Have the News Limited tabloids done a screeching U-turn in their Corby
coverage? Yesterday we led the Crikey Daily with a list of hysterical
Corby headlines and stories from TheDaily Telegraph and Herald Sun, and suggested it was “time to call a halt, Rupert.”

Today News Limited has done just that – with pike. The U-turn starts with this story by TheTelegraph’s chief political reporter Malcolm Farr.

Government and Labor leaders yesterday urged Australians to stop berating Indonesia if they wanted to help Schapelle Corby.

Labor
said relations with Indonesia could be damaged while the government
pointed to delicate talks which could see Corby brought home to an
Australian jail.

There were calls for an end to talk of tourist boycotts of Bali, and warnings that pleas for clemency could backfire.

… and continues with this extraordinary column by Piers Akerman under the heading “Angry redneck army roaring at the gates.”

The torrent of comment on Schapelle Corby’s
conviction and sentencing in recent days is certainly testament to the
freedom of speech that exists in Australia, despite the claims of
Left-wing activists to the opposite.

Whether the
stream-of-consciousness remarks are helpful to Corby’s case for a
successful appeal or worthy of the space and airtime they have been
given is another consideration.

The level of sexism, racism
and ignorance reflects very poorly upon Corby’s supporters, no matter
whether she is innocent as they believe, or guilty as she has been
found by the Indonesian court.

The rednecks need to be reined
in. They can express their frustration as enthusiastically as they wish
but they seriously devalue their cause by resorting to gutter invective.

CRIKEY: You can still smell the rubber on the road from
where the News Limited jalopy reversed direction. When Piers Akerman
writes lines like “the rednecks need to be reined in” you know they hit
the reverse gear hard.

Whether it was the result of government,
proprietorial or senior management intervention, calling the News
Limited tabloid dogs off just as their Corby coverage was hotting up
was an intervention. Stopping a tabloid newspaper mid-stream in a
populist campaign is like, well, stopping you-know-what just when it’s
getting steamy.