James’ short memory

By May 30, 2021Media

James Massola is a journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age and stated on Twitter: 

“I got some over-the-top, partisan responses after tweeting a bit of Josh Frydenberg’s speech yesterday. This one – comparing the Liberals to the Nazis – is the worst. I am genuinely shocked at what a cesspool #auspol has become. When did we lose the capacity to politely disagree?”1

The reply to which he referred was in the form of a meme and consisted of two columns. The column on the left was under a nazi swastika and listed the following: “Right Wing – Conservative; Opposed to Communists; Opposed to Unions; Wanted to eliminate Jews; Opposed to Immigration; Opposed to Working Class; Supports Corporations; Wants Heterosexuals to breed; Supports WAR; Believe in a Church State; Fixated with Law and Order; Propaganda laced with lies and full of victim blaming; Spies on own people”. The right column, under the Liberal Party logo, listed much the same: “Right Wing – Conservative; Opposed to Socialists; Opposed to Unions; Wants to eliminate Muslims; Opposed to Immigration; Opposed to Working Class; Supports Corporations; Wants Heterosexuals to breed; Supports WAR; Believe in a Church State; Fixated with Law and Order; Propaganda laced with lies and full of victim blaming; Spies on own people”.1

While most memes are simplistic at best (including this one), this is not the first time that parallels have been drawn between attitudes of the Liberal Party and the far right (whether nazis or otherwise).

Massola asks ‘when did we lose the capacity to politely disagree?” I have a few suggestions:

Perhaps it was when the Howard government lied about asylum seekers throwing children overboard2, or when they used the dog whistle to demonise asylum seekers and used the Tampa incident to win an election3. Perhaps it was when Julia Gillard was the target of all sorts of opprobrium while Prime Minister, where reference was made to her breasts, her backside and apparently her vagina4, and was called ‘Juliar’ ‘Bob Brown’s bitch’ and subject of chants of ‘ditch the witch’ ‘liar, liar’ at a rally for climate change deniers5. Perhaps it was when Alan Jones suggested Gillard’s recently deceased father died of shame6, and that Julia Gillard should be murdered by being dumped out at sea7. Perhaps it was when disgraced Liberal MP Andrew Laming shared a photoshopped image of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in a nazi uniform (her grandparents had been tortured by the Nazis during the Second World War)8. Perhaps it was when Murdoch’s Telegraph ‘newspaper’ had a front page illustration of then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in nazi uniforms9. Perhaps it was when Victorian Premier Dan Andrews was called ‘Dictator Dan’ by the malevolent Alan Jones10  and in Murdoch’s Herald Sun ‘newspaper’11, and Dictator Dan and Chairman Dan by sundry Victorian Liberal MPs12.

This is what gets me about so many (but not all) Australian journalists these days; their apparent inability to contemplate what they are about to say; their inability to retain some perspective; and their apparently very short memory, such that what has gone before does not register in their consciousness, or perhaps their conscience. If they could defeat these shortcomings before they opened their gobs, perhaps they would not make fools of themselves so often.


  1. https://twitter.com/jamesmassola/status/1398770635661209600
  2. https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/reith-rewrites-history-to-hide-the-shame-of-children-overboard-lie-20120831-255u3.html
  3. https://theconversation.com/australian-politics-explainer-the-mv-tampa-and-the-transformation-of-asylum-seeker-policy-74078
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/12/gillard-menu-sexist-liberal-dinner
  5. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-03-24/abbott-wont-apologise-for-climate-rally-abuse/2644630
  6. https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/gillards-father-died-of-shame-alan-jones-20120929-26soa.html
  7. https://www.crikey.com.au/2012/06/15/jones-failed-reasonable-efforts-test-but-chaff-bags-ok/
  8. https://junkee.com/andrew-laming-nazi-photoshop-annastacia-palaszczuk/254280
  9. https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/murdoch-newspaper-puts-australian-premier-in-nazi-uniform-1.5318854
  10. https://www.skynews.com.au/details/_6232296962001
  11. https://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/dictator-dan-to-hire-more-people-to-jail-victorians-without-trial/news-story/5132e9edb5f527cc1d34e71edc5ca55d
  12. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-14/tim-smith-defends-tweets-attacking-daniel-andrews-coronavirus/12248286


