If you’re interested in more childish gouging and hair pulling between Crikey and the leadership team at the Herald Sun then read on. We really should all just grow up and stop this finger waggling but who will make the first peace offering.
In case you’ve forgotten, this is the May 29 sealed section item that sent Australia’s most thin-skinned editor into apoplexy yet again, and even prompted two of his most loyal lapdogs to get all abusive:
PETER BLUNDEN IN THE PUB AGAIN
Item 16 buried in May 29 sealed section
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Does Herald Sun editor-in-chief ever do any work? Crikey popped into the Irish pub at Southgate just after 6pm last night and for the second time in a few weeks saw Blunden hitting the turps when he should have been upstairs watching the TV news, listening to PM and editing the paper.
He must be getting overly comfortable after six years in the job. Back in Crikey’s days at the Herald Sun, Blunden was rarely in the pub at 6pm. He must be trying to do his best Col Allan impersonation.
Let’s open with what Blunden’s loyal deputy John Trevorrow emailed through last night because unlike the Herald Sun, we are actually prepared to have an open debate and publish the material of critics:
John Trevorrow’s ode to his boss
The attack on Herald Sun editor-in-chief Peter Blunden’s professionalism (Crikey sealed section, May 29) cannot go unchallenged. It is simply wrong. It is also a defamatory slur on the best newspaper editor in Australia.
Mayne claims he sat in a pub just after 6pm on Tuesday and saw Peter Blunden also there, when Blunden should have been in the office watching the TV news and editing the paper.
I was with Blunden on Tuesday night when he watched – as is his practice every day – the lead items on all the commercial TV news channels.
Sometime towards 6.30pm he left the office to have a drink, as a courtesy, with a school acquaintance he had not seen for 28 years who unexpectedly was in Melbourne.
The slur in Mayne’s item impugns Blunden’s reputation. It is written by a person who doesn’t have the professional ethics to be accurate, to check his facts or seek a response from his subject. These are basic journalistic tenets that are practised by real journalists.
Still, I expect nothing better from Mayne.
Mayne asks whether the Herald Sun editor-in-chief ever does any work. I sit beside him, and he is the hardest-working editor I have seen – and in 27 years in journalism I have seen a few.
It is beneath Blunden’s dignity to respond to Mayne’s attack. But, on behalf of the Herald Sun journalistic staff, I cannot let it go uncorrected.
I insist that this letter be published. In full.
But wait, there’s more
And this one from another Blunden loyalist from the Herald Sun has to rank as one of the great sprays:
“Stephen, I have put up with your demented rantings about people who used to call you a friend without response because I figured giving credence to your inaccurate ramblings would only encourage you.
I also found you to be a reasonable bloke when we worked together and considered you to be a very competent finance journalist (maybe you should have stuck to something you were good at instead of getting into the gutter with your personal attacks).
But you have now lost the plot and seem to be doing “ya best’, as you say, to suggest Herald Sun editor in chief Peter Blunden is a slack piss-pot. That is such a low act, even from someone we have come to expect low acts from, that I can’t let it pass without comment.
Even if he was “hitting the turps”, as you so elegantly put it (he wasn’t), at 6pm then so what. You are talking about a man who listens to every radio bulletin from 6am, reads all four morning papers from cover to cover before breakfast, is on call 24 hours a day, works weekends and spends far more time in the office than you ever did.
Not that it is any of your business – and I know accuracy is not your strong point – but on the occasion you spotted Peter having a quiet beer he was with a school friend he had seen only once before in 28 years and who happened to be in Melbourne for a short time on business. Peter did watch the 6pm television news (not that there is really any need for him to as a news room assistant monitors each channel and gives Peter a full run down) and then slipped across the road for an ale with a mate – what is so wrong with that?
At least Peter still has some mates. I presume the number of people prepared to admit to a friendship with you is diminishing due to your propensity to burn them on your grubby website, Ian Smith (Natasha’s fiance) being a case in point.
You have got stuck into a number of people I have worked with and respect, including Terry McCrann, Neil Mitchell, Steve Price, Mark Robinson, Caro Wilson and Brendan Donehue (sic). Maybe jealousy is your problem because you are certainly not half the journalist any of them are.
You will probably think this spirited defence of somebody who is my boss is sycophantic on my behalf.
Think what you like because I for one don’t give a toss what your opinion about anything is.
