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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Gerry's delusions. Again.

Gerard Henderson is known for being boring. He exceeds at his chosen craft, writing weekly in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald on matters of national importance and defending those groups, individuals or countries desperately in need of assistance. Today, the establishment's friend and ally wraps his warm embrace around Bush's America. Phil Gomes takes him to task:

"Gerard Henderson uses one reported case of sanity within the US diplomatic corps to disprove the madness of the rest":

'So much for the mythology that the Bush Administration is dominated by adventurous and unfeeling ideologues.'

"Apparently guys like John Bolton aren't on Gerry's reading list."

When will Fairfax dump Gerry and find somebody, anybody, to replace a man running a close second to the Australian's Greg Sheridan for getting up close and personal with those in power? But then, Fairfax wouldn't want to rattle their ever-increasing senior readers. While at Fairfax, I was told that Miranda Devine was only chosen as a columnist - and poached from Murdoch - to "cause a bit of controversy." Yawn. Content clearly ran a far second. How many writers with a direct line to the Bush/Blair/Howard phone does a newspaper need? A few outsiders are just what the mainstream needs. I'll offer my services for a reasonable fee. Give me editorial control and I'll give you a rattled readership.


Anonymous Guy said...

Here's a pointed question for you Antony - who is your favourite right-wing / conservative journalist?

I agree that the likes of Henderson and Sheridan are fairly tired and predictable in their slavish support for the conservatives, but I can also empathise with Fairfax's attempts to maintain some sort of balance.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 6:33:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Some kind of balance? Er, where are the progressive voices in the papers? Ramsey, sometimes, Mike Carlton, kinda, Richard Ackland, sometimes and Robert Manne seems to have left for the moment, and who else? This is like talking about ABC current affairs programs. The Insiders is a classic example. Right-wing commentators in excess and no liberals. Same old bollocks.
Australia shows its vehemently conservative worldview by the lack of guts when selecting commentators of a progressive nature.
My fave conservative writers, you ask? Good question. Truth is, virtually no regular conservative commentator in Australia seems capable of having strong conservative values (ie. belief in accountability etc) and still seeing past Federal and State govts. Bravery is sorely lacking...

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 6:47:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would move things forward by differentiating those on the 'right'.
The yanks have killed off intelligent labelling with the crude and wretchedly inadequate conservative-liberal divide.
MAnne is an old-style Capital C conservative.
SHeridan and Henderson are right-wing functionaries, but it is demeaning to the label to call them conservatives.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 8:08:00 pm  
Anonymous michael said...

Aww, c'mon Antony. Some of these guys are a scream. Just think Paul Sheehan and his 'miracle water' or Paddy McGuinness and his apologia for well heeled pederasty. Wonder how Chris Pearson felt about Paddy's contribution to his public biography.

But my faves are the shockjocks who tip over the edge into self-satire, with Watergate burglar G Gordon Liddy the granddaddy of them all.

Stan Zemanek is the most consistent local example I know, but Alan Jones is pretty funny when he hits his stride too - especially when he's railing against gay marriage. Only if the ceremony is in a London public toilet or a Manly carpark, eh Alan?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 8:10:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Once again, the importance of sane alternative voices. Thank God for blogging and web, otherwise we really would have to rely on Sheehan, McGuinness etc...
I frequently source their columns because I love reading the stunningly over-simplistic reading of world affairs. Good vs. Evil. Bush vs. the world. Howard vs. Evil.
On a good day, I'm amused. On a bad...

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 8:19:00 pm  
Anonymous Phil said... I'm pretty well enraged. I promise myself most days that I'm not going to write even one line about those named but in the end I do. At least I've got it down to just a couple of lines now (more than they deserve). The definitions of left/right are now so warped that a progressive centrist like myself is viewed as some kind of raging communist, anyone who really knows me realises quickly that this is not the case. Additionally the word 'left' is now so imbued with negative connotations that I try not to use it, I find myself using 'progressive' more often now because of it's more positive connotations. We should all try to do the same and practise this kind of branding.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 8:45:00 pm  
Anonymous Guy said...

How about Ross Gittins, Antony? I guess I'm not sure you could label him a "progressive", but he is certainly a lefty.

I definitely agree that there are quite a few more rusted on conservative journos in the MSM than rusted on progressives.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 12:11:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Gittins can be good. In SMH column today, on the dud Budget, is a good one.
My point is simply not to have all progressive commentators, but simply a balance. At the moment, we simply do not have that.
Phil, let's ditch the left/right tag. I agree. Progressive/liberal is much preferable....

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 2:18:00 pm  
Anonymous michael said...

"How about Ross Gittins, Antony? I guess I'm not sure you could label him a "progressive", but he is certainly a lefty."

My, my, how times have changed.

I remember when Gerard Henderson's smh bylines included "... the director of the Sydney Institute, a privately funded think-tank". Just to be sure that everyone knew where the private funding came from, Gerry did several dishonest trash jobs on Democrat Senator Paul McLean after the latter had tabled internal Westpac documents exposing how they had deliberately ripped off Aus farmers by converting their loans to Swiss francs to cover Westpac's own exposure to the inevitable Aus dollar collapse following the Keating 'float'.

Back then, Gittins was the token rightwing economist on the smh - to counter the more 'moderate', soft protectionist positions taken by Max Walsh.

But then Alex Carey exposed Walsh's sly little payments from Aus entrepreneurs and the fertiliser hit the fan. Gittins became the main economic op-ed writer and his pieces no longer had Walsh's dissent as contrast.

If criticising Howard's budget makes you a leftwinger, then I guess Gittins qualifies. But when Treasurer Keating and his pro-GST, pro-multinational, pro-money market policies were rightly seen as being to the right of what Fraser's repulsive little treasurer had been able to get away with, Gittins was rightly seen as the mouthpiece of the free market fund managers.

Has Gittins shifted to the left?
Or, like Fraser, does he just seem to have done so because everyone else has moved so far to the right?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 7:10:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Has Gittins shifted to the left?'

He's been mugged by reality!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 7:45:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Good points. Our society has moved so far to the right, that centrists or even old school conservatives (a belief in accountability etc), are painted as radicals. And all this in such a short period of time...
Even questioning the free market and its policies (and indeed, I've also noticed Henderson's columns drop the think-tank line) appears to be against the rules.
Such commentary is still good for a laugh...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 7:58:00 pm  

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