Republicans in the media
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Sunday, 14 October 2007

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Just as the favourite in the World Rugby Cup semi final was defeated by England, 14:9, the Sun Herald was being delivered to homes across Australia.  Peter FitzSimons, who devised the Mate for Head of State campaign, had this message: “ barrack for the French on the principal grounds that they aren’t English.”  In the  Sydney Morning Herald  on the day before, 13 October, 2007, he had quoted Sir Ian Botham who had just been  knighted by The Queen: "The monarchy stands for everything that makes me proud to be English. I'm a massive royalist. I listen to all these republicans … If it was down to me I'd hang 'em! I honestly would. It's a traitor's game for me."  FitzSimons’ comment was “How surprisingly "Little Englander" of him.”FitzSimons has not had a good time at the Rugby. He announced in the Herald on 6 October, just before the French and English wins - that the lesson was that the Southern hemisphere was now the  elephant in world rugby and the north an “emaciated chicken.” He also told Jonny Wilkinson to”lose with dignity.”    Alan Jones, who has the track record of being a successful rugby coach, offers a more realistic analysis. The lesson is that whether in rugby, or indeed elections, the favourite doesn’t necessarily win. 

Fitzsimons and the acerbic Mike Carlton constitute  one of the last bulwarks in the media of that dated phenomenon,  aggressive, passionate republicanism.  FitzSimons was called in to buttress  Carlton in Sydney radio 2UE’s breakfast programme, which when it was compered by Alan Jones led  the ratings. An expensive advertising campaign followed, but the shots of the two jaded republican enfants terribles at play failed spectacularly to attract a new audience. Now both Carlton’s and FitzSimons’ exceedingly generous contracts are up for renewal. According to Sue Javes  in the Sydney Morning Herald on 8 October 2007, 2UE program director Graham Mott has made it clear he'd like Carlton and Price to take “serious cuts in their million-dollar-plus deals” because of their low ratings. The owners of 2UE have sold the network to Fairfax who own the Sydney Morning Herald , where Carlton has a weekly column. According to Sue Javes, Carlton said he likes doing the show “but I don't want to do it if there is going to be massive cost cuttings and the whole thing is going to be run on the smell of an oily rag." He was reported as being tempted  to retire because he has two television projects in the pipeline next year, as well as plans to write a book. Mrs Carlton, as Morag Ramsey, works at the ABC. Without mentioning her relationship with Alan Jones’ direct commercial competitor, she produced a Four Corners programme highly critical of him, resulting in a book which the ABC was to publish, but finally did not.