GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 494
1 May 2020
* * * *
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. Between November 1997 and October 2015 “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” was published as part of The Sydney Institute Quarterly. In March 2009 Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog blog commenced publication.
* * * *
Stop Press – Premier Dan Andrews Reckons that the Taxpayer Funded ABC works “for free”
Can You Bear It? – James Campbell on our happy calamity; Crikey goes fawn-again for Jacinda Ardern; La Trioli speaks for the teachers in pyjamas
Quelle Surprise! – Three quarters of the Insiders team pile on Greg Sheridan
Rant of the Week – Kathy Lette on the blood on Boris Johnson’s hands
MWD’s Deliberate Mistake – A Melissa Davey name flub
An ABC Update – Fran Kelly’s fake news re President Trump; Kerryn Phelps on Australia’s scholastic warzones
Media Fool of the Month – A gong for the Gadfly
* * * *
PREMIER DAN ANDREWS RECKONS THAT THE TAXPAYER FUNDED ABC WORKS “FOR FREE”
It seems that the ALP has formally signed up as a member of the ABC Mutual Admiration Society. Last night, Victorian Labor premier (“call me Dan if you wish”) Andrews put out this tweet:
From our best days to our worst, the ABC has always been there for Victorians.
And now, they're supporting students to learn from home by making thousands of resources available online and on TV – for free
— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) April 30, 2020
Turn it up. The ABC, which was founded in 1932, was not there in (i) 1851 (when on Black Thursday Victoria had its worst ever bushfires and a quarter of its land was burnt), (ii) 1878 when bushranger Ned Kelly murdered three Victorian policemen, (iii) the First World War of 1914-1918, (iv) the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1919 and (v) the beginning of the Great Depression in 1929. Somehow Victoria got through all this without the ABC.
And then there is Premier Andrews’ praise that the ABC is making thousands of resources available for students online and on TV “for free”. No, they are not “for free”. It seems that Victoria’s premier has forgotten that the ABC gets over a $1 billion a year from Australian taxpayers. In other words, the ABC’s decision to support students learning from home is being funded by taxpaying Australians – who deserve the credit, surely.
It seems that Victoria’s most prominent Socialist Left operative has followed the lead of ALP national secretary Paul Erickson. He sent out a similar tweet on Wednesday thanking the ABC – for doing its job. Which raises the question – what about the good folk in the commercial media who also do their job?
JAMES CAMPBELL’S PANDEMIC “UTOPIA”
What a stunning article in the Herald-Sun on Tuesday titled “Celebrate the joys of life in isolation” by its columnist James Campbell. Your man Campbell commenced his piece by looking in happiness at social distancing at a time of pandemic. Here’s how he commenced:
It’s taken a month to get used to it but I think I might actually be starting to prefer this life to the old one. Well, some aspects of it, I should say. Obviously not all of it. It goes without saying we could live without the sharpest economic collapse since the Great Depression. And clearly it would be good if we could still take the kids round to see their grandparents.
It would be nice too to be able to meet up with friends for a coffee, while seeing the pubs dark and empty is a painful sight for those of us who like pubs. But aside from the massive rise in unemployment, economic insecurity and social isolation, along with the attendant rises in mental illness and depression — not to mention the ever present threat of death that now comes just from popping into Coles — this life has a lot going for it, I’ve come to realise.
Yeah, really. Go on. Alas he did. James (“I’m a Melbourne Grammar man”) Campbell went on to state that “it’s also nice to know that everyone is in the same boat; you’re stuck at home but everyone else is stuck at home too”. Well, that’s true. To some extent, at least. However, some people are still at work. And there are differences. Some homes are more comfortable than others. Some have five star houses, apartments and flats. Others are less fortunate. Some, like JC, live with a wife and children and a dog. Others live alone.
Moreover, there’s a difference between working from home (á la Mr Campbell) and being recently unemployed due to COVID-19 and at home (á la hundreds and thousands of others). Also some homes are equipped with modern communications – but by no means all. Some Australians do not own a computer. In short, James Campbell believes that “in years to come this will be the time that we look back on as the happiest” – even though he’s “just sorry it took a calamity”.
Turn it up. Only someone very privileged would write such tripe. For many, this will be the worst of times. Including lotsa readers of the Herald-Sun. MWD recalls that on Insiders on 29 March 2020, James Campbell – along with Lenore Taylor and Mark Kenny called for a more substantial lockdown of the Australian economy than the Morrison government and its medical advisers thought necessary. All three have good jobs and secure employment. Talk about not knowing how the other half (or maybe 80 per cent) lives. Can You Bear It?
