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53 responses to “Spotlight the Spin”

  1. wilful

    Surely the IPA survey on Tim Flannery has to win some sort of an award for arse-hattery?

  2. Fran Barlow

    I agree Wilful … The Daily Telegraph piece was breathtaking in its stupidity — classic Daily Telegraph. Gemma Jones, one will recall, was the reporter who did the “red carpet for asylum seekers” troll which was one long piece of disinformation. She is the ideal Daily Telegraph reporter.

    The problem is that Flannery has, for the loopy right, become Australia’s “Al Gore”. Never mind that it was Howard who recommended him for Australian of the year. Now that the right is dominated by flying monkeys, one only has to say the name “Flannery” to provoke all manner of foolish commentary from the shock jocks and assorted loudmouths of the right.

    For some years now, folks like Blot and Akerman have been verballing him?—?falsely saying that he said things like “it will never rain again” or “our dams will never again be full”. Because flying monkeys don’t read and don’t bother verifying sources, one’s opinion on Flannery is simply a shibboleth?—?if you are a true loopy conservative you spit on the ground when you hear his name and sneer.

    All the IPA is turning up in their poll is how many people are hardcore LNP supporters or how many people hate “ivory tower academics who should go out and get a real job”.

    If they’d asked those who declared him unreliable to account for their opinion, and excluded all those simply repeating shock jock trolls or who could not outline accurately Flannery’s responses to these smears, I daresay that the 24% would have fallen to less than 1%.

    So the poll has a massive qualification error.

  3. Terry

    The number of people who regard Julia Gillard as trustworthy is half what it was in June 2010 now 25%, compared to 49% after the Rudd coup.

    Sleepwalking to disaster.

  4. Ian Milliss

    Terry, how exactly do you think Gillard can change that? Basically it is the product of a corrupt media running a far reaching non-stop propaganda operation. The ALP may be completely inept but even if it wasn’t nothing would be any different. Media corruption will only end when it is way too late, when our society slides into its final collapse – about twenty years time I’d say.

  5. Fran Barlow

    Ian Milliss said:

    Basically it is the product of a corrupt media running a far reaching non-stop propaganda operation. The ALP may be completely inept but even if it wasn’t nothing would be any different.

    I disagree. Yes it’s like playing football running into a stiff breeze on ground inclined against you with a referee on the take, but let it not be forgotten that they appointed the referee, ploughed the ground and prayed for the breeze they got.

    Had the ALP been possessed of some political acumen, not to say ethical compass they’d have had a far better chance of neutralising the Murdochracy‘s trolling campaign.

  6. Terry

    Ian, I don’t think Gillard can change it. The best she can do is to try and neutralise it. Which would involve not adopting the “Who do you trust?” approach she did last week, after the Queensland debacle.

    I guess that its the “Fear Factor” approach – take what you fear most (rats, spiders, heights etc.) and addressing it head on. But it only multiplied the public derision towards her, and the sense that collective delusion is now in order in the Cabinet. If her advisers were secretly taking commissions from the Liberals, they couldn’t have come up with a worse response to Queensland than “Who do you trust?”.

    Labor could change leaders, and say the damage with Gillard is too great. You may say this is the “NSW disease”, but the “Qld disease” is to stay with a damaged leader long after the voters have lost any sense of trust in them.

  7. pablo

    The ‘big distracting thing’ for me was the exceptionally long letter to the editor of the AFR today from the new News Ltd boss, Kim Williams basically accusing the rival Fairfax publication of running riot on conspiracy theories regarding the Murdoch security arm NDS and those 14 000 emails.
    In the same AFR issue ex-News Ltd financial editor and now AFR editor Michael Stutchbury (presumably) penned an editorial about the 4th estate’s role and responsibility to publish even if the NDS actions weren’t actually crimes in motion. Great stuff. I hope all those journalism schools are paying attention. Anyone else?

  8. CMMC


    With this type of re-hashed talback radio riffs and FOX News memes posing as academic research you would have to suspect that the Right intend to own the entire political discursive field.

