"Hi, good morning, it's Naomi Wolf calling from Salem, Massachusetts."
"Hello, have I reached Angus Taylor's parliamentary office?"
"Hello, are you there? I'm trying to call to request a correction to a statement that Angus Taylor apparently made about me that it is inaccurate. "
"I'm sorry," Mr Taylor's staffer finally speaks. "You need a correction to what?"
"Have I reached Angus Taylor's parliament office?"
"Whose parliamentary's office?"
"Ye-es, what are you calling regarding?"
So began an excruciating exchange between Naomi Wolf and an unnamed staff member in Mr Taylor's office, which Dr Wolf recorded and has posted on YouTube.
She wanted a correction to Mr Taylor's maiden speech in 2013 in which he told parliament that he lived down the corridor from Ms Wolf at university in Oxford in 1991. Mr Taylor implied that Dr Wolf had been among "shrill elitist voices" campaigning against having a Christmas tree in a case of "insidious political correctness".
The story emerged again this week in the controversies that have engulfed Mr Taylor over his use of a fake document in an attempt to discredit the Sydney mayor on climate change, prompting Dr Wolf to respond. She wasn't at Oxford in 1991 and she loves Christmas, she said this week, and she has now videoed a follow-up call to Mr Taylor's office asking him to correct the public record.
The staff member who answered wouldn't give his name. He remained stubbornly polite despite it apparently being after midnight in Canberra, but told her the media reports had misinterpreted Mr Taylor.
"Actually we're in complete agreement," he told Dr Wolf.
"We're in agreement that I was not in Oxford in 1991 and not campaigning against Christmas?"
"No-no-no-no-no. As to whether she was in attendance at Oxford is perhaps a matter of disagreement between her and Mr Taylor," he answered, using the third person. "But in relation to the ... reporting, that is a matter a matter of dispute from this office."
"I'm sorry, what are you disputing?" Dr Wolf asked?
"If you have a look at Mr Taylor's first speech, no one suggested that she is part of the group of graduates that are opposed to Christmas ... If you look at his speech he doesn't suggest that at all."
"Just to be clear, I'm Naomi Wolf ... I was not in Oxford ... in 1991."
"Mr Taylor thinks you were in Oxford. You would have to have that conversation with him."
For the record, this is what Mr Taylor said in his maiden speech, "I first encountered political correctness as a student at Oxford. It was 1991, and a young Naomi Wolf lived a couple of doors down the corridor. Several graduate students, mostly from the north-east of the US, decided we should abandon the Christmas tree in the common room because some people might be offended. I was astounded."
"Mr Taylor seems to recall that you were in Oxford. You will have to have that discussion with him." Surreal. @FinancialReview, you should listen to the spokesman blaming your reporting for the fake story about my alleged campaign against Xmas trees. https://t.co/34P7tjAuas— Dr Naomi Wolf (@naomirwolf) December 4, 2019
He went on to say, "we must resist the insidious political correctness that would have us discard those core values that have made us great ... chipped away by shrill elitist voices who insist that they know what is best for people who are not remotely like them."
However, the staff member who took the call from Ms Wolf said it was "not his view" that she had campaigned against Christmas.
"The assertion is that Naomi Wolf was present at Oxford at that time, not that she was campaigning against Christmas in any way," he told Naomi Wolf.
Thank you, she said. Will Mr Taylor now correct the public record?
"Can I encourage you to send your inquiry in writing," the staffer said, setting off another back and forth that lasted much of the call, as he requested her complaint in writing and she refused, saying she didn't want private correspondence, she wanted the record correctly publicly, via twitter, in parliament or somewhere.
"Sorry, who's calling," the staffer asked again.
"Naomi Wolf, the subject of these statements."
"Just to be clear - I'm sorry it's a bad line - I'm talking to Naomi Wolf personally?"
"Correct. You're talking to Naomi Wolf personally."
Silence once again from the staffer.
And Dr Wolf pushes again for the correction.
Woke up today to see no correction from @AngusTaylorMP re my alleged war on Xmas tree in 1991 Oxford. Calling his office now. Thinking about how often women must put aside their own plans that day to struggle to correct some men's silencing actions/choices.— Dr Naomi Wolf (@naomirwolf) December 4, 2019
"The number 1 issue is to correct the statement in his maiden speech stating that I was anywhere in or near campaigners against Christmas in Oxford in 1991 because I wasn't. I didn't live down the hall from him. All of that is a misstatement. And I do not want to be invoked in a maiden speech among campaigners against Christmas because I never supported that, I don't believe it. It's not true. There's nothing true about it. It's not a matter of dispute, my whereabouts in 1991 are completely public."
But the staffer insists, "Let me clarify. Mr Taylor recalls seeing you at Oxford. Mr Taylor does not suggest in any way ... that you were in any way campaigning against, shall we say, quote-unquote Christmas...
"The statement that you were there is merely a statement of context, there is no suggestion whatsoever that you were among those who campaigned against Christmas."
Dr Wolf also accused Mr Taylor of "a really gross misuse" of her name and reputation and a "gross distortion of the facts". She said it was ethnically divisive, implying that Jews are anti-Christmas.
"The minister's grandparents are Jewish," the staffer offered. "On his maternal side they are Jewish."
Australians are an inspiration to me; as I wrote elsewhere, otherwise I wouldn't bother being up til 1 being belittled for half an hour by a random male political spokesperson. You guys deserve not to be lied to with impunity.— Dr Naomi Wolf (@naomirwolf) December 4, 2019