Media Watch is struggling. The once-influential ABC program (it really was, back in the days of Stuart Littlemore) led yesterday’s show with this alleged AFP blooper:
Royal bride to be Camilla Parker Bowles will officially become British queen after fiancé prince Charles takes the throne … Parker Bowles is to marry Prince Charles , who will take the throne once his mother Queen Elizabeth dies, on April 8th …
Spooky host Liz Jackson’s witty rejoinder, as transcribed by the ABC: “Has any-one broken the news to Her Majesty yet? She has 11 days to live.” Well, maybe so, if that comma weren’t present between “dies” and “on”. Here’s the AFP extract in unabridged form; as any-one familiar with punctuation will deduce, the date clearly refers to the impending marriage rather than Elizabeth’s death:
Parker Bowles is to marry Prince Charles, who will take the throne once his mother Queen Elizabeth dies, on April 8, and will initially be titled Duchess of Cornwall, becoming Princess Consort when Charles is king.
Still, the paragraph is clumsy, and was re-worked in subsequent online editions of the Herald Sun and Age (information not disclosed by Media Watch). Jackson next wasted many minutes on a family murder-suicide story that initially blamed the father:
Sydney’s Daily Telegraph had already thrown caution to the winds. The paper was on the streets with this huge front page headline: ‘Father Shoots Family Dead’.
Huge? Huge? The headline was of a standard size for the Telegraph. Anyway, turns out it was the mother who killed her family … and that’s the whole story. Paper blames wrong dead person in case of several dead people. Worthy of comment, yes, but Media Watch cranked on about it for half the show (the transcript ends before the segment’s conclusion) and posts five PDF files at its site to support a case easily made in one sentence. In closing, MW urged readers to examine a two-week old NY Times piece on Bush’s “government propaganda”:
The practice of passing off government and corporate ads as news has moved into television.
Media Watch is seven years behind events. The Washington Post reported in February that similar PR tactics had been employed by the Clinton administration in 1998. This year’s Media Watch is the lamest yet.