  9. Ian Milliss

    Fran although I agree they have helped create their own problems and I certainly wish they did have at least a hint of a moral compass (and some half decent policies) but I think some backbone would serve them better right now.

    Adopt the classic tit for tat game play, it always works best. If the Murdoch media is going to hit them then just hit back harder with Canadian style truth in media legislation, ASAP and just ignore the resulting hysteria. In fact prosecute them for the hysteria. Then do them as much damage as possible in other ways as well like setting up an online site for all government job ads.

    Bash it through their heads that they are not the only people who can play hard. It always amazes me how the ALP Right love to posture as tough guys when in practice they play against the media like a bunch of milquetoasts.

  10. Paul Norton

    Gerard Henderson and the Murdoch press have been criticising Bob Brown for emulating their all-time hero.

  11. David Irving (no relation)

    Those of us who haven’t been paying attention probably need a bit more context, Paul. I wasn’t aware Sen Brown had been discussing alien invasion, let alone Hendo’s reaction to it.

  12. Paul Norton
  13. Helen

    Eh, Paul, the comments thread on that Henderson article. At least some people with nous come in and try vainly to counter the avalanche of stupid after a while. For instance, Hendo’s claim that Brown’s remark about “why aren’t the phones ringing” as proof he’s lost the plot. By doing so he simply reveals his lack of education. As “Entelodon” wearily points out, ”
    By extension of your premise, Carl Sagan, Paul Davies and a host of other great minds must be deranged for speculating about the existence and fate of intelligence in the cosmos. I suppose you consider the great physicist Enrico Fermi, who also asked why aliens have not contacted Earth, to be unhinged also.”

    A guy who is mega-educated in spin and culture wars but despite being the “director” of a think-tank fails to recognise the Fermi paradox…Oh LOL. Henderson is just the gift that keeps on giving.

  14. Fran Barlow

    An award to #theirABC for the concatenation of trite meaningless phrases in a single sentence …

    Peter Ryan on AM interviewing John Colvin of the Institute of Company Directors:

    In the soft economic conditions of Australia’s patchwork economy is there a danger that a whatever it takes approach to a budget surplus will risk tipping the economy into recession?


  15. Helen

    They didn’t manage to fit “live issue” in and they should have added “going forward” at the end.

  16. Paul Norton

    Helen @13, I’ve been thinking whether the likes of Henderson typify some kind of corollary of George Orwell’s thesis in “Politics and the English Language”, in other words that if someone spends long enough making a living by writing crap and talking crap, and nothing but crap, they eventually lose the ability to think anything other than crap.

  17. wilful

    But Fran, how will it hit the hip pocket nerve of working families? Surely you’re engaged in class warfare and the politics of envy.

  18. wilful

    On the topic of Fairfax v news, following on from the Crikey article, I would like to see Fairfax muscle up a bit more, get a bit nastier. The Ltd News papers are always being catty about things in Fairfax broadsheets, but the Smage almost never returns fire. Disappointing.

  19. Ootz

    Some people just find it scary that there might be some other entity ‘out-there’ equal or larger than their own ego, apart of perhaps an old white male Dog in the sky. Hendo is not alone in this fear or inability to jump over the shadow of their own Self.

    What is clear though is for whom he is doing his bidding, who Hendo thinks is the real Creator and Saviour:

    Finally, there is the Australian coal industry, which contributes huge amounts of money to revenue by way of company tax and royalties. As such, coal exports make possible much of the funding which sustains the lifestyles of Greens supporters who are on the public payroll.

    Nevermind the coal industry is screwing manufacturing, causing a two speed economy and ultimately puts us on the conveyor belt towards economic and ecological Armageddon. Hendo sacrificed his soul, his brain and heart on the altar of Mammon. He is a tool of dark forces and a tragic character.

  20. Fran Barlow

    Helen added:

    They didn’t manage to fit “live issue” in and they should have added “going forward” at the end.

