Pierre Trudeau, the great Canadian Prime Minister, who did more to transform that country into the decent liberal democracy it is today than of his predecessors (perhaps except Lester Pearson) or his successors, had utter contempt for the media.
His erstwhile Press Secretary used to regularly tell a good friend of mine in Toronto that he had the easiest job in the world.
“When the media call me each morning looking for Trudeau I just tell them to fuck off,” he said.
It was a strategy that brought Pierre much political and electoral success.Posted by Greg Barns on 05/05/06 at 01:41 AM
Oh lighten up a little Jase, maybe I can help you download a little, now that you’ve introduced the ‘C’ word into this almost meaningless repartee, with this true anecdote from days past.
I mean casting aspersions at journos is much like kicking a jack-jumper nest at summer’s height. Appropriately, given the juxtaposition of tragedy and joy where our national colleagues are grouped pensively, I relate a true mining story. And one which, if it could be transferred via that communications lifeline to the cage, the boys awaiting rescue would appreciate.
I was doing a little stringing with ‘The Australian’ at a time when Kerry Packer bought the Rossarden tin mine, gave the miners a big Xmas hamper bonus and then promptly closed it with a view to asset-stripping it. That’s the kind of humour that Kerry really had. Behind the big Schreck smile was the unkindest cunt of all.
Oops sorry, but hard to let that one go.
The Australian loved the idea of the suddenly-sacked miners sounding off about Packer, so off I went with reporter’s note book in hand, with an Errol Simper-backed mission to get a good yarn. I’d already had a front page and was looking to another, for I was heading to my boyhood town and knew all the miners there. Rarely do they open up to strangers.
On arrival I headed straight to the working men’s club where the disenfranchised were gathering to drown their sorrows. And there was Bruce, my neighbour from way back. Small talk ensued and Bruce told me that his illiteracy had probably cost him a fortune over the years.
Instead of filling out his own tax return he simply sent all his material directly to the Tax department to complete for him.
“The bastards,” said Bruce, had ‘diddled’ him for years, “simply because I can’t spell.”
Anyway we got around to the future of the mine and Bruce gave me my front page story.
“There’s more tin in the bloody mine than ever came out of it,” said Bruce reflecting on his 40 year history in the place…and the miner’s are getting organised to take over the mine and keep pricks like Packer out of our lives.”
“Whose taking it over?”
“Baz is one of them. There’s five. And everybody’s backing them”
With visions of a Tasmanian Eureka -stockade front pager with my by-line I started note-taking as Bruce said, ‘Bas has jist come in.’
Sure enough Basil, a long-time family friend entered the club and walked up to the bar.
“What are you doing here,” asked Baz with a friendly greeting.
“A story for The Australian. Need a chat on record.”
“Sure go for it,” invited Baz, his mates all gathering about to make a contribution.
“Bruce tells me that you and others are taking over the mine. That there’s as much tin down below as ever came up.”
For his own reasons, Basil turned towards Bruce and raised his voice so all could hear.
“I’ve never heard so much bullshit since Jesus was a boy,” said Baz, sunk his beer and promptly left the club, his chortling mates turning back to the bar and their dilemna. I sidled back to Bruce’s table, notebook now limp.
“Seems as though there’s nothing it, Bruce.”
Bruce, thoroughly humiliated and still staring at the door that had let Baz out and rattling in the bitter highlands wind, muttered with vehemence:
“That Basil is a C-U-N-K.”
I got on the piss all day with Bruce and my old mates, ended up staying at his house drinking in a howling gale and never turned a story in.Posted by Paul Tapp on 05/05/06 at 02:06 AM
They say that the people get the government they deserve.
I have to ask “What could Tasmanians possibly have done to deserve these people?”Posted by Richard Barton on 05/05/06 at 09:17 AM
What’s your point Greg? You obviously can’t be implying that manipulating or disrespecting the media makes you a great leader.
Do you mean to imply that Paul Lennon is, like Pierre Trudeau a great leader and therefore excused from any bad behaviour towards the media?
Does the Labor Party need their spin unit to protect them from scrutiny to allow them to get on with making Tasmania more decent and liberal?
No point? Just an obliquely related anecdote?Posted by Julian Russell on 05/05/06 at 11:02 AM
Went to hear your boy play the other night at the Barwon Club Hotel in Geelong.
He’s doing well.
I really like the new songs, the new sound, the whole production. He’s come a long way since the glory days of TasTalent and The Ordinary Blokes.
Are you coming over for the launch at the Espy in June?
WarwickPosted by Warwick Hadfield on 05/05/06 at 11:41 PM
Richard, what they’ve done is vote for them. You mightn’t like the results; I certainly don’t, but that is representative democracy at work. It gives us leaders like Howard and Lennon.
It stinks. Any other system you could think of would stink worse.Posted by Justa Bloke on 06/05/06 at 02:22 AM
Memo to Greg Barns: Your fearless iconoclasm in applauding rough treatment of the press was noted with approval by a local Great Leader.
You may expect further good fortune to follow.
John HaywardPosted by lhayward on 06/05/06 at 08:59 AM
Jason’s comments about the Government Media Unit, politicians and the print and electronic media are a mismatch of errors and exagerration.
While the bulk of his melodramatic claims don’t warrant a response, the suggestion that the GMU spies on journos is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read - do you seriously think this occurs Jason?
That’s one hell of a conspiracy thoery old cock!Posted by goodnight cobbers on 06/05/06 at 10:23 AM
The problem with conspiracy theories is that those who conspire, and their supporters, can so easily ridicule the theorists without having to refute the evidence presented.
Physical manhandling of journos either happened or it didn’t. Not much room for theorising there.
Same with spying, except it’s harder to get the evidence. Why wouldn’t they if they could? If I were in a position where I felt I could benefit and I had the means, I probably would.
Can Goodnight Cobbers honestly claim he/she wouldn’t?Posted by Justa Bloke on 07/05/06 at 01:06 AM
JB, Jason’s theory that the Government Media Unit spies on journalists is as ludicrous as it is absurd.
I was just trying to establish if he really thought this occurred.
The tone of his contribution suggests he does and that amused me. Your post mentions “evidence”.
What evidence has Jason presented to back his spying claim? As for your question: “Why wouldn’t they (spy on journalists) if they could?”. I’m told they have better things to do with their time!Posted by goodnight cobbers on 07/05/06 at 08:06 AM
Even giving the GMU the benefit of the doubt about spying, that still leaves 90 per cent of Jason’s accusations unrefuted.Posted by Justa Bloke on 08/05/06 at 03:09 AM
That’s all they are JB - accusations.Posted by goodnight cobbers on 09/05/06 at 10:35 AM
Thank you Warwick Hadfield. Will definitely be at The Espy for the launch. Nice to see you keeping in touch with Tassie through the scurrilous Tasmanian Times.
It was your Tas Talent productions and the ABC’s “Children” production with the TSO that gave him the impetus to move up, out and on.
Now would like to think it’s all about to return a dividend, particularly via iTunes.
Will hopefully catch you for a beer at the launch…and toast the hard-rock miners!Posted by Paul Tapp on 09/05/06 at 11:55 PM