Andrew Bolt

May 27, 2012

Penberthy: “A significant escalation in the ugliness”

David "Five Star" Penberthy, editor of News Lt

Pure Poison IconDavid “Five Star” Penberthy, editor of News Ltd’s The Punch and former editor of the Daily Telegraph, finally notices some of the deranged paranoid hysteria out there amongst sections of the public:

The question is whether the level and nature of the abuse is the same as it has always been, or whether there is something about the nature of this Parliament, and the ease and anonymity of modern communication, which has seen the vitriol intensify.

Judging from the emails I receive, and the comments which my colleagues moderate and edit on our opinion website, I’d say there has been a significant escalation in the ugliness. And the people who are angriest – and most unhinged – are the people who have got it into their head that Australia is no longer a democracy.

Penberthy sheets all the blame home to Tony Abbott, as if his own media organisation had no role in the matter at all:

Abbott has fanned the flames is in terms of whipping up all the fruitcakes who think that democracy is dead in Australia and that the government is illegitimate. By doing so Abbott has contributed massively to this bizarre and distressing new undercurrent of violent language, which would perhaps have had a rightful place in the old Soviet regimes or in former fascist states such as Pinochet’s Chile or Somoza’s Nicaragua, but has no place at all in a democracy such as ours.

There is a difference between a government which is illegitimate and a government which has misled the people, and Abbott has deliberately confused the two issues for political ends.

Very true. But, David, you might try letting some of your colleagues know. Like the people who devised that front page of The Australian the other day. Or your colleague Andrew Bolt, who on Friday was again ranting about “threats” to “liberties”:

Rounding up the usual suspects

Labor should feel it’s disgraced itself for being so base as to threaten media critics with new controls, proposed by a handpicked media inquiry created for that sinister purpose.

My disgust for this party and Ministers I once respected is matched only by my conviction that they must be removed before creating even more harm to our fundamental liberties…

There’s a reason so many have been convinced that the economy is about to be DESTROYED by the carbon price, that Julia Gillard is establishing A POLICE STATE, that DEMOCRACY IS DEAD, that we’ve become a COMMUNIST DICTATORSHIP, that we’re being INVADED by HORDES of foreigners (and giving them “five star” treatment), that CRIMINALS are LIVING IN LUXURY and then GETTING OFF SCOT-FREE, that a terrifying WORLD GOVERNMENT is coming to oppress us on behalf of China… it’s because that’s what News Ltd pumps out, week in, week out, and many still believe what’s sitting in front of them in print when the footy paper is accidentally turned upside down.

We’ve seen the results – published and encouraged on the website comment threads – in the Cut & Paste Trophy, before we decided the point had been so thoroughly made the section had become redundant.

The News Ltd papers have shamelessly fanned the flames of hysteria, just as much as Tony Abbott has. And this is the result. To disingenuously pretend it’s got nothing to do with News Ltd’s work over the past four years – I’d like to say their breathtaking, shameless audacity astonishes me.

I’d like to.

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31 thoughts on “Penberthy: “A significant escalation in the ugliness”

  1. Aliar Jones

    [Oh well I guess we should be grateful you found a way to express the concept in one sentence !]

    Not that anyone would accuse you Blob of having a concept, much less a clue…

  2. AR

    I have a problem with someone being entitled to their own opinion when it is contrary to facts if that opinion, such a belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, intrudes into the public sphere and affects me or mine.

  3. Matthew of Canberra

    There’s an expression that’s popular in (real) skeptic circles – you’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.

    These days, there’s an entire media industry pandering to those who disagree.

  4. Brown Bob

    [Concatenated pleonasms … with alliteration. Well done.]

    Thanks for the laughs Fran. Fancy you accusing someone else of being too wordy!

    Oh well I guess we should be grateful you found a way to express the concept in one sentence !

  5. Fran Barlow

    [I had to look up both words. You don’t win that exchange. You SHIT in…]

    I do have a penchant for the sesquipedalian … 😉

  6. Aliar Jones

    [never has the average Australian’s access to information been so controlled. ]

    Finally waking up from that haze of north shore mothballs eh Howtard?

    Yes fancy that, with all that free and open internet, gigantics media corporations are like an individual but with an unequally massive loud drum with which to beat their interests…

    And let’s not forget, they have paid little friends like you to trot out their lies online as well…

    Kinda like a virus, only more bile.

  7. Aliar Jones

    [They didn’t publish your post because it was incredibly boooring.]

    Spoken like a true cloth-eared right wing troll who prefers arguments (and news) in small bite size pieces of light entertainment (as in light on facts)..

