May 10, 2004


If Col Allan was Margo Kingstonís editor ...

COL sits in his office, idly scanning the copy for tomorrowís op-ed pages. His blank expression suddenly changes to a scowl. He reaches for the telephone.

COL: Sally? Could you tell Margo Kingston to pay me a friendly visit, please? Thank you, sweetheart.

Thirty minutes later, MARGO walks into COLís office. Still reading, he doesnít look up.

COL: Margo! Your charming 120-decibel gum-chewing announces your arrival. Please, take a seat.

MARGO: I hope this wonít take long. Iíve got an important Robert Bosler piece to put online with little or no editing.

COL: Who? Oh, yes. Bosler. Then I wonít waste too much of your time. Itís about your column for tomorrow, Margo. Iím not sure about this intro: "John Howard is a weak man."

MARGO: Yeah. So?

COL: By all means, call him weak. By all means! Iíve called him worse. But do you have anything to support that line? (COL hands MARGO a clipping from the Sydney Morning Herald) Howardís decision to join the invasion of Iraq was unpopular. You think that makes him weak?

MARGO: Itís an opinion piece. Thatís my opinion!

COL: Margo, it might also be your opinion that John Howard is an octopus. But unless youíve got pictures showing him waving his tentacles and eating live crabs, that opinion isnít worth running in a newspaper people pay money for. People donít care what you think. They buy newspapers for information, not for ...

MARGO: But Iím giving them information! Look, Iíve got all the details from the 60 Minutes broadcast.

COL: It was 60 Minutes II, Margo. A different program.

MARGO: (puzzled) Thereís a 60 Minutes II now?

COL: And what does this mean: "Now that we know what the Americans do to prisoners, the Australian Government says nothing. Nothing." For fuckís sake, Margo ... (COL slides another clipping towards the uncomfortable columnist) Read it out loud, Margo. Read what the Prime Minister didnít have to say.

MARGO: Ummm ... (glances through the article, finally locating the PMís words) "I condemn it unconditionally and any mistreatment should be condemned."

COL: Right. Now, does that sound like somebody saying "nothing"?

MARGO: Well, itís kind of saying nothing, because heís really saying that ...

COL: (slams his desk with both fists) FUCKING BULLSHIT! You want to attack Howard? Go right ahead, but arm yourself with some facts before you expose you, me, and this newspaper to absolute fucking ridicule! (COL smashes wildly at his telephone keypad.) SALLY! BRING ME A CIGARETTE! Margo, if I want to read opinions like this, Iíll read -- whatís it called -- Indo Media, or whatever its name is. Iím not going to ask civilised human beings to pay money for this load of ...

MARGO: Col, Indymedia is a crucial and idealistic venue for alternative opinions on the current global crisis.

COL: (long pause) Really. (Another long pause, extended by Sallyís arrival with a cigarette) And what do you think the idealists at Indymedia would think of this: "Imagine if Tony Blair and Howard had had the courage to say no to an idiot President advised by mad ideologues like Rumsfeld."

MARGO: I think theyíd support my brave stand against the Yank's government-military hegemony.

COL: That's Yanks', Margo. (COL hits redial) Sally? Call Indymedia. Tell them thereís an out-of-work columnist they might be interested in.

Posted by Tim Blair at May 10, 2004 06:24 PM

Classic, tim.

Posted by: Quentin George at May 10, 2004 at 06:31 PM

Excellent script - can't wait for the play to appear at the Ensemble.
Well done Tim!

Posted by: lawrie at May 10, 2004 at 06:52 PM

A superb read Tim.

PS: Allan's smarts are questioned by a bloke who wrote a book called I Don't Want to Go to Jail: A Good Novel?

Posted by: CurrencyLad at May 10, 2004 at 08:34 PM

Gold plated stuff mate.

