The SMH’s high priest is in the bully pulpit

We start today with our constantly handy flow chart:

The Australian discount royal family, the Wilkinson-Fitzsimons of Mosman, are frequent content generators for this site, mainly due to their permanent resident status at the nexus of hubris, moralising, and self-unawareness.

They are the perfectly-suited couple, creating what must be the world’s most securely-vacuum sealed echo chamber in their bijou home. NASA scientists are craving research access to this natural phenomenon, where dissenting opinions cannot enter.

Lisa Wilkinson is the family bread-winner, despite many of her recent salary reviews being shockingly impacted by the patriarchy. She comforts herself in her selfless public service of tweeting helpful improvement suggestions to airport security processes to speed her route past her loyal subjects to the Qantas President’s Lounge

Crueller commentators than I might suggest Peter Fitzsimons’ contribution to the family income is somewhat irrelevant in comparison to his spouse, so much so, that others have even suggested she actually subsidises his army of history research interns churning out his regular contributions to the bargain clearance baskets in Australia bookstores.

Similarly, it seems barely credible his frequent vernacular-rich, comma-heavy columns in the Sydney Morning Herald attract a real wage. Few would be surprised if the rumours were confirmed that Lisa slips a cheque to the Accounts department each month to cover his “earnings”.

There’s no shame in this if it were true; it’s a perfectly respectable way for Executives in Manly to keep their wives busy with loss-making cup cake delivery businesses rather than having the time to spare for extra-curricular lessons with the tennis coach. Why not female TV presenters? Equality an’ all that, it’s 2022, you chauvinists.

Fitzsimons is a complex character nonetheless. I’m reminded of a quote about the late All Black, Keith Murdoch, who was infamously sent home in disgrace from a tour to Wales for cowardly knocking out a hotel security guard; “Keith was an unhappy drunk”.

Fitzsimons is sober these days. It’s unclear to me which is worse, being a thin-skinned bully when under the influence, or continuing this behaviour once the fighting juice has been forsaken?

Why do I ask this?

Consider his latest skirmish in the culture war. Peter has chosen a side on the debate about whether Aboriginal Australians should have further constitutional recognition, or “The Voice”. Unsurprisingly, Peter picked the one requiring least personal cost and maximum public virtue (check the flow chart above).

As is Peter’s idiom however, once a position has been taken, dissenting opinions are not allowed. Alternate takes are greeted as if calls for murder. Peter tends to spend so much time living in the logical fallacy, “ad hominem”, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn Lisa has bought their 5th home in that postcode to save on his rental costs.

(Yes, I’m aware of the irony that I’ve just accused someone of reverting to ad hominem attacks in a column which is almost entirely ad hominem. Sometimes that’s the only language bullies understand).

You can read the details about this week’s moralising in the Spectator. In summary, Senator Jacinta Price believes the energy and resources of the Voice campaign might be better directed to those in need in remote communities. Peter strongly disagrees and is alleged to have been less than a gentlemen about it when they met for an interview on the topic. On verra, if/once the tape is released.

He’s since made veiled legal threats to Price to retract her statement that he bullied her.

Some important context; Senator Price is Aboriginal, has spent a great deal of her life with these communities and devotes huge amounts of time and personal resources to delivering tangible outcomes for disadvantaged Aboriginal communities. She also has very little access to funding for a protracted legal battle.

Peter is a private school-educated spouse of a multi-millionaire and devotes huge amounts of time tweeting signals of virtue on his iPhone from the downstairs toilet of his wife’s prime Sydney real estate. Oh, and he’s a socialist (eye roll).

Bill’s Opinion

I’m genuinely undecided on “The Voice”.

However, it’s my observation there is a very lucrative industry channeling government funds to a growing metropolitan Aboriginal demographic. It’s the political third rail to suggest this is not right, and for your career’s sake, stay well away from what the definition of “aboriginal” is for the purpose of funding allocation.

Meanwhile, the infant mortality rate in some communities in NT and north QLD is STILL equivalent to some sub-Saharan African states despite decades of “intervention”.

Perhaps we can chew gum and walk at the same time. Observed fact suggests we struggle with that.

However, unlike Peter Fitzsimons, I treat situations where people disagree with me as learning opportunities. Particularly when they’ve got a far more relevant CV compared to mine.

As for Fitzsimons’ cup cake delivery business, I’m not across the details of the SMH’s accounts, but if I were Tory Maguire, Bevan Shields, Mike Sneesby, James Chessell, or the directors of Nine Media, I might ask for a reconciliation between payroll and accounts receivables. Is Lisa paying for his column inches?

Actually, it’s probably worse if they discover they really are paying for this bullying thin-skinned 1970’s sports jock throwback masquerading as one of the caring and the good. What does that say about their judgement and authority on the shop floor?

He can dish it out but can’t take it. We’ve all known people like that. When we meet them, if we are brave, we confront them on their terms. They always turn tail and run away.

The best performing teams generally operate a “no dickheads” policy. Perhaps it’s time for Peter to spend more time double parking his coal-powered car outside chi chi Mosman cafés.

