Home > Boneheaded stupidity > Fortunate in my enemies

Fortunate in my enemies

April 7th, 2012

That’s how Robert Vienneau described me after some of my stoushes last year.

It seems as if my luck is holding in that respect at any rate. While I’ve had plenty of supportive responses after being booted from the Fin, I’m sure not everyone is sorry to see me go. Most of those in the latter class, however, haven’t seen any need to gloat.

I would have been disappointed, however, if Andrew Bolt had not lived down to his usual form on this occasion. Sure enough, as his fans have advised me both by email and in comments here, he’s written a gloating column, expressing the hope that Laura Tingle (a far better journalist than Bolt could ever be, even if he was trying) will be next to go.

Bolt can’t even manage an original line of attack, dragging out the tired misrepresentation of a 2007 blog post that the Telegraph ran last week.

The great thing about having Bolt as an enemy is that you get his fans thrown in as part of the package. There’s something comforting in knowing that, if someone dislikes you, there’s a high probability that they are the kind of person who comments on Bolt’s blog.

Of course, it isn’t much of a distinction to be one of Bolt’s enemies. With the exception of the late Paddy McGuinness (who at least had some style to combine with the vitriol) I can’t think of anyone who is less discriminating in his hatreds.

Categories: Boneheaded stupidity Tags:
  1. BilB
    April 7th, 2012 at 11:41 | #1

    Well, you will know, JQ, that you have made a lucky escape when, to follow the readership enhancement trends, they fill your collumn space with raunchy pinup picks.

  2. Robert (not from UK)
    April 7th, 2012 at 12:51 | #2

    I wish I could remember where I read this, but it was definitely uttered by Salvador de Madariaga, the 20th-century Spanish political philosopher and diplomat: “In real life there are no victories, only defeats of our adversaries, so let us always hope that our adversaries are stupider than we are.”

    The saving grace of P. P. McGuinness (I speak as one who copped the occasional spray, as well as receiving the occasional compliment, from him over the years) was that he literally did not care what anyone thought of him. In his less-than-couth he was fearless. Whereas Bolt’s antennae are as perfectly calibrated towards political power as were those of any time-server under Stalin. “Lavrenti Bolt”, I sometimes find myself thinking, or at other times “Andrew Beria.”

  3. Robert (not from UK)
    April 7th, 2012 at 12:52 | #3

    I wish I could remember where I read this, but it was definitely uttered by Salvador de Madariaga, the 20th-century Spanish political philosopher and diplomat: “In real life there are no victories, only defeats of our adversaries, so let us always hope that our adversaries are stupider than we are.”

    The saving grace of P. P. McGuinness (I speak as one who copped the occasional spray, as well as receiving the occasional compliment, from him over the years) was that he literally did not care what anyone thought of him. In his less-than-couth fashion he was fearless. Whereas Bolt’s antennae are as perfectly calibrated towards political power as were those of any time-server under Stalin. “Lavrenti Bolt”, I sometimes find myself thinking, or at other times “Andrew Beria.”

  4. Robert (not from UK)
    April 7th, 2012 at 12:52 | #4

    Oops! My bad. I seem to have ended up posting a comment twice. Apologies for that.

  5. Freelander
    April 7th, 2012 at 14:14 | #5


    Well, I’m always learning. You say Tingle is a far better journalist than Bolt. I hadn’t known that Bolt is a journalist! Well, I’ll be.

  6. Freelander
    April 7th, 2012 at 14:15 | #6

    Oops. Directed to JQ.

  7. David Allen
    April 7th, 2012 at 15:34 | #7

    John, I couldn’t say that I agree with every thing you say but on ecomonic matters I trust your expertise. I appeciate you having this blog because it helps me understand issues that can be hard to get to grips with otherwise. I think you do the world a service it doesn’t always deserve. As for Bolt, I wouldn’t p*ss on him if he were on fire.

  8. Fran Barlow
    April 7th, 2012 at 15:50 | #8

    You’re quite right PrQ. While I don’t always share your opinions, they are at any rate well-informed, thoughtful and honest — which is a good deal harder a thing to achieve than most suppose. The same cannot be said of The Blot. Robert above is onto something when he notes the alignment of Blot with those of privilege. In a more rational world than this one, Blot would have a proper job rather than singing songs of inequity, ignorance, arrant Unsinn and misanthropy for his supper. In a way, Blot is amongst the tragedies of the system he defends. He might well have been a better man, and now he is an ethical and intellectual abyss.

    I think Paul Keating, of all folk, noted that you were nothing if you didn’t have people who hated you. He also noted that the better the quality of those who hated you, the better you were — or something. I’m not sure I agree, which is perhaps as well because by this standard, being hated by The Blot isn’t much of an achievement. I will agree that you deserve better enemies.

    One might add that the true measure of Blot is found in the quality of his acolytes. Blot draws to him all who find an ethical and intellectual abyss the best of all possible worlds.

  9. Donald Oats
    April 7th, 2012 at 16:06 | #9

    A favourite t-shirt is one that Crikey had printed, back in June 3rd, 2010.

