Mags: Spectator's prescient ABC editorial

Mags: Spectator's prescient ABC editorial & another spectacle of political bitterness 

Spectator Australia has a snarky piece by former Labor Party leader Mark Latham this week titled "Kerry O'Brien was never God's gift to broadcasting"; ironic given Latham was pilloried by the Aussie press for his turn as 60 Minutes reporter pre-election 2010.

Latham sticks it to not only O'Brien ("so full of himself, his questions...focused on the things he wanted to hear") but also Annabel Crabb ("scatological approach to reporting... commentator-cum-comedian") and the ABC's programming ("pretentious political and arty-farty programs"), using his poison pen to push the privatisation argument:

"In the name of social justice, a Labor government should be eager to privatise the ABC, using the proceeds to fund universal community services and infrastructure... Tangential pap such as The 7:30 Report, Four Corners, Q&A and Insiders would be among the first to go. If the inner-city mob want to watch these shows, they should pay for them through subscription TV."

On pollies' wish lists? Journal @ magnation.
Of course, he has a point and he's an op-ed columnist, not a diplomat (granted, this week we learnt that diplomats are prone to human slips of conscience, too), but why the seething delivery other than to get the chattering classes chattering louder – again, ironically, this is The Spectator, not The Daily Telegraph.

Latham is just the latest bitter, puffed-up pollie with an ailing public profile to take to the pulpit to deride former friends and long-time adversaries; he follows the Howard/Costello jousting match and Paul Keating's regular attempts to relive his early-90s Redfern Speech heyday.

Saving grace, and goodwill, comes care of Spectator's leading editorial, the prescient 'A swing to the ABC'.

"So what now for 7:30 Report-land, which for Latham represents a small niche of gentrified elites for whom the parliamentary process is spectator sport? In the post-Kerry era, ABC management should close this relevance gap by choosing what we believe will be the show's saving grace: the duo of Leigh Sales and Chris Uhlmann. Both are youngish, fair-minded, well-read and highly intelligent journalists who don't run agendas. (Both also have a touch of class: after all, they've penned Spectator Australia diaries!). 

Ms Sales' book Detainee 002: The Case of David Hicks (2007) shows a journalist at the peak of her powers, always questioning dogma and authority while never subscribing to the prevailing wisdom in newsrooms and literary festivals across the nation. You know it's high praise when the Age complains that her book was 'annoyingly fair'. 

Mr Uhlmann, meanwhile, possesses an equally engaging and direct questioning style that is so good his ABC career survived his famous statement to the effect that much of what constitutes the global warming movement has to do with sin and salvation rather than science. (Take that, Tony Jones.) Managing director Mark Scott would be doing taxpayers a service if he and the board appointed Ms Sales as the public face, with Mr Uhlmann the chief political interviewer."

And perhaps what Sales and Uhlmann will bring to 7:30, in addition to their journalist nous, is that valuable human trait called empathy. Time for more Christmas cheer, less sneer.

See also:
He who cast the first stone
Keating in fight with speechwriter Don Watson

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel