I note that Murdoch is incensed at his wife’s ‘friendship’ with Tony Blair and their several overnight ‘meetings’ without his knowledge. The old man will never speak, the smh alleges, with Blair again.
Search Results for: murdoch
It is hard to think of a man of my generation who had a university degree and did not have an extramarital ‘fling’, or ‘affair’, sometimes overseas or out of town. Of the generations previous to me Menzies, Holt, Gorton, Killen, John Kennedy, Eisenhower, Johnson, Eden, Macmillan, Mitterrand, Churchill, Roosevelt, Harding, Lloyd George, Grover Cleveland, Disraeli, Lincoln, Melbourne, Jefferson were known to have had affairs and none of them lost his position because of it. Nor did Greiner or Kennett who left their wives and went back to them.
Yet lately Clinton, Edwards, Spitzer, Della Bosca, Rann, Assange and four or five Englishmen (one of them blind) were ruined or stained by it, and considerable talent ripped out of politics not by a change in public sentiment (88 percent of respondents still acclaim John Kennedy in spite of it) but by Murdoch, an adulterer himself, targeting politicians of the Left with peepshows of their bedrooms and the accused politicians panicking.
The latest of these was Nathan Rees, a Labor hero and potential great Prime Minister I have known for eleven years and worked with, and for, when he was backroomer, Minister and Premier. A more eloquent on-his-feet performer in Question Time I have not seen. A more impelled politician of the Left I have not known. A man more likely to win, as Leader, the State election of 2015 I do not know. He was, after all, the one who sought to excise the Obeid Faction from New South Wales and was brought down by them.
And it is now unlikely he will have a seat to contest. His seat was effectively abolished, and the Party was to find him a new one, and now — perhaps — will not.
And this because of a Murdoch-published ‘affair’.
It was not thought Murdoch should resign because of his affair with Wendi Deng during his marriage to Anna. Nor that Geoffrey Robertson should be disbarred for stealing Kathy Lette from Kim Williams. Nor that Paul McCartney should be made to stop composing songs because he deflowered and then discarded Jane Asher in 1964.
Yet it is thought Rees should never again be Premier because of an episode not hard to imagine, a rule that did not apply to Greiner, Kennett, Olsen, Wran or Dunstan.
Why is this? Well, it relates to Murdoch’s Fox News method, feigning shock and horror at what in fact surprises no-one (‘Let him who is without sin cast the first stone,’ the unshocked Nazarene said of adultery nineteen hundred years ago), a method that might be labelled ‘Sexual McCarthyism’. If a man of the Left is talented, well, you poke around in his soiled bed-linen, and see what you can find. It should be thought a crime as heinous as skyping acts of copulation in Duntroon, but it is not.
If ‘privacy’ means anything, it means this. Not many pictures of the Queen on the toilet are published these days, but if they were it would undermine her dignity, like the pictures of Diana horizontal wiith eyes closed in the gymnasium, or Fergie having her toes sucked, or Harry in a Nazi uniform. It is thought wrong to publish such pictures, but right it would seem to photograph Kate Middleton’s nipples when the opportunity affords. And reporting any instance of an ‘affair’ of anyone with anyone. Especially if, like Juni Morosi, she is mysterious and Asian.
‘Affairs’, or repeated sexual encounters, or bits on the side, are ofttimes quite complex disappointing things (as most men of my generation with a degree found out in their twenties) and should stay private if no crime is involved, and the word ‘unconsensual’ never published without proof, especially if it is later retracted.
I mourn the second Premiership of Nathan Rees, who had greatness in him.
And so it goes.
The Assange film The Fifth Estate lured few Australians to it but seems to me — a likewise grimy, surly, cult-bred near-Queenslander with a similar propensity to bastard children, broken partnerships, rancorous barroom rhetoric and resistance to good advice — an excellent, well-crafted work as important as The Social Network, Wall Street, Margin Call or Platoon.
It shows us, among a number of other things, the present age. Assange, forever on planes, jet-lagged, impatiently ironic, unwashed and fearful for his life, is a very Australian, far-flung, self-doubting, Hamlettish figure, restless, roving, unsanitary and horny, mistrustful as a longtime religious fugitive would be (and I am one) of all friendship, discipleship and partnership, wanting to hog all the praise and the limelight — like Rudd, like Luhrman, like Andrews, Kosky, Murdoch, Simon Stone, Peter Weir, Paul Cox — and I begin to wonder if the Assange Syndrome (autistic? artistic? Asperger’s? manic-depressive?) is more widespread than we thought. Orson Welles had it; Howard Hughes; Lord Olivier; Lord Florey; John Lennon. It certainly afflicts those who dice with power and feel the ‘rush’ which power brings to their gonads and cerebella, however fleetingly. It shows us a good flawed man blundering into danger and egomania, careless of innocent lives but not as careless (of course, of course) as the Pentagon, Mossad, the CIA and the Global Free Market which kills with bad water twenty thousand children a day. Julian saved tens of thousands of lives, of course he did, and should be more acclaimed for it.