  8. littlemaths

    Cable’s going to be appearing at the inquiry this week? Any news on whether the other X-Men will be joining him? I suppose he would be a valuable witness, what with being from the future and all.

  9. MR

    Concatenated pleonasms…

    I had to look up both words. You don’t win that exchange. You SHIT in…

  10. Matthew of Canberra

    Rich Uncle Skeleton –

    Re: the mercury fillings story. The most cursory online research reveals that this is an issue that’s been “in discussion” for years – I can find a study from 2007 on the mecury emissions from cremations done in the UK and the US.

    There seems to be general agreement that this is a problem. And problem has two solutions – the expensive one is a chimney filter (and I bet this did get a mention at the AMA conference, but didn’t “fit the narrative” and so didn’t get reported). The cheap one is to remove the teeth. It’s not a new story, it’s not even controversial. It has nothing to do with global warming. Those studies showed the average cremated body to contain between 1/10 and 3/10 of a gram of mercury – all going up the chimney. A CFL contains (these days) a few thousands of a gram. This just isn’t something worth getting het up about.

    Before cremation, certain items already have to be removed from a body. Pacemakers can, for example, explode. After cremation, it’s normal for magnets etc to be used to remove metal items before the remains are pulverised into dust. Surgical implants cause damage to the equipment.

    If any of this is too gruesome to contemplate then my suggestion to dear reader is … don’t get cremated.

    The nazi comparisons are, as ever, obscene.

  11. Steve

    Penberthy is not the only one on the right starting to notice the unhinging. Michael Fumento, a writer to conservative magazines in the US has written a piece called, My break with the extreme right

    Included in his long article are the following observations:

    I worked for Reagan and wrote for National Review. But the new hysterical right cares nothing for truth or dignity.

    The last thing hysteria promoters want is calm, reasoned argument backed by facts. And I’m horrified that these people have co-opted the name “conservative” to scream their messages of hate and anger.

    Interestingly Fumento starts his piece discussing Heartland’s Unabomber billboard, which was serious overreach and has caused huge problems for Heartland.

    Maybe the hysterical right has gone too far and a reaction is starting from genuine conservatives.

  12. Fran Barlow

    [It’s a veritable dystopian dearth of access to information never seen before.]

    Concatenated pleonasms … with alliteration. Well done.

  13. Fran Barlow

    [Fran. They didn’t publish your post because it was incredibly boooring.]

    Yet Pure Poison publishes yours despite your inanity. It’s a funny old world.

  14. PipBoy

    I hear it every day in the staff rooms of the various places I work in.’

    What various places do you work? I work in various places and have probably heard about 3 political arguments in 10 years.

    Let alone parroting news ltd stories and stoning those who disagree EVERY DAY. That stuff only happens here in your alternate reality Monkey.

    Fran. They didn’t publish your post because it was incredibly boooring.

  15. Howard,B.

    The Wrench

    [It’s not mind control, Howard, it’s information control, which, in old money, was called ‘propaganda’.]

    Yes, Wrench, in the age of near-universal and unfettered internet access (not to mention free-to-air digital broadcasting, cable television, satellite tv and radio) never has the average Australian’s access to information been so controlled.

    It’s a veritable dystopian dearth of access to information never seen before.

  16. SHV

    MonkeyW @ 13,

    Indeed. All the more reason to expect Cable to be the witness to watch this week.

    You know Murdoch’s chief slippery-man Michel made a point of having his kids at the same school as Nick Clegg’s? He made a point of name-dropping to the other players that he had ‘bumped into’ Clegg at the school gates.

    Anyone who is new to this, turn of your Poxtel and tune in to this online weeknights from Tuesday to Friday (usually) at around 7-8pm:

    As I said upthread: News Ltd is dying. They are stuffed. God only knows what Penbo is up to, he used to be friends with some of the less ridiculous of their ABC before Penbo and his boss ruined it. Perhaps he is actually embarrassed? Goodness Penbo, don’t let Rupert find out! Lucky he doesn’t know how to use the internet!

  17. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    Meanwhile the Herald Sun are running an article accusing Tim Flannery of wanting the government to rob corpses in the most hysterical, alarmist style possible and completely misrepresents what he says. The article has several hateful comments already.

    All Abbott’s fault, probs, yo.

  18. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    PS: Anyone else ever noticed that Murdoch’s troll-bots here never actually get around to defending News Ltd on the grounds of the quality of its “journalism”?

