Thursday, September 30, 2004

Overland 176 launch, with David Marr

Wednesday night was the launch of the latest edition of Overland at Trades Hall and the guest speaker was Media Watch host David Marr launching a salvo in the media wars. Marr is hoping to strike a blow for the left (sorry, that should be the Left) in its struggle against the conservative right (I mean Right)-wing narrative that he believes is dominating coverage of the big issues. In his mind, Tampa, refugees and all that surrounds it is fundamentally about race, or more specifically racism, and the media have been too gutless to call it that. The conservatives are controlling the agenda, cries Marr, and the frank and free debate that existed before the days of Howard have been stopped.

A bit too much paranoid whinging, to my mind. There are plenty of progressive media outlets constantly carping about the evils of Howard, Bush and all things conservative. The ABC and Fairfax seem to operate on the premise that we are all evil, nasty people who need to be enlightened by their holier-than-thou-ness. The self-criticism of Australia and the west generally is constant in those media, and the progessive narrative which says whatever wrongness there is in the world is all our own fault is startling.

True, Murdoch does keep a conservative tight-rein on his empire, and outside of Melbourne, Sydney or Perth there aint many alternatives to Rupe and so to some extent Marr's point stands stands.

A few bits and piece from the night:

- Marr getting very worked up over the refugee issues, the source of his book Dark Victory, which he claims Beazley has read and didn't like. Marr explained that many senior Labor figures think that if the Children Overboard scandal had not have reemerged in the last four days of the 2001 campaign that the ALP might have won. Even though the incident showed Reith to be a liar, it distracted from Labor's message on health and education.

- Marr providing and then critiquing emails he got from four senior conservative columnists on what it means to be on the Left. The Fab Four were Andrew Bolt, Piers Ackerman, Gerard Henderson and Tim Blair. Marr argues that the consensus from the four was the most salient characteristic of those on the Left is the instinctive negative response to the United States. Marr also demonstrated that he fundamentally doesn't get Tim Blair's cheeky sense of humour.

- Marr savaging the decision by the ABC to monitor itself courtesy of Rehame, or the kids with headphones and buttons, as he characterises them. Objective anaylsis just doesn't cut it when it comes to determining whether or not the ABC is biased, according to Marr, so we should instead just accept his claim that it aint.

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