Cloistered in Canberra

Michael Stutchbury writes in this morning’s OO:

JULIA Gillard’s retribution over her perceived enemies in the press has latched on to an extremist rights agenda that would reregulate free speech and encourage a more litigious society.

Well, well Michael that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about the standards or rather lack thereof in Australian media – encouraged by the Murdoch scandal – it’s all about Julia Gillard seeking “retribution over her perceived enemies”.

Given that Bob Brown’s Greens have always had this as part of their media policy: diversity in content and format is a right of all Australians.

4.strong, independent public and community media are an essential part of Australia’s media sector…and that it was Brown who first mooted an investigation into Australia’s media, how amazing that all of a sudden the OO has decided to lay the ‘blame’ on Gillard.

The OO continues with this editorial.

Surely only a cabal of political operatives cloistered in Canberra could deduce that one of the nation’s most pressing issues is privacy legislation and the role of the media.


This privacy frolic has the hallmarks of being conjured up by ministerial advisers who have no understanding of the priorities of working families. Instead of focusing on the serious issues confronting government, they barrack for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy as he blames News Limited for the government’s woes. Squealing about media must be easier than self-analysis. While this will strike a chord on ABC radio or in the echo chamber of university students and bored public servants on Twitter, it will not provide the desired distraction for mainstream voters. In the suburbs, people are much more likely to perceive a government losing touch with their priorities, and looking for someone else to blame.

** My bold

75 comments on “Cloistered in Canberra

  1. I had a few questions for Stutchbury after his appearance on Insiders so here I repeat:
    This morning on Insiders we had a very indignant Michael Stutchbury going on about Privacy , how dare the government accuse News Ltd of breaches, and the UK, how dare the government link what is happening there and News Ltd Australia.
    Stutchbury was keen to point out that the only Privacy cases to reach court were against the ABC.
    To Reach Court, was he listening to himself did Barry point this out? No
    As has been seen in the UK, News had very big, deep pockets in making sure cases did not go to Court.
    So here is a question that possibly the other Media should be asking.
    How much did News pay for the NOT photos of Pauline Hanson? When did News discover the photos were not Pauline Hanson? Did News through their investigative journalists or editors do any due diligence before buying the photos? And what was the increase in circulation numbers for the paper that ran the photos and stories?
    Answer that Stutchbury if you dare. The public must be asking are you a pompous hypocrite or just a journalist from the Australian?

  2. Spot on I believe Sue. One might discover that ‘complaints made’ and complaints that made it as far as court are two entirely different matters.

  3. I’m not 100% on this one so don’t take this as gospel but I believe that it is far easier to take out a complaint against the ABC as a semi-government instrumentality than it would be to take out a complaint against, it being a private business.

  4. How self-aware are the writers at the oz. From Mins first link

    But to understand the issue, it first has to be removed from the grip of the lawyers, particularly those with a rights agenda or a political grudge.

    just replace lawyers with journos, and job done 😉

  5. But, but..according to Sue’s report of Stutchbury on Insiders…

    Stutchbury was keen to point out that the only Privacy cases to reach court were against the ABC.

    So how come if it’s ‘the grip of lawyers’ that no cases have reached court.

  6. Min @ 8.11
    I suppose that Stutchbury is complaining that the lawyers claim such high fees for the advice they give for the sleazy actions of the News Press.
    For example in the Uk the going rate for settlement through the courts was 20,000 to 60000 pounds yet the lawyers, according to James M, came up with 1 million pounds to not go through courts/ keep quiet.
    I suppose I can add another question. How much did News pay for lawyers for all advice regarding the NOT Hanson photos ?

  7. Sue, and the question also needs to be asked..exactly WHO is it that believes that they have a litigation case or cases against and for what reasons?

    It’s not you, it’s not who is it? Hanson is one possibility.

  8. Min as a side issue Stutchbury in his article says
    “The new digital technology also reduces the gatekeeper role of the traditional media: anything seems to go in social media.”

    Yet I was reading last night that Tom Watson credits the social media for keeping the phone hacking issue alive, when most papers wanted to bury it.

