Sunday, March 20, 2011


YES, it is ego, but can I admit to my excitement at Jonathan Holme’s pending expose of the Drum’s cronyism and betrayal, sure as eggs to be aired on Monday night’s Media Watch? What The Drum did to my expose of the NSW Liberals’ moosegate scandal – taking it down after a pitiful few and paltry objections from hidebound traditionalist Mark Colvin -- was nothing less than discrimination. What did I say that went beyond that to which most established figures on the Left have put their names, especially at The Drum?

Tomorrow night, if I might suggest, Holmes needs to drill that carborundum eye deep into Colvin’s intolerance. If the radio presenter cannot name a representative percentage of his AM co-workers who are, like me, victims of genital warts, he stands condemned as the marginliser with a microphone, the enemy of otherness, a self-appointed Commissar of The Pudenda Police. Indeed, in the interests of full disclosure, the ABC must reveal the percentage of its workforce who are members of the genital warts community.

And while he is at it, perhaps he might care to dig deeper into Jonathan Green’s insistence that his site is fair because it has published 4000 articles. But what sort of articles, Jonathan, and who wrote them? According to the Drum’s own manifest of published authors, 1-in-8 articles are the work of just a baker’s dozen of contributors.

Here is how a more replete list of leading lights breaks down:

Bob Ellis  -- 103
Ben Pobje --  58
Helen Razer – 57
Irfan Yusuf – 55
Greg Barns – 43
Kellie Tranter – 37
David Horton – 33
Tim Dunlop --  31
Jeff Sparrow – 29
Lauren Rosewarne – 25
Amin Saikal -- 25
Antsy Lowenstein – 22
Ben Eltham – 19
Scott Bridges – 14
Mark Bahnisch – 13
Melinda Tankard Reist -- 13
Jason Wilson – 12
Marieke Hardy – 10
Catherine Deveny – 8
Ben Sandilands – 8
Mungo MacCallum – 7
Christime Milne – 6

That list makes a total of 628 articles at a cost to the taxpayers of $125,600, allowing that stellar talents like Bob Ellis, Marieke Hardy and Ben Pobje have not negotiated themselves a better screw than the standard $200 a pop.

So why can’t I get just a little piece of that action? Why can’t I be invited to literary festivals, plied with per diems, invited to lecture at journalism schools and given a seat at The Drum’s nightly chat show on ABC-24?

None of the opinionaries listed above differs so much as an atom (sorry to use that word, readers) from the views and insights to be found here, at Verdant Hopes. Not one of those people would disagree that Mr Speedos is a vile creature and that his Catholicism is a big, big problem. There is not one climate denier on that list, nor an opponent of multiculturalism, an admirer of John Howard or a supporter of the ridiculous notion that Australia’s immigration policy be determined by Australia’s elected representatives, rather than undocumented travel agents in Indonesia.

I am one of them, my every opinion in sync with theirs – and even Jonathan Green admits as much, telling Holmes “the  material on her blog was not all that unusual in the online space.” Yet I am banished. Why? Why? Why?

I have tried long and hard to answer that question, to no avail. Jonathan Homes, whose very manner confirms his superior intelligence, might have more luck tomorrow night. What is the common thread that I am missing? Tell me, Jonathan, please tell me.

And if you cannot tell me why I am not allowed to hang with the Drum’s big-bucks whales, surely I could join the swirling tide of port-flowing plankton that surges across the site on a daily basis. Those small fry contribute just an article here and there, vanishing until the next deep thought about, say, why climate denial is a mental illness and those afflicted must be treated. But they are undoubtedly of the left, as am I. I could do that, I really could, take a slap when needed at Abbott or Monckton, or Carter or Murdoch or Pell or Bailleau …  Gaia help me if I seem bitter, but it should be entirely understandable when you consider that, for a few glorious hours, I really was part of the cool kids’ club. No point now in continuing to work on my Tony Abbott piñata, which I was looking forward to presenting Jonathan Green at the next election bash. To attend a party in Jill Singer’s backyard with the cream of Australia’s intelligentsia, well I think I could get myself out of the house for that. And I know Sparkles and Jill would have so much in common.

