11 March, 2015. 14:05
ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact
WHEN IT COMES to Andrew Bolt, people don’t sit on the fence.
Either you love him, or you hate him.
He’s an award-winning journalist, columnist, radio commentator, blogger and television host that shouts the right-wing agenda from the rooftops.
But what if it all was an act?
It just may be, because last night on 2GB’s Nights with Steve Price, the 55-year-old Adelaidean said that his entire character and professional career is an elaborate satirical hoax.
The roots of these stunning revelations sprouted when a young Bolt discovered improvisational theatre while at university.
“I was lured in by the freedom of expression,” recalled Bolt.
“The movement, the creativity. It was immediately attractive to me,”
“From the moment I saw it, I knew I had to be in it,”
Prior to taking up a cadetship with Melbourne’s The Age in 1979, Bolt was approached by a handful of newspaper and media executives who were interested in creating a satirical voice for the “archaic and fear-mongering” right-wing movement, which had blossomed under the Fraser government.
“Australia was a scary place back then,” said Bolt.
“The conservative factions of both parties had the upper hand and the youth movement was dead,”
“These blokes pulled me aside after class one day and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,”
At the request of one nameless media executive, Bolt began to attend classes at Sydney’s exclusive National Institute for Dramatic Art (NIDA), where he began to excel.
“When I was at NIDA, I was taught how to capture a character and channel it toward an audience,” said Bolt.
“It was truly eye-opening. It made me want to be an actor,”
“But you know what they say, ‘How do you know if someone’s been to NIDA?'”
“They’ll tell you, don’t worry,”
Bolt began to find his right-wing voice by modelling himself around conservative stalwarts of the Australian media landscape.
He began enthusiastically consuming articles and books from journalists and writers such as Germaine Greer, who’s spiteful and incendiary literature provided Bolt with a firm foundation from which to springboard in to provocative journalism.
“I didn’t much care about what she was saying, but they way she said it was brilliant – it blew me away,” said Bolt.
“The voice in her writing was so full of hate, it was so irrational and baseless,”
“A lot of my early writing was inspired by the way Greer wrote,”
In 2001, Bolt became a regular guest on ABC’s Insiders, which many commentators agree was his breakthrough role.
Appearing in character on television for the first time, Bolt became infamous around Australia for his reaction to the September 11 attacks and the rampant Islamophobia that followed.
“It was a perfect opportunity,”
“There wasn’t a journalist in the country that wanted to touch the growing angst toward Muslims,”
“I decided to go hard after the Muslim population because there was money to be made off the fears of conservatives,” he said.
It was the pseudo-interview that propelled Bolt to nationwide fame.
“People were scared – they were scared of the Muslim running the milk bar down the road,”
“They were all watching me on the television, listening to me on the radio and reading my articles in the newspapers,”
“I was the voice in their head that said: ‘you’re not the only one scared of these people’, which was a lucrative niche to find yourself in,”
By then, Bolt was an established figure within Australian journalism and his name was fast becoming the right-wing brand among the left-leaning progressive élite.
Unions began attacking him, saying he was “anti-business”.
The Greens movement labelling him a “fascist mouthpiece”.
It was a period that Bolt says was difficult.
“Deep down, I’m as left as they come,” he said.
“I’m the son of two Dutch immigrants who had to fight for everything they ever got,”
“I worked hard for my success. And yes it was hard, being called all those things by the people I admired – but I persevered,”
The future of The Bolt Project is now in doubt, now that the agnostic father of three has outed himself but he says he’s not afraid of a new challenge.
“I love to paint,” he revealed.
“My other passion is breeding show spaniels for hunting and competition,”
But even Bolt agrees, now was the best time to end the charade.
“I created this monster that is Andrew Bolt – and I only think it’s right if I’m the one that kills it.”