I’m only too
familiar with how much it can sting when you’re scooped, and having
been on the receiving end more times than I’d like to remember I’m
loath to rub in the fact that The Australian had the Llewellyn affidavit on Sunday and failed to publish it. But does Oz editor Chris Mitchell really expect us to believe this lame explanation of why his star media reporter – and newly appointed Bulletin editor – John Lehmann sat on the yarn?

The Weekend Australian broke the story about the
existence of the Llewellyn affidavit on Saturday. We were leaked the
affidavit late Sunday, but were not in a position to publish the story
regarding its contents in Monday’s newspaper due to the fact we were
unable to contact the executives named in the document and put the
untested allegations directly to them. After making these calls on
Monday, we were prevented from publishing the story due to an ex parte
injunction obtained by lawyers for the Nine Network in the NSW Supreme

So Mitchell is saying Lehmann was just being thorough and
the delay had nothing to do with the fact that PBL’s new star recruit
was in a hopelessly conflicted position when it came to tipping a
bucket on his new employer? Please, no one is that gullible. Lehmann is
a well regarded journalist but he was placed in an utterly impossible
position and it defies credulity to pretend he wouldn’t have known it.

Besides, over the past few days as the Oz has been playing
catch up it seems the paper has had no qualms about publishing details
of the affidavit without accompanying comment from some of the key
players named. The idea that this was the sole hold up is the sort of
spin we’ve come to expect from the Nine PR team.

In fairness I should say the Oz has done a decent job of covering the yarn since Crikey broke it, including Chris Merritt’s excellent piece on the legal stoush yesterday morning and some great stuff on the legal angles in Media today.

But Mitchell should hang his head in shame over this atrocious self-serving effort on the Oz‘s front page by Brad Norington and Amanda Meade on Tuesday that tried to pretend the story was all about TheAustralian and that Nine had sought the injunction against Crikey only because they knew the Oz had the affidavit.

Then again, Rupert’s in town, so it’s hardly surprising they’re turning the spin meter up to high.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey