The ABC should find a regular presenter for its Q+A show, instead of shuffling through three of its employees week after week, after one of the trio, Stan Grant, proved conclusively on 24 February that he is incompetent to do the job.
Grant asked a member of the studio audience to leave after the man, a Russian-Australian named Sasha Gillies-Lekakis, asked a question about the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which contained an erroneous fact. It did not appear to be popular with the audience and the panel which was heavily tilted towards Ukraine.
Gillies-Lekakis would do well to consult a lawyer about his ejection; as an Australian taxpayer, he is also one of those who fund the ABC which receives a little more than a billion dollars from the Federal Government each year.
There’s a common element to much, if not most, of the news that flits across the TV screens: lies.
People attempt to add a touch of sophistry to lying, by trying to create classes of lies, but in the end it all adds up to the same thing: saying one thing when knowing that the opposite was correct.
One well-known example: the current president of the United States, Joe Biden, came to office promising a US$15 minimum wage for the country. He also promised to provide medical services for all and forgive at least a part of the billions in student debt.
The Saturday Paper — as its name implies — is a weekend newspaper published from Melbourne, Australia. Given this, it rarely has any real news, but some of the features are well-written.
There is a column called Gadfly (again the name would indicate what it is about) which is extremely well-written and is one of the articles that I read every week. It was written for some years by one Richard Ackland, a lawyer with very good writing skills, and is now penned by one Sami Shah, an Indian, who is, again a good writer. Gadfly is funny and, like most of the opinion content in the paper, is left-oriented.
The same cannot be said of some of the other writers. Karen Middleton and Rick Morton fall into the category of poor writers, though the latter sometimes does provide a story that has not been run anywhere else. Middleton can only be described as a hack.
Newspapers from this company are generally classed as being from the left — they once were, when they were owned by Fairfax Media, but centrist or right of centre would be more accurate these days — and given that the ABC is also considered to be part of the left, criticism was generally absent.
Mathieson did not come right out and call the program atrocious – which is what it is right now. The way the headline on Mathieson’s article put it was that Q+A was once an agenda setter, but was no longer essential viewing. He was right about the former, but to call it essential viewing at any stage of its existence is probably an exaggeration.
Australian journalists often criticise each other, with those on the right tending to go for those on the left and vice versa. But, generally, in these stoushes, details of people’s private lives are not revealed.
But there are exceptions, and one of those was witnessed on March 31, when Aaron Patrick, the senior correspondent with the Australian Financial Review, took a swing at Samantha Maiden, a reporter with news.com.au, a free site operated by News Corporation, over coverage of numerous issues around women. (News Corporation’s other sites are all paywalled.)
In February, Maiden exposed the story of a young Liberal staffer, Brittany Higgins, who had been allegedly raped by a colleague in Parliament House some two years ago.
Peter van Onselen is an academic from Western Australia who came to prominence in 2007 when he co-authored a biography of John Howard, the Liberal prime minister who reigned from 1996 to 2007.
Nearly 14 years later, Van Onselen has graduated to become a journalist who writes a weekly column for the right-wing broadsheet, The Australian, and also functions as the political editor for the tabloid free-to-air TV channel, 10.
Recently, however, Van Onselen has shown that he is no journalist, but rather a political operative who looks to back his powerful friends when they need his help. And nobody has needed his help more than the attorney-general, Christian Porter, a close mate of his and a source for many of his stories.
Porter was recently accused of raping a woman in 1988, when she was 16 and he was 17. The woman, known as Kate, died by her own hand last year, and did not make a police complaint, though she did toy with the idea. She is said to have been a highly intelligent person, but the alleged incident appears to have taken its toll, and she was described by many as having some mental problems.
The ABC is always whinging about the funding cuts it has had to suffer, with the Federal Government having cut the public broadcaster’s annual handout by a sizeable amount.
But the corporation makes its case weaker by splurging out on cosmetic exercises to keep its big names happy, with a case in point being Sarah Ferguson’s Four Corners program on the riot in the US capital on January 6.
Had Ferguson’s effort offered some context about the incident, instead of being a straight news program, it would have made some sense. But what is the point in having an Australian reporter file a 45-minute piece about an incident that occurred nearly a month prior?
Audiences in Australia have been enduring a surfeit of coverage about the riot, with there being no shortage of news clips from US broadcasters being shown on the ABC, the other public broadcaster SBS, and also the three Australian commercial channels.
Add to this the fact that the ABC already has three staff reporters in the US. The corporation’s news channel also has a weekly program devoted to the US called Planet America so there is no dearth of coverage of the country.
Ferguson and her husband, Tony Jones, went to the US on January 15 along with a production crew. The ABC must have spent a decent sum on their upkeep and travel. So how can the corporation justify its grumbling about funding cuts when it seemingly has plenty of cash to indulge Ferguson and let her make vanity broadcasts?
Tom Switzer is a right-wing writer in Melbourne, who is executive director at the Centre for Independent Studies and is a presenter on ABC Radio National.
He often writes in support of Rupert Murdoch and his media empire, for the simple reason that if he were to lose his current gigs, then he could go back on the Murdoch teat.
Thus his defence of Murdoch against criticism by two former Australian prime ministers, Malcolm Turnbull and Kevin Rudd, is not surprising. Sucking up to power is a common game used by writers who have an avenue to vent. Switzer has the Nine newspapers open to his rantings.
The veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk died recently at the age of 74, and his death means one of the Western world’s journalists who best understood the region has left the scene.
Fisk lived in Beirut for most of the 30-plus years he covered the region and reported the troubles in Northern Ireland before venturing out of the country.
He reported on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the continuing woes in that country. Fisk interviewed the al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden thrice and also covered the US invasion of Iraq.
Some questioned his approach to journalism; he did not believe in getting opinions from both sides, so-called balanced journalism. Rather, it was his belief that the job of a reporter was to provide an outlet for the underdog.
His famous example was that of the liberation of a concentration camp. And he asked whether one should be expected to get a quote from a SS guard for balance, a query which nobody has attempted to answer.
After the first match in the Bledisloe Cup series ended in a 16-all draw, Australian sports writers were on a giddy high, predicting that the dominance of the All Blacks had more or less ended and the big boys had been caught with their pants down.
Well before this hype began, at the end of the game, there was a gesture by the Australian team which showed that its mental state was still very fragile. When the final whistle blew, the ball was still live, so the referee let play proceed.
A thrilling nine minutes ensued, with first Australia, and then New Zealand, threatening to score. Strangely, though, neither team thought of attempting a drop-goal to win the game. After one of the New Zealand forays, the Australians regained the ball and fly-half James O’Connor kicked it into touch, ending the game.