June 29, 2004


Here’s the ABC’s Eleanor Hall in February 2003:

Well, if Australia does go to war against Iraq, there's little doubt at least some of the men and women now on their way to the Gulf will be injured or killed.

Isn't she lovely? And completely wrong. Yesterday, during an interview with Brigadier Peter Hutchinson, Eleanor sought to explain the failure of her prediction:

Now, despite the increasing violence recently and the violence that you say you'll see in the next month or so, there've been no Australian casualities so far. To what do you attribute that? Is it simply that we don't have a very large force in the country?

Hey, Eleanor; you knew our troop numbers last year. Back then, there was "little doubt" we'd committed sufficient troops to offer an impressive chance of death and pain. Hutchinson, Commander of the Australian forces in the Middle East, gently attempted to correct the hostile, imbalanced woman, only to face this follow-up question:

Why, then, are you so certain that there will be no casualties?

Read the entire transcript. Hutchinson never indicates any such certainty. Unlike Eleanor Hall, who months prior to conflict saw "little doubt" of looming Australian losses.

People are too polite to reporters.

(Via contributor J.F. Beck)

Posted by Tim Blair at June 29, 2004 06:21 AM

She has earned the coveted "Cheney Response". If she doesn't understand it, perhaps the esteemed Senator Leahy could explain.

Posted by: EddieP at June 29, 2004 at 08:45 AM

Since I am sheltered and lazy, could somebody help me clarify the Cheney response ? Was it:

1. F U

2. F Off

3. Shut the F Up


5. Other ____________

(sorry for being indirect, this is a Family Blog doncha know)

Posted by: Carl in N.H. at June 29, 2004 at 11:30 AM

Is there some "Dealing with asshole reporters 101" course that they send many of the military on?

Posted by: attila at June 29, 2004 at 11:32 AM

As I recall (via Drudge) it was a straight 'F U'.

Posted by: Robert Blair at June 29, 2004 at 11:32 AM

(sorry for being indirect, this is a Family Blog doncha know)


Posted by: Sortelli at June 29, 2004 at 11:33 AM

Attila, there are "media confrontation" courses for the military. Especially for senior officers. I've sat in on a couple of interviews (as a fly on the wall), and their "interrogation" techniques can be very manipulative.

In a leftoid sort of way, I mean.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at June 29, 2004 at 11:36 AM

That interview is a perfect example of why the media are loathed by the ADF.

Posted by: gaz at June 29, 2004 at 11:40 AM


I believe it was "Go F yourself".

Posted by: SpoogeDemon at June 29, 2004 at 11:44 AM

Carl, I am sheltered and lazy too, but that didn't prove an obstacle when I clearly heard on either Olberman or Scarborough (US cable TV news magazines) that the expletive used was the second on your list, i.e. FO. That may have been incorrect, but I remember it because it happens to be my personal favorite.

Posted by: Tim in NY at June 29, 2004 at 11:51 AM

On the other hand, it's great to hear someone so positive about Iraq, the people and the country's future. His optimism and commitment shine through, despite her manipulative questioning. He sounds a fine type of representative for Australia over there.

Posted by: Freddyboy at June 29, 2004 at 11:53 AM

I heard it was "go fuck yourself"

Posted by: Oktober at June 29, 2004 at 12:09 PM

What difference does the actual quote make, since Leahy didn't go F himself? Too bad.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at June 29, 2004 at 12:21 PM

We haven't heard such eloquence from a public figure since General Anthony McAuliffe's celebrated reply to the Germans at the Battle of the Bulge.

Posted by: Ernie G at June 29, 2004 at 12:23 PM

A dignified response:
When an exasperated rival shouted at him; "You, Sir, will die on the gallows or of a venereal disease." Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli replied, "That, Sir, will depend upon whether I embrace your politics or your mistress."

Posted by: mojo at June 29, 2004 at 12:33 PM

Mojo, it was John Wilkes (1727-1797), libertine, pamphleteer and parliamentarian (a kind of 18th century Tim Blair). Disraeli, like Churchill, Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde, suffers from being a personage to whom people will attribute clever quotes which have lost their true provenance. He was also too genteel to make such a scandalous retort.

Posted by: cuckoo at June 29, 2004 at 01:10 PM

If that quote was attributed to me, I would accept it :)

BTW I think it was "your principles or your mistress".

Posted by: amortiser at June 29, 2004 at 01:19 PM

For those that don't want to sit through it, here is Eleanor's way of 'interpreting' a speaker:

Brigadier: "There was a single, a single bullet penetrated the Hercules and unfortunately a one in a million chance it actually hit the American passenger inside and you know the unfortunate result of that."


Dumb Reporter: "Why, then, are you so certain that there will be no casualties? Why are you saying that it was a one in a million chance that that Hercules hit this morning, when there is a lot of violence against foreign troops, other foreign troops in the country?"

Anybody with half a brain can see that he meant that it was a one in a million chance that the single bullet that penetrated the airframe of a huge aircraft just happen to hit the passenger. I can assure you that there is nothing in the paragraphs i have left out that contradict this, nor contain a statement by him that he is certain there will be no casualties.

Question, is she stupid, or just desperate to twist it to the desired angle?

Posted by: attila at June 29, 2004 at 01:21 PM

Attila, if you substitute "and" for "or" you will have the complete answer.

Posted by: Fool to Himself & Burden to Others at June 29, 2004 at 02:23 PM

There is one way around all of this, and I believe the ADF used it in East Timor. It's called:

Pool Reporting

It was the ADF's story to give away to deserving reporters. I just don't know why they keep going back to reporters like these who they know will misreport it.

Posted by: stan at June 29, 2004 at 02:48 PM

Brigadier Hutchinson was probably ordered to be the ADF spokesman on this incident, and is duty bound to be polite to the "interviewer"

Any of the other ranks would have belted the brainless drone in the mouth.

I agree with Gaz, I am not surprised the military detest anyone connected with the media.

Posted by: Pedro the Ignorant at June 29, 2004 at 02:55 PM

Trouble is, a dignified response requires a dignified — or at least literate and stylish — instigation.

Posted by: richard mcenroe at June 29, 2004 at 03:54 PM

"Brigadier Hutchinson was probably ordered to be the ADF spokesman on this incident, and is duty bound to be polite to the "interviewer" "

I'm sure the above is why the Brigadier was so polite. The military can't say "F U" and get away with it as easily as a politician can. Too bad.

I would love to know the thoughts going through his mind during the interview and also to have been a fly on the wall when he was talking about it later with others in the ADF.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at June 29, 2004 at 04:54 PM