Andrew Bolt's response to Media Watch's David Marr

Andrew Bolt's responsce to Media Watch's David Marr, by Andrew Bolt:
24th July 2003

(This is a public responce from Andrew Bolt. Trascripts of this located at The Herald Sun and Crikey Media

Andrew Bolt's response to Media Watch's David Marr

You owe me a public apology.

1. On Media Watch last night (July 21), you falsely accused me of being wrong in stating Alison Broinowski had received three grants from the Australia Council, rather than the two you claim.

2. You further falsely accused me of being "hell bent on denouncing her as a traitor".

3. You falsely accused me of saying she argues "we deserved this atrocity" in Bali.

4. You falsely accused me of "dishonestly" misrepresenting her views - as in knowingly having twisted the truth.

5. You falsely accused me of being "not a man to let the truth stand in the way of an insult" - that is, of being a liar.

6. You falsely implied that I accused Ms Broinowski of receiving Australia Council funding for her latest book.

7. You falsely accused me of considering Ms Broinowski committed the "worst crime of all" in being an academic.

8. You falsely state that what "really rankles" with me is Ms Broinowski's "ingratitude".

9. You accused me of getting the name of Ms Broinowski's husband wrong, when you must have known that your allegation was as best only half true.

This means every single allegation you made against me is false - bar only the last, which was partially true at best, and utterly trivial at that.

I provided you with information - from Ms Broinowski's own CV - days before your broadcast proving that your first allegation was simply wrong.

In asking for my response, your e-mail never put to me the other allegations - in particular the one that I was dishonest or "not a man to let the truth stand in the way of an insult". You ignored material which exonerated me, and failed to give me the chance to defend myself against hurtful and damaging allegations.

Let me go through each of these points, to illustrate how shamefully you have behaved - how you have apparently let a personal and long-standing animus towards me, expressed by you on several occasions, distort your judgment.

On point 1. You correctly quoted me in my article as saying: "Alison Broinowski has now had three grants of your money to become the kind of writer she is. As in: Alison who? And the fact that she can get so much help from the Australia Council to write books you've never heard of is one reason you should know of her."

But you claimed: "The (Australia) Council has confirmed that back in the 1980s, Broinowski was given two - not three - small grants."

In fact, as I told you, I was right. Here is how Ms Broinoswki herself lists her Australia Council grants on her own CV:

1982, 1985 - Literature Board, Australia Council Purpose Grants
1987 - Visual Arts and Craft Board, Australia Council Project Grant,
Can you add up, David? Two plus one equals three. Just like I said. Your allegation that I had erred and failed "to let the truth stand in the way of an insult" is false.

On point 2: I have never accused Ms Broinowski, or any Australian I can recall, a traitor. That is a serious allegation, and not one I would make lightly. But you claimed as a matter of fact that "Bolt is hell bent on denouncing her as a traitor". I deny it. As my article made clear to any dispassionate reader, I was questioning the basis on which she criticised Australia. I should be able to do something so basic without being accused of cartoonish McCarthyism.

On point 3: You falsely claimed I accused Ms Broinowski of saying "we deserved this atrocity" in Bali. That is your invention. My article instead noted that she "suggests the Bali bombing was largely Australia's fault, because it 'invites the region's contempt'". Not "deserved", note, but largely brought it on ourselves. There is a huge difference - as in the difference between saying David Marr invites the contempt of his peers, and it's understandable if people get cross with him, but he nevertheless does not deserve to be bopped as a result. In fact, I make this distinction clear in my article by quoting Ms Broinowski herself saying: "I don't say the tourists deserved their fate but, with hindsight, what happened to them is predictable."

On point 4: You falsely claimed that I acted dishonestly by misrepesenting her views. First, the basic question: How can you prove that I knowingly misrepresented her views, rather than unwittingly make an honest mistake? How can you prove the dishonesty here?

In fact, I deny having either acted dishonestly or misrepresented her views. Your case rests on this allegation: That in quoting a xenophobic Malaysian writer highly critical of Australians, Ms Broinowski is "not saying we deserved this atrocity. She's saying bigots and xenophobes in Asia THINK we deserve it. There's a difference between endorsing and reporting, a difference Bolt is ignoring here - dishonestly."

I never accused Ms Broinowski of endorsing that writer, so there is no "difference between endorsing and reporting" here that I was "ignoring" - honestly or otherwise. Your claim is false.

In fact, I took issue with Ms Broinowski's apparent assumption that we should heed the views of xenophobic Malaysians and the like, and take responsibility for them. She herself has made clear that this is indeed her view, as I showed in my article by quoting her.

For instance, I accurately quoted her as saying: "'The dead and injured in Bali may have been the victims of Canberra's ventriloquist mouthing of Washington's world view, or of their Western appearance and lifestyle, or of the longstanding hostility of many Indonesians towards Australia, or of all of these,' Broinowski claims."

