Paul Keating said mean things about me and my stupid newspaper and now I have hurt feelings

The hurt feelings and shattered egos of the Sydney Morning Herald, a newspaper somehow still clinging onto a collective sense of brittle righteousness in the face of terrible collective work, taint the air. Defensiveness and whataboutism lingers like a fart in a lift days after former Prime Minister Paul Keating addressed the National Press Club and accurately described the SMH’s Red Peril, March to war, Go-sock-Johnny-Foreigner-in-the-jaw-for-the-Empire crystal-ball gazing for what it truly was: quisling fanfiction for warmongers, American weapons manufacturers, xenophobes, Sinophobes, John Marsden and other assorted assholes to jack off to. Anxiety inducing bullshit for people who have had more than enough anxiety and more than enough bullshit to last multiple lifetimes. My words, not his.

His words were good too, though. Keating tore the concept of AUKUS – an alliance between two fading empires and their enthusiastic vassal state – to shreds, explicitly shaming Albanese’s barely beating lefty heart for selling off Australian sovereignty to the Yanks and Poms, paying an absurd amount of money for the privilege, and receiving a small quantity of chunky underwater boats and an endless quantity of nuclear waste in return. Art of the deal, baby!

When asked if Albanese’s friendlier diplomatic tone with China, in comparison to Morrison’s, would stabilise the Australia-China relationship, Keating grew visibly tired of talking to small children. “No mealy mouthed talk of stabilisation… or resorting to soft language, will disguise from the Chinese the extent and intent of the commitment to the United States hegemony”. 

He told journalists who lined up to ask stupid questions that they were asking stupid questions. He again described NineFax newspaper’s “Red Alert” series as “the most egregious and provocative news presentation” he’d ever seen. He told Matthew Knott, co-author of the Scary Commie trilogy, “You ought to do the right thing and drum yourself out of Australian journalism,” and, “If I were you mate, I’d hide my face and never appear again.” He called the Herald a “newspaper without integrity”. 

Bevan Shields, editor of the SMH, responded by hurling toothpicks at a mountain in a defensive subscriber-only essay about having hurt feelings because the ABC and Cranky Paul called them on their warmongering. “It’s disappointing that a man who has had such a profound impact on public life for 50 years now has nothing of substance to add on such a huge issue for our country,” wrote Shields, not through tears, he’s just been cutting onions.

This is warped, and it is unreality gaslighting. 

Keating clearly does not need any defending, but he was primarily concerned with the bigger picture, that bigger picture being that WE AREN’T GOING TO GET INVADED BY FUCKING CHINA BECAUSE THAT DOESN’T MAKE ANY FUCKING SENSE, not the quality of those painting that bigger picture. It didn’t matter, though. Predictably, his crabby directness caused the national conversation to centre the hurt feelings of journalists, not the stupid amount of money – $386 BILLION – spent on FUCKING SUBMARINES we probably won’t ever receive. 


Before we go any further, I want you to question if you’re still grasping onto the widely held belief that the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age are “the good one” (of two) in their respective capital cities. In the murky realm of knowledge passed down across generations without citation, this truism feels increasingly outdated. They’re the better ones, maybe, but there isn’t a good one anymore. 


And this is where we wade into the murk and start talking about our own role in this turgid ecosystem. The Shot has, somehow, despite our best efforts, come quite a long way of late. Surviving at all in this media landscape is an achievement; scaling up operations, like we are planning to do, is, frankly, fucking remarkable. At this rate we’ll be plastered with Harvey Norman ads and Paul Keating will be making us soil our pants on national television before long. Go us!

And you! 

This might sound suspiciously like I’m sucking up to you – and I am – but it’s also not a meaningless platitude: we truly wouldn’t be here without your support. You shared our articles. You plastered Australia with an absurd number of Fuck Murdoch stickers, simultaneously spreading an important message, that Murdoch should get fucked, while propping up our flimsy sticker-based business model. You bought and read our first book. You came to our live events in Melbourne and Sydney. You made us feel like a welcome part of this ragey-and-bewildered-but-trying-to-laugh-through-it community of empathetic souls who pay enough attention. Thank you. That is reality, and as the editor of one of the few remaining publications committed to reality, that support fucking rules. 

