Following Andrew Bolt’s barnstorming performance on ABC Victoria last Friday, I decided to test the Herald Sun ban once again by submitting the following letter for publication:

Dear Sir,

Since publicly criticising the Herald Sun
during the 1999 Victorian election campaign, I and my recently sold
ezine Crikey have been largely banned from the paper. Critics are not
allowed, it seems.

Yet when I filled in for Jon Faine on ABC
radio last week, your columnist Andrew Bolt rang in on Wednesday and
was given a right of reply during a segment featuring Media Watch host Liz Jackson.

He
then requested a second go on Friday and on being declined,
successfully bullied his way past management into the studio for a
promised “right of reply” which quickly turned into a defamatory “right
of attack” with no specifics proferred as to what had been said about
him.

Given that Bolt attacks more commentators than anyone
else in Australia, his demand that I be removed from the ABC for daring
to mention him shows his peculiar understanding of free speech.

I don’t agree with much of what Andrew writes in the Herald Sun,
but defend his right to say it, as I did on air last week. Andrew
doesn’t agree with what I say and doesn’t believe I have a right to say
it on the ABC.

Since when has not criticising Andrew Bolt been
a pre-condition of presenting on the ABC? Given the past ban on me, the
hypocrisy of Bolt and the Herald Sun shows no bounds.

Yours Sincerely
Stephen Mayne

Herald Sun editor-in-chief Peter Blunden emailed back to say it
wouldn’t be published as this was a matter between Bolt and myself and
had nothing to do with the paper. Fair point, although it will be
interesting to see if News Ltd supports Bolt as events unfold in the
coming weeks.

Bolt has already triggered an ABC complaints
process which will eventually find its way to the ABC board – and
that’s just one of the events that could flow from his extraordinarily
defamatory and inaccurate performance last Friday. In Bolt’s deluded
world, a passing reference is characterised as a “long segment devoted
to discussing my weaknesses.”

The only long segments devoted to
Andrew Bolt were the two occasions when he imposed himself on the
program. As for “three major attacks studded with inaccuracies over two
days,” well Andrew must have been listening to another program.