Andrew Bolt: the measure of a man

A Beautiful Mind?

If you’ve never taken much of a look at Andrew Bolt’s columns in the Herald Sun, you may wonder which category of columnist he falls into. Is his the anger of a sharp mind frequently impatient with the foolishness of those around him – Melbourne’s own Tom Wolfe? Or is all the attitude just a device to fill the columns quickly? I for one am not a reader of his columns and simply did not know that much about him until today.

Follow this link to an Andrew Bolt blog post to have your questions answered.

Everything you need to know is right there. Bolt takes a stick to work by Amy King and Andrew Leigh. “The results tended to be better for Labor politicians than Liberal,” he sniffs. He intimates that Leigh is a post-modern socialist ideologue fool and King all of that and a separatist feminist to boot. He hoes into their methodology. He remarks snidely about their choice of someone of Middle Eastern descent on a panel used in the research. And he posts pictures of them both with the declaration “As they judge, let them be judged”, inviting readers to comment on their appearance.

Except that it all falls apart for Bolt.

The pictures show two good-looking, happy young people – at least once Bolt removes a picture of someone else which he accidentally posted. (Amy King is actually a rolled-gold stunner. But this is not that sort of blog.) Commenters start noticing that King has just won a Rhodes Scholarship … so maybe not quite a debauched layabout Trotskyite after all. Someone points out that the choice of methodology is explained in the paper, at length, and seems to make sense. Someone else again notes that some of Leigh’s research produces the sorts of results that Bolt would normally cheer about – in other words, Leigh’s the very opposite of a knee-jerk ideologue. Yet another commenter asks whether it is really that terrible to have Australians of Middle Eastern descent involved in social science panels.

And Andrew Leigh himself makes the most gracious comment in the entire thread, noting that “we can hardly complain at being rated ourselves”. He also points out, with remarkable gentleness, that Bolt has one of the paper’s results 100% arse-about. The paper actually suggests Liberals are on average prettier than ALP candidates.

Bolt responds to this with an update in which he apologises for “an error” (i.e. he apologises for getting one of the study’s results exactly wrong) without explaining what the error is.

Take a look for yourself. When you have finished, you will know a little more about the decency of Andrew Leigh. And you will have the full measure of Andrew Bolt.

About David Walker

David Walker runs editorial consultancy Shorewalker DMS (shorewalker.net), editing and advising business and government on reports and other editorial content. David has previously edited Acuity magazine and the award-winning INTHEBLACK business magazine, been chief operating officer of online publisher WorkDay Media, held policy and communications roles at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia and the Business Council of Australia and run the website for online finance start-up eChoice. He has qualifications in law and corporate finance. He has written on economics, business and public policy from Melbourne, Adelaide and the Canberra Press Gallery.
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Kim
Kim
14 years ago

Trackback:

http://larvatusprodeo.net/2006/12/12/the-iraqi-peoples-struggle-for-freedom/

And how many times have we heard the claim in MSM vs. bloggers debates that journalists are rigorous fact checkers whereas bloggers just write biassed tosh and twist the facts? It seems that in the case of Bolt vs. Leigh, the boot is very much on the other foot.

Does News exercise any sort of quality control over Bolt’s ravings? Does Bolt consider himself to be a professional?

Mark Bahnisch
14 years ago

Yes, it was a characteristically gracious response by Andrew.

If there was any justice in the world, this sort of pontificating would really put an end to any credibility Bolt has in his frequent criticisms of ARC research grants.

Nicholas Gruen
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Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
14 years ago

Yes, nice post DW. I’d happened upon Bolt’s piece – via Andrew’s blog and offered my condolences. It’s bloody aweful what’s going on.

saint
14 years ago

Two words: Pandagate. Freakanomics.

One could be a best seller.

Christine Keeler
Christine Keeler
14 years ago

And how many times have we heard the claim in MSM vs. bloggers debates that journalists are rigorous fact checkers whereas bloggers just write biassed tosh and twist the facts? It seems that in the case of Bolt vs. Leigh, the boot is very much on the other foot.

Indeed Kim. In fact we need look no further than Piers Ackwit, “one of the nation’s most respected journalists,” apparently.

2006 has to go down as one of his bumper years. Not content with stuffing up a fairly straightforward yarn about Playschool, he later lands his employer with a $200,000 bill (plus costs) for wrting a story about a member of the NRMA board based on nothing other than his own fervid imagination.

