GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 290
9 OCTOBER 2015
The inaugural issue of “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” was published in April 1988 – over a year before the first edition of the ABC TV Media Watch program went to air. Since November 1997 “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” has been published as part of The Sydney Institute Quarterly. In 2009 Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog blog commenced publication.
- Can You Bear It? Peter Van Onselen on Tony Abbott; Guy Rundle on the late Geoff Sharp; Georgina Dent’s Contemporary Confusion & Jonathan Holmes’ About Face
ABC AM PROGRAM CENSORS SUPPORTERS OF AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE
In the wake of the brutal murder of NSW Police Department official Curtis Cheng in Parramatta last week, the Australian Federal Police has attained a court order allowing it to retain an 18 year old in custody for an additional 100 hours of questioning. In view of the seriousness of the murder, this seems a reasonable step for authorities to take. But not, it seems, to the team at the ABC AM program.
This is how AM reporter Lucy Carter commenced her coverage of this issue this morning:
Lucy Carter : Under normal circumstances the Australian Federal Police can detain a suspect without charge for up to 24 hours. Yesterday afternoon, the AFP’s lawyers won a last-minute closed court hearing that granted them another 100 hours to question the 18-year-old man who was arrested on Wednesday morning in relation to the shooting of police accountant Curtis Cheng.
Ms Carter proceeded to interview three civil libertarian lawyers about the case. First up, there was Greg Barns of the Australian Lawyers Alliance. Followed by Stephen Blanks, president of the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties. Followed by Chaddy Mardini, a criminal defence lawyer who has represented men suspected of terrorism offences.
Mr Barns agreed with Ms Carter who agreed with Mr Blanks who agreed with Ms Carter who agreed with Ms Mardini who agreed with Mr Barns who agreed with himself. No other view was heard.
The AM reporter did not respond when Greg Brans said that “in some circumstances” the detention of terrorist suspects for 100 hours “could certainly amount to torture”. Ditto when Stephen Blanks declared that “these are the types of laws that bring the authorities into disrepute”. Ditto when Chaddy Mardini accused the AFP of engaging in a “fishing expedition” while “playing with people’s liberty”.
And that was it. This lack of balance is always likely to occur in a public broadcaster like the ABC which does not have one conservative presenter, producer or editor in any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.
The prime reason why the AM program did not present an alternative view to the left-wing position stated by Greg Barns, Stephen Blanks and Chaddy Mardini can only be explained by the fact that the AM team would not have contemplated the thought that someone might actually support the Australian Federal Police in this instance. Such oversight is a consequence of Liz Carter working in a Conservative Free Zone over which the ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief Mark Scott presides on twice the pay of the prime minister.
- MONICA ATTARD & JOHN MANGOS BLAME TONY ABBOTT FOR (ALLEGED) DESERVED ALIENATION OF MUSLIM AUSTRALIANS
There was much relief on ABC Radio 702’s Drive With Richard Glover program yesterday evening when former ABC Media Watch presenter Monica Attard appeared with journalist John Mangos and one other in “The Journos’ Forum”.
Nancy’s (male) co-owner attended a Liberal Party meeting in Tony Abbott’s electorate on Friday 28 August in which the then prime minister spoke. The occasion was the 70th anniversary of the formation of the Liberal Party’s Mosman Branch. John Mangos was the MC for the night and publicly declared his support for the Liberal Party in general and Mr Abbott in particular. It seems that this is a case of love-lost since your man Mangos joined with Monica Attard in bagging Mr Abbott’s government on yesterday’s ”Drive With Richard Glover”.
Let’s go first to the transcript where the leftist Attard rejoices in the fact that Tony Abbott is no longer prime minister and welcomes the change to Malcolm Turnbull. According to Ms Attard, the change-over will improve relations with the Muslim community:
Monica Attard: Well I think the tone has changed, mercifully. And I think it is for the better, obviously, that’s what I think. I don’t think we need language which divides and I don’t think we need language that alienates. And I think the language has up until quite recently, up until the change of prime minister, has done both things, sadly.