CRIKEY’S FAWN-AGAIN NEW ZEALAND MOMENT
While on the topic of the Insiders consensus of 29 March 2020 that Australia’s lock-down should be even tougher than it currently is – how is New Zealand going, having implemented this very proposal? Well, not too well it seems.
But first flashback to 9 April 2020, just over three weeks ago, when Crikey’s Charlie Lewis ran a piece titled “How New Zealand set the world standard virus response”. This is how Comrade Lewis’ suck-up commenced:
In some ways, it’s too easy to look longingly across the Tasman – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is young and energetic, radiates a certain common touch and decency, and is a fine orator.
And while we’re not exposed to issues with the New Zealand government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis (such as problems facing its welfare system), it’s hard to deny that when it comes to containing the spread of the coronavirus, New Zealand has done a remarkable job. As The Washington Post put it, it hasn’t flattened the curve so much as squashed it.
Needless to say, the Aussie scribbler went on to compare Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison unfavourably with the (secular) Saint Jacinda. But is such a comparison warranted? The answer, it would seem, is in the negative.
Now step forward to last Monday when Nine Newspapers ran an article by Luke Malpass and Thomas Coughlan who write for the New Zealand publication Stuff. They reported that Ms Ardern has been praised by such publications as The Atlantic Monthly in New York and The Financial Times in London for having imposed a lockdown of the kind approved by the likes of James Campbell, Mark Kenny and Lenore Taylor in Australia. On 25 March 2020, New Zealand went to Level Four restrictions which meant that “schools, shops, construction, almost everything apart from supermarkets and pharmacies were forced to shut down”.
Messrs Malpass and Coughlan reported that, in New Zealand’s living rooms, Saint Jacinda is not viewed so rosily as in the journals of New York and London:
Last Monday, the government released a damning report into its own contact tracing efforts. Meanwhile, job losses continued to mount as iconic tourism attractions shut, alongside some of the country’s best-loved magazine titles. The only shops open are supermarkets, for which there are often Soviet-style queues. Petrol stations are also open, but in New Zealand’s police state, roadblocks mean few litres are required.
Estimates of eventual unemployment vary wildly – between 8 per cent and 30 per cent. ANZ Bank estimated a 15 per cent drop in house prices. Tourism, about 10 per cent of the economy, is dead. Agriculture is left as New Zealand’s sole export breadwinner.
And for what result? As a island like Australia, New Zealand has been able to close its borders and greatly diminish the spread of COVID-19. However, the Ardern government believed New Zealand’s lockdown should be much more substantial than Australia’s. In spite of this, the Ardern government has done no better than the Morrison government in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 – as the official statistics attest:
۰ 1,479 confirmed cases
۰ 19 deaths
۰ 307 confirmed cases per million
۰ 3.9 deaths per million
۰ 6,765 confirmed cases
۰ 93 deaths
۰ 265 confirmed cases per million
۰ 3.6 deaths per million
In other words , the impact of COVID-19 is much the same in New Zealand as in Australia. But the Ardern government’s lock-down has had a more deleterious economic effect than that implemented by the Morrison government. And yet the likes of Crikey’s Charlie Lewis apparently still “look longingly across the Tasman” at (secular) Saint Jacinda’s perceived utopia. Can You Bear It?
LA TRIOLI HEARS THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE VIA TERRIFIED TEACHERS AT HOME IN THEIR PYJAMAS
While on the topic of Insiders, COVID-19 and all that, did anyone see Virginia Trioli’s appearance on the couch on Sunday? As discussed elsewhere, the powers-that-be at Insiders have decided it would be a you-beaut idea to invite two more ABC presenters on to the couch this year. Namely, Rafael Epstein and Virginia Trioli – who add to the team of Patricia Karvelas and Laura Tingle.
The problem is that Comrade Epstein and La Trioli frequently talk about what their listeners tell them. Forgetting for a moment that if ABC viewers/listeners were representative of Australia as a whole – we would have a Green/Left government.
Now let’s go to last week’s show when presenter David Speers asked La Trioli what she was picking up from listeners about whether schools should continue to be closed:
Virginia Trioli: Well if you had to deduce a majority view from what I’m hearing from a whole lot of listeners and texters into Mornings on ABC Melbourne – the majority would be teachers and teachers who are terrified of going back into the classroom…And I hear comment after comment on talkback and on text: “Don’t send me back”. Because, okay, can you have social distancing between kids? Maybe older kids you can, Year 12s. In the classroom, I suppose so with a small classroom. You can’t have it in the staff room. Staff rooms around the country for state schools, a lot of them are really very crowded, I don’t know how you do that.
