An open letter to Mark Scott

Dear Mark Scott,
I’m sure you’re aware of what “Liberal strategist” Grahame Morris said to Linda Mottram on ABC702 this morning. But in case you missed it, here it is:

Linda Mottram: We saw Tony Abbott in this past week do that interview with Leigh Sales about the Roxby Downs mine issue and stumbled, and that was really quite poor. I was very struck, Grahame. Were you surprised that he didn’t handle that well?

Grahame Morris: Well, Leigh can be a real cow sometimes when she’s doing her interviews.

So, instead of answering the question about Abbott’s dud performance, Morris called a female journalist who was just doing her job, a cow.

He was back on the air shortly afterwards:

LM: Grahame, we’ve had a lot of sms’s and calls offended at your comments. Your response?

GM: [In a condescending tone] Poor little sensitive souls.

LM: You think that calling Leigh a cow is appropriate?

GM: No, no, I probably should have said ‘can be a tough interviewer when she wants to be’.

Wait. Probably?

LM: That’s what you would have said if it was a male interviewer, isn’t it?

GM: That’s silly. No, no, no, no, it’s a phrase that I have used a million times, you know, that somebody can be a real cow when they want to be.

Ah, I see. Because he’s called women cows “a million times” it means he’s not sexist. It’s good that someone who makes such an important contribution to public discussion is a regular guest on ABC radio and television.

GM: But [sighs] look, look, I apologise, it really should be something like, um, ‘having known most of the senior journalists, particularly the political journalists, over the last 30 years, there is a mixture there of people who can be tough, they can be straight up and down, they can be a mixture, they can be soft, and there’s no doubt Leigh at times can be tough’. That would have been a much better expression than being a cow at times.

I don’t know about you, Mark, but I’m not convinced that is an apology. (I’m also not convinced that Grahame Morris understands that radio isn’t print. When you tell a journalist to change your quote, everyone can hear it.)

I’m sure you remember that in April, Morris said people should be “kicking [Julia Gillard] to death”.

In case you missed it, Grahame Morris said people should kill the Prime Minister. In a violent way. Yet he’s a regular guest on the ABC. Why is that? And, since I’ve got you here, why wasn’t it reported by your newsroom? Telling people they should attack and kill a Prime Minister seems pretty newsworthy to me.

Anyhoo, you’ll notice from this tweet from SkyNews journalist David Speers that it’s the second time Morris has used this “oh, I always say that, it’s fine” excuse:

@David_Speers Grahame says it’s a phrase he has used in the past on different issues, but shouldn’t have on this occasion

Oh, well, since he says that lots of people should be kicked to death, that’s ok then.

Morris has also called Gillard “bitchy“. It’s not an insult he would use against a man. Shouldn’t the national broadcaster be looking for guests who are able to talk about politics in an intelligent manner, without using childish insults?

Now Mark, I’m willing to overlook the fact that the vast majority of guests on QandA and The Drum are current and current-until-recently-politicians whose only contribution to public discussion is to push the party line that we’ve already heard over and over again in the news.

I’m also willing to overlook the misogynist and racist comments that are regularly published on The Drum website. (We can talk about those later.)

But what I am not willing to overlook is the national platform given to a man who thinks that calling for violence against women, and calling women names, is an acceptable part of public discussion. Because when you continue to get Grahame Morris on as a guest, what you are telling Australian women and men is that you have no problem with what he says.

Four days ago, Julia Gillard said there were “misogynists and nutjobs on the internet“. She’s right. There’s loads of ’em on here. They’re also, very clearly, on the ABC.

I look forward to your public statement saying that because of his misogynist, sexist and violent attitudes and language, Grahame Morris is no longer welcome on the ABC.

Yours sincerely,
Kim Powell
ABC watcher.

31 responses to “An open letter to Mark Scott

  1. Abso-bloody-lutely NWN.
    I am so gobsmacked at the unhinging and increasing violence and rage that is infecting all political discourse in the MSM. It’s really OFF and objecting to it is NOT being a sensitive little petal, but an actual normal person who believes that death threats and verbal abuse is really inappropriate.

  2. Similar, but apparently didn’t cause any uproar that I could find (besides me noting it). Andrew Bolt: “I’d advise Roxon to ease up on her public bitchiness”. http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/45746.html

  3. It is appalling, and it should not be considered OK. Congrats on writing this up.

  4. Please post a link to this article at ABC Gone To Hell

    http://www.abcgonetohell.net/

  5. Agree with all of the above. The only addition I’d make is to say the vast majority of guests on *Insiders* are current and current-until-recently *partisan journalists* whose only contribution to public discussion is to push the party line that we’ve already heard over and over again in the news. How about some policy analysis?