    And wilful chipped in:

    how will it hit the hip pocket nerve of working families? Surely you’re engaged in class warfare and the politics of envy


    Those are blemishes, certainly, but it was still a stirling effort. Im guessing Peter Ryan is not getting ahead of himself, just taking it one interview at a time. In later interviews he doubtless plans to throw in “labor brand“, “the government’s woes“, “clear air” and “on message“. Absolutely.

    Paul Norton said:

    if someone spends long enough making a living by writing crap and talking crap, and nothing but crap, they eventually lose the ability to think anything other than crap.

    It’s likely. By an odd coincidence I made a parallel argument over at Quiggins about the Repugs … Explaining the descent into delusion by the US right, I said in part:

    It could be that some (many?) of these folk have been uttering unadulterated cant for so long that their cant is reflexive, and they really can’t discern observable reality — that all they can do is utter variations on a simple misanthropic script and so that in this cognitively dissonant sense they do believe their drivel. Years ago they began distinguishing themselve from the “reality-based community” after all.

    Unequal societies are inevitably, in my view, pernicious, and the more unequal they are the more harm ceteris paribus, that is done. Those who come to believe that it is their task to warrant the pernicious (rather than explain it as a consequence of human underdevelopment that rational people strive to overcome) cannot but invite the baleful consequences into their own headspace. Many of them, plainly, are capable of compartmentalising, and so limiting the cognitive damage by simply becoming reckless misanthropes and ethical bankrupts. The more weak-minded of course lose themselves entirely into madness in a confirmation of the old saying that those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first drive mad.*

    I was taking a look at Mother Jones this morning and the latest offerings on Conservapedia have the right trying to debunk The General Theory of Relativity. Apparently, it’s controversial.

  21. Paul Norton
  22. tssk

    Ian Milliss, I’d like to answer what the PM should do. As witnessed by the stunning election victory by George Galloway in the UK there is a market for soft left politics still in the english speaking world. Gillard could reform the ALP and make it the soft left party it was. Then they would stop bleeding votes to the Greens and become a legitimate….(gets clubbed from behind and replaced by a much better dressed version of me)

    ….ahem. Sorry ignore all that. Australia is not the UK. What Julia needs to do is bring back the Coalition’s refugee policy, bring back workchoices and drop the carbon tax which is rooning our great country and stop the witch hunt against one of our greatest exports. Mr Murdoch. In fact let’s make him a national treasure. And of course hold early elections, no even better just step down and give Abbott the numbers he needs.

    (Seriously though I just listened to Monday’s episode of Hack on JJJ and aside from half the show being interesting stuff about Burma the other half was all about how much of a disaster Julia was, she should drop the tax, she’s childless, some call ins from loads of people saying she should drop the carbon tax oh and did we mention she was childless? She has no children you know. Of course if she had children then the media could portray her as a neglectful mother so…no she can’t win.)

  23. Ian Milliss

    [email protected] Exactly. That’s why I despair. The ALP won’t change and the media won’t change and stupid angry people will never face having their stupidity or their anger challenged.

  24. Paul Norton

    Conservapedia is a hilarious site. I wonder what Pete Seeger would make of “Turn Turn Turn” being ranked as one of the “greatest conservative songs”?

  25. Paul Norton
  26. wilful

    Echoing the Quiggin post about Chris Mooney’s new book and a subsequent metafilter post I put up, here is Mooney in Mother Jones about conservapedia (and other stuff).

  27. Fran Barlow

    Interestingly, Paul, note their comment on Tammy Wynette’s Stand By Your Man

    Don’t expect feminists to like that one! Or Hillary Clinton!


    Equally amusing — The Kinks Sunny Afternoon apparently is about a rich man trying to enjoy the simple things in life because the Nanny-state has nearly bankrupted him.

    Lynyrd Skynyrd gets several mentions, including Sweet Home Alabama, which is an explicit apologia for Dixecrat [email protected]

    Apparently Don MacLean’s American Pie was “questionable” as to whether it was a truly conservative piece.

