Topic: election Oz 2007
The Media Watch show last night was a real get square exercise. Two serious journos like Tim Palmer and Monica Attard were always going to take some swings on the way out of their last MW gig for 2007, and sure enough they aimed at sincere critics working for The Australian . The Oz has been quite embarrassed by MW hits over the last 12 months, while getting some good bites in return. For our money the broadsheet has mostly found itself in "doth protest too much" reaction mode in editorials as here.
The MW thesis last night: Overington in alliance with Albrechtsen on the ABC Board (and both with The Australian newspaper) are biased pro Coalition political creatures, or at least pro Malcolm Turnbull in the seat of Wentworth contest.
When combining the MW show with John Laws on Denton's Enough Rope following, where Laws virtually admitted
1. The real power in Australia is The Big Media (we sort of knew that here at our humble "alternative" news blog - previously thinking it was The Law until we realised it was just shifting deck chairs);
2. Laws evidently still doesn't get how he was corrupted by his own "power" leading to depression and Cash for Comment by pandering to his once target, the predatory banks (who still are)
... it looks as if Overington (perhaps full of pride after her AWB expose Walkley accolades confronting Coalition Govt denials), has let similar power go to her head? To our eye she is caught red handed trying to make the news by urging a voter preference in Wentworth by candidate Ecuyer, echoing the 'player' style of colleague Glenn Milne also at The Oz. It's not enough to be a "reporter" it seems.
By the way we tend to agree its valid news judgement that if candidate Ecuyer did decide to preference Turnbull it would be a front page story given the neck and neck polling, and good for Overington's career status. Preferencing Newhouse would also be newsworthy. The question is whether there was an inducement to so preference?
The entertaining and indeed valid information in the MW episode was the email evidence of Overington's "please preference Malcolm" to justify that front page treatment. And also notable was Ecuyer's response that she was now very "wary" of such reporters. That's wise.
This triggered a couple of memories about the record of The Oz. Firstly we recall the admission in print post Olympics in 2000 of their effective barracking to keep an ugly demountable volleyball stadium on Bondi Beach - by having a journo spruiking a petition to locals for exactly this - in the name of testing public opinion of course. Incredible breach of objectivity. Naturally locals scorned the petition.
The more newsworthy and recent memory was this very brief response below by email from the pocket dynamo Ecuyer herself, to our unsolicited correspondence, and notice the bit in bold:
----- Original Message -----Sent: Friday, October 12, 2007 9:06 PMSubject: re: Oz editorial today, Saffron Howden yesterday Telegraph, gossip re local cultural mafia
very interesting there is a lot of water to pass under the bridge, please keep me in the loop.
From: "ecology action australia"
Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 1:48 PM
Subject: Oz editorial today, Saffron Howden yesterday Telegraph, gossip re local cultural mafiaYou're quite a gutsy effective campaigner, and obviously will find this unnecessarily patronising too (!), and seem to have dodged a PR bullet this time, perhaps because high profile Reba Meagher is getting the blow torch at roughly the same time (?).Saffron Howden is very good value, impressed with the choice (?) of journo - daughter of Jocelyn Howden loyal Green Party staffer at Parliament at some stage, Maroota sand mining campaigner 45km north west of Sydney some years back.My intuition would be you remain on the News Ltd/Milne/Sydney Telegraph hit list for daring to challenge Big Mal former federal treasurer of the Liberal party organisation. Look out too for Michael O'Conner of the national CFMEU. He is a vicious ruthless player as per this backgrounder on both his organisation and Catherine Murphy head of National Association of Forests (ex Howard staffer, formerly headed up by Robert Bain who then went to AMA national office - very dangerous campaigners against forests, and committed [deleted]):OConner by all accounts is still very chummy with Julia Gillard too.Lastly and perhaps most instructively:When I was an elected councillor there at Waverley, late 1995 the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200511/s1498430.htm was assassinated by an ultra right wing Jewish extremist. I wrote a diplomatic neutral (I thought) kind of letter (being an ambitious youngish bloke) to the main synagague in Bondi Junction expressing condolences to the community and the view that all those who support peace would be shocked and saddened at