  10. paul walter
    April 7th, 2012 at 16:20 | #10

    People might laugh at me, but I find politics globally and locally in particular, depressing.
    I thought we’d ducked the Cameronite/ Merkelite/ Tparty disease here.
    Even Australians would pause for thought, count their blessings and be greatful that, as to austerity, we had avoided the plague. This despite Labor’s shortcomings and the inability of the wider public to grasp the rational, scientific Greens message, but it’s gone wrong, like a bad trip.
    The first inklings of trouble came when Bligh tragically fouled up on privatisation and Rudd and Gillard weren’t able to mend their differences, allowing the hard right factions to interfere on behalf of a reactionary, obscurantist platform closer to Abbott or Kevin Andrews’ thinking than anything one could associate with an ALP outlook and of course the other cancer, neoliberalism, took root as Gillard remained on the defensive and people lost confidence, not because things have been bad, but through the lack of ability of the current government and state governments to offer inspiration, combined with the steady chipping away of optimism from Abbott and Trolls like Bolt.
    The country has been dumbed down exponentially over the last five years and and the refusal of Conroy and his ilk to prevent the destruction public broadsheet broadcasting, has been criminal, although typical of the reactionary lack of imagination of the Labor Right, who could see no more use for public broadcasting than as a source of a few bucks from privatisation.
    The potential of broadsheet msm became nothing better than something to censor, for no better reason than behind closed doors deals between party opportunists and developers be exposed.
    So, the public have remained ignorant and become fear-laden. They still swallow Murdoch, despite its unmasking. For every person watching a Panorama or Newsfront doco, another ten will be watching ACA or TDT and more still preoccupied with celebrity mags, Alan Jones or soap opera ‘reality”shows, if they’re not wasting time with Foxtel.
    Just as Labor is collapsing, possibly permanently, under the weight of its own ignorance, false consciousness and contradictions, the hard right is moving into control of the msm.
    All feels very nineteen-thirties and that marching song we’re not allowed to mention the name of, gets steadily louder.
    I fear,”I am a Camera”.

  11. April 7th, 2012 at 19:33 | #11

    I’m not laughing at you @Paul Walter.

    You’ve summed it up fairly well.

  12. Sam
    April 7th, 2012 at 21:54 | #12

    @Fran Barlow
    Here here!

  13. chrisl
    April 7th, 2012 at 22:33 | #13

    Now Sam, If you have been self educated and could not afford to go to a proper school, I apologise but… typing here here is particularly stupid… even Fran coud tell you that….
    From Wiki
    Hear, hear is an expression used as a short, repeated form of hear him, hear him. It represents a listener’s agreement with the point being made by a speaker. It is often incorrectly spelled “here here”
    Please don’t let it happen again
    (And tell all your mates who do it all over the internet)

  14. Freelander
    April 7th, 2012 at 22:44 | #14


    I’m sure at your proper school they told you what was meant when they called you a prat.

  15. Freelander
    April 7th, 2012 at 22:47 | #15

    There, there!

  16. alfred venison
    April 7th, 2012 at 23:06 | #16

    and i thought it was “hear! here!”
    as in:- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hear!_Here!#Hear.21_Here.21_.28U.S._version.29

  17. Wooster
    April 7th, 2012 at 23:52 | #17

    Yep, enjoyed that one….nothing quite so gratifying as seeing someone pop the pomposity of a purist.

    Here, here!

  18. Sam
    April 7th, 2012 at 23:54 | #18

    Ha, never knew. Only ever heard it. Thanks for that.

  19. chrisl
    April 8th, 2012 at 00:07 | #19

    No problem Sam …. It is hardly your fault as grammar and spelling hasn’t been taught for many years…. You only learn grammar if you learn a second language. But it is interesting to be called a prat and a pompous purist to point these things out.

  20. Donald Oats
    April 8th, 2012 at 00:07 | #20

    Didactic pedantism rears its ugly head again…and there should be more of it, superfluous redundancies notwithstanding.

  21. April 8th, 2012 at 00:10 | #21

    They’re goes another thred.

  22. April 8th, 2012 at 00:11 | #22

    Anyway, back to the phone hacking scum…

  23. chrisl
    April 8th, 2012 at 00:21 | #23

    Oh Oh Megan, I dont want to be too pompous ,pedantic or a prat ,but you might want to revisit your #21 (or is that You’re)

  24. alfred venison
    April 8th, 2012 at 00:48 | #24

    when are the yanks going to book ’em? before or after the election? will the board move first? or the justice dept?

  25. Freelander
    April 8th, 2012 at 01:50 | #25


    I didn’t call you a prat.

    I simply implied that that was what you were habitually called at school.

    I expected one as erudite as you purport to be would know the difference.

  26. Wooster
    April 8th, 2012 at 08:33 | #26


    I didn’t refer to you as a pompous purist for correcting Sam. I referred to you as a pompous purist for the way you corrected Sam.

    “…typing here here is particularly stupid…”

    “particularly stupid” – how’s that for a scornful tutorial?