In recent months we’ve covered the Robodebt tragedy and the nation’s ideological determination to inflict cruelty upon the poor; we’ve looked at Australia’s bipartisan approach to supporting the fossil fuel industry through the climate crisis; Phillip Lowe’s first-year uni student neocon magic trick to make everything cheaper by making everything more expensive; how deeply embarrassing (and cruel) Australia Day is; economics (wtf!!) and the rental market; war in Ukraine; sexual politics; billionaires, their flailing egos and tiny penises; democracy; mental health; and, as ever, all the media outlets that suck way way way worse than we do. 

New meme format just dropped!

Our remit has widened past the coronavirus pandemic and the media’s response to it, which is both a sign of changed times and extremely necessary for my sanity (I say this as someone with what feels like four-million articles about The Herald Sun to my name). We could sit here doing the same thing over and over, or we could do more than that. 

Which is where we are up to now. 

Firstly, to be more effective, The Shot needs to be bigger than it is. We do have an outsized and influential voice, but we remain minnows in a sea of rotting whale carcasses. How to grow is something we have been thinking about for a long time because, once again, the alternative sucks. Exactly what bigger looks like and how to achieve it without burning everything to the ground in an ashen field of smouldering incompetence and charred hubris has eluded us for a while. Now, we have a bit more of an idea. 

(It could still be the hubris thing, though, you get to decide!)

What we are going to do is….. More. A lot more. More in the hope that it will be worth more people paying for. 

There will still be no paywalls, and still no ads beyond the robot Google stuff, so if you’re in Struggle Town please look after yourself first and know that you can always access our work for free. Supporting us by discussing and sharing is still fucking huge. Thank you.

But, ultimately, we are increasing our output in the hope more people will support us financially. If you can, please do so. Remember: there isn’t a good daily newspaper anymore, this shit does actually matter. And before anyone says The Australian, this week you needed to wipe Lockheed Martin’s cum off the frontpage before you could read it.

The first prong in our embiggening project: we have recently launched a podcast. It will become a regular part of our weekly rhythm; please feel free to make it a part of yours. We record it Wednesday morning over Zoom and coffee and you’ll be able to listen to it every Thursday. It’s been fun. You can listen on Spotify, Apple, or our website.

Why the podcast has been so fun is because of the excellent people we’ve tricked into appearing on it. This is the next part of The Shot’s attempt to evolve from a minnow into an appropriate medium-sized fish for this metaphor to continue making sense. We are approaching a place where we can regularly feature some substantially cool voices. 

Grace Tame is not hanging out on social media all that much at the moment, but please make her feel welcome at The Shot by sending her good vibes out into the universe. Grace has spent the past six years campaigning for what she knows is right, standing up for people who need standing up for, and you know she will do exactly the same in her writing and podcasting at The Shot. 

Charles Firth, founder of The Chaser and owner of this publication – HE’S OUR PETER COSTELLO/RUPERT MURDOCH!! WE’RE SO FUCKED – will join myself and Grace on the podcast, which is expertly hosted by Jo Dyer. The always excellent Ronni Salt sat in this week to talk about her latest piece, and she’ll continue to drop in regularly throughout the year. Beyond our commentators, we also intend to get interesting interviewees outside of party politics on there from time to time to avoid simply becoming a sweary and stoned version of Insiders. 

All of us will write fancy words when we have them – which will be more frequently – and we will bolster this with a number of talented, sharp, and pissed off freelance writers. 

The final prong in our cromulent embiggening plan is at the end of every week, we’ll send out a newsletter containing a feature article, links to the week’s podcast, and just basically check in and say hello before the blessed relief of each weekend. If you’d like to sign up for that in your inbox, do so HERE. This newsletter will probably become increasingly important given that Twitter now bends at the whims of a billionaire and his tiny egopenis. 

That is the next phase of The Shot outlined as clearly and as transparently as I can. If this sounds at all valuable to you, please consider signing up and helping us in whatever manner you can. Remember there isn’t a good daily newspaper anymore, so why not us? 

If we can grow through this phase as outlined, it will ensure that when the greatest military armada to ever set sail lands upon these shores and we are at war with China, in three years time – CITATION NEEDED – The Shot will still be here, telling uncomfortable truths and making wanking jokes along the way. A decade out from any submarine arriving, Australia won’t secure a better defence strategy than that. Have an excellent weekend.

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