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LASHING: John Pilger pays out on Rudd, Gawenda, Manne, America

johnpilger Famous expatriate journalist and war on terror critic John Pilger was in fighting form at the Melbourne Writers Festival over the weekend when he launched a scathing attack on the Prime Minister and an assault on the credibility of The Age newspaper’s former editor Michael Gawenda and leading academic Professor Robert Manne.

“Iraq is a holocaust; no one is speaking out. [PM Kevin ] Rudd is lying about Iraq. Afghanistan is a PR war to make the US feel good about 9/11 and the fact that Osama Bin Laden got away,” Mr Pilger said.

He then labelled as stupidity Mr Rudd’s praise of the virtues of military service.

There was a 20 minute delay caused by a mistake in the seating plan by festival organisers, but Mr Pilger’s well attended talk eventually got underway.

Mr Pilger was speaking on the topic of “silence of writers” and accused both Mr Gawenda and Professor Manne of character assassinations and hatchet jobs.

Mr Pilger was incensed by Mr Gawenda’s criticism of British investigative journalist Nick Davies and of Professor Manne’s article on Australian reporter Wilfred Burchett a controversial character during the Cold War period.

“These gatekeepers haven’t recovered from the cold war,” he said. Mr Pilger then directed the audience to go to Professor Manne’s article on the web.

Mr Gawenda, a respected Walkley award winning journalist and former Editor of The Age, wrote a review of British journalist Nick Davies’ book, Flat Earth News, in which he revealed:

“[…In 1995…during a short stint with The Age] Davies had a big scoop. He had managed to get hold of a letter signed by seven doctors who said they favoured voluntary euthanasia…The letter was cleverly constructed so that none of the doctors individually admitted to having helped patients die…

He adds:

“Oh, by the way, that scoop that Davies came up with shortly after he arrived at The Age…Well, Davies actually drafted that letter and took it to the doctors who signed it. Is there something wrong with that, the journalist as participant in a story? You decide.”

Mr Pilger also attacked both the previous Howard government and current one over its handling of intervention in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.
As a parting shot to his audience, he warned : “liberal democracy was moving to corporate dictatorship.”


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  1. You should read the excellent book the Exile a story on the life of Wilfred Burchett and the personal cost he paid for speaking out about the truth and false lies spun out from the USA.

    Yes I agree with Pilga, The Age was very much heading in a down hill direction under ‘gawky’ Gawenda.

    Hold it is not the Age a sponsor of the festival.

    Posted by The Exile | August 25, 2008, 22:04
  2. Pilger is a supporter of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. In May 2007 he co-signed and put forward a letter supporting the refusal of the government of Venezuela to renew the broadcasting licence of Venezuela’s largest television network Radio Caracas Televisión, as they openly supported a 2002 coup attempt against the democratically elected government. Pilger and other signatories suggest that if the BBC or ITV used their news broadcasts to publicly support a coup against the British government, they would suffer similar consequences. Other groups, such as Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists, have described the RCTV decision as an effort to stifle freedom of expression.

    Posted by Pilged | August 26, 2008, 9:42


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