Federal Labor MP Andrew Giles has branded a cartoon in the Australian newspaper of Joe Biden’s running mate in the US presidential election Kamala Harris offensive and racist. The opposition spokesman on multicultural affairs was just one of the people critical of the Johannes Leak cartoon, which portrayed Biden referring to the Democrat senator as a “little brown girl”. Johannes is the son of the late Bill Leak, who was also accused of racism for a 2016 cartoon of a drunk Aboriginal father who had forgotten his own son’s name.
A former political correspondent for the Australian, David Crowe, who now works for Nine newspapers, was also critical but stopped short of calling it racist: “Please don’t think that pathetic cartoon speaks for me and those I know in the media, commercial or otherwise.”
Labor MPs Andrew Leigh and Mark Dreyfus added to the chorus of criticism, with the latter calling on the Australian to apologise.
Australia’s former race discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said: “In the past I’ve described this newspaper as a poor man’s Breitbart. It indulges racism, and uses it as part of its business model. This sort of commentary diminishes our society.”
In response to questions from Guardian Australia, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Chris Dore, said “Johannes was quoting Biden’s words” and pointed to a tweet Biden posted on Thursday.
However, Biden was referring to children who might be inspired by Harris’s candidacy, not to Harris herself. When this was put to him, Dore said: “The words ‘little black and brown girls’ belong to US presidential candidate Joe Biden, not Johannes Leak.
“When Johannes used those words, expressed in a tweet by Biden yesterday, he was highlighting Biden’s language and apparent attitudes, not his own.
“The intention of the commentary in the cartoon was to ridicule racism, not perpetuate it.
“In the context of Biden’s words, this is evident. Clearly some, including those without that context, have wrongly attributed Biden’s words to Johannes, and in doing so have attributed abhorrent and inaccurate motives to him.
“The Australian, and Johannes, opposes racism in all of its guises.”
Herald Sun readers back premier in a Danslide
Herald Sun readers have given Daniel Andrews a vote of confidence in the newspaper’s own poll, despite relentless negative coverage of the Victorian Labor premier on the news pages and in opinion pieces, by everyone from critic-in-chief Andrew Bolt to investigations editor James Campbell.
The Herald Sun’s tone was neatly parodied by an editorial in the Shovel: “We’ve said it in our editorials before. We are living under the iron rule of what can only be described as a despotic regime. Citizens confined to their homes, cafes and restaurants shuttered, police patrolling the streets, with fines for anyone who doesn’t comply. And don’t even dare go out after 8pm. If this isn’t a police state we don’t know what is. The North Koreans have it easier than this.”
Recent headlines include “Dan’s defence shot down” on the front page, Campbell’s “The mad decisions Dan Andrews’ team keep making must stop” and Bolt’s “Victorians shouldn’t have to put up with Andrews’ nonsense”.
Lovely photography though
We’ve told you about devastating cuts to the magazine sector this year, in particular at Bauer Media, publisher of the grand old lady of glossies the Australian Women’s Weekly.
Last month came a final cruel blow when the German family-owned company Bauer Media sold its Australian arm to Mercury Capital. Mercury welcomed staff by immediately closing Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, InStyle, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Good Health, NW and OK! magazines. Some 240 former Bauer editorial staff lost their jobs since the pandemic froze the advertising market.
It’s in this environment the Weekly has published an article about Nine’s entertainment editor, Richard Wilkins, and his model son Christian so riddled with errors we are wondering if all the subeditors were made redundant.
Wilkins was impressively gracious about the errors in a post on Instagram, pointing out the major ones – but not the minor typos we also spotted.
Over a five-page spread, the mag manages to get Wilkins’ name wrong twice: calling him “Rachael Wilkins” in a headline and “Richard Wilkinson” in an introduction.
But that’s not all.
Wilkins’ daughter’s name is also wrong, and in an anecdote about Joel Edgerton the deputy editor, Tiffany Dunk, substitutes the actor’s name for Russell Crowe. The sentence was a direct quote from Christian about his famous dad’s famous mates: “We had dinner with Mel Gibson and Russell Crowe one night.” It should have been: “We had dinner with Mel Gibson and Joel Edgerton one night.”
The mistakes have been corrected online but the printed magazine, which costs $7.50, is now a collectors’ item.
The Weekly’s editor, Nicole Byers, told Weekly Beast: “There is no excusing these mistakes, which were unfortunately the result of human error. We extended our sincerest apologies to Richard and Christian, and they took it in the good humour for which they’re known. This is certainly not reflective of the high journalistic standards to which the Weekly holds itself, and we have re-evaluated our processes to avoid this happening again in the future.”
ABC emergency events triple
The ABC’s chief, David Anderson, told a parliamentary inquiry on the bushfire season that the number of emergency events covered by the ABC had almost tripled in the past two years. In 2019-20 the ABC provided coverage for 953 emergency events, compared with 371 in 2018. Staff came back from leave, worked overtime and moved from location to location through summer.
“During the peak of the coverage, there were up to 140 journalists and other staff on the front line,” Anderson said. “This increase in emergency broadcasting came at a financial cost. We estimate that the ABC has spent an extra $3.1m to meet the additional emergency broadcasting activity undertaken in the last financial year.”
The inquiry heard the ABC received no additional funding for emergency broadcasting and that the government had refused requests to better fund regional radio, which takes the brunt of the extra work over summer. These costs had to be absorbed by a budget which has been reduced by an indexation freeze of $84m.
But the Liberal senator James Paterson was not having it, insisting that the ABC’s funding had increased and not been reduced, in line with the prime minister and communications minister Paul Fletcher who claim it has increased every year.
Paterson told Anderson the emergency information the ABC provides was publicly available from fire authorities and could also be distributed by commercial media. Paterson is, of course, a former deputy executive director of the rightwing thinktank the Institute of Public Affairs.
Pierces may be deceptive
Neighbours fans will do a double-take later this year after Covid-19 restrictions caused a major character to be played by a different actor. The original Bachelor, Tim Robards, has been playing billionaire Pierce Greyson on the Ten soap for two years, commuting to Melbourne, where the show is filmed, from the Sydney home he shares with his wife, Anna Heinrich, whom he met on The Bachelor.
“With Covid-19 restrictions continuing to limit movement and with the risk of Tim potentially not being able to travel, we all felt that in these astonishing times, Tim should return home to Sydney to be with his wife, Anna, ahead of the impending birth of their first child,” Neighbours’ executive producer, Jason Herbison, said.
The classic soap switcheroo has been done at Neighbours before, including in the roles of Scott Robinson, Lucy Robinson and Jack Scully, according to TV Tonight.
No disrespect to Robards, but the reality star is being replaced by a professional actor, Don Hany, star of Offspring, White Collar Blue and East West 101. Hany will assume the role in October.
Straight to the Sauce
Chris Kenny has found yet another way to criticise the ABC, which is remarkable since Aunty is the focus of most of his journalistic efforts at Sky News and the Australian. Instead of beating up on ABC News and Media Watch, Kenny’s target this week has been comedian Shaun Micallef’s and his whimsical ABC TV series about Australia’s booze culture, On the Sauce.
According to Kenny, On the Sauce is not thoughtful, entertaining television but social engineering and an attack on the alcohol industry.
“So, On the Sauce is an insidious intervention by the public broadcaster, setting out to shape the nation in its own, woke way, and happily setting itself against industries – wine, brewing, restaurants, hotels and hospitality – that support vast numbers of Australians,” Kenny wrote. “Perhaps the ABC wants to do for these industries what it did for the live cattle export industry and greyhound racing.”
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