Could the reason for my exile be that I was never published on Crikey, where the most prolific Drum contributors became so well known to Jonathan Green? It was only natural, of course, that Mark Scott would authorise Green’s hiring, Crikey being such a fair, middle of the road repository for honest, unbiased and accurate reporting. So perhaps Scott told him to bring the entire crew with him and really lift standards at the ABC.

Or could it be that I did not attend that wonderful election night party in 2007, the one that produced an adorable photo of Jonathan Green smashing a John Howard piñata? Sadly, that photo is now vanished from the web.

Or have I been blackballed, as I suspect, for no better reason than my genital warts?

The ABC boasts a billion-dollar annual budget (minus, of course, the $800,000 the Drum has spent on those 4000 examples of fair, straight bat commentary, which Holmes cited), so Holmes should be able to find a little cash to underwrite tomorrow night’s investigation.

I mean, what do we have a national broadcaster for?


  1. What do we have a national broadcaster for?

    Well, given that it is taxpayer funded, we have it to provide intelligent, unbiased and factual information about all topics, including global warming/climate change/climate disruption or whatever you decide to call it this week.

    You might be left wing and you might disagree, but ALL voices, including right wing voices deserve, and are entitled to be heard.

    Grow up!

  2. My name appears on your list of frequent Drum contributors.

    I have never ever received a single cent from any article I have ever written for the site.

    Please do your research before posting these claims.

  3. Maybe Jonathan didn't publish you because your copy wasn't very good? I can't say because I haven't read your work before. But judging by this piece, perhaps he didn't publish you because you play the person and not the ball.

    By the way, given that the online media environment in Australia is relatively young and small, is it surprising that some of the same writers pop up in various publications? The mainstream journalists would too, except that they are contracted to Fairfax or News. Besides, I can't see Andrew Bolt, Michelle Grattan or George Megalogenis swapping their six-figure salaries for the princely sums offered by The Drum.

    I've got nothing against opinionated blogs, but the argument that all of The Drum's writers are somehow united in a left-wing love in doesn't bear scrutiny. There are more than token numbers of conservative voices, but more to the point, there is considerable diversity of backgrounds and media experience there too.

    I think attacking the ABC for paying writers is pretty sad, by the way. $200 is a fraction of what print journalists receive, of what other ABC journalists are paid, and far less than the relevant award rate.

    By the way, have you considered that the reason the ABC Drum's published opinion writers tend to the belief that anthropogenic global warming is a re al phenomenon is because they share the view of the vast majority of the world's climate scientists?

  4. Ben:
    "There are more than token numbers of conservative voices, ..."
    - but can you name one? Not including Bob Ellis, of course.
    "... but more to the point, there is considerable diversity of backgrounds and media experience there too."
    -from left to the far left, to the turnbuckle wacky lefty fringes, and all sorts in the intervals.
    But I do agree, Ben, you are severely underpaid for your inestimable contributions.


  5. Anonymous said...

    "My name appears on your list of frequent Drum contributors."

    Nope. I just checked the list, and the name "Anonymous" does not appear.

  6. Anonymous said...

    You go, Girl!
    March 20, 2011 5:10 PM

    That is the operative word , GO

  7. Brilliant!!..and the myopic lefties still can't figure this out!..Brilliant!. Keep fighting the good fight Arlene.

  8. Alene - it is most unfortunate that you have inadvertently elevated Ms Melinda Tankard Wrist to the status of the many genuine public intellectuals on your list of frequent Drummers. She is the... er... odd person out in that list, being a baptist sexual Puritan of the most reactionary stamp. In the future you envisage of monitored, balanced, responsible public discourse, she would struggle to obtain a commentators license.

    Yours in climate justice,


  9. This is awesome stuff Alena - I might even use your stats if you don't mind...

  10. Well... your stats leave out the likes of Chris Berg, Alan Moran, Glenn Milne, Tony Abbott, David Barnett, Sinclair Davidson, Kevin Donelly, Jeremy Sammut, Tom Switzer...

    ... a list like this would be interesting, but if you want to be taken seriously, you might want to not cherry pick.

  11. Right wingers never have, and never will be able to do comedy. But keep amusing yourself, Alene.

    And don't let the truth get in the way of your Piers-like propaganda. I don't even need to go to the link to know that you've left off Chris Berg and Tom Switzer, who seem to be on The Drum every time I go there. If your case is so strong why do you need to lie?