    Perhaps this bit confused them in their attempts to apply their own version of political correctness to popular music:

    But not a word was spoken
    The church bells all were broken
    And the three men I admire most-
    the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost-
    They caught the last train for the coast
    The day the music died

    Really, you do wonder about how happy these folk would have been working for Stal|n at the height of his control or perhap the regime in North Korea.

  28. Paul Norton

    Really, you do wonder about how happy these folk would have been working for Stal|n at the height of his control or perhap the regime in North Korea.

    I think if you change a few words here and there, they’d be very much Pyongyang Central Casting. In the 1980s the DPRK claimed that its botanists had created the Kim Il Sung flower which bloomed every year on Kim’s birthday, without fail.

  29. David Irving (no relation)

    Thanks, Paul @ 12. I think.

    I couldn’t read too much of Hendo, as I quickly lost the will to live, but the little I struggled through showed, comprehensively, yet again, that Hendo just doesn’t get it. (By “it”, I mean anything.)

  30. silkworm

    Greg Combet has started the debate on the carbon pricing scheme by saying on Lateline last night that it is not a tax.

    It’s not a tax, it’s an emissions trading scheme that starts with a fixed-price period. Let’s just get that straight again from the start.

    This has sent the coalition into paroxysms, who are insisting that “a tax is a tax is a tax.” Of course the coalition needs the public to think the ETS is a tax. In fact, a few months ago I heard Barbaby Joyce telling Wendy Kingston that the carbon price is a “broad-based consumption tax.” The coalition need the public to believe the ETS is a tax because it feeds into their election sloganeering of “no new taxes,” as well as fuelling the whole “Juliar” meme.

    It seems that Barnaby’s campaign of disinformation has been successful, because Tony Windsor has complained that a large proportion of people in his electorate believe that the carbon price is a direct tax that they will be forced to pay. Barnaby Joyce has announced that he is contemplating running for a lower house seat, and he is considering running in the electorate of New England, precisely the seat where the coalition’s disinformation campaign seems to have achieved the greatest success.

    Of course Emma Alberici helped the coalition along in their disinformation campaign by continuing to call the ETS a “carbon tax.”

  31. Fran Barlow

    I also found this on Turn, Turn, Turn

    Handwritten lyrics to the song were among the documents donated to New York University by the Communist Party USA in March 2007.[4]

    45% of the royalties for the song are donated to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, because, in Seeger’s own words, “[in addition to the music] I did write six words

    Given this, perhaps Conservapedia needs to move this also into the doubtful category, lest conservatives unwittingly subvert the defence of Israel by buying the song.

  32. wilful

    still in moderation?

  33. Socrates

    Just reading through this thread, while I agree there is a lot of pro-conservative spin used in the media, and by the media, I still regret to say that the worst spin I heard in the psat week was by Wayne Swan:
    ”Because the surplus is a vital economic objective and because revenues are being written down, we need to find even more substantial savings than we had earlier anticipated.”
    This is nonsense, and has been reported as such by economists from left and right ever since he said it.

    The current Labor government uses spin just as much as their oppponents we all love to criticise. That is not news – Paul Keating was a master of spin too. The difference is that the current Labor cabinet seems incapable of weaving the spin into a cohesive story. In short, they use spin, but are not very good at it.

  34. Ambigulous

    Craig Thomson reaffirms his innocence.

  35. paul walter

    Another day, another nasty, in the msm world.
    Crikey reports Prof Quiggin “boned” from Fin Review by Stutchbury for his critiquing of privatisation.

  36. silkworm

    Craig Thomson reaffirms his innocence.

    So? How is that spin?

  37. yuppiegus

    Heh, the Herald Sun in their poll asks if drugs should be “tax-free”.

    Could we have a post on the report?