Australia, I quoted her further, "invites the region's contempt". And as she says elsewhere: "Certainly, those Australians who didn't know or care about how their country was perceived in Asian countries were brutally reminded that it mattered."

Broinowski, I added in my article, was even about to deliver a lecture under the title: "Bali as Blowback." The phrase, as you know, is meant to suggest that the Bali bombing was the result of our own action. Not deserved, but "invited".

You may disagree with me, but honest diagreement on this should be possible without you libelling me on national television by accusing me of having acted "dishonestly", something I utterly deny.

On point 5: You accused me of "not being a man to let the truth stand in the way of an insult". I deny that, too, utterly and passionately. I challenge you to prove that I would rather lie than waste a good insult. If you cannot, it is you instead who cannot "let the truth stand in the way of an insult".

On point 6: You falsely implied that I had accused Ms Broinowski of having received Australia Council funding for her latest book. In fact, you said I lied in doing so. You did this by mentioning (inaccurately) my allegation of past council funding, but then adding: "Bolt is not a man to let the truth stand in the way of an insult. The book he was putting the boot into ... received no funding whatever from the Australia Council." This clearly was meant to suggest that I had said her book had received such grants, but that I was lying when I said it. But nowhere in my article did I say the book received a grant, or even tried to inmply that. I did not make the allegation, let alone lie in doing so.

Moreover, anyone even vaguely familiar with the council's grants would have known that by noting she had received three such grants I was referring to a history of her receiving them, and could not possibly mean that all three grants had gone into the direct production of this one book.

On point 7: You wrongly claimed that I accused Ms Broinowski of "the worst crime of all - pursuing an academic career". This is utterly false - another figment of your imagination. Nowhere in my article or my two emails to you do I make this allegation, or describe having an academic career as the "worst crime of all". Not only did I not say this, I don't believe it. I consider an academic career to be something very respectable indeed, and admire those close friends of mine who lecture in our universities. You are simply fantasising - to my detriment, on national TV and at taypayers' expense.

On point 8: You falsely claimed that "what really rankles with Bolt is (Ms Broinowski's) ingratitude". This is not only false, but the very reverse of what I consider to be a writer's most honourable response to funding - which is to be beholden to no one. In fact, I have written often to condemn what I see as the tendency of too many artists to toe the line of those who hand out the grants. My main problem with Ms Broinowski is not her "ingratitude", but the silliness of her views. If anything, my article suggested she was part of an arts funding clique - having worked for the Australia Council itself - and not in rebellion against it.

On point 9: You claimed, in conclusion, that I had made an error in naming Ms Broinowski's husband as Philip Broinowski. "Great stuff - but his name's Richard," you gloated. In fact, his full name is Richard Philip Broinowski, although he does indeed prefer to be called Richard. Is there any reason, other than malice towards me, why you did not tell your viewers his first name?

You ended your program by telling viewers that my complete reply to your questions - one of which, by the way, asked me to account for an opinion about you which I have never expressed but which you imagined I might have - was on your website. Was it a deliberate decision to run my reply in a format which prevented it from being read on screen?

I have other serious concerns about your conduct as host of Media Watch, and over your pursuit of this story in particular. They are discussed in my two earlier e-mails to you, and I eagerly await your reply.

In the meantime, however, I ask that you apologise on next week's show for each of your false allegations, which I take very seriously. And I ask you to reflect on your propensity to use your program, paid for by taxpayers to do the public a service, to instead pursue what seems to me some private vendettas and an ideological crusade.

-- Andrew Bolt


The Herald Sun: exact URL of story

ABC Media Watch: What Andrew Bolt thinks of them

ABC Media Watch: Fury of Bolt - 28th July 2003

Crikey Media: Crikey as Las Vegas: Bolt v Marr - 24th July 2003

Melbourne Indymedia - Andrew Bolt

CNNNN: Media Watch: Marring the media?

My Two Cents, by Gareth Parker: Media Watch Watch


What is Media Watch?

ABC Media Watch (credit ABC Media Watch website)

Media Watch is Australia's leading forum for media analysis and comment. Conflicts of interest, bank backflips, deceit, misrepresentation, manipulation, plagiarism, abuse of power, technical lies and straight out fraud: Media Watch has built an unrivalled record of exposing media shenanigans since it first went to air in 1989.

Now each Monday at 9.15 pm on ABC TV one of Australia's finest journalists, David Marr, turns a critical eye on the media in general and journalism in particular. The media provides the information we need to make decisions about our lives, but how reliable are the media reports that shape our views of the world?

Journalists claim to report the facts without fear or favour - but just how fair and fearless are they when personal or corporate interests conflict with their responsibilities?

Media Watch turns the spotlight onto those who literally "make the news": the reporters, editors, sub-editors, producers, camera operators, sound recordists and photographers who claim to deliver the world to our doorsteps, radios, computers and living rooms. We also keep an eye on those who try to manipulate the media: the PR consultants, spin-doctors, lobbyists and "news makers" who set the agenda.

David Marr is currently on leave from the Sydney Morning Herald.