October 24, 2007

Horse 821 - The Liberal Party's War on The Chaser

It appears that once the media beat up has settled that certain facts come to light. The Chaser's War on Everything came under fire last week when Andrew Hanson sung a song which poked fun at the media's rose coloured glasses through which it eulogised celebrities.
Radio show host Stan Zemanek came in for some criticism in the song which described him as a "xenophobic racist jock, whose views were more malignant than his brain". Former Channel 9 boss Kerry Packer was called a "tax cheat" and the late cricket legend Sir Donald Bradman was labelled as a "grumpy bastard".

There are a few points I should make mention of:

The ABC before the media saw to this had a grand total of 6 calls over the song - 6. After the event, they had 440; and when asked whether they'd actually seen the program, the response fell to 12. I spoke to my friend Markus who works at 700 Harris St and they did a track on the numbers coming inwards and found that about 400 had the prefix of 02 6273. I thought that this sounded a wee bit suspicious and visited this website http://www.liberal.org.au/contact/contactus.php - you can draw your own conclusions.

The case with Bradman is interesting. There is a famous story when Bradman responded to a query made by Jardine during the tea interval as to who had called him (Jardine) "a bastard" while fielding at slip when he was batting, by turning round to his (Bradman's) team mates and saying "Who is the bastard who called this bastard a bastard?" In fact Jardine often referred to Don Bradman as that "little bastard" and never by his name. The conflict between those two was written into Ashes lore.

It seems that we all too quickly forgot the day that Kerry Packer as Chairman of PBL and Channel 9 walked up to the front counter of the ATO with his assessment for tax of $1; paid it with a single coin and famously declared: "If anyone in this country doesn't minimise their tax they want their head read."
Packer rationalised his notorious tax dodging by claiming that the government was not doing a good job, as if he were in a better position to decide how public revenue should be spent. The argument lost force when Packer blew $34 million at a Las Vegas casino three days later.

To his critics and many of his fans Stan Zemanek was the rudest man on radio, a right-wing bigot who called Labor Party members "socialist criminals" and "dickhead trendies". He was mercilessly rude to talkback callers, calling them "numb-nuts" and "halfwits". He would advise them to "give themselves an uppercut", and if they hesitated he'd accuse them of having smoked "wacky-tobaccy".
In fact the then breakfast show host Mike Carlton and Stan Zemanek disliked each other so much that Carlton declared that he hated Zemanek and would only attend his funeral to check that he was really dead.

The point with all of this is that The Chaser probably did fall outside the realms of good taste. The obvious counter argument to this is that "moral indignance is the primary tool of those without a sense of humour" (Oscar Wilde) and if you look at the chronological order of events, the very first place which the complaints came from was... the mouth of the Prime Minister himself and his annoyance at the ABC's existance has been known for quite some time. I personally doubt whether he even watches The Chaser and would not be surprised if he just whispered down the line to party headquarters to kick up a stink to the press office and to the ABC switchboard.

Would that be beyond the Prime Minister?

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