Crikey has published 2.5 million words and received about 20,000 emails over the past couple of years and these are some of the biggest blunders we’ve made along with some of the heaviest baggings we’ve received.

Often we’ll publish something on one day and then correct it with a bollocking email the next although we are trying to reduce this a little and checking where possible. However, it should be pointed out that we only publish about 20 per cent of the material that comes through so the bulldust detector does discard a lot of material. I’ve lost count of the number of people who emailed about this supposed affair between John Howard and Pru Goward when it is absolute garbage.

But when the source is good material still goes out unchecked and this is a recent example of how our spy at Channel Seven claimed something pretty definitive about Antony Green which he then flatly denied. Some ABC production person complaining is very different from Antony himself getting on the phone.

So let’s not be afraid to show off some of Crikey’s dirty linen that has been sent out to subscribers in sealed sections and then corrected.

This is the offending Antony Green item as explained in his responding email to us:

ANTONY GREEN DID NOT COMPLAIN TO ANYONE

Crikey is a big fan of Antony Green and happily gives him this space to set the record straight about Roy and HG’s dirigible. Our Channel Seven source is off to Siberia as it must have been someone from the ABC production team who had a whinge.

“Stephen,

You really should check some stuff. This is what your Channel Seven source said:

“I know someone who was in the pit for Seven in the tally room, calling the seats for the election coverage who has read Antony’s comments about Roy and HG. He doesn’t mention he called the AEC to complain about the comedians. They told him to bugger off and get a life and a sense of humour. Antony then called the Federal Police, who said something very similar. You can see him grabbing the phone furiously in Seven’s coverage when the dirigible appears. Petty I reckon. All good fun now he says. Even more fun that Roy and HG dumped on the ABC when it came to attracting viewers. The people figures show a resounding win.

Anon”

Antony Green: “This is point blank a lie and a fabrication.

(1) I never called the AEC. I had no conversations with the AEC on the night.

(2) I did not call the Federal police. I would not even know their number.

(3) I have read this comment on the internet about me seeing the dirigible and making a phone call as a result. It is just wrong. I didn’t even see it because it was behind me. The only phone calls I made all night were about seat results, either with my producers or the production van.

I have no idea if anyone else complained to the AEC or the Federal Police, but it certainly was not me. Given you know both my e-mail address and my phone numbers, I think it is extraordinarily stupid of you to include third-hand comments from someone who knew someone in the Seven pit saying something which is a verifiable lie.

I’m a great fan of Roy and HG I’ve been listening to the pair since they first started on radio, and am keenly looking forward to seeing the tape of what they did one election night. All I said was that it was very difficult to do a coverage when you can’t hear yourself above the noise in the tallyroom. It is an absolute lie that I made any complaint about Seven’s coverage. Absolute lie.

Antony

Apology to Steve Price

We’re in the Victorian Supreme Court with 3AW’s Steve Price fighting a contempt summons this week and this is one of the many apologies we’ve published over the past 12 months in relation to my publishing a press release from police corruption campaigner Raymond Hoser as a post-script to a separate piece on December 4 last year.

“Whatever the circumstances, Price has been big enough to apologise for broadcasting comments by Pauline Hanson that were taped without her knowledge. Given this apologetic spirit, we are once again prepared to do likewise for publishing an inaccurate press release from political candidate Raymond Hoser.

We accept that Hoser made inaccurate and inflammatory allegations which were baseless. We did not publish it with any malice as it was merely an addendum to a long article we published about the cash for preferences offer Labor made to us during the Burwood by-election.

“It was wrong to publish it. I regret that now,” Stephen Mayne said.

“If I caused Mr Price any embarrassment or damage I’m sorry for that.”

We have subsequently on numerous occasions published to many thousands of people the fact that Steve Price was not found to be in breach of anything by the Australian Broadcasting Authority.

LEGAL THREAT FROM RAYMOND HOSER

The irony of all my apologies to Price is that they usually attracted a defamation threat from Raymond Hoser, who Price never chose to sue even though it was his offending press release we published.

This is an example of one of the many Raymond Hoser threats:

“Dear Stephen – you deliberately chopped up the transcript I sent you in good faith – and removed the correcting material. You seriously defamed me and have been doing so for a while – and did so again in your letters page.

This adversely affects me both in terms of feelings and also in terms of potential book sales – dollars.

If I have time and money I could sue you for all you have, but my lawyer told me not to (yet at least) as 3AW will probably get all you have anyway, due to your apparent incompetence in the matter (even though I’d rather see you get up than lose).

I must and will reserve all rights to defend my good name. Please:

1/ Restore my subscription.

2/ Publicly apologise to your lists for your continual false allegations against me and

3/ Don’t defame me again.

