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Jul 26, 2013

Hold the sink: Col Allan returns to Oz to advise Kim Williams

Here's one no one saw coming: colourful New York Post editor-in-chief Col Allan is returning Down Under. But what will News Corp Australia chief Kim Williams make of his new adviser?

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One of Rupert Murdoch’s most trusted and colourful lieutenants, New York Post editor-in-chief Col Allan, is returning to Australia. Allan will spend the next two to three months at News Corp Australia’s Holt Street headquarters advising CEO Kim Williams on editorial strategy.

In a memo to staff this morning, News Corp CEO Robert Thomson said he had requested Allan make the move.

One News insider suggested part of Allan’s mission would be building bridges between Williams and key editors, including Chris Mitchell at The Australian and Paul Whittaker at The Daily Telegraph. Both men have had an at-times testy relationship with Williams, and have fought vigorously to maintain resources and editorial control at their papers.

Williams and Allan are expected to be an odd couple. While Williams is an urbane opera-lover, Allan is best known for urinating in a sink during Tele news conferences and for visiting a New York strip club with Kevin Rudd. He was nicknamed Col Pot for his domineering management style during his editorship of The Daily Telegraph.

There has been speculation for years that Allan would return home to run News’ Australian papers. But Thomson insists in his memo this is only a “temporary” assignment and Allan will return to edit the Post. It’s unclear what the assignment means for News Corp Australia’s editorial director Campbell Reid.

Allen lifted circulation during his time at the Tele and became legendary for his ability to turn relatively minor stories into front-page splashes. He ran a survey on the number of children born out of wedlock on page one under the heading “A NATION OF BASTARDS”, as Stephen Mayne recalled in a 2000 Crikey profile. He also ordered the Tele‘s New York correspondent to fly to Washington, obtain a sheep, and tie it to the White House gate to protest US import quotas on Australian lamb.

Since 2001 Allan has been editor-in-chief of the New York Post, an unprofitable tabloid that is impossible to ignore because of its often outrageous front pages. Allan’s memorable cover splashes include “AXIS OF WEASEL” (accompanying a story on Germany and France’s opposition to the Iraq War) and “V-D DAY: Paris liberated, bimbos rejoice” on Paris Hilton’s release from jail.

There have been slip-ups though, big ones. In 2004, Allan ran a front-page story announcing Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt would be John Kerry’s running mate (he wasn’t). And the Post was ridiculed for its error-prone coverage of the Boston bombings — two men, who featured on the paper’s front page, are suing over an article that made them look as if they were suspects in the case. The paper was accused of racism in 2009 for publishing a cartoon depicting Barack Obama as a crazy chimpanzee.

Matthew Knot —

Matthew Knot

Crikey media editor

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15 thoughts on “Hold the sink: Col Allan returns to Oz to advise Kim Williams

  1. AR

    Liam – you demonstrate my point re the ubersensitivity of the race-ridden (as in hag-ridden) Benighted States.
    No-one imagines that BO wrote a syllable of the fiscal stimulus bill but, like idiot Eddie Everywhere, using any simian allusion is verboten. The trope of monkey-on-typewriter is very old.
    Here is an example, from 10 or more years ago:the President of one of the Ivy League colleges, Harvard – wotever – doesn’t matter,was giving a speech on future funding and used the phrase “our budget will be somewhat niggardly..” and the bien pissants went nuts, editorials calling for his sacking etc.
    He eventually was forced to resign even while pointing out that niggardly is a swedish/germanisch derived word meaning “miserly” or “penny pinching”, having less than nowt to do with the dreaded Latin derived word meaning ‘black’.
    So even a hint of a syllable is enough, in a society so fractured by its guilt over past & continuing social inequality & oppression,to cause ructions.
    Sex is the same problem in Britain – in the 60s during a nature prog on radio, some bluestocking had the vapours because she heard the very toffy expert say “..tits like coconuts..” and furore ensued. At least in the Septic Isles sanity prevailed when the full sentence was shown to be “tits like coconuts and bacon rind..”.
    Not unlike in Oz when people call criticism of islamic extremism ‘racist’ though I’m not sure what they would say re the xtian nutters like Hillsong or Opus Dei.

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