And there’s been a lot of hysteria, you know. It’s a problem that we’ve brought on partly ourselves after 9/11. And I think this is reflected probably in the interview that you did before we came on, and that is that we are so paranoid and that we are so entirely focused on who’s to blame, and we’ve isolated this [Muslim] community and we’ve victimised, and we’ve got a whole segment of young Muslims in our community who do feel alienated, and rightly so.
Richard Glover: To be fair to all my texters, a lot of them say, well, “95% of the problem is in this Muslim community”. So why wouldn’t we be focused on it?
Monica Attard: Well if you treat people like that, you’re going to have problems. That’s just the basic problem. That is the issue. We’ve got to stop being so intensely focused on this [Muslim] community and learn to embrace – and, they are part of the solution. In fact they are the solution. You know, given what you’ve just said, they are the solution. So to continue to isolate them and treat them as they have been treated, is just cutting off your nose to spite your face, it’s stupid.
What a load of absolute tosh. Muslim Australians – whether Australian-born or immigrants or refugees – are entitled to all the benefits that Australia offers. Including the rule of law, Medicare, free education and, if necessary, generous welfare provisions. Muslim Australians enjoy a standard of living that is extremely high by world standards. Yet according to Monica Attard, Muslim Australians are entitled to feel alienated.
Then it was over to John Mangos who had this to say about the former prime minister:
John Mangos: I’d like to make a couple of points. My seven year old, we live in Tony Abbott’s electorate, had Tony Abbott visit his school yesterday. And the seven year old came home and said – and he’s not been politically indoctrinated by me in any way, shape or form – said: that Tony Abbott came to school. I said: “How was it”? He said “He’s a really nice man you know Dad, but he wasn’t a very good prime minister”. And I don’t know where he heard it or why he said it. But you know what? – the instinct. And what resonated for me was, he [Abbott] probably wasn’t [very good] because his manner was divisive. Silhouetted by his chief of staff who you talked about, what, half an hour ago, earlier…. And in answer to your original question – has the tone improved and should we move to this more inclusive tone? Absolutely yes.
So there you go. John Mangos decided to use the taxpayer funded public broadcaster to score points against Tony Abbott and his one-time chief-of-staff Peta Credlin on the basis of the opinion of his seven year old son. Really.
THE ABC AND THE TURNBULL GOVERNMENT
Staff at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster expect that prominent Australians – politicians, public servants, business figures – will come on the ABC and answer questions about policy and other matters. But ABC managing director and editor-in-chief Mark Scott only appears on the ABC and declines invitations to appear on commercial outlets.
As a result, Mr Scott is only ever interviewed by his employees – in a situation where ABC staff tend to direct soft questions at their boss. And so it was yesterday when Nice Mr Scott rocked up at the ABC studio in Ultimo (Sydney) for an interview with ABC presenter Virginia Trioli (Southbank, Melbourne) on the ABC1’s News Breakfast program.
The excuse for the interview [Don’t you mean – in the newly emerging cliché – “the conversation”? – Ed] was the ABC’s involvement in the “Mental As” focus on mental health. Early on, Mr Scott said that the ABC was oh-so-conscientious that it employed staff who are openly battling with mental health issues – as presenters, regulars on programs and people in senior management. Needless to say, Nice Mr Scott stressed that, yes, the ABC was nice to its employees with mental health problems. How nice. [Surely he said mental health “issues” – Ed]
Discussion then turned on the REALLY BIG ISSUE OF THE DAY – namely the taxpayer funded broadcaster itself. Let’s go to the transcript:
Virginia Trioli: To some other matters while we’ve got you here, Mark Scott. In her A.N Smith Oration delivered last night at Melbourne University, the ABC investigative reporter Sarah Ferguson asked, now that he’s prime minister, will Malcolm Turnbull be tempted to follow the Tory lead in Britain in reining in the power of the public broadcaster? Or will he be, as in the past, a friend of the ABC? Do you have a view on that?