    “The other papers were not reporting the story, so it was social media that kept the issue alive and many thousands of people on social media have been concerned that a cover up has taken place.

    “I think the story might not have come about had not people using social media expressed their outrage. Certainly without Facebook or Twitter a consumer boycott of the advertisers of the News of the World would not have been organised so quickly.”

  9. Nothing squeals louder than a stuck pig caught with it’s snout in the muck. It squeals in whining wingnut usance. “quick look over there”.

    In the UK Murdoch’s media put up a cartoon of starving African kids as a very lame and ineffectual method of attempting to deflect the attention on itself, and here is Stutchbury doing the same in attempting to deflect to “more pressing government matters than privacy”.

    In all cases when this asinine straw man is used against a government, it doesn’t take into account that government’s, believe it or not, can do more than one thing at a time.

    And to illustrate the hypocrisy of this line of divagation is the fact that Ltd. News often indulges in solely focusing on the trivial and banal in its attempts to denigrate Labor and the Greens whilst ignoring far bigger and more important stories, mostly those that just happen to involve itself or big business malfeasances and that of Abbott and the Liberals or those stories that actually involve indulging in investigative journalism to week out the facts instead of just making things up and publishing ideological opinion as journalism.

  10. More like the more they squeal the more afraid they are of being held to account and having their lies and distortions revealed.

    I think it was Media Watch that said that for an organisation that constantly demands transparency from others, the MSM is the least willing to be transparent itself.

  11. I also presume that the hush money being paid out will be an allowable expenses tax deduction to NewsCorp.

    How can we simply allow NewsCorp in Australia to audit itself when it did the same thing in the UK and came up with the conclusion that nothing was wrong.

    Self regulation and internal audits are simply a way of brushing failings and illegal activity under the carpet. If there is anything found untoward, it usually results in the lowest employees on the rung being removed, as the blame is forced downwards.

  12. ‘How can we simply allow NewsCorp in Australia to audit itself when it did the same thing in the UK and came up with the conclusion that nothing was wrong.’

    Precisley shaneinqld, you cannot rely on any findings they make. I mean, even the news they ‘report’ is biased and hides much of the actual evidence (when not outright making it up). You could imagine what an internal review would uncover. Well, we did see that as you mention in the UK

  13. Tom R, I’d go so far as to say that in the main the “news” from the Ltd News stables is a work of fiction and as such should be nominated for a Miles Franklin Award, with apologies for the quality of the writing.

    As for the laughable self regulation rort, it’s like handing Dracula the keys to the blood bank. In fact, I think even he would have more scruples.

    As for Stutchbury, I have only two words for him; Milly Dowling.

  14. Has there been any further devlopment on James Murdoch possibly altering his sworn statment to the fact he knew nothing, when ex staff have provided evidence to the contrary ?

  15. Shane, one cannot alter a sworn statement easily as in this case James would be in contempt of Parliament. James will have to live or die by his original statements as presented to Parliament.

  16. Jane, exactly. Stutchbury treats the whole deal as a triviality, a political annoyance instigated by Julia Gillard. Here is the truth of the matter…

    Dowler’s murder also played a significant role in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. It was revealed in 2011 that News of the World reporters had accessed her voicemail while she was reported missing. The resulting outcry from the British public contributed to the closure of the newspaper and led to a range of investigations and inquiries into phone hacking and media ethics, and not just at the News of the World.

    Stutchbury claims that this has nothing to do with him, nothing to do with the OO – if not then why are you Stutchbury going to such lengths to lay the blame on others.

  17. As Possum Comitatus
    Not a year ago alerted us
    The Great Unhinging has begun.
    No surprises for anyone.

    We see the embittered right
    With all their moneyed might
    And influence in the media
    Generating mass hysteria.

    The call for counter-revolution
    Against pricing of pollution
    Is one of many devious means
    To discredit Labor, destroy the Greens.

    Character assassinations,
    Civil unrest. demonstrations,
    Talk back radio jocks all jeering
    Egged on by Abbott’s sloganeering.

