Andrew Bolt's 'gloating' over US election result trumped by reality | Amanda Meade

Sky TV hosts celebrate Donald Trump’s re-election too early. Plus: Woolworths partnership with News Corp sparks backlash

Andrew Bolt was so excited late on Wednesday afternoon when he believed “Donald Trump seems to have won again” he warned Herald Sun readers he might just gloat on his Sky News TV show at 7pm. His blog post was headlined, “HA HA”.

Part of Andrew Bolt's column

“Celebrate with me,” Bolt said. “And let’s hammer home the lessons.

“Some gloating will be unavoidable.”

His guest on Sky After Dark was fellow presenter Rowan Dean, who was “absolutely” still tipping a Trump win, and suggesting the Democrats would cheat: “Donald Trump is right. The Democrats will stop at nothing, pull every trick in the book.”

But later in the evening Bolt had stopped gloating and was eating humble pie, posting an update on the Herald Sun blog which said “Late count swings to Biden” and amending his snappy headline to “HA HA (UH OH)”.

On Thursday Bolt took a more sober view, saying Trump’s accusations of voting fraud were dangerous.

“He wants [his supporters] to feel a rage that will feed any political or media career for the next four years,” he wrote.

“Good for him. Not good for democracy.”

Claiming victory

Bolt and Dean were not the only Sky After Dark pundits with egg on their faces. Following Bolt on Sky at 8pm was Alan Jones who was adamant “Trump will win comfortably”. He declared Joe Biden was a “lunatic” and a prisoner of the left, saying: “Thank God this bloke won’t be the president.”

Meanwhile Sky’s political editor, Andrew Clennell, was roasted on Twitter after he was quoted in a Sky News tweet as saying Biden “just tried to claim victory in the US presidential election”, when in fact the Democratic candidate said he believed he was on track to win.

.@JoeBiden just tried to claim victory in the US presidential election says Sky News Political Editor @aclennell.

— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) November 4, 2020

Luckily for the After Dark crew, not many people witnessed their early celebration of Trump’s “win”. Unlike Fox News in the US, which dominated election night with 13.7 million viewers, Sky News Australia’s biggest audience for election night was for Bolt’s show: 101,000 viewers nationally. By the time Jones rocked up at 8pm, the audience had shrunk to 62,000.

Running on empty symbolism

The Australian interpreted Trump’s stronger than expected showing as a loss for the “so-called progressive Twitterati, elites and chattering classes”. In an editorial in Thursday’s paper, editor-in-chief Chris Dore thundered that “progressive ideology and empty woke symbolism took a big hit”, adding that the paper’s own commentators had their fingers on the pulse the whole time.

“Wiser heads, such as [US correspondent] Cameron Stewart and Greg Sheridan, knew Mr Trump was always in striking distance and had a pathway to re-election.”

Glaring deficiencies

The ABC, which had a huge surge in audiences across TV and online for its comprehensive coverage, had a few of its own issues, mainly concerning the placement of the set for the live broadcast.

The US Votes set was constructed in the atrium at ABC headquarters in Ultimo, and as the sun moved it bathed presenters Stan Grant and Ellen Fanning in ghostly light. Fanning eventually popped on a pair of sunnies to deal with the glare.


— postmaster-general cameron wilson (@cameronwilson) November 4, 2020

The ABC News website had 5.1 million visitors, which was higher than usual but not as high as some of the early Covid-driven audiences.

The combined reach for the US election coverage across the ABC and the ABC News channel was 3.48 million metro viewers, or 19.7% of the metro population.

During the day the ABC was the most watched channel as viewers flocked to the rolling news about Trump v Biden, but after 6pm Nine was No 1 due to the State of Origin match.

The ABC’s national news special at 7pm, hosted by Leigh Sales, had 641,000 viewers on the main channel and another 212,000 on the news channel. But it was all outshone by the State of Origin on Nine on 1.6m.

Dear employer, please do better than this.

— Charlie Pickering (@charliepick) November 4, 2020

Some people, including ABC host Charlie Pickering, took issue with an ABC news alert that failed to point out that Trump’s claim the election was fraudulent was unfounded. Other news outlets were quick to point out the truth, including National Public Radio in the US, which tweeted: “President Trump has falsely claimed that he has won the 2020 election. That is wrong. Millions of votes are still being counted in key states.”

