War of words: ABC and News Corp journalists condemn Friendlyjordies’ verbal attack on Nicolle Flint | Amanda Meade

Annabel Crabb stuck her head above the parapet to defend Liberal MP Nicolle Flint this week, a particularly noble act when you consider the member for Boothby in South Australia criticised Crabb’s ABC program Ms Represented as unfair to conservative women.

“There are very few reasons left to watch the ABC,” Flint wrote in the Australian newspaper in July. “However, Annabel Crabb’s new ABC TV program, Ms Represented, provides an excellent excuse to turn on the television, then turn it off again, and formally complain.” Harsh.

But Crabb was acting on the principle not the personality when she responded to an article in the Australian by David Penberthy about a Friendlyjordies video, Enemy to Women? Curiously, the South Australian correspondent for the Oz referred to the video variously as an “abusive episode of his podcast” and a “profanity-laden post”.

Penberthy reported that Friendlyjordies, whose real name is Jordan Shanks, “repeatedly tells Ms Flint to ‘f..k off’ from politics and also refers to her as ‘Dick-hole Flint’” and a “whiny little bitch”.

The report prompted both Crabb and the Labor MP Tanya Plibersek – who is one of the ALP figures to have been in interviewed by the YouTube star – to condemn Shanks.

Weekly Beast listened closely to the video and couldn’t hear the words “Dick-Hole Flint” but we are happy to be corrected. On Friday, Penberthy reported in a follow-up article that Shanks denied saying the phrase, after the comedian sent him a statement about the “multiple falsehoods” in the article.

We’ve asked Penberthy to clarify whether he still believes the phrase is in the 15-minute video.

As for the “whiny little bitch” insult, the phrase originated in a video last year in which Shanks compares the public figures who complain about insults with those who accept that sledging goes with the territory. “Everyone in public life cops it,” Shanks said. “It’s only the whiny little bitches like Nicolle Flint, Clive Palmer and John Barilaro who have a sook.” Equal opportunity insults perhaps?

False flagging

Staying on Adelaide media, InDaily journalist Tom Richardson revealed the cosy relationship between News Corp’s Advertiser and the South Australian government this week, and how occasionally it blows up in their face. Richardson says “a key plank of the Government’s COVID messaging has long been to use the daily paper as a community noticeboard to flag its intentions” and non-News Corp editors have written to the government to warn of the damage to the public health messages.

One danger may be that the Advertiser is so confident it has the inside track that it publishes information before final decisions have been made within government.

The ‘Tiser had a drop last Friday which said an “emergency lockout” was coming “within days”.

“It is understood the crackdown will ban all but essential travel to SA while fully vaccinated returning SA residents would be required to quarantine for seven days,” the article stated.

Understandably South Australians were devastated.

But on Saturday, authorities said there was no lockdown. It may have been proposed, but in the end the recommendation was not accepted.

“This was extraordinarily detailed information, confidently presented as insider knowledge,” Richardson said.

“This was, rather, a briefing – of the kind that has occurred week in, week out throughout this pandemic as the central strategy in the government’s health messaging.”

‘No big deal’

The Australian’s former economics editor, now Washington correspondent, Adam Creighton has drawn attention to himself during the pandemic by criticising public health responses to Covid-19.

Creighton has characterised strict lockdowns as an affront to personal liberty and called them “health fascism”.

He recently wrote that it was “shocking how this OMICRON ‘variant’, which appears not to have killed a single person in the world, has prompted such massive disruption to millions of people, all implicitly cheered on by the media”.

In April he tweeted: “Covid19 has killed free speech. Covid 19 will be the most formative event of my life. Virtue signalling dominates truth. The West is finished.”

So an article by Creighton headed “I caught Covid and it was no big deal” attracted a great deal of attention online. Most of it was mocking.

“I own a house so buying a house is no big deal,” was just one answer to Creighton. “Aren’t you the champion? I drove my car and didn’t die, I don’t know why we’re bothering with all of these road rules,” was another of the more than 800 largely negative responses.

ABC accolades

In 2018 the ABC TV drama Mystery Road became the most watched non-children’s program in history on ABC iview, and has won critical accolades across the board. But it had other benefits – series one also contributed to regional expenditure in remote Western Australia of more than $3.3m and 300 locals were hired as extras and in on-set support and intern roles, according to a report by Deloitte Access Economics published this week.

Series one of Mystery Road contributed to regional expenditure in remote Western Australia of more than $3.3m.
Series one of Mystery Road contributed to regional expenditure in remote Western Australia of more than $3.3m. Photograph: John Platt/ABC TV

The report details the ABC’s contribution to the national economy: screen commissions contributed $744m and supported more than 8,000 roles over three years, bringing financial, social and cultural benefits to the country.

The role of the ABC in Australia’s production sector was also highlighted by Screen Australia’s drama report, which revealed the number of television shows produced for Australian children had halved since the Morrison government scrapped quotas for commercial broadcasters.

Of the seven children’s shows produced in 2020-21, six were financed by the ABC.

The report reveals that from 2017-18 to 2019-20, the ABC commissioned 433 screen productions that delivered more than 2,500 hours of Australian content to viewers.

Murdoch merriment

The release of the Senate report backing a call by Kevin Rudd for an inquiry into the Murdoch media empire could not have come on a more appropriate day. It was tabled in parliament hours before Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch hosted their annual Christmas bash in Sydney’s Bellevue Hill for politicians, media personalities and the business elite.

The Labor and Greens senators on the committee recommended a judicial inquiry with the powers of a royal commission into media diversity, ownership and regulation – although Labor’s media spokeswoman, Michelle Rowland, immediately ruled it out as ALP policy.

Committee chair Sarah Hanson-Young: “The evidence that the Murdoch media empire is indeed a dangerous monopoly was heard loud and clear.”

The rhetoric didn’t seem to bother the Liberal MP Dave Sharma or the NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, who were guests at the soiree alongside Qantas boss Alan Joyce, Atlassian founder and billionaire Scott Farquhar, the former NRL and FFA boss David Gallop and racing and rugby league administrator Peter V’landys.

The member for Wentworth, Dave Sharma, arrives at Sarah and Lachlan Murdoch’s Christmas drinks.
The member for Wentworth, Dave Sharma, arrives at Sarah and Lachlan Murdoch’s Christmas drinks. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

Everyone from Murdoch’s Australasian chief, Michael Miller, and Sky News Australia boss Paul Whittaker were invited, and presenters Peter Stefanovic, Chris Kenny, Paul Murray and Sharri Markson made the grade.

For the record, the report defines media concentration by saying Australia now has only three national-scale commercial media voices.

The biggest is News Corp, which controls about two-thirds of metropolitan daily newspaper circulation, Sky News and a free-to-air channel in regional areas.

Next is Nine Entertainment, which owns the Nine television network, and the former Fairfax mastheads the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and the Australian Financial Review, as well as digital properties.

The third player is Kerry Stokes in Western Australia, who holds a controlling interest in Seven West Media Ltd, which controls the West Australian, Perth’s Sunday Times and the Community Newspaper Group, which owns 23 local newspapers across Perth, as well as the Seven TV network.

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