Virginia Trioli seems to believe that teachers should not be required to work while receiving full pay. But that employees in emergency services, health industries and retail should be expected to work. A double standard to be sure – especially since the medical advice is that it is safe for schools to re-open.
Moreover, La Trioli seems to believe that phone calls to ABC Radio “Mornings” in Melbourne from teachers at home in their pyjamas are representative of Australians as a whole. But the Mornings presenter would get a different view if she bothered to listen some mornings to such commercial stations as 3AW (Melbourne), 2GB (Sydney), 4BC (Brisbane), 5AA (Adelaide) and 6PR (Perth).
There the ABC presenter might hear the views of, say, parents who are “terrified” that so-called home-schooling prevents them from working and has an adverse effect on the education and health of children. Especially children from low socio-economic backgrounds and those with a disability.
But to La Trioli, in her very own isolation, an ABC presenter can attain a majority view on this subject by listening to the views of teachers phoning from their homes. How out of touch can you get? More importantly – Can You Bear It?
THREE QUARTERS OF THE INSIDERS TEAM PILE ON GREG SHERIDAN (IN ABSENTIA) IN DEFENCE OF THE ABC’s ANTI-PELL PILE-ON
More evidence emerged last weekend to support the view of MWD fave Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) that “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life”.
As avid readers will recall, last Friday MWD ran an imaginary pic of the ABC Insiders set following news that it was at Malcolm Turnbull’s initiative that The Guardian came to Australian shores in the persona of The Guardian Australia. And that Mr Turnbull nominated its two principal staffers – namely editor Lenore Taylor and political editor Katharine (“Call me Murpharoo”) Murphy, both comrades on the left.
Comrade Taylor and Comrade Murphy have appeared regularly on the Insiders “couch” since The Guardian Australia was established in 2013 – but neither has advised Insiders viewers of their relationship with Malcolm Turnbull. This despite the fact that the Insiders executive producer Sam Clark proclaims the need for full disclosure and all that. Come to think of it, Comrade Clark has not made a comment on this matter either.
Insiders’ mock panel – as envisaged by MWD last week – consisted of Malcolm Turnbull as presenter with The Guardian Australia comrades appearing by video-link, due to COVID-19. The third panellist was Karl Marx (1818-1883) who, having risen from the dead, joined the panel from his new base in inner-city Melbourne. Where else? A typical ABC panel where almost everyone agrees with almost everyone else on almost everything.
But MWD digresses. What’s this about Art imitating Life? Well, it’s this. At the end of Insiders last Sunday, panellists were invited to make a final prediction or observation. First up it was Nine Newspapers’ James Chessell – whose final comment reflected his performance on the panel. It was so bland and uncontroversial that MWD cannot recall what he said. Nor is it likely that anyone else could.
And then it was time for an oh-so-familiar pile-on as Insiders last Sunday reflected MWD’s fake-Insiders panel – in that everyone agreed with everyone else about the ABC, Cardinal George Pell and all that from the perspective of a Pell antagonist.
First up, Network 10’s Peter Van Onselen had this to say:
Peter Van Onselen: This is with a disclaimer that I have no interest with a job at the ABC, I’m happy where I am. But I think that some of the attacks on the organisation recently are absolutely ridiculous. Whether it’s the bushfires or now the coronavirus – all media are under significant pressure. And having a public broadcaster doing the job that the ABC does has never been more important. And, I think, praise rather than criticism is where things should go. It’s really just the culture wars that sees the criticism.
So there you have it. According to PVO, ABC journalists have every right to criticise governments, organisations and individuals. But no one should criticise the taxpayer funded public broadcaster. By the way, Comrade PVO has two paid ABC gigs – namely Insiders and Radio National Breakfast. As such, he is regarded by the ABC as a member of the ABC’s staff.
Then it was Virginia Trioli’s turn. La Trioli presents Mornings on ABC Radio Melbourne 774. She is one of the two left-of-centre ABC presenters who has joined the Insiders panel this year – the other is Rafael Epstein. [What, didn’t Insiders have enough leftist panellists without the addition of this duo? – MWD Editor.]