  38. Socrates

    To me if there is recent spin in the HSU investigation it is this statement by the Gm of Fair Work Australia, Bernadette O’Neill:
    “In her statement, Ms O’Neill said: “I am satisfied that the report raises many significant matters which may be appropriate for the DPP’s consideration.”
    However, she qualified the referral, saying she had “not sought to satisfy myself that the material considered by the Delegate in his report establishes any particular likelihood of criminal conduct, as that is a matter for the DPP.”

    Hardly an informative outcome after three years investigation. The only conclusion I can reach is that it is now too late for court proceedings to be completed before the next election. Shades of Mal Colston.

  39. Darin

    It doesn’t really matter as far as Thomson’s immediate future goes. The FWA thing was always going to take years. There is still to be an argument around the specific uses allowed or not for the credit card expenditure. As many people have already said, it would be very lucky to make it through the DPP and to charges before the next election.

    The credit card from a supplier to the union thing, however, is a straight police investigation. It’s just going to drop with a laying of charges if it turns out to be true. The police already have access to all the records they need. It is going to be a pretty simple argument at court if an amex in his name is billed back to someone else, or if the bank records for payment show that he didn’t pay it.

    In either case, it’s going to fuel another 50 suspensions of standing orders along with constant rantings about corrupt unions.

  40. Darin

    Sorry, that wasn’t spin…

  41. Katz


    Victorian Government Thought Crime Grand Inquisitor gagged by Victorian Government.


    Oh, and Peter Reith glove puppet Ted Baillieu promises that if any employer allows the Eureka Flag to fly on her site, she will be banned from tendering for government contracts.

    The Melbourne Comedy Festival is in full swing ATM. Coincidence, or not. You decide.

  42. tssk

    yuppiegus @37, did they mention that recreational drugs are tax free at the moment?

    Talking of spin the Bob Carr commentary on the decriminalisation of drugs isn’t new. I suspect that this is being bought up to destabilise him as foreign minister as the US is pretty hardcore about not dealing favourably with countries that decriminalise.

  43. yuppiegus

    Nope. One could argue criminalisation functions as a tax by increasing the cost to the drug user, but it doesn’t do much in the way of revenue collection. But then neither does decriminalisation, which is what I presume the Hun meant by “tax-free”.

    It’s been reported Bob Carr was engaged in the report before he became Foreign Minister. Me thinks you’re being paranoid 😉

    I’ll continue this on the other thread.

  44. Terry

    The US couldn’t care less about Bob Carr. I think they are a bit sick of Australian Labor Party types strolling into their Canberra Embassy and bad mouthing their colleagues.

  45. Ian Milliss
  46. AT

    Gillard should consider sacking Thomson from the Labor Party and suffering the consequences – she may be setting Labor up for long period in opposition otherwise.

  47. joe2

    For spin, see above @46.

  48. AT

    [email protected] – Julia Gillard’s own “spinning” is turning her into Rumpelstiltskin who, of course, drilled himself right through the floor. And of course once Rumpelstiltskin had gone, the household righted itself. Bring back Kevin!

  49. Geoff Henderson

    Maybe a bit slow to raise this, but was anyone taken by the somewhat glossy NBN roll-out timetable.
    There was serious wiggle room in everything, especially undertakings that “work will have begun by [e.g.] 2015”. No word on how long iy might take after commencement.
    Doubtless some people will be fine, but again the regions, which are likely to be served by wireless or satellite don’t expect broadband any time soon. Our post code, 4873, just does not get a mention.

    One concern that does not seem to get much attention is that the approach of NBN, however clumsy or slow, will still cast a shadow or blight on investment in retail broadband as we presently know it. That is understandable from a commercial view, but it might mean that many people presently struggling with poor speed may well be stuck with that until NBN becomes local.
    Then again, the poor uptake percentage so far may suggest that many people don’t really care about broadband…

  50. tssk

    Talking of broadband etc, you know how the CSIRO won their patent case in the US that’s been going for the past ten years? The one about the solving of the problem of signal bouncing in indoor spaces? Apparently that makes them patent trolls that are ripping off innocent US companies and consumers.


