ED’S DESK: Cory Bernardi On Chicken Strangling War Criminal Ben Roberts-Smith


Ed’s Desk is an occasional column in New Matilda where we sub-edit a story that has already been published, but probably shouldn’t have been. This edition, we look at Sky News comedian/bestiality warrior Cory Bernardi, and his man-love for Chicken Strangler turned War Criminal, Ben Roberts-Smith.

Hi Cory,
I’ve been asked to cast an eye over your script for tomorrow, re Ben Roberts-Smith being found by a judge to have committed war crimes in Afghanistan. Please see notes below. Cheers – Ed.

[HEADLINE] Ben Roberts-Smith’s courage under fire ‘can never be disputed’
ED’S DESK: Cory, no-one is disputing Robert-Smith’s ‘courage under fire’, any more than people questioned Ted Bundy’s sense of calm while he was chopping up young women. You may as well suggest Robert-Smith’s capacity to wipe his arse and pull up his pants is above reproach… because it’s about as relevant. Also, Roberts-Smith is a psychopath, so obviously he loves being under fire. Headline will need to change.

[BODY COPY] The news this week has been dominated by the defamation verdict of war hero Ben Roberts-Smith.
Right. When you say ‘war hero’ Cory, did you mean ‘war criminal’? I understand how the two terms might be confusing for you – both have the word ‘war’ in them. But they’re quite different things. Please amend.

I have to admit the trial was a victory for the Nine Media Group, which the judge ruled had satisfied the grounds for their accusations that they levelled against the Victoria Cross winner.
You don’t have to ‘admit’ anything Cory, because you’re not accused of a crime. Yet. But it is true that Nine won the defamation action, so just say that, rather than trying to appear ‘fair and balanced’ by acknowledging the existence of facts you don’t like.

Now, I’ve gotta say, I don’t know Ben Roberts-Smith, although I do know some people who do. Accordingly, I am not equipped to make judgement as to whether he’s a good bloke or not, and nor do I know first-hand what sort of soldier he was.
Okay, perfect. That was quick. Let’s leave it at then. Cheers – Ed.

However, what I do know is that our SA troops are the best of the best. They’re trained to do a job that many of us simply couldn’t do. They go where others fear to tread.
Oh, sorry… when you conceded that you have literally zero experience and/or competence in this area, I assumed that meant you weren’t going to proceed and try and position yourself as an expert commentator. My apologies, continue… (although Cory… they’re not called ‘SA troops’. They’re called ‘SAS troops’. SAS stands for ‘Special Air Service’. Your version would stand for ‘Special Air troops’, which sounds like something Donald Trump would make up, or maybe a bunch of hippies with guns sitting around smoking weed. Please amend).

Our government sends them in to do the heavy lifting and often in secret. By the time we all know they’ve been deployed, it’s likely they’ve already returned successfully from their mission. These incredible men and their incredible capacity was never more called upon than in the disaster known as the Afghanistan War. And when I call it that, it’s in no way meant to be disrespectful to our troops. They did a magnificent job of devouring unpalatable sandwich (sic) they were asked to eat, again and again and again.
WTF are you talking about, Cory? An unpalatable sandwich? And just one of them? How many men were we supposed to feed? And how big was this sandwich?!? Cory… this is a story about war, not MasterChef. Clean it up please. Also, you’re on the public record multiple times supporting ‘the disaster known as the Afghanistan War’, before, during and after you were actually in a position of power to help stop it. Hell, in 2010 you described war in Afghanistan as “essential”. I know our audience are just Sky News viewers Cory, but even they aren’t that stupid. Please revise.

In that war, there was no front line for them to face, any person they encountered could have morphed from goat herder to terrorist and back again in the press of a button.
You have access to a button that can morph an Afghan goat herder into a terrorist? Why didn’t you say something earlier, Cory? That’s f*cking amazing!!! I’ve passed your number on to the scriptwriters of the next Avengers movie. Expect a call.