Cheers, Senior Herald Sun journalist”
The Crikey response
This is what I sent back to the second emailer:
Good on you for getting that off your chest **** but methinks you’re taking it all a bit too seriously. Did you see the pic Blunden ran of me the other day? Surely you can appreciate the tit for tat.
BTW, I don’t think I’ve ever had a go at McCrann and I’m not sure how you’re expecting me to run a site of media and gossip without having goes at people. It’s just the way of the world.
You’re very loyal to Blunden and that is commendable.
I have plenty of friends and wouldn’t count Caro, Brendan, Mitchell or Pricey as former friends. However, I agree with your point on Smithy but there’s a bit more baggage there than you realise (explanation deleted).
Look forward to getting your vote for the Press Club committee in a few weeks.
Go well and no hard feelings, SM
The amazing thing about all of this is that Crikey remains to this day banned in the Herald Sun. If I sent a stinging letter to them they would not publish it. Sure it was a cheap shot at Blunden but not as bad as Blunden’s cheap shot at me three weeks ago in The Eye column when they breached Crikey’s copyright and ran a photo of me from the website pulling a stupid face completely out of context. These were the words that went with it and you’ll see that they certainly justify the cheap pub shot:
Blunden’s hatchet job
SO Stephen Mayne (right), the former Herald Sun journo (yes, we admit it) and primo conspiracy theorist, is in such a flap about not making news in this paper that he is orchestrating a campaign demanding his inclusion.
Mmm. Weird, really. If he likes the paper that much, why did he leave? It’s not as though he doesn’t have his own private little forum (his own website) to peddle his thoughts on the wicked world, but clearly he’s seeking a wider audience.
Anyway, to prove that he is not banned, here’s a pic of the man himself, from his website and, from what we understand, unenhanced, digitally speaking. The big question is: can we leave him alone now? Please?
Now this is from a few weeks back during another bout of scratching and hair-pulling with Blunden:
HERALD SUN BAN ON CRIKEY CONTINUES
Herald Sun editor in chief Peter Blunden has now maintained his ban on Crikey for more than two years which is a pretty amazing feat given that he runs the biggest paper in Victoria and we are the biggest web story in Australia based right in his home town of Melbourne.
Over the past 26 months we’ve cracked Matt Drudge, The New York Times, the BBC and Fortune Magazine but we’ve never warranted a mention in the Herald Sun. We did a quick search of “Crikey and Mayne” throught the News Ltd and Fairfax archives recently and came up with the following numbers of mentions in the same story:
The Age 22
The Australian: 20
Sydney Morning Herald: 16
The Sunday Age: 9
Courier Mail: 6
Daily Telegraph 6
Financial Review: 5
Newcastle Herald: 3
Illawarra Mercury: 1
Sydney Sun Herald: 1
Crikey’s two biggest enemies in editor land remain Peter Blunden and Fairfax Business Publications boss Michael Gill so it comea as no surprise that the search came up with a big donut from the Herald Sun and also from Michael Gill’s specialist magazines BRW, Personal Investment and Shares.
Now don’t any of you Blunden and Gill apologists try to argue that they are editors who judge news on its merits. These two blokes indulgently let personal grudges get in the way of news and should be hauled into line by their bosses. When I ran for Melbourne Lord mayor last year the Herald Sun could not ignore it but Blunden sent out an edict that the word “Crikey” never appear. Pathetic stuff really but maybe we should start a game to see how we can break Blunden’s Crikey drought short of donning the Crikey suit and massacring a few people.
Any suggestions? Or maybe you could just email [email protected] and ask him to justify the ban.
A couple of subscribers have done this and the responses from Blunden have been interesting:
One subscriber David simply asked Blunden “why are you so scared of Crikey?”, which elicited a very brief “I’m not” from Blunden.
David then wrote:
“I see. So you’ll mention crikey soon eh?”
This prompted a longer reply from Blunden as follows:
“The day he comes up with something newsworthy, I’ll consider it like the many hundreds of other stories we consider each day.
And why are you pushing his barrow? He’s the one with the vendetta against me (and many others), not the other way around.
Have you asked him whether I gave him a fair deal at the Herald Sun, and helped him at the Daily Tele? Then have a look at how many times he has pursued me, personally and professionally. I’m fair game, but don’t need to promote his website without reason.