  27. paul walter
    April 8th, 2012 at 08:37 | #27

    Got him!
    Thanks for kind words, Megan. Am glad these things worry you also, but do hope you have a spare stash of prozac, coz I think you’re gunna need ’em.
    Just coming from FB, someone posts that a new Pennsylvanian law prevents doctors from informing a patient if their ailment is due to gas fracking.

  28. John quiggin
    April 8th, 2012 at 08:38 | #28

    Ok cool it everyone

  29. Sam
    April 8th, 2012 at 19:40 | #29

    There were probably gentler ways of correcting me, but as a recovering pedant myself, I can’t get too offended. Criticism cheerfully accepted!

    Anyway, my original intention here was to agree with Fran’s opinion of the conservative commentariat in this country. Tribalists like Bolt will use any talking point to attack a notionally progressive government (or to support a notionally conservative one), even if it means reversing the content of last weeks campaign. Tim Blair and Gerard Henderson are no different. All this has been said many times before, so rather than spend 5 paragraphs saying it again, I’ll just save myself the trouble and agree with Fran Barlow and Paul Walter.

  30. Sam
    April 8th, 2012 at 19:50 | #30


  31. April 8th, 2012 at 23:17 | #31


    2 things:

    1) …. never mind, it was obviously lost on you;
    2) In your comment @13, could you define your term “coud”?

  32. April 8th, 2012 at 23:18 | #32

    Oh! He’s gone.

  33. Freelander
    April 8th, 2012 at 23:31 | #33

    In more ways than one!

    Re: Rupert. In a just world he would already be in chains.

  34. Freelander
    April 8th, 2012 at 23:41 | #34

    I imagine #21 was lost on him which adds to his being an unintended sauce of amusement.

  35. April 9th, 2012 at 09:41 | #35

    I rarely comment here but regularly visit, finding Prof Q’s intelligent and articulate posts a great antidote to the nonsense that pervades the MSM. I also enjoy the conversation amongst the commentators.

    My recent Bolt story:
    Rafe Champion linked to a Bolt “article” in a comment at Club Troppo. I checked the paper that Bolt referred to and found that it had been debunked at Judith Curry’s site by sort of skeptic Richard Tol. If a paper is so bad that even “skeptics” find serious flaws in it, then the paper must be particularly poor. Of cause any one reading Bolt’s post would have received no inclination about the shocking quality of the paper he referenced.

    It is clear that what Bolt does is not journalism, it is propaganda.

  36. Freelander
    April 9th, 2012 at 10:15 | #36

    But that’s what happens when highly opinionated bigoted billionaires own media. With Fairfax under new ownership except it too to become “fair and balanced”.

  37. BilB
    April 9th, 2012 at 10:48 | #37

    Stephen Spencer,

    “It is clear that what Bolt does is not journalism, it is propaganda”….

    and entertainment of the Kings Cross strip show variety which appeals to politically perverted minds.

    The term for it is Polliography. “Pollio” is the explicit portrayal of distorted political subject matter for the purposes of ego arousal and public incitement.

    nb Pollio should not be confused with the tragic disfiguring disease Polio, even though Pollio can have similar effects to the minds Pollio addicts.

  38. BilB
    April 9th, 2012 at 11:01 | #38

    ….with a little more “research” on the subject I have discovered that for polliographers the experienced is enhanced with self stimulatory Mythterbation, usually engaged in private although public displays of the practice are not uncommon.

    Frankly, I think that the whole thing is digusting and should be banned.

  39. April 9th, 2012 at 19:48 | #39

    I don’t like Bolt much but this demonising of him as a non-journalist who indulges in propaganda is just as tribal as the worst right-wing nonsense in Quadrant or at Catallaxy. He is not – he is a skilful journalist who writes from a viewpoint in politics that many of us find disagreeable.

    Likewise I enjoyed John’s posts at the AFR and have read them there for years. But the end of his very long spell there might signify something other than a right-wing plot. Maybe just a change. Stutchbury is a top jounalist.

    It’s better to try not to join camps. What I hear repeatedly is the same kind of monotone bleating from both sides of politics – “I barrack for good against the forces of darkness”. Then exchanges degenerate (in blog discussions) into an echo chamber where one only hear’s a simple transformation of one’s own views with the most heated discussions focusing on changes to a well-rehearsed script. The current exchanges an example of this.

  40. Freelander
    April 9th, 2012 at 20:46 | #40

    Ooh come on. Next you will be saying Windsckuttle is a historian!

    You have gone down in my estimation, Harry.

  41. Freelander
    April 9th, 2012 at 20:53 | #41

    He may have been a journalist once. But that must have been a long long time ago. Long before he found his current gig as a mealy mouthed shock Jock playing to the lowest common denominator for the applause of the mob and for the affection of his wealthy patrons.

  42. Robert (not from UK)
    April 9th, 2012 at 20:56 | #42

    Oops! It’s “Windschuttle”, Freelander, not “Windsckuttle”! Even opponents have the right to get their names rendered accurately.

    Not all of KW’s historical output is worthless by any means. The Killing of History, though its frenetic tone hasn’t worn well, was the product of some serious research. KW’s trouble (I don’t profess to know the origin of Bolt’s trouble) is, I would say, only 10% intellectual and 90% a clear case of bad conscience.