    Why hasn’t common sense availed,
    Wise heads like Windsor not prevailed?
    Why are Turnbull’s principles distorted
    And as sour grapes or treachery reported?

    Now, surely Gillard, however deft,
    Can’t avert disaster for the left
    And save the future for our nation,
    Also its progressive, reformist reputation.

    For that outcome is banned, prohibited
    By the owner of News Limited.
    But here’s a twist, even Possum did not guess.
    A Deux Ex Machina! The mobile phone of a murdered child. STOP PRESS!

  18. Min @11.51am, hopefully nothers will make that connection as well.

    I would also remind Mr Stutchbury about smoke and fires. This sort of ruthless and unconscionable behaviour has always been encouraged by the Emperor, who has also stated that news is not to inform the public, but to entertain. Therefore, inconvenient facts may be ignored.

    It is extremely disingenuous and downright dishonest, imo to suggest that the operating manual would be any different in this country than it is in the UK & the US. I hope they hang, draw & quarter the bastards and stick their heads on a pike!

  19. Thank you for that Sue. So what we have is that as James’ testimony has been challenged and that the matter has been referred to Scotland Yard – as a criminal matter.

    It is one matter to be able to pay off witnesses or complainants (as per Stutchbury has suggested that his whinge about exorbitant legal fees) – a criminal law offence is an entirely different matter.

  20. Sue @ 9.05am, thanks for the link.

    Cloistered in Canberra ….. and also in the UK.

    UK MP Tom Watson was a lone voice for years, fighting for truth about the phone hacking.
    Commentators in the UK have noticed that former PM Blair is reluctant to criticise the Murdochs.
    Blair is currently in Australia and this morning he was asked about the phome hacking. His response is short. He didn’t have a mobile phone when he was the PM. that’s all he says.

    2006 Resigned from Ministry of Defence after signing letter calling on Tony Blair to stand down. Told BBC News that Rebekah Brooks said she “would never forgive [him] for what I’d done to her Tony”.

  21. Sue

    Thanks so much for the link. I had heard that James may be reassessing his response, however it seems at this stage he is sticking to his guns despite the growing number of previous employees prepared to refute his testimony.

  22. Pip

    Your link shows the absolute inportance of sites like CW plus facebook and twitter for the mainstream people to maintain pressure when the average popluation believ something is wrong, because the media concentration allows the barrons to slience reporting.

    It also proves to me the importance of organisations like Getup to maintain some sort of balcne in a totally unbalanced media.

    The sooner a law is passed in this country denying the ability of any one organisation to own more than 30% of our media, the better.

  23. Shane, the point with James is that he has already testified in front of Parliament. One cannot choof off and say, Hey that didn’t sound too good I think that I’ll do a re-take. James will have to live or die by the testimony that he gave to the British Parliament – or be charged with contempt.

  24. Min

    I take your point, but if the truth comes out later would it not have been better for him to do some damage control now, by saying he had a memory lapse and actually does remember now. Rather than stick to his guns and be proven a total liar down the track.

  25. Watch it, jane! You’ll be quoted in the Oz as an inflammatory rabble rouser, typical of the loonie left and an example of what poor Mr. Abbott has to put up with every day! I imagine their knowledge of history is insufficient to appreciate you were simply using an analogy!

    I get tempted, I must say, to write something about bringing back the ‘Gillardtine’ and how I’d happily bring along my knitting to sit and enjoy watching heads roll. Or perhaps we should go back to the days of Henry VIII.on whose lechery the Church of England and Protestantism was first established. Did any of you watch last Sunday’s episode of The Tudors when Thomas Cromwell was so bloodily and inefficiently butchered by an executioner with a hangover?

    As I watched all the sex scandals, bribery and bastardry in high places along with the religious fanaticism I thought that a NotW journo would be in his element back then.

  26. Shane, yes you’re right. But one has to imagine the mind-set of the all-powerful Murdochs. How many people have they been able to pay off in the past? Why the need for honesty when money solves all ills.

