane summed it up — sort of — in last Wednesday’s The Canberra Times: “The members of ‘Team Australia’ have said unambiguously that the act should stay as it is.” Soutphommasane’s Team Australia should not be confused with that of Tony Abbott, who used the term last week to describe the broad national consensus on matters of national security. 

Yes, and the broad national consensus was that a zillion Team America jokes should blossom on the intertubes.

The Race Discrimination Commissioner, on the other hand, employs Team Australia as a euphemism for the new establishment, the enforcers of political correctness who remain firmly in control of most of Australia’s cultural institutions. On Thursday he told readers of The Age that the objections had “not just come from multicultural and Aboriginal communities”. “The legal profession, human rights experts, psychologists and public health professionals have all objected to weakening laws against racial vilification.” 
Indeed, we had rather expected they would. The repeal of 18C was a disruption to the grievance industry’s business model that they could not countenance. Its flaws are self-evident, but like a diseased tree in a Tasmanian forest, its felling was unimaginable. 

And there you have it. A diseased mind blathering on about a diseased tree in a Tasmanian forest, as if that would be a sustainable basis for a forestry industry ... Now can we have another fatuous image?

These are Australia’s true conservatives, the ones defending the cultural institutions they have either taken over or created in the 50 years since Donald Horne wrote The Lucky Country. Horne’s list of special interest groups is relatively short: the wheat, sugar and wool lobbies, the churches, the RSL, the four newspaper groups, BHP, the Chamber of Manufacturers and the unions in the Labor Party. Today’s list would be many times longer, but like the reactionaries in 1964, their grip on the levers of cultural power is less secure than they imagine. There is precious little support for their worn-out causes outside of the beret-wearing zone.

The beret-wearing zone! It's the perfidious frogs, and somehow they've found their way to the colonies with their bloody French sticks and their airs and graces ...

Around this point in time in the good old days, the pond's father, perhaps influenced by drink and a perceived notion of a long lost Irish heritage, would announce that stupid Pommie bastards, newbies, and silly asses, should just pack their portmanteaus, piss off back home, and leave the colonies alone ...

Thankfully such idle abuse is no longer viable, at least outside the world of blogs and the Murdoch press ...

For the rest, the Caterists do a valiant job of imitating the black knight in a Python sketch. It really was a victory, you see, Abbott folding on the matter of 18C.

The Bolter need never fear its wrath again, we can all talk of stupid Dutch folk and useless Pommie bastards, and so all may enter the house of the long lost lord righteous and justified, full of idle, childish abuse of the beret-wearing kind ...

And the Murdoch press can go on being abusive, and paying no heed to anyone, not even to the Press Council which ostensibly it agreed should help the industry to self-regulate:

The case started a backlash that destroyed the Gillard government’s restrictive anti-discrimination legislation and gave the Abbott government the ­motivation to reshape the Human Rights Commission. Tim Wilson’s appointment with special responsibilities for free speech has noticeably shifted the body’s focus. 
Brandis, it should be noted, played a key part in both those achievements, a fact that should not be forgotten, despite the defeat of his Freedom of Speech Bill. 
In the end, the real issue is not 18C but the illiberal climate that encouraged the complainants in the Bolt case to pursue their audacious case. 
The pain of dashed expectations is acute for the many who wanted 18C off the statute books. Yet for the first time in decades the rights industry is fighting to hold its ground rather than planning its next grand adventure.

Oh yes, another hit of the kool aid please. Tim Wilson huzzah, George Brandis huzzah, the Bolter huzzah, the Caterists huzzah, the Murdoch press huzzah, the IPA huzzah, now into the valley, and don't you worry about following the five hundred. Everything's for the best in the best of all paranoid, abusive, offensive worlds ...

Or maybe it's just time for a cartoon about the sad fate of jolly Joe, and as always, more Pope here:

Oh endless fun can be had working out whether the other David caught it better, and as always there's more Rowe here.

But then, unlike Bill Leak, the two Davids still remember how to be funny, which it should be noted, is very different from the unconscious humour to be discovered watching the reptiles at play, tearing the limbs off anyone in the vicinity of the reptile park, or the Caterists shedding crocodile tears which might on an average day be mistaken for the tears the Walrus shed over the oysters in Carroll's splendid poem.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely as ever but a bit of a shame the Pond didn't stick around to hear the silent song of Aurora and the "I don't recall" choir. Would've thought you could sniff out a bit of brand protection, bureaucratic bungling and scapegoating when it's as plain as doghit on the footpath - hate to think its because our previous ALP govt used the blackest day in sport for an umbrellas worth or respite from it's then 40 days or shit showers. Fairfax, AFL, ASADA, Lundy? Nah, it must be that Hird bloke, he's behind it all!


Comments older than two days are moderated and there will be a delay in publishing them.