Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Rum Lot At Media Watch

LATE ONE night in, oh, 1978-or-so, after a MiSex show at the London Tavern, a friend who was a junior journalist at Fairfax suggested a drink at his club. This turned out to be the Journalists’ Club, where they served something called Lemon Hart Rum, a memorably smooth drop and remembered all the more for having been repeated in far too many interrogative approaches to the barman. Eventually, too wobbly to walk and unable to find the car, the Professor’s companion volunteered the information that “his club” also offered accommodation for the weary. This turned out to be a little room named after Kenneth Slessor and rather like those sanctums the Scientologists reserve for the spirit of L. Ron Hubbard in each and every of their temples. It boasted a few books and two very comfy armchairs, in one of which a young Bunyip took his rest. Sometime later, a middle-aged gentleman sat on the Professor’s lap, which startled both of us in the dark. He expressed regret and said he would find another spot to sleep. The next morning found him curled up on the carpet with shoes for pillow and trousers about his knees. Ever since that night it has been very hard to think ill of the gentlemen of the press.

That shows how times have changed because contempt grows easier by the day. It is inconceivable that a decent man would get on the squirt with a scribe of the modern variety. Nod off somewhere dark and soft and it might a Media Watch researcher who wrenches you from the arms of Morpheus, and that would mean some extreme rudeness if the way Jen Marohasy is being treated is an indication.

Some nasty shrew, full of presumption, overflowing with arrogance and entitlement – that would be your midnight inquisitor. What right do you have to that chair? Who paid for those rums? Are you now or have you ever been a conservative?

And if you were to answer in truth and fully, that simply would not do, wouldn’t do at all! Being a Media Watch operative, your personal prosecutor would feel obligated to call business associates, friends and enemies, especially the enemies, to both collect and sow a little dirt. This is what publicly funded journalists do these days, apparently, as Marohasy has been experiencing and reporting on her blog.

Nor is that the limit of the ABC’s arrogance. If queried about their behaviour, the reaction is tp shoot off a patronising and condescending note that says, in effect, Media Watch has a charter allowing to do anything it damn well likes, explanations not required. This is what Marc Hendrickx learned from Media Watch executive producer Lin Buckfield:

Dear Mr Hendrickx
Thank you for your email, it is one of many Media Watch has received in relation to questions the program sent to Dr Marohasy last week. As you will be aware, Media Watch has not, as yet, run an item looking at the media coverage of the report “Plugging the Murray River’s Mouth” authored by Dr. Marohasy and commissioned by the Australian Environment Foundation.

Media Watch looks at how the media (all platforms) report and treat various issues. In order to do that we research many stories, telephone calls are made, emails are sent. Our hardworking team of 3 researchers cover a lot of ground in the course of their working days.

Ours is a controversial program, our investigations rarely please everyone but we are bound not only by our ethics as journalists but also by the ABC Editorial Policies to fair, honest and unbiased in our approach to our work. We are under no obligation to discuss correspondence or conversations with third parties done in the course of legitimate research.

Given that Media Watch has not yet put an item to air looking at the media coverage of the report “Plugging the Murray River’s Mouth”, may I suggest you get back to me with any questions you may have if and when the item airs?

Lin Buckfield
Executive Producer
Media Watch

Notice Buckfield’s slime and sleight of hand. The segment is not to be about Marohasy and her crusade to restore the Murray’s mouth. It is to be on “the media coverage of the report.” That would be why Marohasy’s interrogator has been demanding to know if she associates with certain people Media Watch evidently believes to be scoundrels, how she stocks her bank account and if she has dealt with (shudder) the Heartland Institute and other secular satans.

Then there are the blandishments – “we research many stories, telephone calls are made, emails are sent” – that float in an oil of self-congratulation. Media Watch’s investigators are “hard working” and “bound by our ethics as journalists” . You silly, silly man, Mr Hendrickx, to think the Smugger Show might ever be less than “fair, honest and unbiased.” Why, perish the very thought!

The last time the Professor heard anything resembling that tone, it was from the lips of a B-movie Nazi insisting that Germans were a civilised race and neither he nor his SS comrades should be mistaken for barbarians.

Stick with Marohasy, she needs support and if there is a tip jar on her site, bung something in it. And read Hendrickx, who also understands that Media Watch’s naked arrogance is more than rudeness.

Government-funded inquisitors baying at the heels of a scientist whose opinions and research inconvenience their mates in the Green Establishment? To tolerate that for very much longer is more than dangerous, it is stupid. How can we allow the public purse to pay the salaries of bullies? It is a question Prime Minister Abbott will need to resolve and quick.