  • clive pegler says:

    alas, i suspect they have no desire to “defeat these shortcomings”, in fact, as you very well know, this is their M.O. They know full well what they do and who their target numpties are. The alternative, (ie not knowing what they do), would imply a level of stupidity approaching a life threatening suffocation by forgetting to breathe.

    • admin says:

      I expect that the former is true of many of them. A few come to mind. However, there are a few who would be completely out of their depth in a puddle. But, there are many who are up to the task of holding the government to account. Many of them happen to be women: Tingle, Murphy, Trioli, Sales, Martin, Middleton among others.

  • Jon says:

    Send him a link to this blog. Twitter is particularly bad but Massola’s kidding himself if he thinks that relatively hidden comments on Twitter or other social media sites are worse than very public pronouncements (such as the above) from people in powerful positions with huge audiences. The rot starts at the top and it’s not at all surprising that individuals with no power (but a lot of concern about the lack of integrity and accountability which currently exists) will (over)react to particular comments or people. You couldn’t print what I think about John Barilaro for example, and you can add the majority of the federal government to that.

    If you do tweet Massola ask him if he’s ever publicly expressed his disgust at News Corpse [sic] – particularly Daily Bellylaugh editors and “journalists”, or Trump’s lies and behaviour, and whether, for example, he publicly vented when Morrison commented in public that (female) protestors are lucky they live in a country where we don’t shoot them. Did Massola rebuff 9’s political editor Chris Uhlmann when he referenced the Nazis with his erroneous, hyperbolic and puerile comment about “folks” in response to totally harmless (if unnecessary) Victorian public service advice about how to address people?

    Cry me a river Massola. Australian “journalism” is a major part of the problem – with outstanding exceptions like Chris West and Leigh Sales the saving grace for the industry.

    • admin says:

      I have sent him a link; we’ll see what happens. I don’t class most Murdoch ‘journalists’ as journalists; they are ‘ruperters’. Some of those who have left Murdoch employment have become much better and quite strident in their criticism of the government and their failures, which are numerous. They include people like Rick Morton, Malcolm Farr, Dennis Atkins and Tony Koch. Samantha Maiden has recently joined news.com and has actually raised some topics embarrassing for the government. However, she seems to occasionally drop back into Rupert-speak. People like Uhlmann make me scratch my head in disbelief. I used to watch him when he was on the ABC, and while he was a bit so-so, when he left the ABC he completely flipped out. Some of the stuff from him you would expect from a parody site. Weird stuff.

    • admin says:

      I forgot to tell you that online, Barilaro is called ‘Pork Barrelaro’.

  • Mark Dougall says:

    I don’t think that the capacity for polite disagreement has ever existed when it comes to the sort of issues that this meme thingy references. Did Catholics and protestants politely disagree? Did slave owners and abolitionists politely disagree? Did Luddites and textile factory owners politely disagree? Did Arthur Scargill and Margaret Thatcher politely disagree? Do Port supporters and the rest of SA footy supporters politely disagree? Polite disagreement has never been a thing on some issues.

    • admin says:

      Good point. This impinges on the paradox of tolerance. If you are tolerant of intolerance, society ceases to be tolerant. It was first pointed out by Karl Popper, which I had a rant about a few years ago, here:
      It also made me think of all the free speech warriors from the far right. They want to be able to say anything, but not suffer any consequences. The moron Bolt was convicted of racism for saying pale aboriginals were in it for the money. Of course all his mates and other buffoons of the far right said it was attacking free speech. And yet people like Massola spit the dummy over a meme. They need more mirrors, to have a good hard look at themselves.

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