    Can’t ever be shown to be agreeing with the wicked left, can they? Much easy to make hyerbolic false equivelancies and drag the conversation back to safer ground.

  19. monkeywrench

    Indeed, SHV, there seems to be a little reluctance surfacing in LibDem ranks….lol!

  20. monkeywrench

    SHV: I’m not sure Cable has the nuts to stubbornly stick to that line against the opposition of his lickspittle leader Clegg. If one filters the British Coalition through the lens of the current Australian Government, there doesn’t seem to be the willingness of the LibDems to be the thorn in the side of the major party that our Greens are proving to be. I live to be corrected; Cable is suitably antagonistic to Murdoch to want his saggy buttocks fried on a grill. I certainly hope so.

  21. AR

    My first thought on reading the extract above was “Penbo’s gone off reservation – criticising Abott” but then realised that it was a deliberate strategy to pretend that it’s nothing to do with Mudorc’s loathsome rags.
    Odd that the same effect is visible in amerika with the TeaBaggers, fuelled and fostered by FUX and its spittle specked broadcasts.

  22. SHV


    Yes, Cable. Sure, Hunt is going to come out of it like a shredded lettuce – all well deserved – especially over the little jaunt to NY to sit at Rupe’s feet right in the middle of the BSkyB decision he was supposed to be overseeing ‘quasi-judicially’. That little detail alone should see him run out of town, but it hasn’t so far.

    Hunt will be of entertainment value. Cable will potentially bring down the entire rotting, stinking, staggering, zombie corpse.

    Cable was about to refer the takeover to the competition overseer – rightly so – when he was shafted out and replaced by Hunt. Hunt had already effectively been lobbying in favour of the sellout to Murdoch. Cable has already hinted that he has a bucket of fertiliser to share out liberally on all the other players.

    Of course it’s all subjective, but I maintain that Cable will be the most vital (and therefore least reported by our media) witness this week.

    And everyone should remember that at about 6:30pm Wednesday our fellow countryman and perhaps this country’s greatest actual journalist, Julian Assange, will be around the corner at the Supreme Court receiving the decision on his extradition to Gitmo (via Sweden to keep it all orderly, of course).

    PS: Anyone else ever noticed that Murdoch’s troll-bots here never actually get around to defending News Ltd on the grounds of the quality of its “journalism”?

  23. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    “Deranged paranoid hysteria”? You mean like the idea that Rupert Murdoch and News Ltd are exercising some kind of mind control over large swathes of the populace?


  24. monkeywrench

    Howard with his New Favourite Gambit again. It’s not mind control, Howard, it’s information control, which, in old money, was called ‘propaganda’. You’d be surprised how many people repeat what they’ve read in News Ltd articles as factual. I hear it every day in the staff rooms of the various places I work in. If I venture an opinion that the news may not actually be correct, I’m looked at as if I’d just landed from Mars. You really are wearing this ‘mind-control’ garbage a bit thin. There’s a whole judicial inquiry going on in Britain at the moment designed to examine this very subject. Scoff at that if you may.

  25. monkeywrench

    SHV: Cable? I think Hunt will be the cliffhanger next week. QC Robert Jay will strip this guy like a painter strips cheap gloss paint. There is so much evidence of his slave-master relationship to Murdoch, i will be surprised if he keeps his job past the week’s end.
    I fire up the live Leveson webcast every evening after work, it is so addictive. Lord Justice Leveson himself, while giving a superficial impression of a genial uncle, is pithily direct when needed. He shut Peter Oborne (Telegraph hack) up the other night when he was making one of those Fleet Street declamations about ” the wonderful democratic freedoms our Press stands for” with “Let’s not turn it into an advertisement, shall we?”.

  26. monkeywrench

    MegaGeorge is really the only voice of dissent in this shameless toadying to Abbott The Australian is indulging in. Cut’n’paste the headline into Google if you don’t want to bother with their free registration.

  27. Howard,B.

    “Deranged paranoid hysteria”? You mean like the idea that Rupert Murdoch and News Ltd are exercising some kind of mind control over large swathes of the populace?

  28. shepherdmarilyn

    You mean like the editor of the Australian and Peter VanONselen now demanding without cause Craig Thomson’s head?

    It’s amazing that they screamed the loudest over whether or not Thomson could have been set up by vested interests even though they predicted that on 9 April 2009 when they still had a journo capable of thought writing for the disgusting rag.