Why then did this fine film fail? The title, a distant echo of The Social Network, was part of the reason, I think. To leave the most famous surname of 2010 off it was like leaving ‘Ned Kelly’, ‘Capote’, ‘Ray’, ‘Che’ and ‘Robin Hood’ off their biopics and foolhardy. It was also unwise to ‘boost’ the story with computer tricks: a multiplicity of typing Julians at an infinitude of desks, and so on. A film about the unveiling of reality should have stayed real itself, not mucked about with it, as one might in a film about LSD.
Cumberbatch nonetheless shapes up, as he did in Parade’s End, as an astounding English talent as good, it now seems, as Gielgud, Olivier, Richardson and Guinness (like the dour Sir Alec, he has no face) put together, playing with our hopes, affections and primal guilts with the sinuousness of a Mata Hari. He leaves us, correctly, unsure of Assange and rattled by him. His motive, his mad childhood, his methodology, his puritan conscience, his masochistic lifestyle, his importance in history we must judge for ourselves as we do Liberace in Under The Candelabra and Che in Che, since he is far beyond simplicities and we must ponder his meaning, as it were, unassisted.
The script, by Josh Singer of The West Wing, from the aggrieved disciple Dan Berg’s memoir and two other books, is excellent, and all the performances first rate (the cast a cattle-call of co-stars from the better recent films and miniseries A Royal Affair, The Thick Of It, Anonymous, Rush, John Adams and Julie/Julia. Laura Linney and Stanley Tucci are especially good as two State Department backroomers (Linney standing in, I suspect, for Hillary Clinton), Dan Stevens (Matthew in Downton Abbey) unrecogniseable in mere slick black hair as a Guardian subeditor and Alicia Vikander (from A Royal Affair) delectable as Audrey Hepburn as Dan Berg’s tetchy gorgeous girlfriend Anke Domscheit. The director, Bill Condon, however should not have pushed his luck. He had a story as interesting as Dreyfus or Ellsberg and, curiously, did not tell it. The two girls in Sweden do not come into it — for legal reasons, perhaps — and it’s a pity.
My lunch a couple of weeks back with Ian Masters has been much on my mind. The brother of Roy, Chris, Quentin, Sue and Deb and the son of Olga, he does a radio show in LA, syndicated across the US, that looks into politics. I shared a room with him in 1962.
He says when the the planes hit the towers it was not just Bush who dodged out of sight, went into hiding, it was Rumsfeld and Cheney and Condaleezza too. They all of them thought they might be disgraced and shamed and, maybe, imprisoned for failing to protect their fellow citizens from lethal attack by men the FBI knew were taking flying lessons, but not landing lessons. As the officers responsible, they might go to gaol.
So they hid for a while, till their spinmen worked out a plan and told them what to do. This was to turn the whole thing into a religious occasion, with a black female choir singing America, America and Billy Graham praying at Gound Zero, a sacred site thereafter and a national anniversary.
And they got away with it.
It was around then the word ‘politicise’ came into abundant use. We were told that politics had no place in a discussion of al-Qaeda blowing up America. That was too ‘serious’ for politics.
Lately, when the Australian Army burnt a lot of the Blue Mountains down, we were told it shouldn’t be ‘politicised’. An act of national destruction by the nation’s official protectors must not be looked into, we were told, that was ‘politics’, and politics had no place in a question of political failure, of catastrophic political failure, costing billions. No place at all.
One by one, good neutral words are soiled and slimed. Communist. Socialist. Liberal. Left-leaning. Political. One by one these words are targeted and made to look evil by the Right. We are told we can’t say it was wrong to go to Afghanistan, and lose a war there. We are told it was ‘bittersweet’. Wasting seven billion dollars, forty lives, levelling mud villages, killing children, immolating crops, killing goats, and enriching Karzai’s drug-dealing brothers was not wrong, it was ‘bittersweet’.
We should, because of this word ‘politicise’, and its kissing cousin, ‘playing politics’, not call it ‘wrong’ for us to be in Afghanistan, we are told. But it was wrong. And it is not wrong, therefore, surely, to politicise it. In a democracy we elect politicians to sort out things. It is not wrong for them to do their job. And to call it ‘playing politics’ is to attack democracy itself. We shouldn’t do that.