    Even our own OO suggested the same – that it costs mega having to pay for expensive lawyers.

  27. Brief aside: did I hear Tony Abbott correctly..something about Gillard being left handed. Gillard is clearly right handed and on behalf of all the molly dookers in this world, I protest!

  28. Min

    I agree the only thing the Murdochs have now is money and I have no doubt the cash withdrawals are happening day and night. Their integrity is destroyed from their own indifference to the law in the name of profit and dominance.

    That actually sounds more like a despotic dictator plan, than a properly run shareholder enterprise in a supposedly democratic nation.

    As a left hander I also prostest if we are being ridiculed.

  29. Patricia, what about a little Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales Prologue..

    Who so shall telle a tale after a man,
    He moste reherse, as neighe as ever he can,
    Everich word, if it be in his charge,
    All speke he never so rudely and so large;
    Or elles he moste tellen his tale untrewe,
    Or feinen thinges, or finden wordes newe.

    Many a tale untrewe me-thinks.

  30. I was personally appalled that anyone in Australia would find it possible to argue against the merits of investigating our media landscape. Ownership and concentration of ownership alone are good enough reasons to conduct a review, notwithstanding the phone hacking scandal.

    Given how small a media market Australia has, it’s vital that our democracy isn’t distorted or controlled by too few elements controlling too many media outlets; and a review will help reassess the media landscape.

  31. Alex, could you post a link to your blog…please ?

    The UK folk are cranky because Murdoch owns 40% of the media, and we are overwhelmed with his 70% ownership in Australia.

  32. Ashghebranious is being trolled by his opposition on Twitter because of this:-

    According to Rupert, he can’t be the one to blame. The blame must go to those who broke his trust and the ‘code’ of ethics he instills throughout his enterprise, as well as the work practices he holds dear.

    But according to Rupert’s newspaper, the government is responsible for contractors that were engaged by the government who then went on to not only in some cases deliberately break laws, but abused the trust given to them by the government and the terms of references the government laid out. According to Rupert’s papers, the government were so lackadaisically that it lead to some installers
    breaching laws and subsequently leading to deaths.

  33. The sooner a law is passed in this country denying the ability of any one organisation to own more than 30% of our media, the better.

    Couldn’t agree more, shane. And no cross media ownership.

    Min @1.02pm, I love that James thinks he’s actually in a Fox News studio and can do a re-take. 30 years m’lud for being a slag!

    Thank you patricia @1.19pm. I too would like to see the Gillardtine in action. I’ll bring the basket, you bring the knitting! Defarge is such a nice name, don’t you think?

  34. Shaneinqld @ 1.39 a headline just for you
    Mubarak and Murdoch: The Arab Spring Gives Way to the Anglo-American Summer
    Picture it: a pair of aging despots, each in his 80s.

    One of them has already witnessed the previously unthinkable unraveling of his evil empire. The other is witnessing the first irreversible steps in the previously unthinkable unraveling of his evil empire.

  35. Sue @7.19pm, hopefully we will soon add Australia to that spring and summer-a winter of discontent for the whole rotten to the core Murdochracy. What joy to see the crumbling edifices of his power while the last of his minions snuffle in the ruins casting about for relevance.

  36. Alex, exactly. We are a small media fact we are a small market full stop, for those whingeing about buying it cheaper on EBay.

    We are a small market hence the importance of people-owned instrumentalities.

    We, the people need to own our basics such as communication.

  37. Has anyone noticed the PM has actually not said much.

    It is my opinion that the outcry alone that comes from the journalists and the Opposition warrants a in depth of the media in this country.

    An enquiry that tells us where the media is a at and where it is going.

    An enquiry that investigates what the Australian public expect from the media.

    The media needs to know that it is open to scrutiny and investigation, that it is not above the law.

    We need to be very careful in the call for privacy laws, there could be a down side.

    The media needs to know it is not above the law. It is not a law unto itself.

  38. Exactly CU, it seems to all be in the journalists’ imagination. I wonder why the media has chosen to tackle the PM instead of Bob Brown? Here is what Brown is suggesting:

    Australian Greens Leader Senator Bob Brown today announced moves for a full Senate or Independent Inquiry into media ownership and regulation in Australia.