It’s all so bloody simple. ALL THE BEST, Raymond Hoser

FORMAL APOLOGY TO BOB AND CARMEL

Only last week we published this one about the Federal Member for Maribyrnong Bob Sercombe after receiving an email from his lawyer Adrian Anderson at Corrs Chambers Westgarth:

“On 23 November 2001 Crikey published a report on the Federal Member for Maribyrnong, Mr Bob Sercombe and his wife Carmen. In that report Crikey suggested that Mr Sercombe had used his position to gain clients for his wife’s business as a migration agent. Crikey also suggested that Mr Sercombe may have arranged for a second telephone line to be installed in his electorate office for use by his wife in running her business. Crikey acknowledges that these suggestions are without foundation and sincerely apologises to Mr and Mr Sercombe for any hurt and damage caused by the report.”

Ends

Falsely suggesting Dick Pratt has Parkinson’s

A good source in the Jewish community told me this one that was sent out to subscribers earlier this year:

“The second snippet is a rumor that Dick Pratt might have Parkinsons. This is not confirmed but is doing the rounds in Melbourne and might explain his recent withdrawal from public positions and his ongoing support for Cassius Clay.”

Now this was pretty reckless and this is what went around as the lead item the next day:

“Firstly, we’re in reverse ferret regarding Dick Pratt’s health. This is an email his PR man Tony Gray sent through this morning:

Stephen,

“I can categorically assure you that Richard Pratt does not have parkinsons disease. he is in excellent health. the Pratt connection with Muhammad Ali is not through Richard but through his son Anthony who runs Visy’s US operations and who has been a fan of Ali’s for many years. contrary to popular (media) belief, Richard is not stepping back from public life. His terms as chancellor of Swinburne uni, president of the Victorian Arts Centre Trust and chairman of the Australia Foundation for Culture and the humanities were simply coming to an end and after at least several years (and in two cases seven years) in each position he elected to step aside to give others the opportunity of making a contribution. I’d appreciate it if you emailed those of your subscribers who received the Parkinsons email saying that it has been categorically denied by us

Cheers, Tony Gray

Blaming John Ferguson unfairly

When Crikey got booted out of that press conference by Bracks’s spindoctors earlier this year, ABC radio morning host John Faine adopted his usual contrarian line arguing that they had every right to do this.

The Herald Sun was the only paper that didn’t run the story which I attributed to the ban thin-skinned editor Peter Blunden has been running on Crikey ever since I had the audacity and sheer hide to criticise him on Jeffed.com more than two years ago.

Anyway, someone told me they’d heard John Ferguson, the Herald Sun’s state political reporter and someone who did not give Jeffed much of a run during the state election, interviewed by Faine taking a similar line. My response was to bag Ferg in the next email but it turned out that it was someone else who spoke to Faine. Now that’s pretty rough, getting dusted up over an interview you didn’t even do, so naturally the correction and apology to Ferg was nice and fulsome but this didn’t stop Blunden going off like a two-bob watch as usual. The bloke is obsessed.

But Fergie is also prone to going over the top at times. This is the email he sent Crikey after I terribly upset Channel Seven political reporter Brendan Donohoe by mentioning in passing that his wife, Caroline Wilson, had briefly dated Steve Price almost 20 years ago.

“Dear Crikey, your bizarre piece on Caroline Wilson and Brendan Donohoe was a breathtaking pile of hypocritical crap. You can’t even spell Brendan’s last name. Overall, the Crikey site is unethical, inaccurate, juvenile and filled with spelling mistakes, character assassinations and dubious stories. but good luck to you and your family.

John Ferguson, Herald Sun”

Now show me another media outlet in the country that would run such an attack. It was duly published on Crikey for a few days and was discussed around the traps and then the call came through from Ferg apologising for going over the top. The caravan moved on and there were no hard feelings.

GREAT BOLLOCKINGS OF CRIKEY BY OTHER MEDIA PEOPLE

LETTER FROM RON WALKER WHEN BUSINESS EDITOR OF THE HERALD SUN

Dear Mr Mayne,

Thank you for your fax of yesterday. It is true that I did express my disquiet about your inaccurate scribble in relation to the Grand Prix event, and would suggest that in future when you write these articles, you may care to check the facts beforehand, and to that end, I attach for your perusal, a copy of our Annual Report.

Your article certainly played right into the hands of those opposed to the Grand Prix, and indeed copies were circulated to the FIA, the international governing body of motor sport in Paris, and to Mr Ecclestone at Formula One Constructors’ Association.

One of the reasons why Adelaide lost the race was because of constant articles like yours that were baseless in fact. One tends to wonder if indeed you would be delighted if we lost the Grand Prix, Crown went broke, and I along with it, then there would be nothing to write about, would there?

I have already had discussions with Terry McCrann in the presence of Steve Harris some months ago, and he is well aware of the situation. However, if you and Terry wish to talk to be (sic) about the Grand Prix’s financial situation, the only time I would be available would be 26 or 27 November.