And the atrocities committed by the Taliban against our people, as well as their own, I have to say, was simply abhorrent. But no-one seems to give a hoot about their behaviour for some reason.
Umm, okay. This is awkward. You realize the whole reason Australia helped invade Afghanistan was because of our apparent ‘hoot giving’ about the Taliban’s bad behaviour, yeah? Please correct.

Being confronted as someone on the ground there with that poison, day after day, rotation after rotation, would challenge even the hardiest spirit. And I know it broke some of them. Many of those who actually left the service are still trying to patch together a civilian life, starved of support by the Army brass, I have to say.
Yeah… Cory, you have to stop saying ‘I have to say’… it makes you sound like the old man from Monopoly. Failing that, before your next show please report to wardrobe and request a pinstripe suit, a cane, a monocle and a cigar. Bravo old boy.

Some covered up their trauma and they continue to serve, which compounded their own problems. So I will not judge any man for what transpired on the battle field. I’ve neither walked in their shoes nor lived their experience.
Wow Cory, that’s never stopped you judging a whole of shit-tonne of other people in the past. Is this what’s known as ‘conservative growth’? You’re leading with your chin here Comrade, consider changing please. Also, what are you doing talking about ‘trauma’ and ‘compounding problems’? Apart from being very off-brand, you’re waffling. Our viewers come to Sky News to hear you denying basic reality, not admitting that things can sometimes be complex. And sorry to be the one to tell you this Cory, but ‘feelpinions’ are not your strong suit. Please avoid, or at least defer to an expert (in your case, an expert could be anyone who has experienced what’s called an ‘emotion’ at some point in their life. Or maybe someone who has never claimed same-sex marriage will inevitably lead to legalised bestiality).

Those who were concerned by the behaviour of their fellow soldiers, they deserve our respect and honour too. But so do those who were more brutalised by their service. It’s compounding the experience of trauma or exposure to traumatic events that changes people indelibly. They can become desensitised to what many of us would find simply unacceptable.
Short of sacrificing your virginity, I’m not sure how someone gives someone else ‘their honour’ Cory. Regardless, you’ve switched sides three times in two paragraphs. At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious (pun intended) you’re editorialising about war from the comfort of an air-conditioned Sky News studio, and yet you don’t appear to have the courage to actually pick a side? Please amend… by picking a side. Your fence-sitting is starting to make the skin around your anus look like a pin cushion.

Some of us, for example, scream about killing an animal, and yet somehow we expect these men to be unaffected by the taking of a human life on the battlefield, sometimes many, many human lives.
Okay, there we go, attacking the vegans in a story about war crimes in Afghanistan. Now we’re back on brand, Cory. More of this please. Also, no-one is actually expecting anyone to be ‘unaffected by the taking of a human life’, it’s more about broader societal expectations that our soldiers won’t commit mass slaughter. You know, war crimes. Anyhoo, this is Sky News, not Playschool, continue on….

And the instant and deceptive transformation from friend to foe and back to friend again would simply compound the perceived threat and the uncertainty that these troops face.
Okay, you’re back to waffling again. In hindsight, your ‘goat herder button’ (patent pending) was a better metaphor, even if it made no sense. Revert back to that please.

And that’s why I care nothing frankly for the alleged crimes of Ben Roberts-Smith. He was made by our Army. He did what was asked of him. If he was broken it is the ADF who should bear responsibility for his repeated deployment.
Holy f*cking shit man. We asked Ben Roberts-Smith to kick a handcuffed man off a cliff and then order his subordinates to execute him? Followed by the execution of an elderly man? Followed by the execution of a disabled man with a prosthetic leg? I must have missed those orders. And are you sure you meant to say you ‘care nothing’ about a Federal Court judge finding allegations of war crimes to have been proved? This feels like the sort of brain fart that’s going to be even harder to walk back than, say, claims about same-sex marriage leading to bestiality. Would strongly suggest you revise.

