Tony Jones & ABC running scared on defence debate?

Tony Jones & ABC running scared on defence debate?
by Sasha Uzunov

The host of the ABC TV’s Lateline and Q & A programs, Tony Jones, has a reputation for being a media tough guy, who is willing to ask tough questions and scrutinise delicate issues. But it would appear that both Jones and the ABC are petrified by an email campaign organised by Vietnam Veterans over military superannuation.

Brigadier Neil Weekes (retired), a Vietnam War hero who won a Military Cross for bravery during the famous Battles of Coral/Balmoral in 1968, has revealed:

“I have just received a call from the Executive Producer of the ABC Q&A Show, asking me to contact the veteran community with a request to stop sending any more emails on the DFDB/DFRDB issues. In particular he has asked that we stop sending “nasty” emails to Tony Jones.

“He told me that the ABC has received more than 1,000 emails on the DFDB/DFRDB topics, that the ABC is aware that this is an organised email campaign and that once a question has been posted once, there is little point in repeating it. He advised that, while he is personally interested in the topic, he cannot guarantee that any of our questions will receive a hearing tonight.”

In 2004 on Lateline Tony Jones played hardball with Liberal political head kicker Tony Abbott over his alleged secret meeting with Catholic Cardinal George Pell to discuss government policy. There were overtones of a dark conspiracy between the Abbott and the Catholic Priest. There were dark overtones of a Dan Brown Davinci Code Conspiracy. It was actually more high farce on Jones’ part. But when it comes to defence experts, Jones’ blowtorch is nowhere to be seen.

In this day and age, where ABC journalists openly question Jesus, the Prophet Muhammed and the Buddha, big name Fairfax journalist and “war expert” Paul McGeough is above scrutiny.

In a remarkable email, Jonathan Holmes the host of the ABC TV’s Media Watch program revealed:

“Paul McGeough, who you so snidely deride, has probably spent more time in the “Afghan war zone” – and in Iraq, for that matter – than any other Australian journalist – including you. The fact that he doesn’t have a military background is to my mind entirely irrelevant.”

Trying to extract information from ABC and SBS journalists is like having your sore wisdom teeth pulled: its is very painfull but very necessary. In trying to discuss defence and national security issues over the past couple of years I have encountered either silence or a haughty manner from our public funded journalists.

Media tough guy Peter Charley has a reputation for speaking his mind. As Executive Producer of ABC TV program Lateline in 2006 he issued this statement to me over my criticism of why Lateline was reluctant to open up Australia’s defence debate:

“It is neither wise nor clever to suggest that “little ol’ Lateline” is “afraid” to have anyone on the program…” (Friday 13 January 2006, email).

The rhetorical question is why is it not wise or clever?


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Therefore, we encourage diversity of opinion on ths issue

The host of the ABC TV’s Media Watch, Jonathan Holmes, responds to the TEAM UZUNOV story: ABC-Fairfax hissy fit at Afghan news.


“ABC and Fairfax big name reporters spit the dummy over not being able to navigate through Afghan warzone without a helping hand from the ADF…”

Not on Media Watch, they didn’t. No ABC journalist was quoted complaining about ADF media policy on our program. Nor was ABC News. The only ‘big name journalist” who was quoted was Ian McPhedran, defence correspondent for News Ltd. And he was complaining about the lack of access to Australian troops on the ground, not about his inability to ‘navigate through Afghan warzones”.

The same complaint as John Martinkus makes in his New Matilda piece.

Paul McGeough, who you so snidely deride, has probably spent more time in the “Afghan war zone” – and in Iraq, for that matter – than any other Australian journalist – including you. The fact that he doesn’t have a military background is to my mind entirely irrelevant.

– Jonathan Holmes


Thank your for your prompt and frank reply..

But asking Paul McGeough why he didnt volunteer for military service is highly relevant, much in the same way we would scrutinise medical doctors, mechanics, etc over their “qualifications.”

The general public has an interest in the issue, which is why it keeps me in print and above the poverty-line! (freelanceer’s attempt at humour!)

It only seems journalists without actual military experience who oppose such scrutiny. If it is irrelevant why not put it to the test? Why not ask the public?

Why do certain sections of the media, namely ABC Media Watch, avoid this issue? Is it because by opening up this debate to the public that big name reporters at the ABC will have their lucrative business of writing books and appearing on television threantened?

Furthermore, when McGeough refuses to answer the question put to him but then complains when politicians deny him information it is hypocritical. It is a case of wanting to have his cake and eat it too.

Mate (Jonathan Holmes), you’re a big name ABC reporter and you sounded as though you were upset at the ADF denying reporters info….Therefore my story is correct…

I can supply you previously published stories with quotes from your former colleagues Chris Masters and Max Uechtritz and their “views” on military service….


MEDIA WATCH (Jonathan Holmes): News Ltd is not the same as Fairfax. Or hadn’t you noticed?

TEAM UZUNOV: I wasnt focusing on News Ltd but Fairfax…. You’re forgetting Cynthia Banham’s gabfest at ANU..

Thanks for your email Sasha. I appreciate your perspective.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

By Sasha Uzunov

Australia’s big name journalists who write on defence and national security issues have the double advantage of making a lot of money as well as indirectly influencing government policy but without having to face the electors.

However, in recent times certain sections of the media have been chucking a hissy fit at the Australian Defence Forces and its public relations arm for allegedly denying journalists access to combat troop operations in Afghanistan.

read on…