Diary

Gadfly
Devine inspiration rewarded

Journalist and naval historian Mike Carlton has come up with the Kenny Awards – prizes for right-wing commentary that might otherwise go unnoticed and ungarlanded.

The awards are named after former bag-carrier for Fishnets Downer and Iraq war champion Chris Kenny, who scribbles for The Catholic Boys Daily and spruiks repetitively and predictably on a little-watched telly show.

Kenny has two main themes in life: the ABC is terrible and Gillian Triggs is terrible. This is interlaced by unreadable treatises on “values”, which often contain the spooky phrase “Green Left”.

The most recent Kenny Award has gone to Daily Smello opinion scratcher Miranda Devine, who came up with a piece blaming the police shooting of Justine Damond on the Black Lives Matter movement. Devine told her readers: “But what we can safely assume is that Justine Ruszczyk Damond’s death was made more likely by an anti-police atmosphere whipped up in the US by the anarchic ‘Black Lives Matter’, or BLM, movement.”

When a journalist tells you it’s safe to “assume”, they are adopting a shorthand for the fact there are more than a few loose ends to the story.

It was left to Media Watch on Monday night to point out that black people in the United States are more than twice as likely to be shot dead by police than non-blacks.

Minneapolis’s StarTribune from July last year reports: “Since 2000, at least 148 people in Minnesota have died after being shot, Tased or restrained by a police officer. To date, no officer has been charged in any of those deaths.”

For some strange reason, Carlton has chosen a statuette of an attractive gilded dog as the trophy for Kenny winners. Apart from Devine, there has been an award presented to Rowan Dean and Prue MacSween (a tie).

Given the strong field of contenders, this is a category that the journalists’ union should have instituted years ago, but that is now an unlikely initiative given that Sky “News” chief Angelos Frangopoulos is chairman of the Walkley advisory board.

Fox hunts out some funds

No doubt citizens are rejoicing that generous dollops of money from government departments and agencies are being allocated to various hard-pressed arms of the News Corp octopus.

First up is the $30 million to be lavished on Fox Sports to “support the broadcast of underrepresented sports on subscription television”.

At last, Fox viewers will now be able to relive the excitements of the pub darts and backyard petanque championships.

No one knows why this money was thrust into the ancient claw of Lord Moloch because Mitch Fifield’s Department of Communications and the Arts has knocked back an FOI request from the ABC for details.

The department says no documents exist, which is possibly more alarming than the funding decision itself.

As if this were not generous enough, the government agency Screen Australia has stumped up an unspecified amount of money so The Catholic Boys Daily can run an online six-part doco called The Queen & Zac Grieve.

This is an investigation by crime reporter Dan Box into the dubious conviction of a young Indigenous man for murder and the prospect of life imprisonment under the Northern Territory’s mandatory sentencing laws. The series is being made by In Films for The Catholic Boys Daily and Foxtel.

The newspaper modestly describes this as a “groundbreaking documentary film series that … will be one of the biggest stories of the year”.

Your dollars hard at work for Uncle Rupe.

A swell time

To escape the midweek tumult and the turmoil, Gadfly took to a handsome 80-foot sailing boat with a group of codgers, the sea breeze ruffling our wild locks and shaking up the hair in our nostrils. Out of the heads in a nicely modest swell, no one turned green. Then back into the harbour for a scrumptious onboard lunch while moored in Taylors Bay across from Nielsen Park. The harbour gleamed in all its smug beauty and soon our stresses and strains vanished.

The conversation turned to the breeding habits of prawns, the size of king salmon, the state of the real estate market, car sales for the month of July, Trump, Pell and cheese. The principal pressing issues of our era.

HR puff and stuff

At last some clarity from the “journos forum” – a weekly event on local ABC’s Drive program in Sydney.

Here we find a gaggle of hacks trying to make sense of the world, and last week’s episode was no exception with talking head celebs from the Smello plus Peter Hartcher from Granny Herald – described on his own website as a “public intellectual” who does what he does with “apparent ease and elegance”.

It was comforting to hear Hartcher warn of the dangers that lie in the path of corporations whose staff engage in inappropriate behaviour with workplace colleagues.

“Companies don’t have a choice,” the great observer of politics and international affairs said, because shareholders have concerns about the liability that attaches when male staffers start sleazing over the women in the office. In fact, he warned that directors can be “personally liable”. Scary stuff.

It is HR’s role to protect shareholders from unsolicited marauding sex addicts, bullies and other undesirables, Hartcher told the intrigued listeners. Where that leaves the protection of victims and complainants is a little unclear.

Tales from Dickson

The bomb throwers at GetUp! tell us that Benito Dutton is out of step with his electorate of Dickson.

We know the security and borders Tsar has been dipping his jackboot into the marriage equality issue. To head off a free vote in parliament while at the same time keeping faith with the Coalition pledge for a plebiscite, he’s been lying awake at night hatching a scheme for

a non-binding, voluntary postal vote.

It’s hard to remember a time when a smarter idea was put forward by a senior minister of the Abbott–Turnbull government.

Anyway, GetUp! commissioned ReachTEL to poll a sample of more than 700 electors in Dickson with the question: “Do you believe the government should allow a free vote for marriage equality in parliament and resolve the issue.”

The result: almost 70 per cent said “yes”.

Benito had better watch out with all those gays under the bed.

Trumpette #32

The Pussy-Grabber-in-Chief has selected someone in his own image to lead the communications shop at the White House.

Anthony Scaramucci displays all the attributes of a rolled-gold spiv. Flashy and vacuous know no limits. Charles Blow in The New York Times said this is a unique combination – a president with no political experience hiring a communications director with no communications experience.

Blow landed another blow, saying the new man is a “Wall Street snake investment huckster”. He’s perfect for a White House that is committed to peddling lies.

The entertaining Sean Spicer has stepped down because he doesn’t approve of the Mooch’s appointment. Sean was pretty good at peddling his own brand of misinformation, but apparently the Mooch is too much for him.

The new spinner says he’ll learn the job from “the best media person, the most savvy person in the White House – the president of the United States … who is doing a phenomenal job”.

Trump agrees: “We have accomplished so much and we’re being given credit for so little.”

This is the same person Scaramucci referred to in 2015 as a “hack politician”.

Meanwhile, it’s Russia, Russia, Russia all the way.

 

Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jul 29, 2017 as "Gadfly: Devine inspiration rewarded". Subscribe here.

Richard Ackland
is the publisher of Justinian. He is The Saturday Paper’s diarist-at-large and legal affairs editor.

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