When David Penberthy did substantial damage to The Daily Telegraph’s
reputation with his concocted “catalogue” of sexual misdemeanors splash about
John Brogden, his main defence was
that the then-resigned NSW opposition leader remained a public figure as the member for Pittwater.
As we all know, Brogden attempted to commit suicide and subsequently
resigned from Parliament altogether and Media Watchutterly demolished
Penberthy and his attack-dog reporter, Luke McIlveen, for the “disgraceful” splash.
McIlveen also went down a second time on Media Watch
last year and no doubt will come under further attention when the
program returns next month after last week’s bunfight between The DailyTelegraph’s photographer Ross Schultz andMark
Latham outside the Campbelltown Hungry Jack’s. You see, Penberthy took
the provocative decision of getting the contentious McIlveen to write
up the paper’s blinkered version of the story. He’s not exactly a credible reporter, Dave!
Penberthy is a much-diminished man after the Brogden affair but he was
forced to defend the alleged stalking of Mark Latham and used the line
that he was receiving a $75,000 public pension and had just published The Latham Diaries.
The Diaries defence is debatable but the pension line is pathetic because Latham is receiving the money for
his 11-year stint in the Federal Parliament. He is not working for it
today. It is simply part of his remuneration agreement and it happens to be deferred.
Rupert Murdoch will receive a $US2 million pension for life once he
resigns from News Corp but this won’t justify angry News Corp
shareholders stalking him outside some New York nursing home in 20
years time because of the mess he left behind and the financial drain
he still causes the company. If anyone receiving an earned pension from a job remains
fair game after resigning then there is no such thing as retiring from
public life. The argument is utter bunkum.
News Ltd copped an absolute belting in The Latham Diaries so the
Murdoch empire is enjoying its revenge and trying to spin all sorts of
lines. Today we’ve got a psychologist talking about the trauma Latham’s
kids could be suffering from seeing their father’s outburst. What about
the trauma of being stalked by a Murdoch photographer for hours?
It is all very well for snapper Ross Schultz to claim he was simply
around in public at the Hungry Jack’s, but how did he know Latham was
there? Was he camped outside Latham’s home and following him around
town? When the media gets to write up their own defence, you know it
will be one-sided. Penberthy and Schultz should detail the exact
nature of the assignment, but what odds they will decline on the
grounds of self-incrimination.
There is no doubt that Latham has over-reacted and caused himself some
dreadful PR. Taking a swing at the press is always the worst option, but it certainly sends a strong message to the rest of the
media to stay away. That smashed camera might also fetch plenty at an ALP fundraiser one day.