The Art of the Australian Insult


Round 2 to the SMH

It’s so good to see those paragons of journalist integrity, The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald indulging in a bit of mutual bitch-slapping. The Australian has been given to editorialising about the disgracefully biased editorial stance of the SMH, especially in relation to its coverage of World Youth Day. Here Mike Carlton ponders the implications of the latest attack by The Australian:

“Writing for the Herald, you become accustomed to the Oz offering helpful advice on how we could do it so much better. Barely a day goes by without an improving homily from Holt Street. As everyone knows, at News Ltd they are the custodians of all that is pure and good in journalism, and those of us who have so fallen from grace that we can grub a living only at Fairfax or the ABC acknowledge this with humble respect.

Last Saturday The Australian surpassed itself. An editorial reproving us for our coverage of World Youth Day scaled Old Testament heights of fury. The gist of it seemed to be that if a priesr shoves a hand down your Speedos you only have yourself to blame for going swimming with him in the first place. It was quite a puzzle. And it went on like that all week. I can only think that Rupert Murdoch must be making a takeover bid for the Vatican.”

 

 The SMH offered the sort of bitchy riposte not typically encountered in editorials:

 

“An indulgence, dear reader. We note that The Australian newspaper – self-proclaimed heart of the nation”  – has taken to purloining large slabs of commentary from your Herald.

Barely a day goes by without extracts from our commentators, editorial or letters page getting the cut and paste treatment. This, we assue is for two reasons: first, a shame;less attempt to enliven and diversify its monochromatic opnion pages; second, the Oz has a lot of columns to fill, being largely unencumbered by what it might consider the intrusion of advertising.

We are flattered and enthused. So in this new found spirit of plagirasim, er co-operation, we scanned the Oz for anything of interest to discerning Herald readers. Sadly, we drew a blank, But always happy to help, we offer this editorial for Monday’s cut and paste.”

 

I can’t wait to see how The Australian responds. My money’s on a sniffy comment about how they won’t stoop to the SMH’s level etc etc.

 



Apparently we’re all a bit thick
July 8, 2008, 7:33 am
Filed under: National insults, The Media | Tags:

“Apparently we’re all a bit thick and need pictures to help understand the words.”

Rhonda Byrne (surely not the Rhonda Byrne?) writes to the Sydney Morning Herald on the practice of illustrating stories on the oil price with oil drums and pregnancy stories with pictures of pregnant women.



The departure of Alexander is a downer. Or is it?

“Just tell him to fuck off. Can’t you see I’m very busy?”

 

Alexander Downer, former foreign minister, to new staffers when an important dignitary was waiting to see him. Downer would wait for an uncomfortably long time before bursting into laughter. Paul Daley explains,

“It was at once Downer’s idea of a personality test and a joke. Puerile? Yes. Funny? Undeniably, for those who witnessed it.”

Daley has mixed feelings about Downer’s departure; the man was at least a colourful character:

“Downer could present one minute as the archetypal Tory boofhead and the next as John Howard’s battering ram, yelling down his enemies in Parliament, arguing black is white and taking no prisoners along the way.

His stint as Liberal leader – during which he was utterly humiliated by his own party, by Paul Keating, but mostly by himself – would have killed others.”

As he quotes a senior minister:

“Mate, we are the most effing boring government since federation…and that’s just the way Kev wants it.”

“Welcome to the New Calvinism,” reflects Daley. “Or should that be the New Kevin-ism?”

 

Mike Carlton in the Sydney Morning Herald is less ambivalent. taking issue with Janet Albrechtsen who wrote in The Australian, “Like him or loathe him, Downer’s record as foreign minister is imposing.”

“No, it’s not. It’s dreadful. He was the worst since poor, bewildered Billy McMahon, who once did a television interview with me in Saingapore convinced, against all the evidenc,e that he was actually in Saigon. Downer was barely a notch up form that.

With John Howard egging him on, his instinctive groveling to the Bush Administration dragged us into the disaster of Iraq. Evidently incapable of original thought, he saw the world through the prism of the neoconservatives of Washington, parroting their slogans with the blustering self-assurance of a truly third-rate mind. In Asia, especially Indonesia, they treated him as Little Sir Echo. To the newly independent Government of East Timor he was a swaggering bully. ”



In the eye of the beholder?
July 7, 2008, 2:23 am
Filed under: Culture, Sex | Tags: , , ,

“Images of this kind are distasteful, exploitative of children – a cheap, sick stunt at the expense of a young child. We’ve now reached a sad point where some people think naked kids can boost their sales and get them a headline. We will have no role in funding them while they use images that exploit children.”

Morris Iemma comments on the cover of the latest issue of Art Monthly, which features an image of a naked six year old girl, as photographed by her mother. The image is largely obscured in the Sunday Telegraph, but you can see the entire image in the Sydney Morning Herald. Interestingly, the child herself loves the image and says it is her favourite (it still hangs in her mother’s house).



“Complaining is all they can do”
July 3, 2008, 5:09 am
Filed under: Religion | Tags: , ,

“Still, let them complain. Because coming up with something more creative is beyond them, complaining is all they can do.”

The Daily Telegraph, staunch defender of working families,  thinks that all the people writing to the Sydney Morning Herald to complain about World Youth Day have no imagination.

“As Jack Gibson said: “This mob would boo Santa Claus”.”



A very subtle joke
July 2, 2008, 5:46 am
Filed under: Transport | Tags: , ,

“If Sydney’s transport system is a joke, it’s one of those very subtle ones that you get an hour or so later.”

 

Scott Poynting, Manchester UK, letter to the Sydney Morning Herald. June 2008.