    • I don’t watch Insiders for that very reason. If I want to know what they think, I’ll just read what their “analysis” in the paper.

      I’d also like to add that most guests across all ABC shows are men: The Drum, Gruen, the news…

  6. Pingback: both kinds of politics

  7. I would not have my husband say such a thing – why should I have another man say it in public? Men in media and politics are becoming really misogynistic. It’s a worry.

    • It is a worry. There’s so much nastiness and people like Morris, and Abbott, are just feeding it and making it worse. If they can call female public figures cows, and bitches and say they should be kicked to death – just for doing their jobs – and no one pulls them up for it, it tells other misogynists that this is fine.

      Susani, welcome to the News with Nipples.

  8. imagine what words might have been used for Margo Kingston – or Susan Ryan and Carmen Lawrence

  9. someone should get Prue Goward to bollock Grahame Morris; and Prue should have her party leader back her as well

    • Pru Goward’s in state politics now. Who IS the Opposition spokesperson on women? (Wanders off onto the internet) Oh. They don’t have one. Gee, there’s a shock. It would probably fall under Family, Housing and Human Services, because, you know, the only women they pretend to give a shit about are those with productive uteruses. Uteri. Anyway, it’s Kevin Andrews. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Yeah, looking forward to HIM saying Morris’s comments are unacceptable.

      • Oops. My mistake. I should have scrolled down further. Michaelia Cash is the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Status of Women. Never heard of her and, considering the misogyny in public discussion, we should have. Ms Cash, where are you?

  10. i know Pru (without an e) is in state politics. she well remember her being reported as having said that NSW lower house was or NSW politics was sexists. (wanders off to the interweb)
    http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/bearpit-sexist-says-new-mp/2007/05/10/1178390396196.html

    i mean to have individuals like her tell their leaders to smarten up, & speak up

  11. Some more from Linda Mottram, on Grahame Morris’s sexist response to the excellent interview Leigh Sales did with Tony Abbott; the first case of a journalist hard at work while interviewing him that I’ve come across for a long time.
    http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/08/28/3577739.htm?microsite=&section=audio&date=(none)

    • Thanks for that link. I love this bit:

      My view? Grahame used sexist stereotyping to denigrate a professional journalist for political reasons. He also failed to live up to the purpose of the “Party Line” segment, designed to give 702 Mornings listeners a glimpse behind the political scenes … but then again maybe that’s exactly what he did give us.

      Cheryld, welcome to the News with Nipples. (I’m still not convinced that Morris did apologise.)

  12. Leigh was great in that interview, but she made a powerful man look foolish and so must be punished. Can just imagine the kinds of things that would have been said about her behind closed doors.

    • I have this niggling little thought that Morris made himself the story to take attention away from how badly Abbott performed in the Sales interview and also in the one with Lisa Wilkinson on Today the following morning… Call Sales a cow and everyone will be talking about that instead.

  13. I have no problem with the use of the terms cow and bitchy… provided he’s willing to call a male journalist he doesn’t like a cock/pig/whatever… oh wait, he’d get hung out to dry.

    • I’d love to hear something like “Yeah well Tones can be a right cock to interview sometimes” for personal amusement. But even if this happened there would still be a qualitative difference between name-calling directed at members of a subordinate class, and the same thing directed at those from the dominant class. So “cow” and “bitchy” would still be problematic in that they help to reinforce a social order, while male equivalents would just be personal insults.

      • True, I was thinking purely from the point of someone in an equivalent role but opposite gender, but you’ve changed my mind (it would be “less bad”, rather than “okay”). It’s like all the comments about Gillard being a redhead, yet no-one except satirical cartoonists mentions Abbott’s wingnut ears.

  14. outragedofmarrickville

    I do get just the smallest feeling (and it is quite small) that the tide is turning slightly on lazy journalism, its ok to verbally abuse women and not abuse the tories type stories/interviews. Leigh sales interview was a good one. Eg Good article by Ann summers in today’s news review (I’m not groovy with links) on why it is NOT ok to use sexist language against a female PM. I’ve never known a PM face as much personal vitriol as JG. Yes of course AS would make such sensible comments but at least they choose to publish the other angle for a change.

  15. Pingback: Shocking six weeks ends with a global mussel flexing for women « Sally Baxter

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