We shouldn’t say some things are ‘above politics’. Nothing is. It was politics that got us into World War One, and out of it. It was politics that got us to the Moon. It was politics that funded penicillin, and the saving of a billion lives. It was politics that obliterated Hiroshima.
‘Politics’ is not a separate thing from life, it is life itself, life in action, discussion, legislation, ratiinal debate. It is taking responsibility for how a nation behaves. To demean it as Abbott does, and Murdoch does, is a form of treason. And in wartime they would go to gaol for it, And this was wartime until Monday.
Confucius said the first duty of government was to ‘rectify the language’. Orwell explored this in Nineteen Eighty-four. Fox News rectifies the language every day, as when they turned ‘suicide bombers’ into ‘homicide bombers’.
And so it was that 9/11 became not an avoidable military defeat with investigation, impeachment, court martial and public trial of Condaleezza in its wake, it became a religious occasion, celebrated yearly, like Thanksgiving.
And so will these bushfires too, ‘depoliticised’ into a welter of national pride and hymn-singing grief, when major generals should be court-martialled for it, and the Army fined a billion dollars. There should be a Senate inquiry into it, and army generals publicly stripped of their medals before the Cenotaph and sent to gaol for ‘accidental terrorism’ and schoolkids publicly shamed as ‘deliberate terrorists, however ignorant’, the product of a bad bringing up, and put in gaol for a couple of years.
We would save a lot of property if we ‘politicised’ bushfires, and linked them to global warming. We would save lives, and lessen trauma like my children’s when our house burned down.
Let’s hear it for ‘politicisation’. Of everything.
That way democracy lies.
And the pursuit, old friend, of happiness.
Somebody called Derek Parker has reviewed The Year It All Fell Down for The Spectator and finds nothing good in it. He says I ‘bizarrely’ quote myself, though my two co-authors, Ramsey and Spruce, do likewise and are not cursed for it. It is what you do in a book with three authors; how else would he do it?
He thinks I am wrong to criticise Rupert Murdoch. Billions do; he did not say why we should not. He believes the imprisonment of Strauss-Kahn did nothing to endanger the world economy, which he was in part in charge of, in the crucial seventeen days he was out of action, and he says I cursed Gabby Giffords, to whom the book is paradoxically dedicated. I of course did not. He says I connected her shooting with Sarah Palin. Well, so did the world, and she lost the Presidency because of it. He says I believe 9/11 was conspired by Bush and Cheney. I of course do not. There are lots and lots of lies in his review. I wonder why he told them.
One is I made my name as ‘a speechwriter for various Labor people.’ No, it was by co-writing King O’Malley, Newsfront, Goodbye Paradise, Fatty Finn, The True Believers, Man of Flowers, My First Wife, A Local Man, Autopsy On A Dream and Bastards From The Bush, and writing and directing Unfinished Business, The Nostradamus Kid and Run, Rabbit, Run, and winning many prizes with them. About one fiftieth of my writing has been for politicians. There are twenty-two books as well, three thousand uncontentious film reviews, two hundred songs, a hundred broadcasts, and sixty-eight unpolitical screenplays. How dare he. Who is he?
He says I detest all Americans. No, three thousand words of the book are in praise of Obama, and quotes from him; a chapter wryly admires Arnold Schwarzenegger, others praise Tony Bennett, Aaron Sorkin, John McCain, Mark Kelly, Danny Strong, Julianne Moore, Jon Stewart, Woody Harrelson, Steve Jobs. He says my writing is famously nasty and snide. A thousand actors, directors and authors disagree with this, cherishing my acclamations. He seems to think my opinions are ‘typical of the Left,’ though I oppose abortion, favour the Monarchy, abhor Kevin Rudd and famously once praised a book by Tony Abbott, who called me ‘Australia’s best writer’ in a phone message I by mistake alas erased. I furthermore style myself a Katterite Protectionist’ and have co-authored a film with Sir James Killen, a book with Bob Brown, and several speeches by Kamahl. He says I ‘have no evidence’ the SEALS who killed Bin Laden ‘detested Obama.’ I got it from Time Magazine. He says I weirdly allege Anders Breivik was ‘inspired by John Howard.’ Well, the selfsame mass murderer said so in his diaries and he ought to know.
Who is this lying piece of filth? He says there is ‘nothing new’ in the book, and professes shock at eighty of its revelations. He says there is no left-wing conspiracy theory I do not believe. Well, I don’t think Oswald acted alone, and neither does he. It would be good to know which ones he disbelieves. Perhaps he could list them. More to come.