Melbourne is a clubby scene and media
players have been known to get too close to the powers that be over the
years. 3AW Morning presenter Neil Mitchell certainly fell into that
category when it came to the Kennett Government and he appears to be
doing it again with this morning’s column in the Herald Sun defending Steve Vizard.

The
headline “You betrayed us Steve” completely contradicts the content of
the column, which sympathises with Vizard and attacks the media for
going in too hard. “Only he knows whether it was some ridiculously
sloppy piece of business or whether it was black-hearted greed,” opines
Mitchell, who seems to be blissfully unaware of Vizard’s status as a
serial self-confessed insider trader.

Mitchell quoted ACCC
chairman and Vizard critic Graeme Samuel, theorising that “the media
took it on themselves to do what the regulators felt they couldn’t do.”
Too right we did, but Mitchell thinks media aggression in the face of a
soft deal with a tall poppy is bad. “Who needs the law when we have a
vigilante partnership of media and regulators?” he wrote.

Mitchell
has been a Vizard booster for years, but he should be outraged at being
conned instead of offering weasel word excuses that do him little
credit.

When Mitchell was president of the Melbourne Press Club
he thought it was a good idea to get Steve Vizard in as a speaker at
the annual Quill awards in 2000, just when his mate was doing his
deceitful dealing. Mitchell is also close to Vizard’s spin doctor Mike
Smith, a relationship that dates back to their time together on The Age
more than 20 years ago. And he has been a fellow advisory board member
of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation with both Vizard and the man who
gave the court a character reference, Tony Beddison.

Maybe
it’s also time that Mitchell revisited his cosy relationship with the
colourful Vizard backer, Ron Walker, because sometimes the media needs
to step back and not be drawn too closely to those that wield power. It
can cloud what is otherwise normally a good sense of judgment.

Peter Fray

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