    For many years KW was a slavering apologist for Marxist terror of the most murderous kind (think: Pol Pot; the evidence of his 1970s Nation Review babbling is all over the Internet as well as in any academic library). Unlike Orwell and Koestler when confronted with the consequences of their youthful political follies, KW has never shown the smallest contrition for his own – decidedly non-youthful – follies, or even the smallest ability to explain why he adopted them, though his decision to save his skin during the Vietnam War by avoiding the draft could perhaps be put down to undergraduate peer pressure.

    Overall, for what it’s work, I agree with Dr Clarke.

  43. Freelander
    April 9th, 2012 at 20:59 | #43

    Ironic to bleed for Bolt’s alleged demonisation, when demonisation is Bolt’s stock and trade.

  44. Freelander
    April 9th, 2012 at 21:03 | #44

    Skcutbuttle not a name worthy of remembering.

  45. Chris Warren
    April 9th, 2012 at 22:35 | #45

    @Robert (not from UK)

    So if someone’s babbling is all over the Internet, why not provide a link?

  46. Fran Barlow
    April 9th, 2012 at 23:13 | #46


    I don’t like Bolt much but this demonising of him as a non-journalist who indulges in propaganda is just as tribal as … he is a skilful journalist who writes from a viewpoint in politics that many of us find disagreeable

    False equivalence and nonsense. You’ll need to define journalist to start making that case.

    Blot is neither a skilled liar nor a journalist. He is a scribbler who scribbles for his supper. A mewling mindless drone, destroyed by his patrons.

  47. Troy Prideaux
    April 10th, 2012 at 00:02 | #47

    @Fran Barlow
    He’s mostly a ideological tool of the right-wing power hitters. Lachlan Murdoch gave him his high profile slot on ten and the Rino saved him from the chop in a poor ratings period. So much for Free Market philosophies eh. If is wasn’t Bolt, Murdoch would’ve just found another propaganda tool to further promote his ideologies.

  48. Freelander
    April 10th, 2012 at 01:06 | #48

    Murdoch now even has “his” ABC to do his bidding. Talking of ABC who saw Pell’s painfully pompous performance? A self -parody, unintended of course. He accidentally displayed some of his “private” views ..

  49. alfred venison
    April 10th, 2012 at 07:54 | #49

    andrew bolt is a dangerous demagogue.
    alfred venison

  50. Troy Prideaux
    April 10th, 2012 at 10:40 | #50

    Yeah, I watched it. Pell’s reaction to the question of homosexuality was particularly interesting. The way I interpreted it – he virtually condoned it, and even maybe sanctioned it, short of gay marriage. My understandings of the Catholic Church’s position obviously needs recalibrating.
    Unfortunately, I’d much prefer someone like John Lennox to argue the case for religious belief to at least provide some intellectual enlightenment about it.

  51. Tom
    April 10th, 2012 at 14:14 | #51


    I understand what you mean and I agree with your perspective on demonising the opposite side, however it is one of the issues that is inevitable to blogosphere I believe. I can’t speak on others’ behalf, but the reason why I dislike Bolt other than his biased journalism is because his use of poor standard evidence to support his claims. It might be a little bit too much to ask for a journalist to provide hard evidence backing in their pieces like an academic, but what’s the difference of what Bolt’s doing compared to climate sceptics saying global warming is fake because this summer is not hot enough?

  52. may
    April 10th, 2012 at 14:44 | #52

    this is the heiress’s(ssss)preferred loudcaster?


    how come i have to put up with the power playing political voices of non parliamentary push ins.
    nobody voted for them!

  53. John Quiggin
    April 10th, 2012 at 15:19 | #53

    @hc I don’t claim to be a journalist, and obviously I have a strong political viewpoint. I’d say of Bolt that is, like me (and unlike Laura Tingle) an opinion commentator

    The difference between Bolt and me is that he doesn’t care about the truth of statements he makes if they support his cause. That makes him a propagandist. I don’t get everything right, but I try to be truthful.

    If you disagree, maybe you’d like to nominate some piece of good-quality straight journalism he’s written, or even a piece of opinion commentary that isn’t obviously slanted by the inclusions of false/dubious claims or the omission of relevant facts.

  54. Freelander
    April 10th, 2012 at 15:29 | #54

    What Harry is calling demonising is no more than describing. If Harry see

  55. Freelander
    April 10th, 2012 at 15:32 | #55

    If Harry sees it that way well “We report, you decide”.

  56. socrates
    April 10th, 2012 at 15:49 | #56

    Paul Krugman made a similar comment about having certain people as critics being a badge of honour.

    JQ, your own situation aside, I am astounded to hear they want to get rid of Laura Tingle. What did she do to earn their ire?? I have always rearded her as quite independent, having bagged both sides of politics (e.g. many swipes at NSW State Labor) when they deserved it. This seems just another step in the mass media’s march to being a mindless cheer squad for one team or the other. I won’t pretend they are competing ideologies.