    “While there have not been any allegations of unlawful or unethical behaviour by any of Australia’s newspapers similar to that which resulted in the closure of News of the World, the potential for such behaviour and the breadth of the allegations in the UK indicates it is timely for a closer look at Australia’s media regulation,” said Senator Brown.

    One would wonder what the media is so frightened of that they have to almost immediately go on the attack.

  39. Pingback: Giving militarism a day |

  40. Jane

    I completely agree, there must be absolutely no crossownership or manipulation, via numerous companies and trusts, set up simply to avoid revelation of the true owners, at the end of the line. Something that is all too common these days.

  41. Biased and one sided politcial opinion, being paraded as truth in journalism, of any side of politcis, must be stopped, says those wishing for honesty in reporting the news and facts, to anble an informed not manipulated decision.

    The hate media simply must not own 70% of the total media of a country.

  42. Shane, and often the viewer/reader is unaware of how their opinions are being manipulated – I highlighted some of the emotive language in the editorial as above. Words such as ‘bored’ and ‘squealing’ have no place in an editorial which should be providing serious assessments of situations.

  43. Min

    So correct, when you are only fed opinions from biased one sided reporters the truth becomes completely lost.

    Biased reporting by Government or Big Business is exactly the same IMO becuase each is trying to manipulate a desired outcome without providing all of the facts to the population. Both should be condemned.

    Despot governments who control their media and manipulate the truth are so rightly ridiculed.

    Private Conglomerates who buy up media assets to enable them to have influencing control over polticial and public opinion through manipulating reports are for some reason totally acceptable.

  44. The man is sick. How much lower can the Opposition go?

    ” TERRITORY senator was yesterday accused of being a chauvinist – and introducing politics to a cake-baking competition.

    Deputy Nationals leader Nigel Scullion won the celebrity cake-making challenge with a cake showing Prime Minister Julia Gillard seemingly being eaten by a crocodile. His victory speech was all about politics. ”

  45. Shane, the media has bleated recently that it’s their job to hold the government to account. They’re not, as per the editorial from the OO there is no holding account here but rather it’s value judgements based on no factual information whatsoever.

    As a matter of equal time, then the Opposition presumably being ‘the government in waiting’ should be held to account equally – but that’s a long distance from the truth.

  46. Min

    I agree the media has a job to hold the government to account, but having said that it is their job to hold all politicians accountable irrespective of their political leanings.

    It is also the job of the population to hold journalists to account for printing the truth and facts and not a bastardisation of the truth and facts.

    Concentration of the media in the hands of a few necessiates an enquiry to ensure the job of the media remains relevant to the reason for their existence.

  47. Instead of just throwing in one line trolls el gordo how about for once actually participating in a debate or discussion with lucid discourse?

    In this case how about detailing in pointing out where the media is failing is firstly the providence of the “Climatariat”, whoever and whatever they are, and secondly telling us where the media is failing or succeeding if you say that this mysterious Climatariat is saying they are the “hate media”?

    Then can you tell me what a Climatariat has to do with criticism or otherwise of the media, since the media is being criticised across the board on a wide variety of fronts with climate change being just one area, if indeed you are referring to those who criticise the media’s reporting on climate change as the Climatariat?

    Do you believe the media isn’t the “hate media” but is the “benevolent media”? If so what leads you to that conclusion and if not what media are they?

  48. Shane, I wonder how the population might hold journalists to account – other than not buying the newspapers and not giving their sites the clicks.

    Difficult for a semi-informed public to be able to discern what is the truth and which is not because if it’s ‘the news’ then a good portion of the population also expect it to be the truth. And this is not an unreasonable expectation.

  49. Min

    That is precisely why there needs to be an independent enquiry on a regular basis to ensure journalists and those conglomerates who have the privilege of owning media assets are abiding by the expected standards and laws of the country.

