In the last two months and especially the last few days the Australian media have been found to be so subservient to the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, that their integrity is shot.
From this they will never be able to recover, at least as far as a lot of Australians are concerned. What’s the saying “You can fool some of the people some of the time”…….
It’s a story that involves the Prime Minister Julia Gillard personally intervening to close down reporting of her involvement in a $1 Million fraud which led to the sacking of one journalist (Glenn Milne), the departure of another journalist from his job (Michael Smith) after legal proceedings, her dodgy judicial appointments of people who were involved and/or had knowledge of the fraud (Ian Cambridge and Bernard Murphy) and the public broadcaster, the ABC, running a clear propaganda piece on its show Media Watch to support the PM Julia Gillard. The above is just for starters.
The Michael Smith v 2UE / Fairfax Media have settled their court case and the best we have from the Australian Media is one small report, one blog post and one tweet on twitter. The Australian media have basically not reported the settlement in any real manner.
The settlement itself is not the big story, it’s what led up to it that is a story that is in the public interest and has to be told. In fact I had no intentions in doing this post as I was saving it for a future post, but given the failure and outright submission of the so-called main stream media to do so, I will.
Keep in mind that there is a coalition of media companies that claim they are protecting free speech in Australia. It is called “Australia’s Right to Know” and this is what it says on its website: “Australia’s Right to Know is a coalition of 12 major media companies formed in May 2007 to address concerns about free speech. The coalition is working with the Commonwealth and State governments to establish new policy and best practice to improve Australian’s relatively poor world ranking for freedom of speech.” (Click here to go to their website)
After reading this post you will realise that the Australia’s Right to Know coalition has probably done more to undermine free speech than promote it.
In this post I will be mainly focusing on the conduct of 2UE / Fairfax Media and Media Watch / Jonathan Holmes.
I have covered the background in-depth in other posts but will give a broad background now.
Michael Smith, who was an announcer on the Fairfax Media owned radio station 2UE was reporting on Julia Gillard’s involvement in the AWU $1 Million fraud and was suspended by 2UE after a report on the ABC program Media Watch. Media Watch highly criticised Michael Smith as well as Andrew Bolt and Glenn Milne from News Ltd for reporting on Miss Gillard’s involvement in the fraud.
The time line below up to section 10 is from a previous post but obviously plenty more has happened since then.
1. I did a post on the 7th August 2011 titled “Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s criminal history and her hypocrisy with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.” The post had its good days and average days. It started to pick up pace in a big way and started going viral in the week beginning Monday the 22nd August.
2. On Friday the 26th August 2011 Michael Smith at 2ue and Andrew Bolt starting running with two of the key elements of my post. That being an interview Glenn Milne did with Julia Gillard in 2007 and the answers that she gave. They also were pushing an affidavit and its contents by Robert Kernohan which was mentioned in one of my links to the Hansard on the Victorian Parliament website. Michael Smith read out some of the affidavit on air and Andrew Bolt published some on the content on his blog site. (Click here to read the Bob Kernohan affidavit) I have also put a link in the comment section as this one does not work sometimes.
3. They took the story further than me and Michael Smith pre-recorded an interview with Robert Kernohan who is a former president of the Victorian branch of the AWU on the week-end (27th and 28th August) which was meant to go to air on Monday the 29th August. Andrew Bolt also put on his blog that he would be following up on his site on the Monday.
4. On the week-end of the 27th and 28th August Julia Gillard starting calling John Hartigan who is CEO of News Ltd which is News Corp’s Australian subsidiary. She wanted assurances that Andrew Bolt would not follow-up which John Hartigan gave her.
5. Monday 29th of August. The Australian ran Glenn Milne’s story in the The Australian and on their website. Julia Gillard called John Hartigan again and demanded it be taken down from the website and demanded a retraction. There was only one key bit that she apparently complained about but she wanted the whole article to be taken down. Julia Gillard apparently made numerous calls and sent emails and texts. (Click here to read the Glenn Milne story (“PM A Lost Cause For Warring Unions“).
6. Monday 29th of August: Fairfax Media pulls the Michael Smith interview with Robert Kernohan on their radio station 2ue. There was a 7 or 8 minute recording on the 2ue website from the Friday the 26th program of Michael Smith reading from Robert Kernohan affidavit. This was also pulled from their website and the previous days recording (Thursday 25th) put in its place. It is worth noting that the Channel 7 Today Tonight show also recorded the interview Michael Smith did with Robert Kernohan.