In the meantime, Buckfield’s song of righteousness confirms the Professor’s moral certainty. If a Media Watch reporter were to be spotted on the floor of the Kenneth Slessor library, it would be remiss not to kick him on the way out.

UPDATE: After a round of correspondence, Hendrickx asks Buckfield:

... Should the program go to air I will assess it on its merits and ask questions if I think it is warranted.  In the meantime I draw your attention to the results of a Google search of the phrase "sent Friday" for your site It returns 400 results.  ("sent friday site:")

Can you comment on what appears to be a very common Media Watch tactic of ambushing the subjects of its investigations with questions late on a Friday afternoon for reports that are due to be broadcast the following Monday. With this in mind I draw your attention to questions 13 and 14 in the list we provided. 
13. Why did Media Watch provide Dr Marohasy with such short notice to respond to questions? 
14. Does Media Watch consider the amount of time fair and reasonable given the number and nature of questioning?

Hey, Marc, don't hold your breath. It's Media Watch's world, everyone else just pays for it.


  1. One of the little joys of living in Hong Kong is observing a press unafraid to display its biases. If you've been watching the lead up to our Chief Executive "election" later this month, you'd have seen papers slugging it out by writing the most scurrilous things about their favourite's opponent. And what scandals we've had; the entry last weekend of a triad boss with the unlikely moniker of "Shanghai Boy" into the whole sordid mess has been my personal highlight!

    One might sniff at such obvious one-sidedness. after all, a civilised press is dispassionate; journalists aren't meant to take sides.

    But at least I know - it's impossible to mistake - which paper supports Henry Tang (playboy, basement builder and father of a heretofore secret daughter) or CY Leung (in with the mob, conflicts of interest over land deals).

    In Australia, the game is dirtier. Nobody nails their colours to the mast quite as dramatically as in Hong Kong. But it's about time they did. The ABC is fooling nobody and the Marohasy Affair will live on in infamy as a tipping point on press bias.

    There's nothing quite like a Hong Kong journalist digging for muck on a politician hated by his employer. Words are written here to kill; and nobody is hiding their daggers behind a cloak to do it. You have to admire that in a way... Or at least see it as more open and democratic than the subsidised farce unfolding at the ABC.

    Why Australians are paying tax for this is beyond me.

    1. Hanyu, I supervised a (no) confidence appraisal into CY Leung at City University last week. I must admit I did nervously notice the CCTV cameras outside the Staff Association room in which it took place. Why was I nervous, well this was CY Leung after all and I used to work there. I will leave you to join the rest of the dots. Agree with you re: the media in HK. It's a free press in that you are absolutely free to say whatever you want against your opponents (I say this from personal experience) malicious, defamatory or otherwise.

  2. MiSex? The only Australian band more derivative than Icehouse? Oh, Professor!

    1. MiSex were Kiwis, truth be told, and good ambassadors for their country, too. As far as is known, not one member was ever on the dole, nor ever had to borrow a suit for a turn in the dock.

    2. I gotta feeling their New Zealanders.

    3. The obvious sign that Mi-Sex were a good band is that, despite being kiwis one and all, they are so often referred to as Australian.

  3. They've been gunning for Professor Marohasy for a long time.
    Back in 2003, while I think she was on the payroll of the IPA she rather embarrassed the CSIRO by turning their own data on them to rebut their claim that salinity was increasing in the Murray.
    Her IPA Backgrounder is here:
    It's still a good read and explains why she is such a problem to those who would hide the truth from us if only they could get away with it.
    Not that the ABC would stoop to character assassination to get rid of an embarrassment.
    Oh no.
    Hope yesterday's medical consultation went well.

  4. The problem for the credibility of Lin, Excutive Producer (does that mean there's a Producer - and probably a PA?) of Jonathon Smirk is that there does not appear to have been much coverage of the report at all in any media. Google shows a couple of reports in some regional rags, so where is the great interest?

    I do like the lack of wordsmithiness that Lin (prsumably a leading modern journo) displays:
    'Ours is a controversial program, our investigations rarely please everyone...' Is a conjunction too much to ask for? Or can the budget not afford one after hiring those three researchers for a 15 min program that runs once a week for 10 months?

    'may I suggest you get back to me with any questions you may have if and when the item airs?' I don't think that's actually a question, Lin, but since you ask: 'No!'

