Date: Mon, 8 Jun 1998 01:07:06 +1000
FOR PUBLICATION -------------------------
Last night's 60 minutes story on Pauline Hanson and the US militiamen was brilliant. It wasn't brilliant journalism, it was a brilliant corporate hit, less than a week from the QLD elections.
There were signs the Nine Network had pulled the big guns to shoot Hanson. In recent times, every single Channel Nine program, with possibly the exception of "Here's Humphrey" and "Catch Phrase", had a go at smearing Pauline Hanson and One Nation. The typical hit-men for the occasion were people like Laurie Oakes who masterfully fakes an impartial observer, and company-men like former Senator Graeme Richardson who gives a bad name to prostitutes. I almost forgot Ray Martin, the man who used to be a journalist.
For the readers who may not be familiar with dishonesty, hypocrisy, double standards, propaganda and gutter journalism, I will outline here some of the tricks that 60 Minutes weakly passes off as investigative journalism.
First, the story has to be one-sided. No point in inviting One Nation to spoil the party by refuting the allegations. The wildest claims can be made to sound overwhelming when unchallenged.
Next, the starting point for some of the story usually based on wild assumptions which are usually groundless, but derive their perceived authority from the fact they have been repeated in the media for months, sometimes years. One such assumption that is regularly used in the Australian media as a basis for further smearing is the fact that One Nation is a "racist" party. Apply the same standards to any other political party in Australia and there would not be a non-racist party in the country. I dare say that, based on the media benchmark, most anti-racist organisations today behave like racists. Never will you see in the Australian media a reminder that the only time One Nation faced official scrutiny for being a racist organisation, it was cleared.
Naturally, there has to be a scare factor. The militia goons roaming in the snow firing indiscriminately did the trick. This would shake the daylight out of the Mums and Dads out there who were finishing their mashed potatoes. The tricksters who pass themselves off as journalists know the effect of such associations. The mud sticks and so do the shock pictures indirectly associated with One Nation.
As with every professional hit, the timing has to be perfect. If somehow 60 Minutes is forced into a retraction - as it should - the next opportunity is the day after the Queensland election. Top stuff!
Yesterday's 60 Minutes story did not demonstrate any links between the US militias and One Nation. however, clever editing and constant innuendo gave the viewer the impression that it was clearly established. It was interesting to see the story claim that One Nation's policies were borrowed from the US. The fact is that much of the One Nation policies are not new in Australia and have been debated before. So, why not run a story claiming One Nation borrows its policies from the Liberal or Labor Party? The real question is this: how would the other political parties fare if the same level of caustic scrutiny was applied to them?
What can you do about all this? First, write to Toyota, as I did, and tell them that their association with 60 Minutes may be giving them exposure, but not necessarily the kind of exposure a quality brandname wants. Next, stop buying the Packer magazines. If you have shares in a Packer company, sell them. Make a note of products advertised on Channel Nine and buy the competition, even if they are bad quality and twice the price. You are investing in your future. Make sure you let these companies know. Write to your local paper and complain about the fact that there is no real recourse in Australia for the Packers of this world who use television stations as weapons of war.
Finally, I urge those who watched the show to write to Channel Nine asking them to explain how they could possibly associate One Nation and the US militia when they did not have a single piece of evidence. Should they fail to reply or if they give you the standard cut-and-paste reply, take the matter further to the Australian Broadcasting Authority.
In his book "The Captive Press", David Bowman raised questions about newspapers: "Do they publish the truth or do they stretch it until it is a lie? Do they seem to be fair or unfair in their treatment of people and issues? Do they victimise individuals? Do they help society by their example or set it back?" Today, 60 Minutes would have some trouble answering these questions.