Mark Scott: Well, I think we just need to judge the new prime minister on his record and the language that he’s used in public life. But most recently, as minister for communications. Malcolm Turnbull has said on a number of occasions that the ABC is more important than ever. I don’t think we’ve ever had a prime minister who’s worked more intensively with the communications sector – he’s been a journalist, he’s started online operations, he’s been involved with senior management in broadcasting. He understands the crisis that’s affecting traditional media organisations and he’s often said that the ABC is more important than ever given all that’s happening in the media sector. So we expect strong continued support from the prime minister for the ABC.
Virginia Trioli: And with a new minister in charge as well, Mitch Fifield, in your view any chance of a claw-back of the budget cuts?
Mark Scott: Well I think we need to make our arguments to government as to why appropriately funding the ABC is important. I’ve already had a number of meetings with the new minister and I think partly it’s our case, our responsibility to make a case to government to explain why we spend the money that we’re given now, we spend it very well to great benefit for the Australian people everywhere and why if in fact we wanted more money, what we would do with it and what the public benefit would come as a consequence of that. So we’ll have these conversations as we’ve had with different ministers and different governments in the past and hopefully we can get a good outcome, a good response for the Australian people.
Virginia Trioli went on to ask her boss whether he had done “a good enough job defending” the ABC. Answer – Yes. La Trioli laughingly declared that Mark Scott seemed to have “successfully ducked” the question – but did not pursue the matter. Then the News Breakfast co-presenter asked her Boss who might succeed him. In reply, Nice Mr Scott suggested that his interviewee should “polish up” her resume and apply. How frightfully nice. And that was that – with La Trioli saying to her employer: “Nice to talk to you, thanks so much.” Yes, so nice to talk to Nice Mr Scott.
For the information of MWD’s avid readers, Nancy’s (male) co-owner offers this advice about Prime Minister Turnbull’s likely approach to the ABC:
- Malcolm Turnbull believes that the ABC is a left-wing organisation staffed by left-of-centre journalists. He just happens to hold the view that there is nothing that the Commonwealth Government can do about this and that the Coalition has no option but to accept the ABC as it is.
- Malcolm Turnbull believes that the ABC Board, which includes the managing director, has the responsibility of ensuring that the public broadcaster is fair and balanced. He has not said how the Board – which meets briefly about ten times a year – can achieve balance and fairness across the ABC’s numerous television, radio and online outlets. But he believes that the Board should do this.
- Malcolm Turnbull does recognise that in one instance the ABC has exhibited willful bias. Namely, in its reporting of the National Broadband Network in the lead-up to the 2010 election. However, again, he concedes that nothing could be done about this since the managing director and his senior management refused to take action concerning the public broadcaster’s reporting of the NBN which favoured the (then) Labor government’s position at the expense of the Coalition.
- Tony Abbott’s criticism of the ABC turned on its lack of political balance in key news and current affairs programs. Malcolm Turnbull’s central criticism of the public broadcaster turns on its efficiency – or, rather, lack of same. The Prime Minister has observed SBS, Sky News and Network 7 in action – and he knows that all three organisations produce more for less, when compared with the ABC.
In view of this, it is most unlikely that the ABC will be able to claw-back the funding cuts imposed in the Abbott government’s 2014 budget. After all, Malcolm Turnbull was the Minister for Communications in the Cabinet which approved cuts to the ABC. Mr Turnbull is also conscious of the attitudes of the various Commonwealth government departments – Prime Minister and Cabinet, Treasury, Finance and the like – which have all undergone efficiency audits over many years and resented the fact that the ABC was exempt from such financial rigour for many years prior to 2014.
Here’s MWD’s conclusion. Malcolm Turnbull will appear more readily on the ABC than his predecessor. Moreover, as appearances with the likes of Leigh Sales and Fran Kelly suggest – he is likely to receive much softer interviews than Tony Abbott. However, it is unlikely that the Turnbull government will increase ABC funding in real terms before the public broadcaster improves its productivity. The Prime Minister believes, correctly, that there is flab in the public broadcaster – particularly in management.
- PVO’S NOISY SILENCE ON TONY ABBOTT
According to reports, Peter Van Onselen is busy completing (or is it completed?) a book on Tony Abbott titled Battleground: Why the Liberal Party Shirt-fronted Tony Abbott to be published by Melbourne University Press.