    Perhaps the three researchers should confine themselves to detecting egregious typos in the Illawarra Mercury and even more exciting croc stories in the NT Times, and then settle down to congratulate themselves over a cosmopolitan chardonnay or three with Mr Smirk.

  5. Perhaps Ms Buckfield was in the crowd at the Mi Sex gig learning eyeliner tips from lead singer Steve Gilpin (RIP). Before her government funded gig she was lead singer of the Electric Pandas and star of a Coca Cola ad that I am sure is on Youtube.

    from Real Deal

    1. Actually, Real Deal, it was the Stranglers who topped the bill, but MiSex, the support act, blew them off the stage.

    2. The Stranglers were pretty weak on that tour. Too much "gold and brown" I expect.

      MiSex were a competent outfit, but they all looked like they could use a good feed.

    3. Is that really the same woman? Wow. She was such a turn-on back then. Now her brain is so ugly the rest is academic.

  6. Thanks Professor, I'll take that advice and calmly exhale.
    I guess the best response to one of those 5 minutes to midnight emails is to put it in the spam bin with the emails from the Nigerians and other trolls.

    1. Marc, Jen has found the right formula to foil Media Watch: wet their powder before they can pull the trigger.

      I still can't believe the arrogance of the Electric Pandas woman. Abbott probably will be unable to get away with elling the ABC, but he had better have a plan to reform whatever is left.

  7. Give the Australian political left a sniff of state power and it becomes an arrogant, despotic lynch mob. Media Watch is the ABC lynch mob’s lynch mob, having dispensed with the figleaf that it is the voice of the Australian public. The ABC is the heist of the century for the 12% of people who support Green totalitarianism – a $1 billion-a-year propaganda slush fund that the poor schmucks who pay for it thought was theirs. It’s not even ALP-aligned – that’s way too conservative for the zombies currently in charge at the ABC.
    It’s either a socialist army that’s born to rule when the Left is in charge or a sulking black hole of negativity denied its entitlement when the conservatives are in power. Its bias is inbuilt as it is in most of the public service. People being given a free ride by taxpayers thumb their noses at them. It has to be sold to face the discipline that everyone else in the media business faces: the market. At the moment it stands for an ideology that most Australians are appalled by.

    1. Out where I work, Tom (back of Cunnamulla, Eulo), the only decent radio coverage is the ABC. The commercials can't be heard because they can't make a quick and dirty quid out of peddling bigotry paid for by steak knives.
      There is no more totalatarian regime than the market.
      The people being given a free ride are the white shoe brigade that inhabit the littoral, their prosperity earned by the sweat of the miners in the west and north-west. You really need to get out more.

    2. "There is no more totalatarian (sic) regime than the market."

      Yes numbers. That's why countries without a free market: the USSR, Cuba, China, Cambodia etc have been lands of milk and honey.

    3. Note I used the term "market". The "free market" is a figment of your ideological imagination.

    4. In Italy, before the early 90s Tangentpoli (bribe city) scandal smashed up the major political parties, the state radio/TV corporation, RAI, had three channels and the output of one each of these channels was pretty much openly controlled by one of the major political players - the Christian Democrats, the Socialist and the Communists. I doubt if this contributed much to the quality of RAI's output, but it kept a lot of people happy.

      Maybe we should be equally honest in Australia, admit that state owned media, because it's protected from market forces, is always going to be captured by sectional interests and at least make the system fair by allocating one ABC channnel to the ALP, a second to the Coalition and a third to the others - Greens, independents, One Nation etc. I imagine that the third channel would provide a particularly entertaining diversion.

      Consuela Potez.

    5. "Out where I work ... the only decent radio coverage is the ABC"

      That explains a lot.

      Doing a "geographic" are you, Teach? Don't worry, your mind-numbing drug of choice, in this case the ABC, will follow you everywhere.

  8. "the reaction is tp (sic) shoot off a patronising and condescending note that says, in effect...."
    My penniless student daughter would be happy to copy edit for you for a small fee, Bunyip.
    (Note my lack of arrogance and condescension).
    Contact me off blog.....

    1. Thank you, Numbers. If your daughter is fetching, young and firm, pays for her own family planning and is given to placing frequently needed materials in the lowest drawers of filing cabinets, please send her CV. Perhaps some on-the-job experience can be arranged.

    2. "Note my lack of arrogance and condescension."

      Funny, but it appears to be fair gushing from the page...

      Must just be you, Teach.