Complex problems? Here’s Lisa Slams to save the day

As we’ve previously observed;

What a fucking great job it is being Lisa Wilkinson; you get to give a monologue to camera once a week, complaining in your side-of-mouth idiom about whatever it is your PR people think will resonate with the viewers, safe in the knowledge you’ll never put yourself in the situation where anyone can take you to task about your previous opinions and predictions.

This week’s orally-lopsided (has she had an undiagnosed stroke?) monologue is “exposing” facts about gun crime in the USA in the wake of a tragic school shooting in Texas. Ooh, look at the big Lisa Slams mic drop.

Lisa Slams’ facts:

  • Texas lowered the age for owning a handgun to 18.
  • There are 120 guns to every 100 people in the US.
  • The pandemic saw more guns sold (nearly 40M) than at any time in US history. Gun deaths rocketed.

The greatest thing about being Lisa Wilkinson is that it’s not part of the job description to make logical sense or suggest solutions. Your job is to simply point at problems and shake your lopsided mouth on national TV, whilst demonstrating you are one of the few people who care. It’s a bit like being Megan Merkel but without the racism and pussy-whipped ginger mentalist.

If only we all could have such a job.

Bill’s Opinion

It shouldn’t need to be said, but we will anyway; America isn’t Australia. Gun ownership is the second oldest amendment to their national Constitution, a document at least 50% of the country hold nearly as dear as The Bible or Torah. These people believe the First Amendment requires the Second Amendment otherwise it is meaningless.

In addition, the fact there are more guns than people should give a fairly large clue to the possibility a rather large ratio of the population want to and actually do own a gun. Unless, of course, Lisa Slams thinks the gun ownership is concentrated in the hands of a ridiculously well-armed 1%.

Lastly, if one to were scratch a little deeper into those “rocketed” gun deaths, Lisa Slams might find some uncomfortable truths; the vast majority of gun murder victims are black men, murdered by other black men. Mass shootings get the headlines but are a drop in an ocean of human tragedies.

Also, most deaths by guns are suicides.

I don’t know what the solution is to America’s problem with gun crime, but I’m not going to sit here in another country and lecture them on how to solve a problem I have zero expertise in. I imagine that’s as patronising as people asking the citizens of Northern Ireland, “why can’t you all just get along and respect each other’s religions?

Good on Lisa Slams though for demonstrating there isn’t a complex problem in the world she feels unqualified to deliver a four minute monologue to camera about with a follow up Tweet.

Next week, Lisa Slams solves P vs NP and persuades Depp and Heard they still love each other and should have a baby together.

Lisa says….

….. that it’s allright
When she meets me alone at night
Lisa says that she has her fun
And she’ll do it with just about anyone
.

Once a week, there’s a sub-headline on a story in the Australian media which solely consists of reporting on the opinion of someone else working in the Australian media. It’s Australia’s version of an “inside the beltway” story, in other words.

The person who gets the dull column inches is Lisa Wilkinson. The headlines usually start with “Lisa slams…” or, in today’s example, “Lisa fires up…”. Presumably, subeditors know the lyrics to the Velvet Underground song above, hence avoiding the more slanderous, “Lisa says”.

My claim of this being a weekly occurrence is no hyperbole either; put the words “Lisa slams” in a search engine and you’ll be presented with pages of results referencing Wilkinson. It’s a similar tale for “Lisa fires up“. Obviously the headline writers’ lack of originality and access to a thesaurus is not Lisa’s fault, but it helpfully presents us with an easy opportunity to check her consistency and prescience…..

The latest “Lisa slams” is regarding the decision by several Australian health authorities to halt elective surgeries because, well, for the same reason everything from having a cup of coffee, educating your children, buying a decent cut of meat, burying your deceased parent, getting married to visiting Machu Pichu, is currently an utter pain in the arse or a shit experience; der ‘rona.

We can agree with Lisa, it would be great if the healthcare system was a little more focused on those with decades of life in front of them as well as protecting those most at risk from Kung Flu who, as we should all know by now, are mainly in their late 80s or have shown an ability to constantly avoid the salad option in Maccas for decades.

With our common ground confirmed, let’s take a look at some of Lisa’s recent topics of “slamming” or “firing up”;

Exhibit 1 – December 2021, Lisa slams not being in lockdown yet again.

Exhibit 2 – August 2021, Lisa slams not having a “hard” lockdown earlier in the year.

Exhibit 3 – August 2021, Lisa slams apologises to the entire State of Victoria on behalf of New South Wales’ residents because we didn’t lock down “properly” (not that we were consulted about our opinion in advance.)

Bill’s Opinion

What a fucking great job it is being Lisa Wilkinson; you get to give a monologue to camera once a week, complaining in your side-of-mouth idiom about whatever it is your PR people think will resonate with the viewers, safe in the knowledge you’ll never put yourself in the situation where anyone can take you to task about your previous opinions and predictions.

In the real world, life is a little less precise, a smidgen more complicated, and not as black and white. This may come as a shock to those zero covid, lock us down hard cheeleaders, but life is a series of difficult to balance trade offs. You close down one important section of the economy and society, you discover unintended consequences appear somewhere else. Which, in Lisa slams thinking, looks a little like, “Lock us down NOW! Wait, hospitals have stopped treating patients?

Anyone who still believes, like Lisa slams did until at least last month, that there’s little or no consequence to lockdowns, has proven to us all they are not capable of thinking and acting as a grown up.