Yours Sincerely, Ronald Walker

RAY MARTIN RESPONDING TO QUERY ABOUT GETTING PAID TO MODERATE A FORUM

Stephen, Readers of Crikey.com have every right to voice their opinions. That doesn’t make them right or accurate. What makes him/her think that I’m getting paid for moderating this discussion? I happen to be a friend of Kevin Weldon, who asked me to help out. Most things I do outside of my journalism I do because I want to. I can’t even remember the last time I accepted a personal fee. I’ve been Chairman of the Fred Hollows Foundation for seven years. I’ve been a member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation for almost ten years.I’ve done dozens of other “outside jobs”. If it’s anyone else’s business, I don’t get a cracker for any of them. Mind you, I have no ethical qualms about accepting fees for extra-curricular jobs. As long as they’re public events & not clandestine “cash for comment” arrangements. Most journo’s in this country are upfront about such fees.

To host/moderate/chair commercial events usually have fees attached, I understand. There’s nothing underhand or unethical about such deals. I could care less about some anonymous email reader who doesn’t know what he/she’s talking about.I resent the smart-ass cracks about “lilywhite journalist…who never sold out” etc etc etc.

Ray Martin

BRACKS MEDIA DIRECTOR SHARON MCCROHAN

This was the famous email banning me from a press conference on business tax reform that I wanted to discuss on ABC radio in my regular spot the next day:

Stephen,

Re your 1999 Walkley – that was then, this is now. It underlines the point about why you are not invited to this press conference.

If you were still working for an accredited media organisation and were not in the category of “other interest groups” who are seeking to attend this press conference you would be more than welcome.

It is not a matter of whether or not you will ask a question – we don’t seek to put a lid on who asks what questions at a press conference. But the point is, press conferences are only open to news organisations. Should we build a new media room to accommodate everyone who sets up a website which contains political commentary?

Please don’t waste your time – or ours – turning up at 1pm. We are happy to send you a copy of the press release, fact sheets, transcripts, and any other relevant material.

Sharon McCrohan

Bracks Government Media Director

EMAILS FROM FORMER HERALD SUN EDITOR PIERS ACKERMAN

Crikey is particularly proud to get bollocked by Piers Akerman and as he fails to outline the errors I still don’t know what they were but was happy as usual to publish this little spray.

“Stephen

The mistakes in your article are too numerous to list here. How do you manage to get things so wrong? I am told that you have set yourself up as some sort of media critic yet you did not contact me before publishing your bilious and grossly inaccurate material. Your standards leave everything to be desired. You have also published a column of mine without permission, again, the sort of activity you claim to abhor in others.

I trust this schizophrenic behaviour does not indicate serious mental instability? Another decline?

Yours ever, Piers

LETTER FROM FIN REVIEW BOSS MICHAEL GILL

Fairfax Business Publications boss Michael Gill is the fan who walked past and told Crikey to “get fucked” at the Walkleys last week. He’s a sensitive soul and this is a letter he sent to the now defunct Eye Magazine last year in response to a story on BRW’s various problems.

“I have read Craig Sherborne’s contribution to the latest edition of The Eye in which he makes some assertions about BRW and me (9 March)

The glaring error in the piece is Sherborne’s imputation that BRW advertising has somehow halved. Any accurate calculation would make it clear to him and to anyone who bothered with arithmetic that this is not the case.

Finally, Sherborne is the person who stood in for Stephen Mayne at the last Fairfax AGM. As he did then, Sherborne put questions to me for this report that clearly came from Stephen Mayne. As you know, Stephen Mayne chose to leave journalism and The Australian Financial Review in order to stand for Parliament.

Mayne’s rantings about me and many others are based on that poor decision. Sherborne chose to help grind that well worn axe.

Michael Gill

EMAIL FROM FORMER DAILY TELEGRAPH EDITOR COL ALLAN

Stephen,

Get it right. I did not lose a defamation matter to Andrew Denton. Mr Denton and his wireless station settled the case – to my satisfaction – out of court.

Col

THREAT FROM ANNE FERGUSSON-STEWART, ADVISOR TO SENATOR ROSS LIGHTFOOT

Sir,

Crikey’s continued references to Senator Ross Lightfoot are defamatory in the extreme. Until now your columnist’s defamatory remarks have been ignored. This will no longer continue to be the case.

Annie

KENNETT BOLLOCKING ME AFTER FOUR CORNERS

Gee, I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel now but this is what Jeff said at his first press conference after having seen Sally Neighbour’s Four Corners story about his share dealings in September 1997.

“This is a typical bitter campaign run by the ABC, who gives it a prominence that it doesn’t deserve, to justify their own story, based on the facts of a young man, who something, three or four years later has as he describes it, a ping of conscience. He never once mentioned it to me while he was in our office, he never once mentioned in it all the time that he was out.

I just absolutely refute what he says. He is not only disloyal in terms of his employment, he is also I think dishonest. That is his wish, his will, his whim. How anyone, except a journalistic organisation, could ever employ him I don’t know.

Now, if you can think of any other Crikey stuff-up or bollockings that should be added to this list then just send them through to [email protected] We’re also interested in example of other organisations getting bollocked and grovelling apologies they have run over the years. Anyone who can send in the text of 5 interesting apologies will get a free subscription.

Peter Fray

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