  57. Sam
    April 10th, 2012 at 15:57 | #57

    @John Quiggin
    I’d say his “just name 10” campaign was a reasonable contribution to the debate. He was more wrong than right even then, but he wasn’t completely wrong, and it was an original contribution. I thought he made a worthwhile counterbalance to Henry Reynolds.

    Also, he was a voice of skeptical moderation during the Sars panic.

  58. John Quiggin
    April 10th, 2012 at 16:53 | #58

    @Sam – this was clearly a piece of polemic, and fails on all counts. I’m asking for some actual journalism.

  59. Sam
    April 10th, 2012 at 17:18 | #59

    Robert Manne gave him a 4 page list of names of children who had supposedly been removed for explicitly racist reasons. The claim was that these children had been removed because they were light skinned, and thus had a chance to “grow up civilised.” Bolt then did a fair bit of background research, and found that most of these individual cases had in fact been removed on child abuse grounds. I’d say that counts as actual journalism.

    I’m quite certain that the Australian government until at least the 1960’s was an explicitly racist institution. I’m also sure that the stolen generation were and are a real – and shameful – phenomenon. But caricaturing all middle-of-the-century social workers as full-time eugenicists goes too far. I’m glad a skeptical voice exists on this issue, even though he’s mostly wrong.

  60. JB Cairns
    April 10th, 2012 at 17:20 | #60

    Socrates ,
    you have to realise if one criticizes the Opposition at all they are ALP sympathisers!1

  61. rog
    April 10th, 2012 at 17:21 | #61

    JQ, given that the definition of journalism is now so broad I am not sure that Bolt (and yourself) cannot be called journalists. Allowing that all media is subjective and subject to bias it boils down to the quality of the the argument presented and the facts supporting it. In that regard I have always found that your arguments to be transparent (ie you state your bias) and well supported by facts whereas Bolt seems to base his arguments on little or no fact and is reliant on exploiting emotions. Therefore I think that HC was being unfair in declaring a division and then giving equal weight to each side.

    Bolt is simply unreliable and not deserving of any trust whatsoever and that is that.

  62. Robert in UK
    April 10th, 2012 at 18:19 | #62


    Sam, from memory, Bolt’s “research” on this point was selective, and incredibly shoddy. It largely relied on getting his readers to “research” different names with the idea of “proving” that they weren’t stolen, and then picking individual names that he decided were spurious without dealing with the bulk of evidence Manne had sent him. I don’t think I’d call this making a serious or important contribution. It mainly seems shoddy and hurtful.

    You latter point is a straw-man. I don’t think any serious historian has ever claimed that middle of the century social workers were full-time eugenicists.

  63. Robert in UK
    April 10th, 2012 at 18:20 | #63

    Manne’s own version (of course it will be a little self serving, but seems generally reliable) is instructive: http://www.themonthly.com.au/blog-name-ten-journalism-andrew-bolt-robert-manne-4088

  64. Fran Barlow
    April 10th, 2012 at 18:26 | #64


    It seems that anyone in the paper is called “a journalist” in the same way that anyone who opposes a western government from a somewhat populist perspective is called “a soc|alist” or even “a Marx|st. Words however, should promote a meeting of the minds, and so for mine, a journalist needs to be someone who follows the usages of the profession rather than merely someone who shows up.

    The AJA has a code of ethics. Even News Ltd has a code of practice. It seems clear to me that if someone consistently repudiates these codes with their practice and makes no attempt even to justify their acts in terms of the codes, it is very hard to assert on their behalf that they are practising professional journalism.

    Blot consistently fails even the ostensible News Ltd standard. He has no commitment at all to “inconvenient truths” and not only passes over them, but debauches them in the service of the construction of the audience his employers want. That makes him a tout — the newsmedia equivalent of those fellows who stand outside bargain shops and strip joints in the city.

    Such folk live or die by their success in attracting the credulous into their premises. Truth or candour is mere nuisance to that kind.

  65. Sam
    April 10th, 2012 at 22:32 | #65

    @Robert in UK
    I must admit I hadn’t read that response of Manne before. Thanks for linking to it. It was especially interesting to see that “Parenting while Black” formed an acceptable basis for a charge of neglect.
    I followed the debate mainly through The Age ( a paper hardly likely to be biased in favour of Bolt). As I recall, there were quite a few individuals on the list removed because of substantiated sexual abuse. If a skeptic’s work corrects the record even in a minor way, and even if their grand narrative is still off, I say they’ve made a real contribution.

  66. Freelander
    April 10th, 2012 at 23:11 | #66

    Journalist is a bit like the term economist, except that to claim to be a journalist you normally do need to be capable of writing something passably coherent enough to be published in some rag,no matter how disreputable ..

    I suppose that represents a higher ‘bar’s than required to call yourself an economist.

  67. Robert in UK
    April 11th, 2012 at 00:48 | #67


    Sure thing Sam. I guess we’re largely in agreement, though I think in this case the transaction cost of Bolt’s rather small contribution was a lot of hurt and misinformation. I’m not sure it was worth it. What is the price you’re willing to pay to correct a few parentheses in the historical record?

