Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

WikiLeaks challenges journalism-politics partnership

By Antony Loewenstein - posted Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Who can now say that the WikiLeaks cables detail no new information?

It was only last week that ABC TV’s 7.30 Report featured a story with supposed foreign affairs experts, including the Lowy Institute’s Michael Fullilove, who largely dismissed the significance of the document dump. Within a few days these men were all proven wrong.

Now we know Labor powerbroker Mark Arbib sends confidential information to the Americans. He’s not alone.


Crucially, however, our media class aren’t asking the next obvious questions.

The Australian’s Paul Maley argues that communication between politicians, journalists and diplomats is part of the daily job.

“It is no surprise the Americans were talking to Arbib,” he writes, “They talk to everyone.”

And yet the senior Murdoch journalist doesn’t understand that the general public are rarely told about such meetings. What is discussed? What are the agendas? Is there transparency in such dealings? And who is telling what information to whom? Who benefits and what stories are not being told to avoid embarrassing somebody?

The cosiness between these players is exactly what WikiLeaks is aiming to challenge. Why shouldn’t the voting public be privy to whims and wishes of the American government and their relationships with key government ministers, individuals voted in by all of us? If Arbib was warning the Americans he thought Rudd may fall, why wasn’t he telling his constituents, the ones who put him in office?

The fact that the US had followed the rise of Julia Gillard and approved her views on the American alliance, Afghanistan and Israeli aggression is worrying though unsurprising.


It’s extremely rare that a leader rises who hasn’t received American approval or extensive years of obedience grooming. Former Labor leader Mark Latham was loathed by the US because he publicly expressed scepticism about the US alliance, the war in Iraq and then-president George W Bush.

It’s worth recalling that Latham called former prime minister John Howard an “arselicker” of the Bush administration and described a delegation of Liberal party politicians going to Washington as "a conga line of suckholes".

Latham would undoubtedly use equally colourful language to describe Arbib and Kevin Rudd. So why did ABC TV’s 7.30 Report feel the need to mitigate the damage to Rudd and Australia with the latest release of cables this week by featuring a soft-ball interview with assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell?

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

First published on ABC's The Drum on December 10, 2010.

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

14 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Antony Loewenstein is a freelance journalist, author and blogger. He has written for the Sydney Morning Herald, Haaretz, The Guardian, Washington Post, Znet, Counterpunch and many other publications. He contributed a major chapter in the 2004 best seller, Not Happy, John!. He is author of the best-selling book My Israel Question, released in August 2006 by Melbourne University Publishing and re-published in 2009 in an updated edition. The book was short-listed for the 2007 NSW Premier's Literary Award. His 2008 book is The Blogging Revolution on the internet in repressive regimes. His website is at and he can be contacted at

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Antony Loewenstein

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Antony Loewenstein
Article Tools
Comment 14 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy