Thursday, December 29, 2005

That Damned Liberal Media Part 3,325

From the Crikey email - Stephen Feneley, former Nine reporter writes:

I was working as Nine's correspondent in the US when Packer took the Nine Network back from Bond in 1990. While I didn't witness Kerry's return up close, I still felt the full force of it, all the way across the Pacific. The change of owernship occured not long after Iraq invaded Kuwait. In the first couple of weeks after the invasion I was pretty much able to report the Bush administration's response to the crisis as I saw it, filing reports that took a critical look at the history of the US/Iraq relationship.

My freedom to report the situation as I saw it came to an abrupt end once the US started amassing its troops in the Gulf which also coincinded with the resumption of the Packer reign and Willoughby. I was working out of CBS in Washington and had just filed a gently critical report on the US quest to get the Germans and Japanese to bankroll its Gulf adventure.

I got a phone call from a Nine news executive who issued me with what amount to the first ever editorial directive of a political flavour that I'd ever received in my time at the network. I remember it word for word. "You should not be seen to be saying anything critical of the US presence in the Gulf," the executive said.

From then on I was directed to focus less on the politics and more on the military build-up. My superiors were particularly interested in glowing profiles of apache helicopters, the M1 Abrams tank, and the Patriot missile batteries. They were not interested in anthing that questioned the effectiveness of any of this hardware. It was a very unhappy time. I'd gone from working for a great news service to the broadcasting equivalent of Boys' Own Annual, all in a matter of weeks.