Sweetness & Light

What Am I Bid For Tony Jones?

trioli IIJoy Reid, a popular leftist host at the unaccountably popular MSNBC US cable network, recently found herself in a spot of trouble. Various individuals had happened upon a website authored by Reid from 2005 to 2007 or so and discovered a number of extreme and potentially career-damaging items. One piece, for example, suggested that former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was on to something when he urged that the “Zionist regime” of Israel be relocated in Europe.

Other items promoted ridiculous 9/11 conspiracy theories and praised as “one hell of idea” the notion that conservative female commentators Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter be sent to Iraq and abandoned in a public square. Even for MSNBC, these sentiments were more than slightly worrying.

Reid’s initial response was to claim her old website had been hacked by enemies out to discredit her. This didn’t make a great deal of sense, given that she also claimed her site was hacked back in the day, when Reid was a nobody. Why would anyone bother?

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So Reid changed her story, dropping her hacking allegations and instead blaming her own youthful zeal. “There are things I deeply regret and am embarrassed by, things I would have said differently and issues where my position has changed,” Reid declared in a statement. “Today I’m sincerely apologizing again. I’m sorry for the collateral damage and pain this is causing individuals and communities caught in the crossfire.”

Unsurprisingly, because the rules are different for leftists, Reid’s bosses accepted this. “Some of the things written by Joy on her old blog are obviously hateful and hurtful,” MSNBC said. “They are not reflective of the colleague and friend we have known at MSNBC for the past seven years. Joy has apologized publicly and privately and said she has grown and evolved in the many years since.”

She has “grown and evolved”. There are shades here of Julia Gillard’s 2007 defence following revelations of her romantic entanglement with dodgy union boss Bruce Morton Wilson. “These matters happened between twelve and fifteen years ago,” Gillard, then only a few weeks away from becoming Australia’s deputy prime minister, said. “I was young and naive.”

In fact, Gillard was in her early thirties and working as a union lawyer. Similarly, Reid was thirty-seven prior to the commencement of her growth and evolution. Few people took Gillard’s excuse seriously, and fewer still—outside of her bosses—are backing Reid, including some of her co-workers. “Everyone in the building is laughing at the idea that it was a hacker,” one MSNBC staffer told the Daily Beast. “It’s just a joke,” said another.

I felt likewise inclined, until I realised my own views had profoundly changed since I too was a gullible, wide-eyed adolescent in my late thirties. Back then, I believed that the ABC should be privatised. Simply sell the billion-dollar-per-year national broadcaster’s various television and radio stations to the highest approved bidders and allow market realities to create a new media landscape.

In the many years since, my opinion has grown and evolved. The ABC, I now understand, is not able to be saved through privatisation. It is beyond salvation. Instead, it should be sold at auction. And not just any ordinary auction.

I propose that the ABC be sold in the biggest and longest auction ever held, with all takings to be held in a high-interest account for eventual dispersal to Australians who have paid tax for a minimum of ten years.

(ABC employees would be exempt from any reimbursements, because they don’t so much pay tax as recycle the taxes already paid by other people.)

Ideally, it might work something like this. Whichever auction house—or eBay, for that matter—gets the contract, they begin by auctioning the ABC’s least-valuable assets one item at a time, with bidding open for a duration of one day per item.

The first bids could be for a pencil.

Eventually, a few months and four or five dollars later, we might move up to more substantial office equipment: chairs, desks, lamps and so on. Next, laptops, telephones and other electronica. What with the ABC’s massive holdings nationwide, it could be years before the costume and makeup departments are raided.

The reason for this absurdly drawn-out process is that it would be fun. After all, the ABC has enjoyed tormenting right-thinking Australians at our expense for decades. It’s only fair we get to enjoy a slow dismantling. Why, the ABC could even be allowed to continue functioning as it slowly vanishes.

Imagine Q&A reduced to just Q, with no desk, a single camera and Tony Jones interviewing his wife and the two remaining Radio National presenters.

jonesFifty cents for the glass, compere thrown in for free.

A small-minded, petty or vindictive person might be moved to dismantle all items prior to auction and sell them piece by piece, thereby extending the sales process for even longer. A single laptop could yield hundreds of components. But I am not that person.

Which brings me to the staff. Any existing ABC contracts would be up for grabs, meaning that successful bidders could acquire the services of, say, Juanita Phillips or Michael Rowland. They could prove very useful around the house, for light duties, anyway. You wouldn’t really expect much of Juanita if you set her to washing the HiLux or clearing the gutters.

Once everything within had been sold, the ABC’s real estate would hit the market. That massive monument to monothink in Sydney’s Ultimo, the ABC’s taxpayer Fundestag, must be worth tens of billions just by itself. The lobby alone could fit fifty apartments, all of them containing people more productive than any of the site’s current occupants, and statistically far less likely to vote Greens.

But I repeat myself.

A final note, in case the ABC in response to this launches another of its sad attempts at career destruction.

I didn’t write any of the above.

The page was hacked.

THOSE OF us in the older-than-fifty set, unless we’re employed by the police or armed forces, don’t have a great role to play in the war against terror.

We’re mostly just target practice on time delay, which is also the case with Western folk of all categories. Yet the fifty-plus demographic is also prevented, due to basic age, strength and mobility issues, from even hooking into any attackers if the opportunity should so present. The average knife-carrying or gun-toting terrorist type tends to be young, and it requires a young opponent to take them on.

It’s a young person’s caper, your spontaneous civilian-level counter-terrorist work. Happily, youngsters frequently step up for duty. Probably the most celebrated such incident occurred on the very first day of the modern Islamic terror era, when thirty-two-year-old Todd Beamer, thirty-one-year-old Mark Bingham, thirty-one-year-old Jeremy Glick and relative old-timer thirty-eight-year-old Thomas Burnett combined with numerous other passengers on September 11, 2001, to force United Airlines Flight 93 into a crash rather than let it be flown into the White House.

In numerous cases since, mostly young civilians—in France, the UK and the US—have intervened when communities were threatened with deadly terrorist peril. My personal favourite of these cases was Glasgow Airport baggage handler John Smeaton’s response to a 2007 terrorist ramming attack.

On a cigarette break when he heard multiple explosions, Smeaton rushed towards the chaos, kicking one terrorist in the groin and dragging to safety an injured fellow who had also intervened. Smeaton’s engaging accent and charming ways saw him become a worldwide hit. “If any more extremists are still wanting to rise up and start trouble, know this: We’ll rise right back up against you,” the then-thirty-year-old said in one subsequent interview. “New York, Madrid, London, Paisley … we’re all in this together and make no mistake, none of us will hold back from putting the boot in.”

A friend in his mid-fifties may have been dwelling on these matters recently when our otherwise unremarkable conversation took an odd turn. More or less out of the blue, my friend mentioned that—should he ever find himself in a situation demanding such a response—he would sacrifice his life if that sacrifice would save others.

He happens to be extremely fit for someone of his age, but he also knows that in a confrontation with someone decades younger he’s bound to lose on reflexes and agility. He stands even less of a chance if the attacker is armed. But he also knows that an agent of mayhem in a standoff may create the chance for others to either co-ordinate their own attack or to escape.

My friend had obviously invested some considerable thought in this. He has a wonderful family, a soaring career, a big house and everything else associated with modern success. And he is also coldly realistic. His time on the earth has been long (by historic standards) and happy (by any standards). If yielding his life at this point is for the greater good, he’s up for it.

Just something to think about there. Age is no barrier to achievement.


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