    Second Labor figure Jeff Jackson embroiled in union brothel scandal
    • by: Rick Wallace and Brad Norington
    • From:The Australian
    • 9 April 2009
    A SECOND influential ALP figure has been accused of spending union money on escorts, with enemies of Victorian union boss Jeff Jackson releasing bank statements showing payments to the same Sydney brothel where federal MP Craig Thomson’s credit card was allegedly used.
    Police were called to a union meeting in Melbourne last night as it descended into yelling and brawling between rival camps.
    The meeting was called by Mr Jackson to reassert his control on the union’s management committee. Mr Jackson, a prominent figure in the Victorian ALP, dismissed the claims against him as a politically motivated “dirty tricks campaign” and denied any misuse of union funds.
    As secretary of the Health Services Union’s number 1 branch in Victoria, Mr Jackson has been embroiled in a bitter power struggle with branch president Pauline Fegan.
    Ms Fegan last night called on him to resign over the emergence of credit card statements showing the payments to ‘Keywed Pty Ltd” – which takes money for clients of the Sydney Outcalls escort agency.
    “It’s a union-issued credit card and it has been issued to Jeff Jackson,” Ms Fegan said. “On the face of it, it appears the union credit card has been used for escort agencies,” she said. “He should have resigned ages ago, that’s the reality.”
    The factional dispute is at the centre of the claims of misuse of union credit cards for prostitutes and election campaign funds that threaten the career of Mr Thomson and could damage other senior party figures.
    Mr Thomson yesterday strenuously denied allegations his union credit cards were used to pay for escort services and to help bankroll his election campaign for the federal NSW seat of Dobell in 2007.
    In a terse statement, Mr Thomson dismissed as “incorrect and false” allegations that he had misused credit cards during his term as federal secretary of the Health Services Union, including cash advances exceeding $100,000 over five years.
    Mr Jackson stressed that – unlike the Commonwealth credit card statement alleged to be Mr Thomson’s – his name was not even listed on the union Bendigo Gold Visa card concerned.
    Federal Labor, however, is already in damage control over the issue because of the risk that it could engulf not only Mr Thomson, who is chairman of the House of Representatives economics committee, but also his mentor, the new incoming ALP national president and HSU union chief Michael Williamson.
    Mr Williamson faces no allegations. He is the primary union and Labor mentor to Mr Thomson, having backed Mr Thomson as Melbourne-based HSU national secretary from 2002 to 2007. He then supported Mr Thomson’s move to Sydney before the 2007 election in a bid to run for Dobell.
    The source of potentially serious collateral damage to Labor figures is a nasty battle for power in Mr Jackson’s HSU No1 branch as he fights to win control from union president Pauline Fegan.
    Mr Jackson and Ms Fegan have been brawling for weeks, making claim and counter-claim against each other about alleged misuse of union funds.
    Their battle erupted on the national political scene yesterday with the allegations against Mr Thomson, dating back to his five-year term as federal secretary.
    According to published documents, officials of Mr Thomson’s former union concluded last year that his Commonwealth Bank credit card had been used to withdraw cash advances totalling $101,553 over five years.
    The documents also indicated Mr Thomson’s card was used to pay $330 to operators of a North Sydney escort service called Aboutoun Catering, and two payments of $570 and $2475 to Keywed Pty Ltd Restaurant in Surry Hills, a company listed as escort agency Sydney Outcalls Network.
    Pty Ltd Restaurant in Surry Hills, a company listed as escort agency Sydney Outcalls Network.
    Mr Thomson yesterday withstood Opposition pressure to step aside as a committee chairman. He said he had sought legal advice about possible action against “the sources” of the false allegations against him.
    He was confident an independent audit and an investigation by the Industrial Registrar would find no basis for the allegations.
    Kevin Rudd took no action against Mr Thomson. A spokesman for the Prime Minister said Mr Rudd would await the results of inquiries before making any decision on Mr Thomson’s committee role.
    The allegations against Mr Thomson were first detailed in a leaked letter written by Kathy Jackson, the HSU’s national secretary and head of the union’s No2 branch.
    Ms Jackson’s involvement further complicates the puzzle for the Labor Party and its involvement with the wrangle.
    She is the former wife of Jeff Jackson. Her new partner is Michael Lawler, a vice-president of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, whose industrial registrar is investigating Mr Thomson.
    As news of the investigation sparked by Ms Jackson spread to embroil her former husband yesterday, Mr Jackson dismissed the claims against him as a politically motivated “dirty tricks campaign” and denied any misuse of union funds.
    He said there were several union cards at the time and there were also doubts about the dates of the payments.
    He was recalling all credit card statements from the union’s archives to prove his innocence.
    The leaked Bendigo Bank credit card statements, obtained by The Australian, show four separate payments to Keywed between December 2003 and March 2004.
    The payments, one of which was made on Christmas Eve, were for amounts ranging from $330 to $405. There were two payments made on the same night on one occasion – March 18, 2004. The statement lists the Health Services Union’s No1 branch as the account holder but does not say who the cardholder is.