Let’s go to the transcript as Comrade Trioli took over from Comrade PVO:
Virginia Trioli: Probably continuing the theme. But I know, controversially, Greg Sheridan was on the program last week. And, for his final observation, he made some criticisms of the ABC – which he’s perfectly entitled to and we should be up for them. But left the clear impression that Tim Minchin’s song about George Pell was somehow – that the ABC was somehow involved in that. I raised that with him when he came on my program Mornings this week – he’s a regular on the show – and he got incensed at that and said that the ABC had a glass jaw. And actually hung up on me on air, which was very surprising. I’ve known him for years. He and I have done the rounds of the kitchen on lots of issues before and I’m sure we will again. So, I guess I’ll just leave you with the proverb that people with glass jaws shouldn’t throw stones.
What a load of self-defensive tosh – which no one on the panel corrected. It is true that, in the final observations/predictions segment of Insiders on 26 April, The Australian’s Greg Sheridan said that the ABC’s “monolithic” attack on George Pell included “the comedy and satire programs” which had “Tim Minchin singing Come Home (Cardinal Pell )” with its line “I think you’re scum”.
In fact, Tim Minchin’s Come Home (Cardinal Pell) aired first on Network 10’s The Project (of which Peter van Onselen is currently a presenter). But Greg Sheridan was correct in that the Minchin song is still on ABC TV’s The Drum website – on which it has been since February 2016. So clearly – contrary to Virginia Trioli’s assertion – the ABC was, and remains, “involved” with Come Home (Cardinal Pell).
Moreover, Greg Sheridan’s essential criticism of the ABC was that its coverage of the Pell case was involved in a pile-on in that it was “monolithic”. In fact, Virginia Trioli was one of two score and more presenters/journalists who have attacked Cardinal Pell over more than a decade. MWD is not aware of even one ABC presenter/journalist who publicly supported Pell. Clearly, La Trioli is in denial following the unanimous decision of the High Court to quash Pell’s conviction for historical child sexual abuse – which formed the core of ABC presenter Louise Milligan’s 2017 book Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of Cardinal Pell.
And then it was Insiders’ presenter David Speers’ turn to weigh into the pile-on. This is what he had to say:
David Speers: Alright and it is difficult to get into debates, the nature of this final segment is we’re right up against the clock. But look, we’re not above criticism. But the ABC does stand by its reporting on the George Pell matter – and good to clear up the Tim Minchin element of this as well. Greg Sheridan will be back on the show, we’re not into banning people either.
By the way, David Speers’ comment that Insiders is not “banning people” may come as some surprise to some viewers. But there you go. Also, contrary to the Insiders presenter’s view, Virginia Trioli did not “clear up the Tim Minchin element” – since she did not address the fact that the ABC continues to have his song on its website. If the ABC is not “involved” with Come Back (Cardinal Pell), why is this the case?
And then there is Comrade Speers’ claim that “the ABC does stand by its reporting on the George Pell matter”. Who would have thought that the ABC would stand by the ABC’s reporting of its Pell pile-on? Quelle Surprise!
The fact is that ABC executive producer Sam Clark – with the apparent support of his presenter David Speers – censored any comment on Insiders in the program which aired on Sunday 12 April 2020 following the decision in Pell v The Queen which was delivered on Tuesday 7 April. This was one of the most important High Court decisions in recent times – but Comrade Clark and Comrade Speers did not put it on the Insiders’ run-sheet as a topic for discussion. Despite the fact that the Pell case was placed on the Insiders run-sheet in the past during the time between when Pell was charged and convicted. On a number of occasions, at least. See MWD Issue 493. And despite the fact that the decision went beyond Cardinal Pell and involved the High Court’s rejection of the arguments of the Victorian DPP and the majority judgment in the Victoria Court of Appeal.
Moreover, Barrie Cassidy – in his role as Insiders’ presenter – even criticised John Howard for writing a reference for Pell after he was convicted and before he was sentenced as is appropriate under Victorian law. But Insiders did not want to discuss the quashing of Cardinal Pell’s conviction following a unanimous High Court decision. Quelle Surprise! Squared.
KATHY LETTE RANTS ABOUT BORIS JOHNSON
Yes, it’s Groan Time again. The Sydney-born Kathy Lette has written (yet) another novel – replete with puns, no doubt. It’s called Husband Replacement Therapy (Penguin Books Australia). As avid readers will recall, the Queen of Pun was until recently married to the King of Pomposity – a certain Geoffrey Robertson QC.