    3. Surely, a daughter who could edit copy could also tell you that ellipses and points of suspension should consist of three dots unless you’re pointing to omitted material of more than a sentence (when you should use four). She could also tell you, I should hope, that the full stop of a complete sentence within parentheses should be inside the parentheses as well.
      The Latin word sic, as you used it, really ought to be italicised and placed within brackets.
      Couldn’t you, 1735099, employ the alleged penniless daughter? I took a dekko at just one of your blogs, and the posts were full of sloppy punctuation, typos and catachreses.

    4. Of course, Deadman, I'll happily take any advice if it provides for an improvement in quality.
      A catachresis, by the way, can be deliberate.

    5. "A catachresis, by the way, can be deliberate."

      Slowly, slowly, catch a rhesus.

  9. Wow Bob, a typo.

    If you had shown such zeal while you were a nasho you might have risen above Private.

    1. The typo will be allowed to stand as a tribute to Numbers' zeal and acumen. A man should have one achievement in his life.

    2. With apologies to WBY -
      "Surely some revelation is at hand;
      Surely the Second Coming is at hand
      Bunyip's one achievement!"

  10. My fav, rolled and roasted numbers!

  11. Why doesn't Lin Buckfield simply answer the fifteen very reasonable questions asked by Marc?

    Surely that would be consistent with transparency, honesty and 'quality' journalism - principles upon which I am sure Lin, Jonathon and the 'hard working team' (in between well-earned breaks, presumably) would stake their reputations?

  12. Prof Bunyip,
    I am an admiring follower of the Billabong.
    However, without casting Machiavellian aspertions, I can't help getting the vibe (suspicious old ex-detective that I am) that your most persistent resident troll, Mr numbers
    is a straw man.
    He is far too articulate and swiched on for your garden variety troll.
    I believe Mr Bolt & Lord Tim have a couple of similar residents at their campsites.
    Or perhaps they are all Mr Numbers in disguise.
    Either way I love your style and presentation of pertinent political & social shenanigans with just the right dose of scything wit to expose the weakness in the preposterously over rated, over educated and over paid.
    Keeping the herd strong by the (metaphorical) culling of the weak, diseased or dangerous is the honourable duty of the stong.

  13. Slightly off topic, but hot off the presses..

    Perhaps Smirk and Buckfield would also like to comment on why they chose to launch a witch hunt in January against Hedley Thomas and The Australian, who were claiming that there may have been some things missed to date by the Wivenhoe dam enquiry.

    Presumably it was because they were very hurtful things to suggest about poor Mrs Bligh and the Labor Government.

    1. Good point, Lazlo. But there's nothing to see there, is there? Oh - look, a unicorn! Look, Campbell Newman's wife's sister once lived next door to a paedohpile!!

  14. Excellent post as usual. I also second your sentiments about supporting Jennifer Marohassy. From my readings of her reseasrch and her illuminating articles in 'The Land' she is unquestionably an excellent researcher and full of courage and integrity. Australia needs more scientists like her. And Prime Minister Abbott would do well to seek her counsel and advice on matters concerning the environment and other areas within her expertise.

    Further, I fully agree with your point about the ABC though I would not be such a fence sitter on this as you evidently are. I never thought I would say it (by the way, I am a swinging voter) but teh ABC should be given the complete chop. The whole shebang! It has shown itself to be nothing more than an arm of government propaganda - a fact admitted to in public by its Obergruppenfurhur no less - and consequently represents a clear and present danger to Australian democracy.

    And the quicker we see the back of the outrageoudsly smug Holmes, the nauseatingly pompous Adams, the clownish Robyn Williams, the pointless, pinch-throated chap who runs Q&A (what's 'is name?) and their ilk - the better off we all shall be.

    Keep-up the good work Andrew. you are a great service to the voice of liberty and free-market democracy.

  15. I thought the google technique seemed a little crude, or at least needed to be put in perspective.

    I went ahead myself and googled "sent " site: for all days spelled in full. Note that my search uses quotes around sent and the day where as the above does not.

    The results:

    Mon: 110
    Tue: 21
    Wed: 44
    Thu: 135
    Fri: 303
    Sat: 36
    Sun: 13

    Wow... just... Wow.

  16. Lin Buckfield - Electric Pandas. I did a gig with them in the 80's.
    She's surfaced at the ABC like a Bondi cigar off Malabar - totally predictable.
    Has sensible shoes - turkey baster pregnancy or taxpayer funder IVF. you get the picture.
    great fit for the ABC.

    1. I had a thing for her, back in the day. Bloody Countdown.

  17. Lemon Hart is a fine drop - aged in casks with lemon pips for flavor.

    Was it the safe, staid 80-proof, or the head-popping 151?