7. Monday 29th of August to date: Other media start running with the story of how News Ltd were forced to pull the story. Fairfax Media pulling the radio interview gets very little mention or no mention at all. No one asks the question: If Julia Gillard rang John Hartigan at News Ltd to pull the story who did she ring at Fairfax Media to pull the radio interview. And did she call Kerry Stokes at channel 7?
8. Michael Smith tried a couple of more times to run the interview with Robert Kernohan but was stopped by Fairfax Media management.
9. On Friday 2nd September I spoke to one of Julia Gillard’s press secretaries and I asked in words to the effect: “given that Julia Gillard had called John Hartigan to have the story pulled at News Ltd who at Fairfax Media had Julia Gillard called to have the Robert Kernohan interview pulled from 2UE.” The response I got from the press secretary was that he was confident that Julia Gillard would not have called Fairfax Media. He obviously has a lot more confidence than me.
10. News Ltd have since gone on the offensive and fought back to some degree. There are a few links under the Andrew Bolt heading below which show the fight-back.
11. Monday the 5th September: Media Watch do a very damming story attacking Michael Smith, Andrew Bolt, Glenn Milne for reporting on Julia Gillard’s involvement in the AWU fraud. The program also attacks a statutory declaration by Bob Kernohan. I would rate it as one of the most brutal attacks I have ever seen. And one that does not stand up to scrutiny as you will see. (Click here to watch the episode)
12. Tuesday the 6th September: Radio Station 2UE suspend Michael Smith. This is what Fairfax Media had to say in their paper The Age ”The talkback host Michael Smith has been temporarily suspended by 2UE station management after he was “slammed” by the ABC’s Media Watch program last night.” (Click here to read more)
13. Sunday the 11th of September: I send an email to Media Watch and its host Jonathan Holmes asking some questions about the failings of its show on the 5th of September and put them on notice that I am planning to do a story on it. They fail to respond.
14. Wednesday the 14th of September. I sent a follow-up email and they again fail to respond.
15. Monday the 19th of September: I publish my story on this site titled “The lies and deception of Media Watch and host Jonathan Holmes in defence of Julia Gillard.” I sent an email notifying Media Watch of the post. About 12 hours later I receive a response from Media Watch in relation to the questions I asked on 11th of September. (Click here to read the post and the emails) One of the key parts in the post is where I say ”I understand the appropriate body to deal with Mr Holmes is the Australian Communications and Media Authority which I will send copy of this post and we will see what happens.” They were clearly put on notice.
16. Monday the 19th of September: Media Watch in their 32nd episode titled ”One regulator to rule them all” put a screen grab of my website Kangaroo Court of Australia in the show. The below video is an edited version of the show. It goes for 1 minute and 17 seconds to put it into some context and my site shows up at the 28 second mark for 2 seconds. It is my viewpoint that this is admission by Media Watch that at least some of the issues that I had raised with them in relation to their failings in the show on the 5th of September were true and correct. I will get into more detail of the reasoning for my viewpoint later.
In the full show which runs for just over 12 minutes my site shows up at the 4.08 minute mark. (Click here to watch the full episode)
17. Wednesday the 21st of September: In an article in The Australian newspaper written by Media Watch host Jonathan Holmes titled “Let no one license truth and understanding” my website is mentioned where it says ““So, by all means, let’s try to find a way to beef up and properly fund the Australian Press Council. Let’s grapple with the vexed issue of how the blogosphere, from Crikey to Kangaroo Court, can be persuaded to submit to its adjudications.” Although he only refers to it as “Kangaroo Court” but it is in the same sentence he mentions the website Crikey. In the video above there is a screen grab of Crikey then my site. So in the paper he was definitely referring to my site. Once again I take this as admission of their failings in the show on the 5th of September. (Click here to read the full article)
18. Wednesday the 21st of September: While still suspended and after his lawyers were told by 2UE’s lawyers that he was about to be sacked, Michael Smith launches legal action in the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia. He was seeking an injunction to stop 2UE from sacking him.
19. Thursday the 22nd of September: In court the 2UE lawyers ask for more time to prepare a defence and give the court an assurance that they will not sack Michael Smith until the hearing. It is set down for hearing on the afternoon of the 12th of October.