The Sydney-born Robertson QC is best known for his Epping accent. What’s an Epping accent? – MWD hears you say. Well it’s the kind of accent which an aspiring Australian bloke develops when he moves to a fashionable London abode and does not want anyone to know that he grew up in Epping, in Sydney’s north-west. That’s an Epping accent.
But MWD digresses. On Wednesday Ms Lette was interviewed (from London) by Lisa Millar on the ABC TV News Breakfast program. Ms Lette has recently returned to Britain after holidaying in Queensland. The discussion was supposed to be about her new book. But, first up, Comrade Millar gave the author an opportunity to speak about “things in the UK today.” This was the response:
Kathy Lette: Oh, well you know London, England, Britain is headed to be the, to have the worst death toll in Europe. So things are quite grim here. And look, we can’t believe that Boris Johnson lost an entire month that he was procrastinating. I mean he just ignored all the signs. He turned a blind eye to the pandemic. I mean, Helen Keller could’ve seen what was coming.
So this is a government that definitely has blood on their hands. And I think the British population are testing positive to an allergy to the Tory government right now. So it’s going to be very interesting to see how they analyse all this when things calm down. But at the moment there’s just so much, there’s no respect and there’s no confidence in the government so it’s been a really testing time.
What a load of absolute tosh. Needless to say, Lisa Millar did not contest any of the Lette rant. Not even the (alleged) facts. The truth is that Britain does not have the worst outbreak of COVID-19 in Europe. Britain stands at 384 deaths per million. Some equivalent figures are as follows – Belgium 647, Spain 519, Italy 458, France 369. In case readers are interested, the United States’ figure is 184 per million.
So if Boris Johnson has blood on his hands then so have the leaders of Belgium, Spain, Italy, France and so on.
And there were the attempted jokes – for example, reference to the blind and deaf Helen Keller. And, later on in the interview, the Sydney-born Queen of Pun equated a woman suffering menopausal sweats with what occurs when “the Gestapo’s trying to get a confession out of you”. How funny is that? [Not at all. Perhaps you should have run this in your hugely popular Can You Bear It?, segment. Just a thought – MWD editor.]
Meanwhile Jackie’s (male) co-owner is off to draft his first novel – tentatively titled “Lette Replacement Therapy”.
MWD’s DELIBERATE MISTAKE
IN THE CASE OF GUARDIANISTA MELISSA DAVEY
Well done to the avid Melbourne based reader Mr H, who picked up the “John-Laws-Style-Deliberate-Mistake in last week’s issue – See MWD Issue 493.
The story so far. Mr H had awakened at 3.30 am on the morning after the publication the night before of Issue 492 – and advised MWD that The Guardian’s Melissa Davey had been omitted from Hendo’s “Little List” titled “Media Participating in the Pell Media Pile-on (Amended List)” of George Pell antagonists who comprised the Anti-Pell Media Pile-On. And so it came to pass that Comrade Davey was included in the “Little List” published last Friday. Except, alas, her name was misspelt. It was corrected after Mr H spotted the “Deliberate Mistake”.
While on the topic of Comrade Davey, it’s timely to point out the folly of her reporting on the High Court hearing of 11-12 March which led to the High Court’s decision in Pell v The Queen on 7 April 2020. On 12 March, Ms Davey neglected to report that the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd QC, had changed the prosecution’s case before the High Court – by suggesting that what had been said was a possible offending time of five to six minutes may have been longer than that.
Melissa Davey told the readers of The Guardian Australia of 12 March 2020 (if readers there were) that Ms Judd “faced frequent questions from the bench throughout the day, and while some in the court said it was a difficult day for the prosecution, others said it was exactly the kind of questioning to be expected in an appeal”.
Quite so. But it was not to be expected that the Victorian DPP would change her case before the High Court. A significant occasion – which Melissa Davey simply missed in her report for The Guardian Australia. Ms Davey said before the High Court’s decision that she would write a book on the case. If so, MWD will look out for crucial omissions – since this Guardianista now has form in this regard. We’ll keep you posted.
FAKE NEWS APLENTY ON RN BREAKFAST
What a tag team. ABC Radio National presenter Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly is now teaming up with Dr Kerryn Phelps to cover the COVID-19 and all that. As readers will recall, Kerryn Phelps won the Wentworth by-election in October 2018, defeating the endorsed Liberal Party candidate Dave Sharma. Mr Sharma defeated Dr Phelps at the subsequent election on 18 May 2019.
Comrade Kelly now has two regular guests on her RN Breakfast program discussing COVID-19; Dr Norman Swan and Dr Kerryn Phelps – neither of whom is an expert on disease control. Here are two of the trio’s recent contributions to the debate.
