Crikey editor Misha Ketchell writes:

Former ABA head David Flint is used to people taking the p*ss. He’s
been attacked for his fawning attitude to shock jock Alan Jones (and
his weak effort in pursuing him over cash for comment). He’s been
lampooned by the Republican movement
for his fawning attitude to the Queen, his plummy accent has been
mercilessly mocked and his recent books, Twilight of the Elites and Malice in Media Land could be seen by some as pretty comprehensive effort at self-parody.

So when Crikey rang the professor to find out if he was considering
legal action to shut down this new parody David Flint website we thought
he might be fired up, especially as it contains mock entires like this under the pen name “David Hard As Flint”:

Mark Latham – crybaby whiner thug

A
public figure has to expect greater scrutiny than a private person. As
they say, if you don’t like the heat, don’t go into the kitchen.

Mark
Latham, because he wrote a couple of books, and a few people remember
who he is, is a media figure public figure par excellence. This gives
the Daily Telegraph the right – no, the duty –
to stalk him and harass his children. The children are also public
figures, by virtue of having Mark Latham for a father. The Daily
Telegraph
(the highest quality newspaper in the land) has the right to
camp out in his living room, if they wish. Mark Latham remains a public
figure until he chooses to come off the public purse. Or dies,
whichever happens first. Either’s fine with me. Until then, the media
is entitled to hunt him down like a dog whenever anyone associated with
a Murdoch tabloid thinks it’s a good idea. He remains entitled to some
privacy, but being stalked by highqualityjournalistLuke McIlveen is hardly a breach of this.

Instead Professor Flint thinks it’s a wonderful chuckle. “It’s
very clever,” he told Crikey. “It takes something that I’ve written and
plays around with it. I suppose from the point of the view of the law
you
couldn’t really claim that it’s passing itself off as me.”

“I suppose some of the things there would be defamatory of
me, but I thought it was rather clever. I don’t believe that
people who’ve
chosen voluntarily to be in public life should sue for defamation. I
don’t believe
that’s appropriate – unless in exceptional circumstances.” (News to
us and we wish he’d tell his good mate Alan Jones who hasn’t been
averse to firing off the odd threatening letter when he doesn’t like
what’s being said about him.)

Parody sites like this are interesting, says Flint. In the old days a
parody of this sort would never have seen the light of day
because media was centrally controlled. You couldn’t get on TV without
getting past one of the Kerrys or the cultural commissars at the ABC and to get
into print you also had to shove aside the cultural gatekeepers. But
these days anybody foolhardy enough to risk legal action can have a go
at anyone on the internet.

And it seems the secret to getting away with it without being sued is
picking a flattering photograph. “They chose a nice photograph,” said
Flint. “They could’ve been mischievous there.”

Peter Fray

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