And he’s still got a job. Publishing a whole two columns a week. How does this work exactly?

gilmae
14 years ago

Christine: Because he and Andrew Bolt – and Margo Kingston in her day – are trolls and successful ones. They write columns that 99% of the time you know you will agree or disagree with before you even get to the op-ed pages yet you won’t be able to stop yourself reading them. Look at Boltwatch – I wonder how many Bolt columns he read, knowing full well he would hate the contents, before he finally got agitated enough to start a webpage dedicated to giving Bolt the attention he craves. The Herald Sun and the Telegraph don’t care if you loathe them or love them, because by the time you have read the column either to agree or disagree with it, you’ve already given News Ltd your money, or eyeballs in the case of the online editions.

Patrick
Patrick
14 years ago

I quite like both Andrews. I have a lot of respect for Andrew Leigh, and I suspect that he is much less disturbed by the comments from Andrew Bolt than most of you!

As with his reaction to Andrew Bolt, it is to his credit. Not, unfortunately, yours :)

derrida derider
derrida derider
14 years ago

Patrick, just what is discreditable about this post? And what on earth is creditable about Bolt’s behaviour?

gilmae, of course, is spot on. You don’t sell tabloids by putting forth well-reasoned, moderate and thoughtful views. You have to go to extremes, which generally means determinedly disregarding any inconvenient facts. I just wish, for amusement, that the Tele would hire a thoroughgoing Trot columnist.

Gummo Trotsky
14 years ago

Is [Bolt’s] the anger of a sharp mind frequently impatient with the foolishness of those around him – Melbourne’s own Tom Wolfe?

More of an anti-Wolfe I’d say – the anger of a dull mind frequently impatient with the perspicacity of those around him.

Mark Bahnisch
14 years ago

I just wish, for amusement, that the Tele would hire a thoroughgoing Trot columnist.

Could the next blogger to MSM transition be from Leftwrites?

They certainly accord the Murdoch press more influence on election results than political scientists are prepared to!

http://www.leftwrites.net/2006/12/04/murdoch-tears-down-labor-leader/#comment-19722

On then other hand, the post anti-capitalism rally session down at the pub “I’ll shout the bar with the dosh I’ve taken from the bosses’ rag” might not go all that well…

Ken Parish
Admin
Ken Parish(@ken-parish)
14 years ago

I’ve mentally resolved not to link LeftWrites posts on Missing Link again unless they’re especially compelling, because it just seems to attract vexatious commenters who are effectively the hard left equivalents of Graeme Bird (though not as abusive). We need some ingenious programmer to invent the cyberspace equivalent of the rabbitproof fence.

Patrick
Patrick
14 years ago

Patrick, just what is discreditable about this post? And what on earth is creditable about Bolt’s behaviour?

Partly the fact that I think you could say the same about any number of columnists from the opposite perspective, but mainly that I think the reaction is about as disproportionate as the action[sic].

I just wish, for amusement, that the Tele would hire a thoroughgoing Trot columnist.

They probably figure that the Age demonstrates that this wouldn’t improve their circulation figures.

Amused
Amused
14 years ago

Andrew Bolt is a panty waist cry baby who cannot get over the fact that he is just dumb. He takes out his grievances about being laughed at school for being a stupid bully boy, on anybody he thinks he might be secretly laughing at him. That means he hates anybody he thinks is smarter than him, which includes the majority of the rest of the world, and just about all lefties. Boo Hoo bully boy bolt and the silly billies that think he has anything to say at all.

derrida derider
derrida derider
14 years ago

Oh, I see Patrick. Bolt is to be excused his display of wilful ignorance and persistent dishonesty because you believe columnists you disagree with are also ignorant and dishonest.

You clearly have a fine capacity for moral reasoning – not.

Patrick
Patrick
14 years ago

I’m sorry, DD, I only responded to the first question – I forgot the second!

In response to the second, I don’t think there is anything very creditable about Bolt’s behaviour as such. For what it is worth I don’t really believe he is wilfully dishonest, persistently ignorant, or any permutation thereof either. I don’t even admire him in any sense of the word, I don’t really like his writing style and I frequently disagree with his conclusions. But for all that, I would rather read him than almost any Age columnist.

It is just a matter of taste, or so I think – perhaps if I was more morally sensitive I would think differently, but as far as I am concerned you can stand reading the SMH which I can’t and vice versa with respect of Bolt. But my point about the post in my response to your first question was not really justification of Bolt.