    Note the claims against Jackson that were dismissed as bogus came long before the same bogus claims made against Jackson and not Jackson’s simper over the card.

    Norrington even pointed out three years ago the conflict of interest between Kathy Jackson and Michael Lawler yet the babbling monkeys all called
    Thomson deluded.

  29. Fran Barlow

    I posted to Penberthy’s comment. Needless to say, despite my carefully chosen words, it didn’t pass the censors over there. Someone had said that you couldn’t blame Abbott for doing what oppositions do, and then likened the alternative to a football side simply allowing the other team to win. I didn’t criticise Penbo, but apparently my response was nevertheless a little fruity for their tastes:

    One of the more common analogies one reads and hears in the popular media is the football/sports analogy, but this tendency is one of the consequences of the problem Penbo describes.

    Sound public policy — which is what politics ought to be about — is not at all like sport — which is an activity carried on primarily for the diversion and amusement of participants and their audience. Politicians are not supposed primarily to divert us from our lives, offer up a soap opera or secure the victory of one tribe of enthusiasts for politics-as-a-career over another. Power pursued without any abiding and coherent set of principles is at best irrational and abusive, but in practice it exactly fits the definition of corrupt conduct. Playing by the rules of a football game and winning is its own end. Doing whatever it takes to win power regardless of its impact on public policy is reckless and irresponsible, and in my opinion tortious if not actually criminal. Inevitably, if you do that, and particularly if you win, people — including some you may say you care about, will be harmed in ways that you yourself can reasonably foresee.

    One need look no further than some of the more emotive posts in this thread to affirm Penbo’s point. One person, in effect, cautions Penbo to get with on board the anti-Gillard bandwagon if he wishes to receive fewer abusive emails. Another speaks of violence in the streets if Gillard-style rule were instituted more generally. Where is the focus on substantive policy (as distinct from current LNP talking points)?

    It’s worth keeping in mind that in theory at least, a representative democracy is a form of governance in which individuals confer upon their representatives the power to use their best judgement to secure their legitimate interests in the day to day business of policy making. The process assumes informed consent. Yet if the action of our representatives debauches public discourse, making informed consent harder to achieve, reducing politics to an ignorant and tribal shouting match in which enraged people should slogans produced by consultants but referring to little substantive the practical possibility of bona fide governance is corroded. The warrant of our proxies diminishes and that will be true whichever tribe wins. The public will have been harmed, and the mere ejection of the current hate figures will not address their angst and fear. The victors will have to hose down the rage with even more lies and dissembling. And the public will remain disempowered.

    This is a right-of-centre site. I get that. Many of you want a place where you can vent. Yet once you’ve got that out of your systems, ought you not to reflect not only on what you don’t want, but in what ways public policy can serve legitimate interests and to what extent and in what maintainable ways one might vary it from what we have now to achieve that end?

    Don’t you need to have more detail than we currently have on what specifically the alternative team has in mind, the timelines over which they hope to achieve them, the likely obstacles to them realising that vision and so forth before choosing something different?

    I’d say so, and I say that as someone who won’t be voting ALP.

    I could write that off the top of my head in part because with the exception of minor differences that related to the context of The Punch, I explained these same ideas to my year 9 Australian History classes just last week, when discussing the development of Australian democracy and the Constitution.

    Many of these kids will come of age possibly a couple of years into a Coalition regime, and it’s important that they keep this stuff in mind, IMO.

  30. SHV

    News Ltd is dying. Thanks to our incestuous and dysfunctional (other) media outlets, they have so far mostly escaped the scrutiny and accountability they deserve.

    With Blair, Hunt and – by far the most important – Cable giving evidence this week at the Leveson Inquiry about the rotten and corrupting power of the Murdoch machine on our democracy, eventually the effects will seep through to Australia’s collective conscious and then people will start to find their spine and finally admit News Ltd for what it is.

    Can’t happen soon enough.

    You simply cannot have a functioning democracy with a totally corrupt media. Which is why this total lack of self-awareness is so tragically funny:

    […most unhinged – are the people who have got it into their head that Australia is no longer a democracy.]

  31. monkeywrench

    Welcome the The Dirty World of News Ltd., where claims of a difference between Australian News Ltd and its septic international siblings are just so much hot air.

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