Posted by: Scott Wickstein at May 10, 2004 at 09:14 PM

I sent an email to the SMH asking exactly what a political editor does because Margits increasingly hysterical ramblings have a real sameness about them. I assumed that all aspects of the political spectrum would be covered however she really is unwilling to discuss anything but Howard, Bush and Iraq.

Everyday its the same, although the indignation, hysteria and hyperbole gets ratcheted up.

If Howard wins again, I suspect that Margit will abandon Australia and emigrate to the workers paradise of Cuba, what else is a socialist to do!

Posted by: Nuffy at May 10, 2004 at 09:27 PM

Speaking of bad journalism, you'll never believe this -- the editor of the LA Times has delivered a speech about journalistic ethics! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Posted by: EvilPundit at May 10, 2004 at 09:43 PM

This ranks among the best posts you've ever done, Tim.

Posted by: Marty at May 10, 2004 at 09:51 PM

Now we know why Tim is acknowledge as being by far the best blogger in Australia, and amongst the world's best.

The man is a legend.

Posted by: Jimothy at May 10, 2004 at 11:28 PM

That is just fantastic!

Posted by: Gabor at May 10, 2004 at 11:50 PM

You tuk me owt orf kontekst. Want a bong?

Posted by: Margo Kigston at May 11, 2004 at 12:30 AM

You send Margo Kingston to this continent and I tell you right now, we'll let the Japanese *have* Port Darwin...

Posted by: Richard McEnroe at May 11, 2004 at 01:43 AM

Actually, I wish The Colonel was running the effort to rectify the Iraq prisoner abuse scandal. Instead, I just watched ABC's morning contribution: First Lady Laura Bush.

Now, you can say what you like about Laura Bush - I happen to think she is one of the most thoughtful and good looking FL's in a long time - but she is not exactly a hard ass.

DIANNE SAWYER: Well, Colonel, in view of the public relations disaster in Iraq involving the prison, what do you think should be done?

THE COLONEL: I don't think, I act. D'ya see the latest pictures of the dog and the prisoner? Well I'm gonna have worse than German Police Dogs nippin' at the asses of the uniformed bureaucrats that let this happen.

DS: You mean you're going to take a hard line?

TC: No, Dianne, nothing hard about it. It's easy. First I'm going to read them all the Army's principles of leadership. Then I'm going to allow them one minute of self-criticism. Then I'm going to relieve them all. Every one of them that escapes court martial goes to supervise motor pools and water purification facilities.

DS: No more Mr. Nice Guy?

TC: No wonder they call you a Talking Head. You've got the knack. You see, we are going to quit talking about how these MPs aren't representative of the American people. People are no damn good. No people. The only things that distiguish the United States and some other liberal democracies from the rest of humanity are their principles and leadership. We still have the principles - now I'm going to re-establish some goddam leadership.

DS: But...

TC: The interview is over, Dianne.

Posted by: Theodopoulos Pherecydes at May 11, 2004 at 01:50 AM

The SMH has editors? Who knew?

Posted by: George L. at May 11, 2004 at 02:35 AM

Oh please. I've been dabbling a bit in the left of recent times and now I know why. All this stuff in your blog is just plain silly. If you want to read sensible, original commentary, go to Web Diary. Play in the main game.

Posted by: margoworld at May 11, 2004 at 06:05 AM

Hahahaha! Good one, Margoworld.

Posted by: EvilPundit at May 11, 2004 at 10:08 AM

So good I had to add it to my own site.

Posted by: chip at May 11, 2004 at 12:51 PM

It's a winder anyine reads Tom Blaor's blig when there's a qualoty wirk loke WebDoary avaolable.

Posted by: Sortelli at May 11, 2004 at 02:53 PM

Even worse, COL could ask her to set her own blog up and find her own readers rather than rely on the site to drive her traffic. You could watch her sitemeter tip the high 10s at times.

Posted by: Simon at May 11, 2004 at 04:59 PM

that's why they call him Col Pot.

Posted by: steve at May 11, 2004 at 06:50 PM