Tasmanian Times


Latham’s lance

Mercury columnist Wayne Crawford was pretty harsh on his own profession in his Saturday Mercury column:

All this is sullen condemnation and hyperventilation about “The Latham Diaries” and their “hurricane of hate” is clearly generated by the humourless self-interest of a bunch of indignant journalists and politicians.

The fact is, the Diaries made me laugh until tears ran down my cheeks as I sat up into the wee small hours dipping into Mark Latham’s frank (and rank) reflections on what he calls the Canberra Club — an amorphous mass of politicians, minders, self-styled party fixers, and media groupies.

… the Diaries capped off what has hardly been an unedifying few weeks for either Australian politics or the Australian news media.

It began with the hounding out of office (and eventually out of Parliament) of young New South Wales Liberal leader John Brogden with what was mostly puritanically sensationalised gossip that drove the poor bloke to attempt suicide and then to cut short his promising political career by quitting public life altogether.

Latham, says Crawford, did not lack ability:

The fact he was one of Labor’s best thinkers and policy-makers is clear even from some of the truncated snippets in the diaries on issues ranging from education to treasury. However, he is temperamentally unsuited to the demands of 21st century prime ministership and will be far better off as a home dad (even though the party has lost of of its most original policy minds)

Crawford says Australian media generally has ignored Latham’s very legitimate criticisms of itself:

As a general rule, the journalists and commentators he accuses by name of being unaccountable, self-styled participants in the political process — and of peddling misinformation, rumour, and whose interest in politics concentrates on the celebrity factor — have generally either tried to ignore his legitimate complaints, or accused him of misquoting them, taking them out of context, or breaking confidences.

Really? Now, who’s calling the kettle black? Think back to just before the sensational publication of the Diaries — and the big political story had been the resignation of the young, moderate NSW Liberal opposition leader John Brogden for some stupid and unbecoming behaviour done in private but in the presence of some journalists. If it was such a huge story, why did it take weeks for anyone to even write about it?

Certainly, Brogden behaved badly, but to have had his career ruined and his life nearly ended by a media sensationally and selectively out to humiliate him — over something which should have remained a private matter — is a travesty.

For the same media bunch now to be complaining that Latham has published embarrassing matters which were said or done in private is a bit rich.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mark

    October 3, 2005 at 12:07 pm

    Two journalists took a hit below the Plimsoll line from Mark Latham in his interview with Andrew Denton. Laurie Oakes’ knickname and Glenn Milne’s inflated self opinion come to mind.

    Mr Milne currently seems as unable to diverge away from critical articles concerning Mark Latham as Greg Barns cannot mention Richard Flanagan’s name without “fiction writer” as a prefix.

    Perhaps Mark Latham is not the only commentator where some time spent relaxing on a couch would be advice well taken.

    At day’s end no-one seems to be challenging the truth of Mark Latham’s recollections.

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