Crikey editor Misha Ketchell writes:

More today on the Mark Latham quote-that-wasn’t that appeared in Glenn Milne’s column in The Oz
on Monday. When we called Milne yesterday morning he was scratching his
head as to where the quote (below) came from and how it snuck into his
column. He concluded that the News Ltd library had given him the wrong
document and said he’d look into it and publish a correction next
Monday.

But
now Iron Mark has beaten him to the punch, tracking the rogue comment
down to a tongue-in-cheek political advice column (below) in The Sydney Morning Herald.
What’s more the original quote isn’t even attributed to Latham – it’s a
rhetorical suggestion on comments the reader might make on politics.

An unimpressed Mark Latham writes:

The reason Milne would not tell you the nature of “the other document” is that he lifted my so-called quotes from the Sydney Morning Herald. On
1 October, Aaron Timms wrote a parody of my Melbourne University
lecture in which he posed a series of rhetorical questions in the minds
of his readers. Blind Freddy could see that, other than in the second
paragraph, the quotes are not mine.

But the Ace at the Australian,
Milne, put the quotes straight into his column and attributed them to
me. He can’t blame the News Ltd library for such stupidity and
laziness, only himself.

He also reproduced Timms’ second
paragraph word-for-word in his column on Monday. It is, indeed, another
buck’s night video – lifting material from the SMH without bothering to check the facts, and getting it hopelessly wrong.

Milne
is typical of the News Ltd culture. Most of his material is fed to him
by sources or lifted from other papers. He wouldn’t know an original
piece of research if he fell over it.

A few years ago, Tom Switzer, the Australian’s opinion page editor, told me he wanted to produce a page with the same reputation and quality as the Wall Street Journal.
What a joke. His showcase Monday columnist has been caught out
foolishly taking material from another newspaper and then failing to
fess up to the true nature of his mistake.

Switzer has told
MUP that the Milne error will not be corrected until next Monday. So
for a week this absolute shocker will stand on the record, with most
Australian readers none the wiser. Another week of fiction down at the Oz.

Completely mad, of course.

Oz
editor Chris Mitchell told Crikey this morning that Milne had sent him
an email explaining the error and he will correct the record in his
next column. We can only take this as a sign that he’s untroubled by
the prospect of allowing the error to stand for a week without any
effort to correct it.

We’ve also tried to contact Milne this morning but weren’t able to
rouse him from his research until he fired of a mysterious email mintures before
publication saying that all will be explained in Monday’s Australian.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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