Sam the koala is dead and I don’t feel too upset about it despite media attempts to make this seem like an event of utmost national significance.

The tabloid likes of the Herald Sun, the Daily Tele and TV news newsrooms are using Sam’s death from chlamydia to pander to some imagined need for a collective outpouring of grief. It’s even compelled the Prime Minister “to lead the national mourning” for “that wonderful koala” Sam and — you couldn’t make it up — Malcolm Turnbull to want a sculpture of Sam built as a lasting symbol of the fires.

“That wonderful koala”, for anyone who somehow doesn’t know, was the marsupial saved by a firefighter during the bushfires that raged across Victoria in February this year, tragically killing 173 people.

Footage of CFA volunteer firefighter David Tree offering bottled water to a grateful Sam was quickly picked up and shown by international news outlets who all loved this cute little story about an adorable fluffy animal who somehow survived against all odds.

Except, em, Sam wasn’t actually rescued during those bushfires.

As a couple of pesky killjoy media outlets reported a few days after the story broke, Sam was actually rescued during deliberately lit back burning operations by the CFA a week before Victoria’s deadliest bushfires. Still — never let the facts get in the way of a ripping feel good yarn.

It could be argued that this is all relatively harmless — including the ludicrous suggestion at the time that David Tree was “the next Steve Irwin” — and it’s fantastic that sales of photographs of Sam and David have raised over $300,000 for firefighters and other charities.

It’s just nauseating to watch certain sections of the media perpetuate an untruth and then feel proud about it while claiming to be “accurate and reliable”, as News Limited CEO John Hartigan’s comments last month about the reporting of Sam the koala’s story (“The images that appeared on television around the world carried the water mark not of Seven, Nine or Ten but of”) illustrate.

For me, the most stunning revelation out of Sam’s death is that 50% of koalas suffer from chlamydia. Cue the awareness campaign (care of master photoshopper Leigh Josey):

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