February 23, 2004


Because he canít jump at all these days -- the massive force of his landing would induce a catastrophic spinal compression, and possibly one or two tsunamis -- Phillip Adams is obsessed with this forbidden activity. Here he is on Saturday:

When America says "Jump", our major parties reply, "How high?"

And last October:

So what happens when George W. Bush orders us to jump? If we say "How high?" we'll have to deal with the consequences.

And last March:

"How high?" we ask, even before Bush orders us to jump.

Regarding Adams, Iíve recently enjoyed an entertaining e-mail exchange with Media Watch executive producer Peter McEvoy. Why, I asked, was MW not interested in Phillipís plastic turkey fantasy? McEvoy replied:

According to Piers Akerman you're a journalist.

Why don't you do the work to investigate this turkey yourself, and publish the results in your column?

Apparently MW only investigates conservative columnists. It might be easier for all concerned if McEvoy were to supply us with a list of potential Adams offences that would attract his programís attention; recycling US columns, inventing quotes, distorting interviews, and telling turkey lies obviously doesnít cut it. What does he have to do, Peter? Change his name to Janet? Murder your family? Vote for John Howard?

Posted by Tim Blair at February 23, 2004 01:22 AM

Vote for John Howard?

Whoa there, that's crazy talk! Let's end the list with the gentler offense of murder.

Posted by: Sortelli at February 23, 2004 at 06:26 AM

Don't worry, Tim, David and Peter will get around to it in the next show. For sure.

Posted by: superboot at February 23, 2004 at 06:30 AM

I think so too, superboot. They seem to be such nice evenhanded young men.

Posted by: Kate at February 23, 2004 at 06:39 AM

I've been a defender of Media Watch on many occasions (even on this blog), but I have not been impressed with Peter McEvoy's handling of criticism lately.

The "fake turkey" meme is a perfect story for Media Watch: how a falsehood originates, how it spreads through the media, and how it taints analysis and commentary.

Phillip Adams' use of the "fake turkey" meme fits into to this general pattern, but his usage should not be the primary focus of criticism. Looked at in isolation, he's repeating urban myth, and while it's always fun to snicker at the latest fool who fools for such myths, it's not really an issue that's going to persuade Media Watch (for example, Media Watch did not comment on favoured target Janet Albrechtsen when she repeated a Norman Schwarzkopf urban myth a few years ago).

Instead, those clamouring for Media Watch to pursue Adams for turkey contrariness would have more success IMHO if they framed the issue as one of meme propogation through the media (with Adams, Ramsay, etc as a textbook examples) rather than an isolated attack on Adams.

In any case, I'm sure Peter McEvoy's challenge to Tim to "investigate this turkey yourself, and publish the results in your column" will be suitably obliged. Looking forward to a Media Watch smackdown in Wednesday's column, Tim.

Posted by: Jethro at February 23, 2004 at 09:57 AM
...the latest fool who fools for such myths...

Ooops. That should be "...the latest fool who falls for such myths...". More fool me :-)

Posted by: Jethro at February 23, 2004 at 10:00 AM

Tim has been investigating the plastic turkey ever since not long after Thanksgiving. An awful lot on this fowl meme can be found in the archive of the Unforgettable Month at Unforgettable Month at http://timblair.spleenville.com/archives/2003_12.php.

For Tim Blair to squeeze all the plastic turkey lore & lore about said lore into one column would be a feat of concision to drive James M. Cain mad with envy.

Posted by: ForNow at February 23, 2004 at 10:57 AM

Oh I messed up the link. Sorry. The Unforgettable Month:


Posted by: ForNow at February 23, 2004 at 10:58 AM

Could it be that even though our Tim is all clucky about this turkey, nobody else gives a hoot?

Stop brooding, Tim. These days it's a bit like you've got all your eggs in one basket, journalistically speaking.

Is this symptomatic of the right wing argument these days? A half baked turkey? We start with loony lefties saying the fake turkey is symptomatic of the fake case for the war (which is a silly, albeit quite irresistible, analogy), and we end up with loony righties saying that because the turkey was real, the arguments of the left are shot to ribbons....Hello?

And what the hell is a meme, by the way? Anyone?

Posted by: Nemesis at February 23, 2004 at 12:20 PM

Ah, Nemesis, I am SO glad you asked. Allow me to elucidate, for you see, the Internet is a
great well-spring of information which I assume, excluding the possibility that you transmit your
wisdom to this blog with your powerful brain waves alone, that you have access to.