    US consumers will be making a multimillion dollar donation to an Australian government agency in the near future, whether they like it or not. The great majority won’t even know about it—the fee will be hidden within the cost of a huge array of tech products. After the resolution of a recent lawsuit, practically every wireless-enabled device sold in the US will now involve a payment to an Australian research organization called the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, or CSIRO….CSIRO (commonly pronounced “si-roh”) adds this lump sum to the $205 million it received in 2009, when a settlement with 14 companies was struck midway through another East Texas trial. Soon after that, CSIRO began boasting to the Australian press that WiFi was a homegrown invention. By suing over its patents, it anticipated an additional “lazy billion” out of tech products sold in the US. Ultimately, this didn’t quite happen—but CSIRO is about halfway there….CSIRO started out by making a stunning $4-per-device royalty demand. The number may have looked small buried within the cost of a $2,000 laptop but it would have significantly increased the price of a $20 router or a $10 wireless card. The ultimate settlement payments aren’t anywhere near that high—especially when you consider around 700 million WiFi-enabled devices were shipped in 2011 alone—but the demand was high enough that CSIRO officials reached out to US diplomats. They wanted to emphasize the $4 gambit was “an opening figure” that CSIRO did not “expect to get in the end.”

    Now that we’re paying the real bill, it’s fair to ask: who exactly are we paying? And why?

    Much more detail on the case from the US side at the article and lots of angry people commenting here http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/04/how-the-aussie-government-invented-wifi-and-sued-its-way-to-430-million.ars?comments=1#comments-bar

    and here


    From what I can gather the arguements by commenters seem to be

    -The CSIRO claims are invalid
    -Even if they are valid they shouldn’t have taken ten years to claim them
    -Even then they shouldn’t have used the legal system in East Texas where they had the best case of winning

    and finally

    -the CSIRO should be told to go jump because they are a foreign outfit and the US doesn’t have to answer to them. (Strange though that when intellectual property disputes go the other way it’s a-ok for us to arrest our citizens and bundle them in a plane for the US to charge and jail.)

    Takes me back to the old Tolkien copyright dispute!

  51. Geoff Henderson

    The case of Monsanto (Canada) taking on a farmer for using genetically modified canola seeds is an interesting example of patent use- or abuse – and with so much gene research and following patents we can expect to see some nasty stuff.
    Monsanto sued a farmer for using it’s patented genetically modified (gm) “Roundup Ready” canola seed. The seed was not planted by the farmer and is thought to be the result of pollination or spilt seed from elsewhere in his 1997 crop.
    An overview of the Monsanto case can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto_Canada_Inc._v._Schmeiser OK I am always cautious citing Wikipedia, but it can be alright for some things.
    Interesting is that after all the trials, the matter was decided on what the farmer did with the Monsanto seed (in his 1998 crop) that had made it’s own way onto his property in 1997.
    Hopefully an LP reader can explain more about the implications of gm patents, and maybe cite more recent cases??

    Lastly, I was told last week by a credible person, that China was making more patent applications than any other country. I had thought that China had rather marginal respect for patents, and thought it odd that they would now try to take advantage of patents. Has anyone else heard of this?

  52. Fran Barlow

    Geoff Henderson

    My principal concern about GM has long been the complex of laws around the protection of intellectual property.

    While I’d like to be confident that there no unanticipated negative effects on biomes around GM crops or harm to humans throught their use, it seems to me plausible that this standard might be met. The greater problem is cross-contamination of non-GM crops — which can have the consequence of ruining a business that aims at supplying to those keen to avoid GM, and quite as bad, laying the foundations for crippling legal action for breach of IP.

  53. Geoff Henderson

    Thanks Fran. The loss of the farmers own carefully bred seed (over decades) was a consequence of the whole thing. The farmer was unable to show that there was no Monsanto genes in his seed stock. And he estimated his legal costs at US$400,000.