  68. Freelander
    April 11th, 2012 at 05:19 | #68

    Talking of enemies fortunate to have, could atheists have been more fortunate than to have that pompous conceited though ignorant windbag Big George Pell? Inhard his ‘debate’ with Richard Dawkins the ‘learned’ cleric sought to correct the heathen on evolution,and what modern evolutionary biologists believe and on the views of Charles Darwin. Given that Dawkins is internationally recognised as an authority in these areas, one must assume he was taken aback.

    But Pell’s bumbling didn’t range so narrowly, as well as explaining his and his churches compassion for homosexuals, the church does charitable HIV work you know. he went much further.

    As Tory Sheppard noted:
    “There were titters at Pell’s reference to ‘preparing’ boys and sniggers when he clumsily criticised Jews as intellectually inferior shepherds.”

    The ABC could start a new series entitled “An Hour with George Pell”. I am sure it would prove to be as entertaining as an hour of the Chaser.

  69. hc
    April 11th, 2012 at 11:24 | #69

    I agree John that you are more concerned with the truth than Bolt. I think on the ‘Stolen Generations” issue and on ‘climate change’ that the best you can say about Bolt is that he does not display much care in selecting his facts and arguments. I still think he plays a role on the conservative side of politics in criticising the left that is useful. He is sharp at picking up inconsistencies in intellectual positions.

    I am obviously not concerned with defending Bolt’s arguments as in most cases I disagree with them. But I don’t like the tribalism displayed by both those on the left and the right in defending their political positions. Its almost a reflex response if someone on our side is pitted against the ‘enemy’. I’d prefer more open-mindedness and less consistency.

  70. Fran Barlow
    April 11th, 2012 at 11:38 | #70


    on ‘climate change’ that the best you can say about Bolt is that he does not display much care in selecting his facts

    I disagree. He selects his “facts” with considerable care to ensure they tell his followers what they want to hear knowing they won’t call him on any of the more outlandish things he says. Depending on what day of the wekk that is it might even by in contradiction with what was said by him previously. There’s a whole slab of the Deltoid site that documents his corner of The Australian’s War on Science.. At least your wish for ‘inconsistency’ is there I suppose.

    This is no more careless than the Columbine shooters were careless in shooting so many people they fancied were responsible for their problems.

  71. Freelander
    April 11th, 2012 at 12:10 | #71

    Sad state of the right if you have to claim Bolt as the best you can do.

    I suppose Pell is the best the religious right can do!


  72. April 11th, 2012 at 17:32 | #72

    Fran, I didn’t know Bolt wrote for The Australian. I thought he wrote for the Herald-Sun.

    Beyond that you didn’t read what I wrote – it was “the best you can say”. I didn’t say he didn’t exercise care. That would be worse if he did.

    Comparing Bolt’s writings with the Columbine shootings must make your comment the hysterical diatribe of the week – maybe you will get an award from Troppo. Get a good night’s sleep.

  73. Freelander
    April 11th, 2012 at 18:50 | #73

    Gee I wasn’t aware Fran compared his writing to the perpetration of that massacre.

    Clearly I needs to get me some of that stuff. Turn on,tune in, and whatever …

  74. Sam
    April 11th, 2012 at 19:01 | #74

    @Robert in UK

    “What is the price you’re willing to pay to correct a few parentheses in the historical record?”

    In some sense that’s not for me to say; I don’t have to pay the price myself after all. I do think nuance in our understanding of history is valuable though.

  75. Fran Barlow
    April 11th, 2012 at 19:32 | #75


    Comparing Bolt’s writings with the Columbine shootings must make your comment the hysterical diatribe of the week …

    If the shoe (or in this case the analogy) fits … FTR I was commenting, using an analogy, on your use of “much care” rather than the direct harm caused by Blot’s writing. Plainly Blot is not directly killing people, but his action is quite deliberate and malign rather than careless.

  76. Fran Barlow
    April 11th, 2012 at 19:34 | #76

    Technically, Blot writes for The OO‘s stablemate The Hun of course … a distinction without a difference.

  77. paul walter
    April 11th, 2012 at 19:43 | #77

    Hc’s puzzlement at Fran’s comment in turn illicits bewilderment on my part. For someone who wants improved media standards, Bolt is the most obvious place to start. Nothing to do with “tribalism”, just observed repulsive dishonesty and it’s quite correct to stand in awe at Bolt’s indiscriminate and cold-blooded massacres of the truth: whatever form it comes in, it has much to fear from him.
    He is to facts what Breivik is to Norwegians.

  78. rog
    April 11th, 2012 at 20:57 | #78
  79. Fran Barlow
    April 11th, 2012 at 21:24 | #79


    Amusing … Blot is the noisiest silenced person I’ve ever heard. His silence would breach most noise abatement standards. The Hoover washing machine plant at Meadowbank that I worked in during 1977 would have seemed like a Trappist retreat compared to Blot’s column.

  80. Donald Oats
    April 11th, 2012 at 21:54 | #80

    Fran speaks it as she sees it, and good on her.

