Bob Carr has struck out at the media – especially this outlet – for its focus on the ‘‘self-mocking’’ aspects of his new diary, such as his preference for steel-cut oats.
‘‘If any people think they can deter me from talking about the substance of a book like this [...] they’ve picked the wrong mark,’’ the former foreign minister said at the launch in Sydney of his now well-known diary on Monday morning.
Mr Carr acknowledged he had been criticised by his ‘‘friends’’ in the ‘‘tabloid’’ media, but singled out The Sydney Morning Herald coverage especially for criticism: ‘‘Poison pen vendetta journalism from The Sydney Morning Herald [has been about] settling a score with me because I did not confirm a story on its front page,’’ he said.
Mr Carr refers to a Herald story from last March that alleged he had switched his support away from then prime minister Julia Gillard and towards Kevin Rudd.
He denied it at the time but his new diary makes clear that the story was accurate and he felt forced to deny it because he claims it was ‘‘in the national interest’’ to do so.
Editor-in-chief of The Sydney Morning Herald Darren Goodsir denied any bias against Mr Carr: ‘‘We have run a number of articles - and opinion pieces - on the book, depicting varying points of view. This is consistent with our practice of promoting a diversity of voices,’’ he said.
‘‘One would expect this sort of robust reporting and critical analysis about a book that has attracted so much publicity, much of it pushed by the former senator himself.
‘‘I believe this reporting is valued by our readers and reflects the frank, independent standards that are part and parcel of The Sydney Morning Herald.’’
The fruits of that publicity were on display on Monday. A couple of hundred people showed up to hear Mr Carr speak and queued to get their book signed by the former minister.
Mr Carr praised those assembled for being discerning enough to understand his book was full of ‘‘self-mockery’’ and ‘‘irony’’.
Those who read even more deeply would see it was really, implicitly a tribute to the efforts of hard-working people in Australian embassies around the world.
Former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans launched the book with a near 20-minute speech.
The two men compared their styles and legacies.
‘‘Gareth was always attracted to the long definitive speech,’’ Mr Carr said. ‘‘I was more of an impressionist sketching on that easel’’.
Mr Evans – whom Mr Carr has described as a mentor – admonished his friend for being too kind to the Rajapaksa regime in Sri Lanka.
He said that showed that Mr Carr was a relentlessly pragmatic foreign minister, while he always tried to be guided more by liberal and idealistic principles.
Mr Carr said he was ultimately well-equipped to combat any media criticism of his diary: ‘‘I fall out of bed and I’m onto radio faster than I can wake up.’’