First up, Fran Kelly interviewing Norman Swan on 27 April 2020:
Fran Kelly: We have all been talking a lot in the last few days about Donald Trump and his in- latest um contribution which is when, you know, he suggested drinking disinfectant could be used to stop the COVID-19 virus. Obviously that is not a great idea, anybody listening don’t do it…
This is just FAKE NEWS. For all his faults, President Trump has never suggested that anyone should drink disinfectant. Dr Swan did not correct this howler.
And here is Kerryn Phelps’ tweet of 27 April:
Sending teachers into schools without masks during a pandemic is like sending troops into battle without armour #QandA
— Prof Kerryn Phelps AM (@drkerrynphelps) April 27, 2020
So there you have it. The advice of the Chief Medical Officer is that it’s safe for children to attend school – without wearing masks. And the ABC RN Breakfast’s weekly commentator reckons that this is akin to sending troops into battle “without armour”.
With hyperbolic commentary like this – you wonder if Dr Phelps is thinking about another run in Wentworth, with the support of the Green Left and RN Breakfast.
MEDIA FOOL OF THE MONTH
RICHARD ACKLAND DEFAMES MONSIGNOR PORTELLI AND MISQUOTES MANDY RICE-DAVIES
So popular has been MWD’s “Media Fool of the Week” that – due to popular demand – it has been upgraded to Media Fool of the Month. This makes it possible for Hendo to hold off some foolish weekly comments in the knowledge that they will not be exceeded in the full month. If there is an abundance of foolishness, however, “Media Fool of the Week” will make a reappearance.
This month’s winner is Richard Ackland AM who writes the “Gadfly” column in The [Boring] Saturday Paper. This is what your man Ackland had to say about the unanimous decision of the High Court in Pell v The Queen on 11 April 2020:
…A jury, carefully instructed by the trial judge about the required standard, after hearing all the witnesses, thought Pell was guilty. Presumably, this meant they believed the accuser’s evidence was more sound than the evidence of Pell’s 20 or so “opportunity witnesses”. The High Court does not say the complainant was unreliable, a liar or inadequate – only that the jury should have had more doubt about the person they accepted as truthful. For many members of the community, the sight of the country’s highest appeal judges snitching away the verdict of a jury, in favour of a well-heeled and well-padded defendant, does not sit favourably….
Monsignor Charles Portelli was George Pell’s principal opportunity witness. He told the trial he was with Pell elsewhere at the relevant time when the then archbishop was supposedly in the sacristy molesting choirboys. As Mandy Rice-Davies might remark: “He would say that, wouldn’t he?”
How defamatory can you get? But, first up, some inconvenient truths. It’s correct that 12 jurors in Cardinal Pell’s second trial “thought Pell was guilty”. Not so all jurors in the first trial – who could not reach a verdict. Also, in two recent cases – Fennell v The Queen (September 2019) and Coughlan v The Queen (February 2020) the High Court overturned two unanimous jury decisions along with two Queensland Court of Appeal decisions. Comrade Ackland seems unaware of this. Moreover, “Gadfly” seems ignorant of the fact that neither Steven Fennell nor Eamonn Coughlan was wealthy. And neither had well-heeled supporters.
As to the comparison of the late Mandy Rice-Davies with the very much alive Monsignor Charles Portelli – how defamatory can a Saturday Paper columnist get?
The Mandy Rice-Davies statement was with respect to the Lord Astor statement at the time of the Profumo Affair. In response to Astor’s claim that he had not had sex with Ms Rice-Davies, she replied “Well, he would, wouldn’t he?” This statement has always been taken as to imply that the person to whom she was referring to was lying. For the record, Ackland’s quote was slightly incorrect. Rice-Davies did not actually say: “He would say that, wouldn’t he?” – it’s just commonly believed that she did.
It seems that Richard Ackland is unaware that Monsignor Portelli’s evidence was not contested by the Victorian Director of Prosecutions at Pell’s trials. Nor by the Victorian DPP or the Victorian Court of Appeal on appeal. Nor by the Victorian DPP or the High Court on appeal.
So Gadfly’s imputation that Monsignor Portelli just made up his statement that he accompanied (then) Archbishop Pell when he was officiating at St Patrick’s Cathedral in order to get Pell acquitted is simply false and at odds with the finding of three courts – that’s all.
Richard Ackland: Media Fool of the Month (which commenced on April Fools’ Day).
* * * * *
Until next time.
* * * * *