Peter van Onselen, Channel 10 network political editor and one of the finest, fairest and most balanced professors of politics this country has ever produced, has surged into contention for The Bug‘s uncoveted Media Glass House Arse-Licker award for July.
Despite the month being only half over, van Onselen must surely now be looking a hot favourite to hoist aloft the trophy at month’s end – and it’s all due to his body of work across various platforms on just one day – July 12.
That was when van Onselen and a number of other MSM political writers and commentators first realised how damaging to Prime Minister Scott Morrison was the news that former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had responded to requests from senior bizoids and phoned Pfizer chief Albert Bourla to see whether vaccine supplies contracted for 2021 could be sped up.
It left Morrison looking very much like a bloke who doesn’t hold a phone, mate, so van Onselen and others all did their best to ridicule Rudd and mothball Morrison from criticism.
And the way they did that? By a patently absurd yet deliberate misinterpretation of Pfizer’s statement over the issue.
Here are the key parts of what Pfizer said: “Recent media reports suggesting that any third party or individual has had any role in contractual agreements reached between Pfizer and the Australian government are inaccurate.
“The only two parties involved in these agreements are Pfizer and the Australian government.
How van Onselen and others could extrapolate any of that into a suggestion that Rudd’s phone call did no good at all makes little logical sense.
But Morrison needed help and on July 12, Van Onselen tweeted a summary of what Pfizer said and there was a silent yet somehow quite audible “na na na naaarr naaah” rebuke to Rudd in that post.
And yet it’s a total nonsense. No-one was disputing or disagreeing with what Pfizer said. Talk about stating the bleeding obvious.
But that did not deter van Onselen, whose best work was later that day on 10 Network news. With vision of Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull as background, van Onselen began: “Two former prime ministers left red in the face…”
Rudd, for seeming to take credit for any bring-forward of Pfizer vaccine supplies, and Turnbull for suggesting that as well. Read Rudd’s letter fairly without the benefit of a professorship in politics and Rudd did no such thing. Hence van Onselen’s “seems” weasel word.
van Onselen thundered: “Recent media reports suggesting that any third party or individual has had any role in contractual agreements between Pfizer and the Australian government are incorrect.
“The only two parties involved in these agreements are Pfizer and the Australian government.”
In another tweet promoting his Network 10 segment (at top), van Onselen said Pfizer had denied that Rudd’s intervention had any effect at all.
Take that, Kevin 07! Na na na naaarr naaah!
Yet Rudd made it clear in his letter he was acting in his private capacity as an Australian citizen. The letter also made it clear that any change in the supply rollout would require a fresh contractual approach from the Australian government.
van Onselen had no interest whatsoever in telling his viewers that.
Sadly, he and other MSM political hacks – and equally sadly, not just Newscorpse propagandists – had a far more important job to do.
To agree wholeheartedly with Morrison and Health Minister Hunt’s messages giving Rudd absolutely no credit at all for his intervention.