And having the allegations against him tried in the media or a defamation court as it was recently, or the court of public opinion, to my mind it serves no positive purpose.
Ah, okay, are you going to tell Roberts-Smith that, or should I? Because he launched the defamation action.

As to his Victoria Cross, they’re all piling in on that now. It was awarded on the basis of a specific act of valour. Whatever else he may have done, his courage under fire can never, ever be disputed.
‘Whatever else he may have done?’ You mean his multiple war crimes? Also, you can’t ‘all pile in’ on a Victoria Cross, Cory. It’s a small inanimate object with very sharp points. Avoid clichés please.

The Victoria Cross is not a character award, nor a token of appreciation.
Umm… the Victoria Cross is literally an ‘award of appreciation from a grateful nation’. Please change.

It is the highest honour a soldier can receive for gallantry and valour. And while some of his colleagues may not have liked the way that BRS was alleged to have gone about his business on the battlefield, I’m sure those do not include the beneficiaries of his storming of the machine gun nest at Tizak in 2010.
Cory, you’ve already said up front you don’t know Roberts-Smith. So why are you now suddenly calling him ‘BRS’ like he’s a Korean popstar or the mere mention of his name gives you a little tingle in your conservative loins? If you want to spoon Roberts-Smith, there’s nothing to be ashamed about by that. Just come out and say it (although on reflection, ‘coming out’ and ‘Sky News’ don’t really go together very well). Also, by ‘gone about his business’, did you mean to write, ‘… while some of his colleagues didn’t like the war crimes he was committing…’? Because that’s what you’re supposed to be talking about here. Even by yours’ and Sky News’ standards, I’m pretty sure that’s not what’s known as simply ‘going about your business’. And one other thing: some of his colleagues who ‘didn’t like the way he was going about his war crimes’ were literally in the trenches with ‘BRS’ during the operation in Tizak, and have formally complained about him to their superiors and testified against him in a court of law. That’s a matter of public record. As your conservative bedfellow Ben Shapiro might have (more or less) said Cory, ‘facts don’t care about your feelings… even if those feelings originate in your pants’. Please rework.

I’ve no doubt that Roberts-Smith is not the only SAS regiment trooper worthy of the Victoria Cross, there have been others. But there are many who have been unrecognised. Because the SAS people are all heroes who have paid an incredible price for their service. That some may be flawed or bent or broken, that weighs heavily on me. It’s why I don’t believe we should sit in judgement on any of them. Our nation called and it called many, many times, and these men responded, no matter how challenging the task. And for that, we’re all indebted for our service.
Okay, you gunna wanna sit down for this part. Firstly, this issue isn’t about you Cory, so no-one cares how ‘heavily it weighs on you’, even if you did make extraordinary personal sacrifices in the course of your public life (like that time you surrendered your credibility to claim your newly-formed political party had more than 50,000 members… only for it to fail to win a single election anywhere, followed by its dissolution two years later). This issue is about other people… in particular the 29 members of the SAS who the Brereton report found participated in the murder and cover-up of at least 39 people during the War In Afghanistan. So, you know, they’re not all heroes. Please amend.

P.S. You know the nickname of the Australian SAS is the ‘chicken stranglers’, right? I’m not kidding, Google it. Given your past comments on same-sex marriage leading to the legalisation of bestiality, maybe in hindsight you should just avoid commenting on the SAS entirely. Cheers – Ed.

Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. In more than three decades of journalism he's had his home and office raided by the Australian Federal Police; he's been arrested and briefly jailed in Israel; he's reported from a swag in Outback Australia on and off for years. Chris has worked across multiple mediums including print, radio and film. His proudest achievement is serving as an Associate producer on John Pilger's 2013 film Utopia. He's also won a few journalism awards along the way in both the US and Australia, including a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards. Since late 2021, Chris has been battling various serious heart and lung conditions. He's begun the process of quietly planning a "gentle exit" after "tying up a few loose ends" in 2024 and 2025. So watch this space.