BOOKS: by Richard Egan (reviewer)News Weekly
The Electronic Whorehouse, by Paul Sheehan
, February 28, 2004
THE ELECTRONIC WHOREHOUSE
by Paul Sheehan
Macmillan, Rec. price: $30.00These essays by a working journalist from the Sydney Morning Herald are united by a common perspective on the contemporary media as riddled with shallowness, ideological bias, a disregard for truth and a gang mentality which countenances vicious, reputation rape of selected victims.
In "Anatomy of a Smear", Sheehan chronicles the efforts of David Marr of the ABC's Media Watch
and his allies to destroy the reputation of Janet Albrechtsen, a regular columnist in The Australian
Her "crime" was to explore the "utter disdain for their young Western victims" shown by Lebanese Muslim gang rapists in Sydney.
Robert Manne accused Albrechtsen of being "factually careless, socially reckless and morally cavalier" and most seriously of all, in Professor Manne's eyes, fermenting "Islamophobia". Mark Latham used parliamentary privilege to label Albrechtsen a "skanky-ho" which, translated from gangsta rap, means "ugly whore".
Marr's accusations against Albrechsten of plagiarism are carefully analysed and discredited and Sheehan further demonstrates that Marr's attack was itself plagiarised from the work of Amir Butler of the Australian Muslim Public Affairs Committee.
Sheehan devotes two essays to asylum seekers and two to Aboriginal issues. He engages in careful analysis of media commentary on these topics, demonstrating repeatedly that once the media had a "line" there was a systematic refusal to report material that undermined or contradicted the favoured position.
Sheehan cites Alan Ramsey's view that the media, after failing to help Labor secure a win at the November 2001 election, subsequently sought to undermine the moral legitimacy of the Howard Government through a one-sided beat up about asylum seekers, including the "children overboard" issue.
On the "stolen children" debate, Sheehan compares the overblown rhetoric and moral posturing of Robert Manne, Sir Ronald Wilson and Phil Noyce's Rabbit-Proof Fence
with the historical record, particularly as evidenced in the Cubillo case.
Sheehan combines detailed and comprehensive analysis of particular media failings with acerbic comments on those media players he sees as the worst offenders against truth and decency.Electronic Whorehouse
complements and confirms the work of American commentator, Michael Medved, Bernard Goldberg in his book, BIAS: A CBS Insider Reveals How the Media Distort the News
and David Flint's Twilight of the Elites
Reading Sheehan will help immunise you against the next plague of intellectual contagion being spread by the mass media. Do it now!