this turn of events. The reaction is instructive and also why George is a bit unusual in terms of the right wing of Jewish politics there, which frankly I gave up on, much as Antony Lowenstein seems to have from his own ethnic milieu:(I am legal tutor as a friendly solicitor to a disabled Jewish woman over there [name withheld] by the way)Perhaps 6 or 12 months later I heard some feedback to my letter: That this letter was not really appreciated at all. The conclusion I took from all this was that the majority view in Sydney's Eastern suburbs Jewish Community was quite right wing, pro settler, pro expansion in the West Bank, quite likely anti Rabin. If not supporting the assasin, nor were they openly condemning. I think this is the Joe Gutnick view of the world for instance - a successful gold miner at some point with family ties in the area. Obviously there will be a spectrum of left to right, green to brown, in any ethnic group, but it shows the right wing leverage that Sally Betts will be promoting to curry favour with Mal Turnbull and the federal party regime by seeking to tap into any veins of ultra right stuff.By the way you may know of a quite popular Jewish tree planting group called Jewish National Fund, might be some green synergy there, although again it is implicated in West Bank annexations possibly.Sally was always the most strategically determined and maybe effective warrior for the Liberal Party from my recollection. Hence no surprise she was in the story in the Australian earlier this week................................Another subteranean dimension of eastern suburbs politics given you have returned from far away:Westfield is the heart and soul of retailing now, more a regional sized facility in a sub regional location, thus over sized, but it served the purposes of one Paul Keating as covert consultant to Lowy's mob 97-99 after Keating lost the 96 election. WBJ crushed the anti ALP Double Bay financial viability which shifted to the ALP dominated Bondi Junction, which used to be half Woollahra, half Waverley. I was the one who proposed a boundary redraw which went to Dept of Local Govt and they agreed so all BJ is now Waverley. It was basic logic but it couldn't happen until the Waterloo incinerator closed in 97 due in some part to moi, because each council owned half and needed to keep the diplomatic peace. Once it closed in 1997 there was no necessity to be mates with the conservative Woollahra council anymore, so the ALP went for their best asset..........................................You're the kind of emancipated corporate business woman the conservative press want to hear from in the age of Rupert pro climate change action 'give the planet the benefit of the doubt' future. They sure don't want to hear from a deep ecology radical like me. Yacht Club luncheons indeed.As for patronising, I detect a very condescending tone in the tail of the Oz editorial today "well meaning". Thank heavens you and others are, rich or poor.Yours trulyTom McLoughlin, editor www.sydneyalternativemedia.comprincipal ecologyactionsydney
The SAM editor also recalls talking to Ms Overington earlier this year urging her to take a role in the scandal of land clearing by the big grain growing industry here in NSW, especially after her effective probing of the AWB. She said it was unlikely her editor would allow her to spend time on it.
Maybe. Or maybe it was the John Laws Effect, moth to the flame of more juicy power stories? I think we can say Overington burned her wings a bit on ABC tv last night.
And here is a bit of pro bono legal advice - a journo can't offer front page PR inducements to influence a person's voting (read preferencing) intentions in a serious election contest. That would almost definitely be a criminal offence. So did Overington offer such a PR inducement to preference Turnbull or not? Could she even deliver such a front page?
We offer no legal opinion about that. But we can see how it's a valid matter for investigation and consideration. Better get a lawyer Ms Overington, better get a real good one.
Postscript #1 14th Nov 07: Two significant developments summarised in the links here:
Firstly Emperor Rupert Murdoch in a visit to Adelaide refers to "discipline" for any staff member who meddles in preferencing in one of their newspaper's name. That's the sound of ominous thunder over Caroline Overington's head there: Emails explore reporter's own preferences, then turn nasty
Secondly a tricky legal attack on George Newhouse to protect Turnbull losing his grip on the seat seems to be underway front page of the Sydney Morning Herald: Legal blow to Labor bid for key seat. We treat this all with a grain of salt. My view Newhouse is at least competent enough to have lodged his resignation and its more a Coalition inspired smear to create doubt, similar to profiling his marital status.