Cobwebs for the rich…

…and chains for the poor.

Once upon a time, a 14-year-old boy decided to “divorce” his parents. Sensing both an easy victim and a sensationalist headline, in 2004 the Sunday Herald Sun ran a front-page article headlined “Divorced by my son: Teen may never see mum again” [Chris Tinkler, June 20, 2004], “which described how a 14-year-old had divorced (sic) his mother because of irreconcilable differences. The story was repeated on Seven news and the network’s Sunrise show.” And this week, those responsible for circulating the story found themselves before the courts. “The [Melbourne Magistrates Court] heard Today Tonight and the Sunday Herald Sun then ran further reports, despite a warning from a Children’s Court magistrate that they may be in breach of the Children and Young Persons Act.”

Predictably, entertainers on television reacted by condemning the (previously anonymous) boy: Sunrise hosts David Koch and Melissa Doyle, Today Tonight host Naomi Robson and newsreader Jennifer Keyte, among other brats. All have escaped punishment for broadcasting the story, but in an hysterical outburst, Peter Meakin, Channel Seven’s news and current affairs chief, has accused the prosecution of being “starstruck” for going after some of the network’s biggest names. Thus, despite the idiotic grins on the faces of those acquitted (see below), it’s painfully obvious that being made in any way accountable for the lies and half-truths these well-paid lackeys tell is acutely embarrassing for them: they’re “stars”, and therefore above not only the planet, but its laws too. They know, as well as we do, that the wealth, power and social status which accrues to them as a result of their willingness to fulfil such roles provides them with virtual legal immunity. So…

In a not-exactly-unexpected development, the contempt the corporate media and its lackeys regularly and systematically display for children (whom, alongside shonky tradesmen, are favoured targets of corporate bullies, for obvious reasons) has been handsomely rewarded by the courts:

TV brats cleared over child ID case

A group of journalists, their bosses and major news organisations faced a string of charges including publishing or causing to be published a report likely to lead to the identification of a party in a children’s court hearing…

Melbourne Magistrate Lisa Hannan cleared the individual journalists involved but found the charges proven against Channel Seven Victorian news director Stephen Carey, Today Tonight national executive producer Craig McPherson and former Sunday Herald Sun editor Alan Howe. She also found the charges proven against Channel Seven Melbourne and the Herald and Weekly Times.

And the punishment imposed by the courts for showing such complete contempt, both for the rights of children and for the courts which are supposed to protect these ‘rights’ (sic)? “CHANNEL 7 and the Herald and Weekly Times have each been convicted and fined $50,000”, while “Seven News director Steve Carey and Today Tonight executive producer Craig McPherson were each fined $2000, and former Sunday Herald Sun editor Alan Howe $3000 — all without convictions. Kids Under Cover, the Smith Family, Make a Wish, the Salvation Army and the Royal Children’s Hospital will receive the $107,000 in fines.”

The Herald and Weekly Times, it should be noted, is part of the Murdoch empire: an empire with few historical parallels, and one which is responsible for conducting what John Pilger has described as a ‘cultural chernobyl’. And while the devastation being wrought on human(e) values by Murdoch and similar figures in the corporate sector is quite serious, it also has its more bizarre side. Here’s the brains trust at Sunrise speculating on what might be an appropriate way for athletes to celebrate victory at the recent Stolenwealth Games:

Mark Beretta: What would you suggest we do Kochie? Should we put the meat tray up?

David Koch: Oh! Now you’re talking big fella. A meat tray!

Beretta: Get up there with a gold medal around your neck in your green and gold tracksuit and sing it with pride and you could get the meat tray.

Liz Ellis: Can you imagine marching into the athletes’ hall, into the dining room with your meat tray under your arm and saying to the chef “cook it”.

Beretta: Wouldn’t you be popular? You would be popular.

Melissa Doyle: You could cook it yourself. Yeah! You could have a party and rejoice.

Koch: You’d be hijacked by the Bangladeshi team. They haven’t seen that much meat in their lifetime! [Laughter, groans] Right, sorry!

Such casual racism is the stock-in-trade of buffoons such as Koch, and as such is largely unremarkable (and, were it not for Media Watch, unremarked). So despite being touted as “an all-round good bloke and family man”, ‘Kochie’ is obviously much, much less: at ‘Speakers Solutions’, ‘integrity speaks’, and you too can enjoy — for a large sum of money — his unique comedy stylings.

Are there any depths to which Australia’s media won’t sink? For ‘Kochie’ and his ilk, the answer is obviously ‘no’. In practice, it seems that others — whether athletes or children — exist only to the extent to which they may be made the butt of appallingly bad jokes, or, alternatively, as commodities from which to make a profit.

Q. How do they sleep at night?
A. In absolute luxury.

(Unlike, say, the Bangladeshi masses…)

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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