20. Wednesday the 12th of October: After a few hours of the hearing which started at 2.15pm Federal Magistrate Barnes adjourns for further hearing on the 11th of November. On the 11th and 12th of October 2UE file a total of five Notice of Objections to the subpoenas that were filed by Michael Smith. 2UE obviously had plenty to hide and why did they leave it up the day before and the day of the hearing to file them. Clearly they were abusing the process and system.
21. Monday the 17th of October: Fairfax Media Limited file a Notice of Appearance and join their subsidiary 2UE at the card table. Why? I do not know. Maybe they were trying to intimidate Michael Smith or trying to run up his legal bills or maybe he tried to subpoena documents from them or wanted some of their staff to give evidence.
22. Thursday the 10th of November: I checked the daily court lists for the next day at the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia and seen the Michael Smith v 2UE case was not listed. I checked the file online and it was no longer set down for hearing.
23. Friday the 11th of November: I phoned the court and they said that the hearing had been vacated. I sent a message on twitter which read “Mike Smith v 2UE and Fairfax Media hearing set down for hearing today, vacated – Maybe a settlement? #Auspol 11 Nov” That’s right it was left up to a blogger who works on his site part-time to get the ball rolling and it didn’t roll to far. All we got after that was 1. A News Ltd journalist doing a tweet in the afternoon that the matter hade been settled and that Michael Smith would leave 2UE. 2. A News Ltd journalist doing a short article on The Australian website and 3. News Ltd journalist Andrew Bolt doing short piece on his blog on Saturday. Where was the rest of the media?
The Media watch show on the 5th of September will go down in history as one of the most disgraceful pieces of journalism the country has ever seen. In fact it was not journalism, it was propaganda on behalf of the PM Julia Gillard.
When I did my post in response to the show titled “The lies and deception of Media Watch and host Jonathan Holmes in defence of Julia Gillard.” what did Media Watch and Jonathan Holmes do? Did they send me a nasty letter of complaint? No. Did they get a lawyer to send me a threatening letter to amend the post of alleged defamatory material? No.
So what did they do? They responded to the questions they had been avoiding answering (although the response was garbage) and then they promoted my site on the Media Watch show and in Jonathan Holmes article in The Australian.
Why is this? Because they knew that I was going to the Australian Communications and Media Authority to make a formal compliant and they knew they were in a lot of trouble for the hatchet job they did. As it turns out when I checked the website of the Australian Communications and Media Authority it says I first had to make a complaint with the ABC which I have and that is still in progress and I am waiting back from them. It has been an interesting experience to say the least. I could write more but I will doing another post on that later on so I will save it for then.
Fairfax Media are a main player in the Australia’s Right to Know coalition and are meant to be protecting free speech. Just not when it comes to their own dirty laundry. As stated above they were challenging the subpoenas that Michael Smith filed for access to documents and filed five Notice of Objections to the subpoenas.
If Fairfax Media were trying to gets documents off the government and they refused, Fairfax Media would be screaming and probably accuse the government of covering up.
Fairfax Media would have been well aware that the Media Watch program was nothing more than a hatchet job and was no justification for suspending Michael Smith.
As we know Julia Gillard personally phoned executives News Corp to stop the reporting. Given that Fairfax Media / 2UE stopped the reporting at the same time are we really to believe she did not call anyone at Fairfax Media. Off course she did. The most likely suspects would be Roger Corbett – Chairman Fairfax Media, Gail Hambly - General Council Fairfax Media or Greg Hywood – CEO Fairfax Media.
The Australian media
Where are they? People sit around bagging News Corp all day every day and some of that criticism is justified and probably a lot of it is. But at least they did report on the matter to some degree and that is while they are under extreme pressure from the government with the media enquiry that is currently afoot.
Not even a squeak from the rest of the Australian media. That is why I say may the 11th of November 2011 be remembered as the day the Australian media died.
The story is not over yet and I will keep you posted.
Admin: I will probably not do a post next week but will the following week.
Once again I will finish off how I finish all my posts and ask for your support. I can write as much as I want but without a few minutes of your time helping promote the posts they will achieve very little. On the other hand if enough people spend a few minutes promoting this post using Twitter, Facebook and email etc they can achieve a lot.