SOMEWHERE in a tear-stained corner of the Media Watch HQ a researcher is feeling bruised, battered and bitterly disappointed. That person also should be burdened with guilt, but as this is the ABC we are talking about, that emotion will be a non-starter, despite the drubbing Jen Marohasy has just dispensed.
Here is how we can assume it went down, going on what newsroom types have told the Professor is Media Watch's standard operating procedure. Late on Friday, Marohasy would have received a swag of questions from one of the altar boys who kneel before Jonathan Holmes’ pulpit. These always arrive on Fridays to catch the target unaware and, more important, to permit inadequate time to compile a comprehensive response. There would have been follow-up communications as well, all stressing that the show has a deadline and repeating the need to respond ASAP. By Monday, further attempts to respond would be rejected on the grounds that the show's shooting schedule was so far advanced no changes or amplifications could be included.
Marohasy’s crime is to have argued with great energy and much evidence that the Murray’s lower lakes are being stuffed by the gates which prevent seawater flooding in when drought reduces freshwater flows. Marohasy maintains the lakes and the ecology they support are better served by allowing them to become brackish from time to time. The tone of Media Watch’s question was accusatory, the implication being that Marohasy was in the pay of “irrigators and water-rights entrepreneurs” who wish to spread more Murray water on their upstream crops.
From this we can conclude that someone at the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, or some other group had worded up a mate at Media Watch and provided their version of the settled science about how the lakes have always been freshwater etc. As the catastropharian Robyn Williams is the ABC’s science editor, an empty test tube if ever there was one, it is safe to assume that familiarity with scientific methods and matters in the Media Watch compound is best measured with a microscope. Indeed, given the youth of what one gathers to be a typical Media Watch researcher it would be a surprise if an appreciation for science extended any further than a recognition of the need to drink more water while under the influence over Ecstasy.
Well Holmes’ crew picked the wrong woman. Marohasy puts down their questions like a vet with an old dog. Gently, calmly, but ever-so-firmly she answers them all. The exchange is now on her website.
She also contacted her lawyer and had her warn Media Watch to be very, very careful.
And guess what? Holmes junior league crusaders backed right off, dropped the story and ran away. The item will not be running tonight, although there is no guarantee the blunt tools in Holmes drawers will not go back to their green mates for fresh ammunition. Fools and fanatics, particularly the publicly funded varieties, are like that: they never know quite when to stop.
As for Media Watch, being forced to can the Marohasy hatchet job must have left a hole in tonight’s show, so Holmes could need something fresh and scandalous to justify a bit more of his pouting and smugging. Time is short, so why doesn't he hunt close to home?
Why not examine your own show’s methods, Jonathan? And while you are at, what about correcting the record in regard to the deletion of Milly Dowler’s voicemails, or is regret another of those sentiments unknown to ABC types?
How many weeks has it been now?
How many weeks has it been now?