  50. Shane, and isn’t it difficult to discern whether journalistic standards are being upheld. One can have a hunch, one can throw a brick at the tellie but there has to be proof which is almost impossible to obtain when the only response forthcoming is a certain egotistical huffiness.

  51. It’s even simpler than that, just bring in the same or similar laws to the Canadians. Once there is a penalty attached for not being honest then the media very quickly becomes honest.

  52. Funny that a defender of a blatant example of political duplicity and dishonesty would refer to a “dishonest and underhanded campaign”.

    It’s really hilarious, Adrian – do you ever review the comments you used to make on Blogocracy?

  53. In The Australian today,

    Novel idea: Two of the press gallery’s most senior journalists, News Ltd’s Steve Lewis and the ABC’s Chris Uhlmann, have signed a book deal with HarperCollins to write a political thriller. They’ll draw on years of political observation and inside knowledge, but it will essentially be a work of fiction. The book is due out in the second half of next year. We’re sure it will be a compelling read. It’s unclear whether it will be a Lewis-Uhlmann or Uhlmann-Lewis production. “We are equal partners in the exciting literary adventure,” Lewis said.

    Why not they’re very good at fiction writing !!

    Three guesses what the theme will be ??

  54. Pip @ 4.12
    Not only are they good at fiction they also have plenty of time as neither bothers with investigation of facts. They also would not be talented enough for the Guardian

    The first is that The Guardian does not distort its coverage in order to comply with a political line.
    The second big difference is that we don’t have a history of hiring private investigators to do illegal things
    The third and final big difference is that The Guardian supports long, tricky investigations
    And we can investigate because the priority is not quick, cheap stories: it’s to tell the truth about important things.

  55. Sue @ 4.45pm, thanks for the link.
    Interesting point “The Guardian does not belong to a profit-seeking
    What a difference that makes !

    All three of those points are connected to the same underlying fact: that The Guardian does not belong to a profit-seeking corporation. It belongs to a trust, so there is no bully proprietor to wrap us up in a political straitjacket. We don’t have a newsdesk that is under such pressure to improve sales that it creates a regime of fear, demanding big stories with such ferocity that reporters will out and steal handbags off old ladies or hire private investigators to break the law. And we can investigate because the priority is not quick, cheap stories: it’s to tell the truth about important things.

    The outcome of all this is that we’ve uncovered a story so strong that, in spite of all their reservations, the rest of the British media has ended up being compelled to follow us. And it’s not over yet .

    Nick Davies, a Guardian journalist, played a central role in exposing the extent of phone hacking at the News of the World. He is the bestselling author of Flat Earth News, on falsehood and distortion in the media, and a former Journalist of the Year in Britain.

  56. It’s really hilarious, Adrian – do you ever review the comments you used to make on Blogocracy?

    Oh yes TomM and for a really good laugh I go over yours as well, and see you have only gotten more clamant and thus funnier.

    This place sometime gets a little too serious so it’s good to see you come over here and give us a regular laugh.

  57. To explain the unexplainable for readers it used to be:

    Adrian of Nowra (which is why Mobius still gets called Adrian :))
    Min of Billinudgel
    Tom of Melbourne which is why he gets called ToM.

    Anyone else care to provide their old monikers. 😉

  58. So ToM, you finally agree that Smuggles couldn’t lie straight in bed and that he’s been protected and encouraged by the corrupt empire of Rupert Murdoch? I never thought I’d see the day! 😆

    Pip & Sue, thank God for The Guardian; it has been true to its name. And the contrast between that publication and the Murdochracy is stark.

    It looks like this scandal isn’t going to go away any time soon and will, with luck result in the dismantling of the Murdochracy. I look forward eagerly to an inquiry into the empire; it will be fun watching all the rats fighting for a place in the lifeboats.

  59. The editor of the Times, James Harding
    But he added it would be lamentable if the ambitions of journalists to hold the powerful and privileged to account were in any way stymied.

    Isn’t it amazing the editor of the Times must have read Stutchbury in the Oz, they seem to preach from the same text.
    Now if only they applied the same “powerful and privileged” test to the Murdochs we may have a better press.

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