    Andrew Bolt is many things, but careless is not one of them. I wonder what John Stuart Mill would think of Bolt? Would he have revised “On Liberty” upon reading Bolt? Would he have been so cavalier in placing liberty of the individual before truth?

  81. Mel
    April 11th, 2012 at 21:55 | #81

    I’m happy to be corrected if I’m wrong but I think Andrew Bolt would have to be Australia’s most read blogger by a country mile. It’s a pity that not a single lefty in this country can attract even a fraction of the following Bolt gets. Whose fault is that, I wonder?

  82. Donald Oats
    April 11th, 2012 at 22:00 | #82

    Sorry, don’t know where better to put this, but have a look at the following blog post on fracking and increased earthquake activity. The issue of water re-injection causing seismic activity is especially important, as it may have ramifications for CO2 deep-earth sequestration. I don’t know whether CO2 sequestration would be as fraught with trouble or not, but the thought bubble occurs, unbidden.

  83. Mel
    April 11th, 2012 at 22:05 | #83


    “Would he have been so cavalier in placing liberty of the individual before truth?”

    Yes and for the the very simple reason that institutions charged with pontificating the Truth on matters that are in any way political are invariably more frightening than wayward figures like Bolt.

  84. Fran Barlow
    April 11th, 2012 at 22:14 | #84


    a single lefty in this country can attract even a fraction of the following Bolt gets. Whose fault is that, I wonder?

    It’s no single person’s ‘fault‘. There are a host of reasons but it would take quite a long post to go through them.

    The basic reason is that left-of-centre commentary, if it is any good, is nuanced and recognises complexity both at the micro and macro level. It’s far easier to blog persuasively to a large audience is you reduce the world you comment on to a series of pre-digested slogans that make it easy to pick who is wearing the black hat and prompt you to vent in approved terms.

    Really, any fool can do that.

    As a child, I would sit down with the family and watch the wrestling on Sunday mornings and watch good and evil do battle — Killer Kowalski and Brute Bernard go with Spiros Orion(sp?) and Mario Milano. You knew who the good guys and bad guys were in this tale. How come the ref couldn’t see what was in that fellow’s trunks? Panto for adults …

    The bloggers from the right have the boss class and their massive propaganda machine as context. Their commentary always appears as ‘common sense’ and everything else as out there whacky.

    To compare leftwing blogging with rightwing blogging is like asking why gourmet food is harder to do than chips and chiko rolls at the takeaway and why much more of the latter is sold than the former. It’s nobody’s fault — it’s the paradigm.

    You need empowered people to have empowering commentary on a large scale. While the working people are marginalised, all you can have on a large scale is pseudo-political takeaway, garnished with semantic chicken salt.

  85. Patrickb
    April 11th, 2012 at 22:21 | #85

    Fantastic! Bolt is really popular, like Neighbours and Harry Potter and McDonalds and Coke and any number of other popular but essentially useless things. Obviously, unlike we of the left elites, you’re into quantity not quality.

  86. Patrickb
    April 11th, 2012 at 22:26 | #86

    BTW, the crazies are really getting an outing these days. That bastion of openness, the IPA, has a “fighting fund” for some sort of ill-defined defense of free speech. There’s a link from Bolt’s blog. Truly we need an Orwell or a Murrow to deal with these atavistic shills.

  87. Mel
    April 11th, 2012 at 22:30 | #87

    “To compare leftwing blogging with rightwing blogging is like asking why gourmet food is harder to do than chips and chiko rolls at the takeaway and why much more of the latter is sold than the former.”

    I wouldn’t go that far. Skeptic Lawyer and Jason Soon (ret) are right wing and easily in the top dozen bloggers Oz has produced. I’m left of centre on most issues but I must admit these characters have influenced my thinking far more than all but a tiny handful of left bloggers (PrQ included).

    Certainly, both Soon and SL are far more impressive intellectuals than the sad creatures who wrote for Larvatus Prodeo in its final years (Rob Merkel excepted).

    I’m also not sure what “The bloggers from the right have the boss class and their massive propaganda machine as context.” actually means.

  88. Mel
    April 11th, 2012 at 22:34 | #88

    Patrickb, you thickhead, learn to read. I didn’t say I agree with Bolt’s worldview, I’m merely querying his popularity as opposed to the lack of any charismatic/populist left equivalent. Pls don’t bring Larva Prod style nonsense to this forum.

  89. Fran Barlow
    April 11th, 2012 at 22:47 | #89


    I’m also not sure what “The bloggers from the right have the boss class and their massive propaganda machine as context.” actually means

    That’s a rather sad admission, especially in this context … oh dear … I’ll leave that point.

    Just as it is easier to sound like a brilliant singer with an imposing backing band, a competent person at the mixing desk and a nicely appointed venue with lapsed speakers and heavy curtains, so too if you have all the propaganda organs acting in synchrony with you, one can claim pretty much anything one cares and seem like a genius — at least to people used to allowing others to do their thinking for them because they know that their opinions aren’t really germane to policy.