It seems that Dr Van Onselen (for a doctor he is), having written a life-changing thesis on something about the Senate) has already decided that his effort will be a tome for Abbott-haters, as the following PVO tweets suggest:
What fun to see The Australian’s Peter Van Onselen and The Australian’s Chris Kenny going at each other on Twitter – especially since both men present programs on Sky News. Such pluralism is not to be found on the ABC or SBS public broadcasters.
It’s true that Tony Abbott failed as prime minister – in view of the fact that he lost the support of a majority of his Liberal Party colleagues, by a vote of 54 to 44. But this does not make Tony Abbott “one of the worst” prime ministers – unless policy counts for nought in PVO-land.
After all, the Abbott government did stop the boats and junk the carbon tax and the mining tax. Many journalists and commentators predicted that Tony Abbott would not, or could not, achieve these outcomes. Also there was some budget repair – in spite of a hostile Senate – along with initiatives in the areas of defence, domestic violence and trade agreements. Moreover, the Abbott government – unlike some of its predecessors – did not introduce bad policies (the Fraser, Rudd and Gillard governments) or lose control of the economy (the Whitlam Government). If it did, then critics of the former prime minister should identify policies which were inappropriate. So far no one has attempted to do so – focusing instead on the Abbott government’s political (not policy) failures.
If PVO really believes that Tony Abbott was one of Australia’s worst prime ministers – so bad that the best way to approach Abbott’s administration is with “silence” – what’s PVO doing writing a book? Can you bear it?
- GUY RUNDLE FORGETS THE LATE GEOFF SHARP’S ONE-TIME FLIRTATION WITH UNCLE JOE STALIN
Nancy’s (male) co-owner has given up reading Guy Rundle’s long-winded tedious pieces in the left-wing Crikey newsletter. Hendo reckons that his favourite Marxist comedian can do better. In the meantime, Hendo has taken to re-reading your man Rundle’s shorter pieces like his obituary on Geoff Sharp (1926-2015), the founder of the Marxist journal of opinion Arena, which was published in The Age on 22 August. Guy Rundle was co-editor of Arena Magazine between 1992 and 2006 and knew Mr Sharp well.
Your man Rundle is invariably banging on about the (alleged) past political attitudes of conservatives. But he does not extend such analysis to his leftist comrades. This is what Rundle wrote about Geoff Sharp MA, who taught at Melbourne University from 1949 to 1994:
The theory [that reality is composed of intersecting layers of abstract and concrete reality, in different realities] entailed a practice: combining manual and intellectual life without dropping out. Arena’s country and city centres, in Central Victoria and Fitzroy, became hubs of debate and activity, as a generation of future academics, writers and activists printed the journal on vast roaring letterpress machines, built the earth sheds they were housed in, and tried to get a fire started before an evening seminar. But Sharp was as much a man of the university and its ancient traditions, as he was of the social revolution, having graduated MA from Melbourne University in 1948. After joining the RAAF at 18 years old, he became a lecturer in collective behaviour in the Psychology Department in 1949.
He and Nonie met in the lively and forceful milieu of the University Left, and married on 30 September 1954 at St John’s Church, Camberwell. Their Communist Party membership would be used against Sharp, and his position in the University’s Social Studies department imperilled when a vicious attack on his intellectual integrity was made by The Bulletin in 1961. Following legal proceedings brought by Sharp, the magazine printed a retraction and apology in 1969. In the decades before his retirement in 1994, he taught a much sought-out social theory seminar in the History and Philosophy of Science Department.
In other words, Geoff Sharp joined the Communist Party of Australia when Joe Stalin was all the rage among the comrades. The CPA had supported the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939-1941 and attempted to subvert the war effort. Comrade Sharp consciously joined a Stalinist party which supported the subjugation of Eastern Europe including forced famines, purges by execution and the gulag.
According to Comrade Rundle, the late Comrade Sharp “wanted people to think better, harder, deeper and to change the world accordingly”. But MWD’s favourite Marxist comedian forgot to mention to his Age readers that if Comrade Sharp had his way in the late 1940s and 1950s, communist totalitarianism would have prevailed. Can you bear it?
