If ever you wanted to see how sensitive the Murdoch empire is to the Out-Foxed documentary, check out the following abusive private email exchange between the editor of Australia’s biggest selling paper, Melbourne’s Herald Sun, and one of his readers.

Melbourne’s Herald Sun is Australia’s highest selling newspaper and sits right at the heart of the Murdoch empire. It’s where Rupert’s father Sir Keith made his name and fortune building the Herald and Weekly Times empire and Rupert’s sister Janet Calvert-Jones is still chairman of the company. Rupert’s mother Dame Elisabeth Murdoch still gets the paper delivered to her Victorian home every day and Rupert himself was born in Melbourne so there is no city in the world more Murdoch.

The ABC’s Media Watch program last year revealed how Murdoch’s Australian papers responded to Out-foxed’s Australian cinema release – refusing to run any more than the most basic listing in the entertainment pages – check out the transcript here. And the Herald Sun’s movie critic Leigh Paatsch is still yet to review the documentary either at the movies or on DVD.

The following email exchange illustrates how Outfoxed has hit a soft spot with the Sun King’s most loyal henchmen, and few are more blindly loyal than Herald Sun editor-in-chief Peter Blunden. Murdoch’s Australian editors are a rough and tumble lot – who could forget the antics of Col Allan who is now running the New York Post for Rupert. But even seasoned Murdoch watchers from around the world are surprising at the petty abuse one of his henchmen foolishly dished out on the email to a reader making not unreasonable criticisms.

Peter Blunden’s blunt email exchange

—–Original Message—–

From: A Reader
Sent: Monday, 31 January 2005
To: Peter Blunden
Subject: Outfoxed

Peter

Congratulations on your sustained censorship of “Outfoxed“. Despite its not inconsiderable cinema release and video/DVD release you’ve censored Leigh Paatsch and the like from reviewing it. At least The Australian reviewed it when it came out and again on Saturday (both times scathing reviews). But your paper doesn’t even have the guts to do that and has simply completely ignored it.

If anything this proves one of the suggestions in the film; that people working for Murdoch’s media network censor themselves in order to avoid upsetting the boss. Did they teach you all of this at journalism school? You’ve clearly skipped the ethics class. Your paper is a disgrace to the profession of journalism. And you, Peter, are simply a gutless pr*ck.

Best wishes
A Reader

From: Peter Blunden
To: A Reader
Subject: RE: Outfoxed
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2005

PRIVATE

I’ve had correspondence from jerks before, but you lead the pack. Why don’t you identify yourself? Too gutless? What’s your connection with the “film” and why should I publicise something with such an offensive, defamatory and plainly inaccurate subtitle?? Get a life, creep. Let’s see how “ethical” you are by keeping this correspondence confidential. (Not very – ed)

—–Original Message—–
From: A Reader
Sent: Tuesday, 1 February 2005
To: Peter Blunden
Subject: RE: Outfoxed

Peter

I’m not the least bit surprised that you’ve had negative correspondence in relation to “Outfoxed” before. I am however amazed that I could be leading the pack. I have absolutely nothing to do with the film, but obviously you don’t believe me. You’ve allowed your paranoia to get the better of you. Perhaps this also explains why you’re so afraid that I won’t keep your correspondence confidential. As to be expected you haven’t denied that the paper is censoring the film.

Clearly it is! You claim that you shouldn’t publicise a film whose title you find so offensive. I didn’t realise that reviewing a film was simply a publicity stunt. There are plenty of awful films out there which nearly all get reviewed by your paper. The bad films can expect bad reviews. But “Outfoxed” is clearly an exception to the rule. You don’t want anyone to even be aware of its existence. Did you instruct Leigh Paatsch or any of the other film reviewers not to review it? I suspect so. You could have simply reviewed it as you did below: “why should I publicise something with such an offensive, defamatory and plainly inaccurate subtitle??” 0 stars out of 5. But no. And I stand by my claim that you and your paper are gutless for not reviewing it.

What difference does it make what my real name is? You’re just throwing in a red herring there. For all your paranoia about who I am, what my connection to the film is etc., what is wrong with an average reader questioning the ethics machinations of the media?

Why should he have to present his credentials first? I’ve already said I have nothing to do with the film or with the media. That doesn’t make my questioning any more or less valid or credible. If you want to resort to attacking my style rather than my content then you’re clearly avoiding the issue.

Good luck Peter. Let it all rest on your conscience. All the best in 2005.

A Reader

From: Peter Blunden
To: A Reader
Subject: RE: Outfoxed
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2005

PRIVATE

Who said the “j*rks” were writing about Outfoxed? You’re the ONLY j*rk to write to me on that subject. Read my note again. This is NOT an issue out there. You’re the only person with a brain small enough to still be talking about it. We DID run the ads for the movie, so I have no idea why you’re so obsessed with this non-issue.

Now, go away.

CRIKEY: We know that Rupert Murdoch is a keen Crikey reader so here is another email exchange that we imagine might well be about to happen:

RUPERT MURDOCH: Peter, just read that email exchange on Crikey. Listen mate, I know you’ve racked up 25 years and your dad worked for me but please, no more abusive emails like that. Just let it slide and save that sort of stuff for the pub or over the phone where it can’t be reproduced.

PETER BLUNDEN: Yes, Mr Murdoch. Sorry for disappointing you.

CRIKEY READERS COUNCIL BLUNDEN

Hot headed Herald Sun editor in chief Peter Blunden is receiving some wise counsel from Crikey readers about that amazingly vitrioilic email exchange he had with one of his readers over OutFoxed:

All he did was call you a pr*ck

Wow Peter,

Just read that vitriolic set of emails on Crikey and I have to say that your responses have been way beyond what would be considered appropriate.

The trouble with emails is that they are instant. You get it off your chest, hit send and away it goes into the ether without another thought. Guess your ether is a bit ‘blue’ with all that language floating around there.

I would hope that the next time you got an email from a disgruntled reader that you would respond in a manner more suitable.

I know he called you a prick, but did you really have to retaliate and enter a gutter battleground?

Regards, Lisa

An email from the Digger himself

For Christ’s sake Blunden, this email you’ve sent out to the punter who reads our rag is causing me real problems. All he was asking for was a flippin review of Outfoxed ( piece of sh*te) but you’ve assured it’s going to be much more popular than I wanted.

Given the fact the Tory Goverment is suing my ar*e off re an article in my other rag The Times and Crikey is
handing out 50 copies of Outfoxed to new subscribers, it’s really made my day you complete twat!

Yours,
The Dirty Digger


Outfoxed, by Crikey!

Pete, no more blunders like that abusive email please, stick to writing to people who actually believe the propaganda we publish. Remember you can’t convert people that can think for themselves, Pete, we expect you to be more cunning. Heed this warning or you might find yourself working for one of the other right wing networks, such as “Unpackered”, or worse still, with Neil Mitchell at “Southern Crossed”.

Robert


More sage advice

Re: Intemperate email exchange with anonymous Crickey reader on the subject of Outfoxed censorship.

Except for the part where he calls you a ‘prick’, I though the anonymous reader’s comments on the above subject were fair. You might be a prick, I wouldn’t know.

My name is Brendan Wynter and I have nothing to do with the film Outfoxed.