  90. Alan
    April 11th, 2012 at 23:07 | #90


    You really don’t have to do the customary I’m leftofcentreonmostissues thing. We’ll read you anyway. I know relatively few people who call themselves left of centre and Jason Soon and Skeptic Lawyer top bloggers or compare them favourably, as intellectual influences, with PrQ. Sadly I am familiar with quite a lot of Bolties who find it convenient to run up the leftofcentreonmostissues flag. I may of course be wrong, and I’m happy to be corrected, but you’ll understand my skepticism.

  91. Fran Barlow
    April 11th, 2012 at 23:17 | #91


    You really don’t have to do the customary I’m leftofcentreonmostissues thing.

    Yes, I always find that irksome — such cliched concern trolling. If you post enough, people will know where you stand on key questions without you having to preface your remarks.

  92. paul walter
    April 11th, 2012 at 23:44 | #92

    It must be, that like Alan Jones fans, Bolt’s followers are more intelligent, empathic and better educated than progressives.
    You wanted someone to say it.
    To ensure you don’t attack better informed but less worldly people of my ilk, you can attack me for hubris instead, but it wont matter because I don’t count and the others therefore will be free to talk about grown up things without the derailing you are attempting, such as the role of Skull Murphy in the mentoring of Brute Barnard, against the mediating influence of Wallaby Bob McMasters’ refereeing, when confronted by Chief Billy White Wolf.
    We could actually start a thread discussing the relatively purity of the “Roller Game” against the pantomime of “WC wrestling”, but that would be like comparing Miranda Devine to Nikki Savva.

  93. Patrickb
    April 11th, 2012 at 23:45 | #93

    Dear me Mel, your appreciation of quality is obviously sadly absent and I also doubt, based on your assessments of the blogs you mention, that you understand the meaning of the term “left of centre” or else you have some definition that is incomprehensible to the rest of the world. And good on you! It’s hard being “different” in this age of conformity. On good on for supporting SL, Oxford legal scholar and defender of the secondary boycott

  94. Patrickb
    April 11th, 2012 at 23:58 | #94

    My my Mel, it appears you have a bit of a bee in your bonnet about LP eh, what happened, they caught you fiddling with something best left alone? But that’s not what we’re discussing.
    “I didn’t say I agree with Bolt’s worldview”
    I must be a bit of a thicky not realising that I hadn’t had anything to say about your world view. All I can say about your world view is that it is fairly wishy-washy and somewhat confused. What, with you admiration of rightwing bloggers even though you’re left of centre and all. Still as I said, one has to admire the unconventional.
    My point, that you have so deftly avoid, is that just because you say Bolt is popular doesn’t mean he’s isn’t a lying toady who had his day in court and lost.

  95. Freelander
    April 12th, 2012 at 00:06 | #95

    As a committed Christian …

  96. Mel
    April 12th, 2012 at 00:17 | #96

    @Fran Barlow

    “That’s a rather sad admission, especially in this context … oh dear … I’ll leave that point.”

    I’m familiar with the concept of the ruling class but I haven’t heard a coherent argument for anything called a “boss class”, altho I believe the term was used in a couple of the socialist rags I occasionally read while I lived in Melbourne. If you really mean ruling class, why not use that term?


    “On good on for supporting SL, Oxford legal scholar and defender of the secondary boycott.”

    You’re not the most articulate of chaps, are you.


    I think you’ll find PrQ respects the intellect of Jason Soon and probably SL as well. Back in the good ol’ days, before tribalism set in, even Mark Bahnisch linked to some of Soon’s Catallaxian articles complete with favourable reviews.

  97. Hal9000
    April 12th, 2012 at 08:05 | #97

    @Fran Barlow

    Spiros Arion (aka The Golden Greek), according to the Wikipedia. The bio is quite amusing, reporting the triumphs of his career as though he were an Olympic athlete overcoming powerful opposition.

  98. Katz
    April 12th, 2012 at 08:30 | #98

    To his credit, Andrew Bolt achieves a remarkable facsimile of affection for Gina Rinehart.

    That is the marque of a highly credentialed gigolo.

  99. Fran Barlow
    April 12th, 2012 at 08:42 | #99


    It’s quite bizarre — the wrestling thing. To me as an 8-year-old it was obviously a pantomime. Yet one of my (Italian) uncles used to take it completely seriously and work himself up into an emotional frenzy over the rights and wrongs of the “contest”/narrative.

    That he seemed to give it credulity raised serious questions in my mind and not a few exasperated sighs. At times it crossed my mind that his responses were either largely for his own amusement, or to provoke responses from me — a new iteration of a santa-style myth perhaps. You do realise that this is just Punch & Judy, don’t you? I’d wail at him. He affected indifference.

    I realised then that there are some people who are happier believing what they want to believe. Reason and the available evidence are of negative utility. To this day, I don’t know if he was trolling me or self-deluding.

    Of course, there’s a huge difference between TV pantomime and public policy.

  100. Paul Norton
    April 12th, 2012 at 08:45 | #100

    Mmmm… Joe Hockey as King Kong Bundy, Tony Abbott as George “The Animal” Steele, Julie Bishop as The Fabulous Moolah, Christopher Pyne as Jimmy “The Weasel” Hart… 😉

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