- GEORGINA DENT’S MORAL EQUIVALENCE
What a stunning performance by Georgina Dent on ABC1’s The Drum last Wednesday. Ms Dent threw the switch to moral equivalence when the topic turned on the actions of Farhad Jabar who murdered NSW Police Department official Curtis Cheng late last week.
Let’s go to the transcript as Ms Dent directed the discussion to the recent tragedy at Umpqua Community College in Oregon where gunman Christopher Harper-Mercer murdered nine students before taking his own life:
Georgina Dent: I’m interested to know, and this might be wrong, but I mean we know at the moment that the mass shootings in America are a real problem. Is there the same, do we jump immediately to – and I agree that obviously the cultural setting is always important – but it doesn’t seem that when we have young Christian men in America, you know, shooting a number of people at a university, that the immediate question isn’t, well where are the Christian leaders? What’s the Christian community doing for this? Do you think that’s a fair assessment?
Talk about verbal sludge. Yet Ms Dent’s message was clear enough. She believes that Christian leaders in the United States should have condemned Christian murderers like Christopher Harper-Mercer. Georgina Dent seemed totally unaware that Harper-Mercer was an atheist who specifically targeted Christians for murder at Oregon. Moreover few if any mass murderers in the US have evoked Christian religious utterances before engaging in massacres. This is just low-level moral equivalence. Can you bear it?
Jonathan Holmes’ Second Thoughts
The British born leftist Jonathan Holmes spent much of his media life in Australia working for the taxpayer funded public broadcaster – including a stint as one of the ongoing leftist presenters on the ABC’s Media Watch program.
So it came as some surprise when, in his Age column on 7 October, your man Holmes expressed concern about the plight of the commercial print media – concluding his piece with the comment that “we need a profitable mainstream media; and if we want to keep it, we need to pay for it.”
This is the very same Mr Holmes who has constantly supported the public sector broadcaster and has never spoken up against the ABC’s recent decisions to dump printed news and printed opinion on its online sites for free. So Mr Holmes sees no contradiction in supporting paywalls for newspapers while also supporting Nice Mr Scott’s decision to give news and opinion away for free. Can you bear it?
Nancy, being a very modern sheila, is deeply concerned about misogyny in our midst. That’s why, your dog Nancy always treats her (female) co-owner with the same respect that she gives to her (male) co-owner. Hence Nancy’s concern.
Last night Anne Henderson appeared on the inaugural program of Channel Nine’s The Verdict along with Mark Latham (aka the Lair of Liverpool) and many more. The Verdict rated well.
During the program The Guardian Australia’s house-leftist Amanda Meade tweeted the following:
How shockingly misogynistic can you get? Here is The Guardian Australia’s media critic suggesting that Nancy’s (female) co-owner merely reflects the views of her (male) co-owner. Believe it or not, but Nancy’s co-owners do not agree on everything. On the morning after The Verdict’s night before, Nancy’s (female) co-owner sent the following tweet in reply:
In future Nancy will monitor Amanda Meade’s tweets for signs of misogyny and required admission to an Anti-Misogyny Re-Education Camp. [Couldn’t Ms Meade just attend Hendo Courtesy Classes? – Ed]
Step forward The Age
Last Tuesday, The Age’s page one lead story, by Heath Aston, was titled “FTA worker influx warning: China deal Agreement could drive down wages, report finds”.
The problem here was not that The Age covered a report by Dr Joanna Howe on the ChA-FTA which was commissioned by the Electrical Trades Union (which, along with CFMEU opposes ChA-FTA). Rather, the beat-up was to give such prominence to a report by Dr Howe (for a doctor she is) who is a senior lecturer in law at the University of Adelaide. At least the Sydney Morning Herald had the good sense to run the story way down on page 7.
KIM SWEETMAN’S “TRUTH DOESN’T MATTER” DEFENCE
What a stunning piece by Kim Sweetman in The Sunday Mail last weekend – titled “Birth control was always a sticking point for conservative Queensland”. Here’s how it started under the photograph of a banner stating “Love Carefully”. The caption was as follows: “A safe-sex campaign poster from 1976, but it wasn’t until the mid-1990s before any state government committed any money to provide even counselling services about birth control.” This is what Kim Sweetman had to say initially:
The premier [Joh Bjelke-Petersen], it was alleged, didn’t actually understand what a condom was and his colleagues had to explain. He was, it was alleged, appalled at the concept.