Another subscriber and lawyer Peter asked Blunden the following:
“Stephen Mayne contends that there exists censorship of his name/activities in your paper. Is this true?”
Blunden’s one word response was “no”.
The history of Blunden and Crikey
Peter Blunden is one of these tribally loyal News Ltd editors who is incredibly thin-skinned and cannot take criticism.
His argument is that because he helped me at News Ltd, I owe him loyalty and should not criticise him.
Let’s deal with the question of his help first. Blunden arrived at the Herald Sun in January 1996, 19 months AFTER I’d been appointed Business Editor by then editor Alan Oakley and editor in chief Steve Harris.
I tried to resign in June 1997 but Blunden instead offered me 18 months leave without pay. In October 1997 I came back from a three month trip to the UK in time for the Four Corners story on Jeff Kennett’s dodgy share dealings which Blunden underplayed and failed to take an editorial stance on despite the fact that I was teh whistleblower and supposedly a favoured son on staff.
After this I transferred to The Daily Telegraph as business editor and this gig was more lined up by outgoing Tele biz ed Michael Yiannakis and Terry McCrann, than Blunden.
We drove back from the wedding of Rupert’s spindoctor Andrew Butcher together on December 27, 1998 and Blunden gave me a few tips which did not stop me from being the worst chief of staff the Telegraph has ever had. Mercifully, I resigned after three months.
How Blunden abused his power
From my point of view, all best were off when the Herald Sun failed to properly report the allegations I was running on Jeffed.com during the 1999 state election. The Herald Sun’s pro-Kennett treatment was one reason I turned around and published an 18,500 word piece dumping on Kennett and the media after I was ruled ineligible to stand against Kennett in his seat of Burwood. If my so-called “mate” at the Herald Sun wasn’t going to give me a fair run, why should I keep pretending Blunden was not blatantly and irresponsibly biased in favour of Kennett.
Con published the 18,500 word treatise on Kennett at 10.28am on Sunday September 5, 1999. On Tuesday morning Blunden was interviewed by Jon Faine and said that he “wasted a few minutes yesterday” reading the jeffed.com material.
Jeffed had quite a big impact on the election and was mentioned dozens of times across many outlets, but Blunden put a ban on it so a quick search of the Herald Sun archive will show there was not a single mention of either Stephen Mayne or Jeffed.com between September 5 and election day on September 18. In spite of this, the site had 115,000 page views over that time frame.
Blunden seems to have spent the past two years wondering why I have a go at him from time to time. The answer is very simple and he should cut this out and pin it on his terminal:
“Peter Blunden abused his power as Herald Sun editor during a state election. Rather than report new and highly damaging material about Jeff Kennett published by a former Kennett staffer turned whistleblower, he imposed a ban because the website jeffed.com also contained criticisms of the Herald Sun’s coverage of Kennett. The editor of the largest selling paper in Australia holds enormous power during a state election and has a duty to report events fairly.”
These days he tries to run the line that Crikey is a competitor to the Herald Sun and he owes us no favours. That may be so now, but back then I was a political participant, whistleblower and former Kennett staffer making some very heavy allegations about the Premier based on direct conversations and personal experiences when in the office. In my view, his decision to censor this material was unforgivable and he can never get away from this fact.
I completely gave up on the bloke at that point and have since just had the occasional go at him and then watched the predictable fire-cracker go off as he demonstrated himself to be Australia’s most thin-skinned editor. His response has been to ban any mention of Crikey in the Herald Sun but to become obsessed about my claims such that he sledges me all over town, week after week.
His obsession even reached the point of helping fund Steve Price’s litigation against Crikey by giving him a column paying an estimated $100,000 a year. That’s what you call loyalty. Other Herald Sun journalists made approaches saying things like “we’ve had our differences in the past but what Price is doing is just outrageous and I hope you beat the Poison Dwarf”.
There was no such call from Blunden, instead he gave him $100,000 a year and egged him on. Price’s lawyer was the same lawyer that Blunden awarded a special award too for services to free speech in 2001.
Sorry to bore you with all this detail folks but the way John Trevorrow and his senior colleague have responded, you’d think I’d made some savage attack against a helpless quadraplegic. We’re dealing with one of the most powerful people in Victoria who in my view abuses his power. Crikey is all about breaking down power structures and taking on the tall poppies so we’d be letting you down if Blunden was not put under regular scrutiny, even though he was my boss for 17 months 5 years ago.