For example, you can find the answer to your questions in the following manner: Please point
your browser to the site www.dictionary.com and look for the definition of "meme". I'm sure
that this tip will open a door in your mind to the possibility that a great deal of other information
can be found via the Internet, directly and independently. A person possessed of common
sense and pragmatism, such as yourself, will instantly be able to grasp the utility of such a
resource. Enjoy.

P.S. The anti-war crowd hangs on to the plastic turkey meme because they, like people in
Europe who must stand over holes in the bathroom floor, have very little to go on.

Posted by: Sortelli at February 23, 2004 at 12:32 PM

"And what the hell is a meme, by the way? Anyone?"

Get your dictionary out and have a look, wonko.

Posted by: Kitney at February 23, 2004 at 12:33 PM


No entry found for wonko.

Did you mean wonk?

wonk wonky wink wo nko wo-nko won ko won-ko winco wank wong wonks wango wonca wonkier wook winker winkey wino enko

Posted by: Sortelli at February 23, 2004 at 12:54 PM

All he says is recyled (same lot of hot air). Well at least his support of land rights is mirrored in his own convictions after he tried to claim the entirety of an old dunny lane shared with next door. Just put up a gate and claim it was his! Obviously Terra Nullius.

Posted by: Mark Rintoule at February 23, 2004 at 01:25 PM

Who supports land rights? And why is this relevant?

Is this in fact a Whole New Meme?

Posted by: Nemesis at February 23, 2004 at 01:31 PM

Nemesis is right about meme.

It's just one of those useless words whose only value is that it is current unlike paradigm and a bunch of other post-modern jargon.

Posted by: ilibcc at February 23, 2004 at 01:35 PM

Ah well, you know they say: the more things change, more they stay the meme.

Posted by: Mimesis at February 23, 2004 at 01:45 PM

I like McEvoy's little put down: "According to Piers Ackerman you're a journalist."

Obviously not a real journalist.

Posted by: Pedro at February 23, 2004 at 01:52 PM

Rather than having intermittent mentions of media malpractice in various people's columns, why not have a tv station or newspaper set up an alternative media watch?

Posted by: Andjam at February 23, 2004 at 02:34 PM

Who supports land rights? And why is this relevant?

I knew what Mark said sounded familiar, but I'm sure a testament to Phillip Adam's hypocrisy (from Mark Latham no less) would not be relevant to a discussion of Phillip Adams at all. Let's get back to the important stuff... Ahem...

[memesis]Pointing out the flaws in the opinions expressed by leftist loons is tiresome, for those flaws should be ignored. Stop reminding us that leftist commentators distort, deceive, and build their cases on fabrications; because the only lies that matter are the ones based on universally accepted intelligence! [/memesis]

Posted by: Sortelli at February 23, 2004 at 02:49 PM

Is that what you've been reduced to, Nemesis? "Stop pointing out how lefties can't even be right about plastic turkeys! Whaa!"

Posted by: John Nowak at February 23, 2004 at 03:37 PM

Sortelli - I would love to engage you in a battle of wits, but in all conscience I can't attack an unarmed man.

*tips cap to WSC*

Posted by: Nemesis at February 23, 2004 at 03:46 PM

(whispers) "Walk away. Just ignore them"

Posted by: Sortelli at February 23, 2004 at 04:08 PM

Faulting the president for spending time with troop and displaying a traditional trophy turkey and taking a pictures of a holiday celebration.

I know, taking pictures on holidays is distasteful for some. We'll have to consider banning cameras at our family dinner this thanksgiving and christmas.

Posted by: aaron at February 23, 2004 at 04:10 PM

Dude, just stop celebrating all together.

Posted by: Sortelli at February 23, 2004 at 04:16 PM

Re: Adams
I find it absolutely amazing that we have our own Jayson Blair affair right here in Australia and no one seems excited about it. Here we have a columnist who has been accused on many, many occasions of cheating and copying other peoples'work and is still employed at the same newspaper (The Ausralian)which by now is known by the ediiors and the ultimate owner of the newspaper. How can this be allowed to go on? If I recall the Jayson Blair affair caused one chief and senior editor to resign in disgrace. This is now ( if the accusations are correct) an abomination. Whay aren't we demanding the head of the editor for allowing this to go on- again if it is accurate?

Posted by: joe cambria at February 23, 2004 at 07:09 PM

Joe my man! caught you slumming at Tim's blog.

Posted by: mike rogers at February 23, 2004 at 09:06 PM

Well, MediaWatch just did do a story on Phillip Adams. Not the "fake turkey" story, but the misrepresentation of the George Bush speech.

And Professor Bunyip got a mention.

Posted by: Jethro at February 23, 2004 at 09:33 PM