Whether the story was true didn’t much matter. It was the mid-1980s, and while the rest of the country was tackling the new AIDS epidemic, Queensland was battling with the mere concept that a government should be part of the promotion and education of safe sex.
How about that? Kim Sweetman alleged, without evidence, that Queensland premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen in 1976 did not know what a condom was. She did not have a source but claimed “that it didn’t matter much” whether the story – which led to her article – was true or false. So there.
Kim Sweetman soon came up with another dodgy claim, viz:
Historian Phil Carswell is quoted by the Gay News Network as citing Joh [Bjelke-Petersen] saying in December 1986 that the introduction of such [condom] machines was like “letting everyone set up prostitution parlours so we can all be raped. If you introduce these things it will encourage young people to carry on in this manner. Are you asking that we escalate this immorality?” The Courier-Mail does not mention that quote, but does report on numerous threats to raid supermarkets guilty of stocking condoms.
So Kim Sweetman quoted a comment in Gay News Network by Phil Carswell about what Joh Bjelke-Petersen (allegedly) said in 1986. However, she concedes that there is no direct source for this quote and that there is no record of Bjelke-Petersen ever having made such a statement in the Courier Mail’s files.
So Kim Sweetman has no idea whether the former premier knew what a condom was in 1976 or whether a decade later he regarded condom dispensing machines as equivalent to prostitution parlours. Yet these anonymous sources were central to her article.
This overwhelmingly popular segment of Media Watch Dog usually works like this. Someone or other thinks it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Nancy’s (male) co-owner about something or other. And Hendo, being a courteous and well-brought up kind of guy, replies. Then, hey presto, the correspondence is published in MWD – much to the delight of its tens of millions of readers.
There are occasions, however, when Nancy’s (male) co-owner decides to write a polite note to someone or other – who, in turn, believes that a reply is in order. Publication in MWD invariably follows. There are, alas, some occasions where Hendo sends a polite missive but does not receive the courtesy of a reply. Nevertheless, publication of this one-sided correspondence still takes place. For the record and in the public interest, of course.
As MWD readers are aware, The Guardian Australia’s deputy editor Katharine Murphy put out the following tweet on 6 June 2014 at 4.33 pm – when that issue of MWD was “hot off the press”. Here is Ms Murphy’s tweet: “Without in any way wanting to breach anyone’s human rights or free speech – why do people write emails to Gerard Henderson?” It’s a very good question. Thankfully, not everyone follows Katharine Murphy’s wise counsel.
GERARD HENDERSON AND WARWICK BROWN – CONCERNING SMH EDITOR-IN-CHIEF DARREN GOODSIR’S “MALICE” TOWARDS THE ABBOTT GOVERNMENT’S TREASURER
There were lotsa Abbott-haters within the Australian media during Tony Abbott’s two year prime ministership which was regarded by sections of the left as the Abbott Clerical Fascist Dictatorship. However, there was a cluster at Fairfax Media and at the Conservative Free Zone which is the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. So it was no surprise that, when Fairfax Media was subjected to criticism by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton for its coverage of the Abbott government, Fairfax Media journalists defended Fairfax Media on the Fairfax Media friendly ABC.
In last week’s MWD, Nancy’s (male) co-owner criticised two Fairfax Media journalists who defended Fairfax Media on the ABC without mentioning the fact that Fairfax Media senior editor Darren Goodsir had been found by the Federal Court of Australia as having exhibited animus and malice towards Abbott government treasurer Joe Hockey. A certain Warwick Brown of Coogee, NSW, did not agree – and was kind enough to provide a Correspondence segment this week. Now read on:
Warwick Brown to Gerard Henderson – October 2015
Just a minor point for consideration by the Media Watch Dog herself: The oft-mentioned judgement where Mr Goodsir is seen as having been shown to act with actual malice towards Mr Hockey does not cover the full points for which praise is due to the editor.