60 Minutes founder mourned

The founder of Channel Nine’s current affairs program 60 Minutes, Gerald Stone, has died aged 87. Stone’s creation of the wildly popular Sunday night show for the late media mogul Kerry Packer made household names of reporters Jana Wendt, Ian Leslie, Ray Martin and George Negus. Interviews with foreign leaders and international stars and reports from hotspots around the world made the show a “watercooler hit” under his watch, between 1979 and 1992.

A note from Nine CEO Hugh Marks on the passing of Gerald Stone

— Nine Comms (@9Comms) November 5, 2020

Negus’s confrontation with Margaret Thatcher in 1981 was a classic of the genre. When Negus asked the then prime minister why Britons called her pig-headed, Thatcher bristled and said: “Will you tell me who stopped you in the street and told you that?”

Nine’s chief executive, Hugh Marks, told staff on Friday a memorial for Stone would be held at Nine’s Willoughby studios, where the program was originally produced. “There’s been an army of tremendously talented people in Australian television since its arrival in 1956, but none with more impact than Gerald Stone,” Marks said.

Stone never stopped working and was a prolific author, writing bestsellers about his former employers: Compulsive Viewing: The Inside Story of Packer’s Nine Network and Who Killed Channel 9? The Death of Kerry Packer’s Mighty TV Dream Machine.

He edited the Bulletin, served on the SBS board for 10 years and in 2015 was made a member of the Order of Australia (AM) for “significant service to print and broadcast media as a journalist, editor, television producer and author”.

Lost in translation

The Sydney Morning Herald and the Age’s European correspondent, Bevan Shields, reached out to his friends on Twitter when news broke of the shootings in Vienna on Tuesday. With the news unfolding fast, he appealed for help with translations: “Hello Twitter Friends – do any of you speak Austrian?”

No one did and Shields quickly deleted the call-out.

Culture club

Australia’s second annual Conservative Political Action Conference (Cpac) was held in Sydney on Wednesday and my colleague Michael McGowan was lucky enough to be among the attending media, whose passes were labelled “fake news”. But that was the most amusing part of the day, which saw a parade of media figures, including Jones, Dean, the ABC’s Tom Switzer and Bettina Arndt take to the stage to wage their culture wars.

My CPAC media pass. Gonna be a fun day 🙂

— Michael McGowan (@mmcgowan) November 3, 2020

New SBS board member Warren Mundine, who was handpicked for the role by the government, told the audience he was there to dispel some myths about Indigenous Australia, ending his rambling speech with: “Australia is not a racist country, black lives matter, blue lives matter, all lives matter.”

SBS, meanwhile, says anything Mundine says on Twitter or any other platform is his personal view. After Mundine attacked the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, on Twitter, we asked SBS if there was a code of conduct for SBS board members to comply with.

“The views of Mr Mundine on Twitter and other non-SBS owned platforms are his personal views,” a spokesman told Weekly Beast.

Speech on BLM Australia. Facts, myth busting, truth talking.

— Nyunggai Warren Mundine AO (@nyunggai) November 4, 2020

No thanks

It was supposed to be a feel-good campaign for Woolworths Supermarkets, which recognised frontline workers who put themselves on the line during the coronavirus pandemic. Workers who are nominated by the public in the Thanks a Million program could receive a $200 Woolworths gift card.

But when the company announced it had partnered with News Corp Australia to create Thanks a Million, it created a backlash on social media. Perhaps it was bad timing, coming as it did on the same day as Kevin Rudd’s petition for a royal commission into Rupert Murdoch’s influence in Australia clocked up 500,000 signatures by the time it closed on Wednesday at midnight.

The chief executive of Woolworths Group, Brad Banducci, and News Corp CEO Michael Miller got together for a photoshoot to promote the campaign but it didn’t win Woolies any praise.

This campaign will enable us to reach communities right across Australia to celebrate their contributions and express our gratitude. Thanks. 2/2

— Woolworths (@woolworths) November 5, 2020

On Thursday the company’s social media team was busy trying to calm the angry responses by explaining over and over that: “After the challenging year Australia has faced, we’re keen to say thanks to everyone who has made a difference.”


Amanda Meade

The GuardianTramp

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