ANDREW BOLT has broken his silence, apparently having made peace with News Ltd brass. He expresses his gratitude for the permission, finally, to say his piece, while also suggesting by inference that John Hartigan was out of line in yanking Glenn Milne’s column. There are mentions of the threats, uttered or implied, hanging over the company and, almost as a form of punctuation in the early paragraphs of his post, repeated assertions that neither he nor News Ltd believe Gillard guilty of tickling the union till. Never that, good heavens no! It is all a question of what the affair with the light-fingered Bruce Wilson says of Gillard’s judgment then, and what her tolerance for the lightly-trousered Craig Thomson says about it now – a perspective that must have soothed News Ltd’s anxious lawyers.
Only a clairvoyant will know if Bolt exercised a diplomatic restraint in addressing his employer’s capitulation to Theodora with a telephone, to recast one of Gough Whitlam’s better lines, but if that is the case he need feel no guilt, because what he has done is actually quite remarkable. How many newsroom types have ever threatened to quit over a matter of principle? The brave Leunig, so beloved of those who hate Bolt, certainly did nothing of the kind when the Age refused to publish his foul equation of Israel with Nazi Germany. If readers can name any ink-stained martyrs for principle, please do so in comments.
And there is something else about Bolt’s column today, a little unintended irony in his mention of Gillard having “exploited Britain's News of the World phone hacking scandal to threaten News Limited with inquiries that might force it to sell some of its papers”, an assault that has never seen the company “so politically vulnerable”.
Well, what if News Ltd did not own so many papers? Gillard would have had to spend many more sixpences calling many more editors and publishers to suppress both the original column and any hostile reporting in rival publications of her gagging reflex. Labor and the Greens want News Ltd. broken up because they believe a fragmented empire will be easier to intimidate and control. As has been the case with so many of their other policies and predictions, they could be in for a shock if that dream is realised.