No, I think it is unfair to Mr Goodsir not to also add that being found to use actual malice in such a defamation case would be sufficient skill on his part to have the same judgement also have force in the United States where it has long been thought that actions against editors will fail under their stricter rules. The Goodsir “malice” shown in the Hockey matter would be suitable to succeed in the USA too.
Gerard Henderson to Warwick Brown – 8 October 2015
Thanks for your email of last Sunday. Apologies for the delay in responding but I have been a bit busy of late.
In your note you disagreed with the following comment which I wrote in MWD Issue 289, viz:
…it was Messrs [Phil] Coorey and [Mark] Kenny who went on various ABC channels in the lead up to the leadership change and defended Fairfax Media against the allegation that it was waging a campaign hostile to the Abbott government. Neither Fairfax Media journalist told ABC viewers/listeners that the Sydney Morning Herald’s editor-in-chief, a certain Darren Goodsir, has been found by the Federal Court of Australia to have acted with “malice” in respect of Joe Hockey – the treasurer in the Abbott government. A convenient omission, to be sure.
In response to your email, I make the following points:
▪ It may, or may not, be the case that under the defamation laws which prevail in the United States, Fairfax Media may not have been found to have defamed Joe Hockey. However, as you are aware, Australian legal actions are judged with respect to Australian law.
▪ In any event, my comment in my Media Watch Dog blog last Friday did not focus on legal technicalities but rather on content.
It is a rare event when an editor-in-chief in a major newspaper is found by a superior court in Australia to have acted with malice concerning a Federal Treasurer. However, this is what Justice Richard White held occurred with respect to Darren Goodsir.
In his judgement in the Federal Court of Australia on 30 June 2015, Justice White found that:
– Several of “Mr Goodsir’s answers in cross-examination…were not convincing and had the appearance of a present day rationalisation for his conduct at the time”. (Paragraph 399).
– “It is evident that…Mr Goodsir wished to ‘get at’ Mr Hockey” (Paragraph 404).
– Darren Goodsir’s evidence about his comment that he wanted Joe Hockey “nailed to the cross” (i.e. an intention to inflict pain) was “not…convincing”. (Paragraph 405).
– Mr Goodsir’s explanation for his comment that he wanted to publish a headline which screamed “Sloppy Joe!” was “unconvincing”. The proposed headline was indicative of “Mr Goodsir’s animus towards Mr Hockey”. (Paragraph 406).
– While Darren Goodsir “had information that the operations of the NSF [North Sydney Forum] were similar to those of other fundraising entities associated with the Liberal Party, he [Goodsir] did not direct parallel investigations of those entities…”. This was another instance of “Mr Goodsir’s animus towards Mr Hockey”. (Paragraph 408).
– Mr Goodsir “lost objectivity” concerning Joe Hockey. The Sydney Morning Herald editor-in-chief was “motivated by his animus towards Mr Hockey and that he sought a headline which would be hurtful of, or damaging to, Mr Hockey.” (Paragraph 411).
– Mr Goodsir’s “animus towards Mr Hockey…was predominantly actuated by improper purpose”. (Paragraph 415).
– The publication of the Sydney Morning Herald’s poster “Treasurer for Sale” was “actuated by malice”, namely the malice of Darren Goodsir. (Paragraph 421).
* * * *
In my view, when Mark Kenny (Sydney Morning Herald) and Phil Coorey (Australian Financial Review) were defending Fairfax Media’s coverage of the Abbott government on the ABC, they should have told the ABC’s viewers/listeners that the Sydney Morning Herald editor-in-chief’s established “animus” and “malice”, concerning Joe Hockey, had been recognised by the Federal Court of Australia. Moreover, they could have mentioned that Fairfax Media did not appeal Justice White’s decision. It’s called being fair and balanced.
Until next time – keep morale high.
I’ve been shot at by the Viet Cong. I once met Gerard Henderson. I can take any shit thrown at me…
Mike Carlton via Twitter, 9:22 PM – 9 Sep 2015
Gerard. You are an idiot #insiders
Bevan Shields via Twitter, 9:46 AM, 23 August 2015