Glenn Milne is perhaps best known for two things: doggedly advocating the cause of Peter Costello for most of the life of the Howard Government, and being chucked out of the 2006 Walkleys (enjoy the footage here) after assaulting Stephen Mayne.

Milne later graciously apologised to Mayne – via voicemail.

The reason Milne went for Mayne – apart from the grog – was that Christian Kerr in Crikey had linked to a blog post where claims were made about Milne’s private life.  What did Stephen Mayne have to do with that? Nothing, but in Milne’s addled mind he was an appropriate target.

So one might assume that Milne is conscious of the distinction between what is material that is in the public interest and what is private and not worthy of reportage, whether true or not.

Apparently not.  Yesterday in the Sunday Telegraph Milne reported that two MPs – I’m not going to name them so this won’t help anyone Googling the issue – are in a relationship.

First, this is ancient news.  Some of us first heard about it in June.  Apparently a lot of MPs became aware of it at the Labor National Conference in July.  Ironically, that was when the same person responsible for the smearing of Milne in 2006 ran a blog post on it.  It has been the subject of occasional, but not especially frequent, Gallery gossip ever since.  There has also been some idle speculation that the female MP concerned is pregnant.

Second, there’s no public interest whatsoever in the relationship.  In fact it’s not even news.  Work colleagues end up in relationships all the time.

But Milne couldn’t help himself.  Because he’d received a semi-coherent email on the subject, he had to report the relationship as news.

This is by no means new for Milne.  He was instrumental in reporting a dirt file on Christopher Pyne prior to the election, which made several unsavoury and entirely untrue claims about the then-Minister.  Milne tried to claim it was the product of a Labor dirt unit when it was plain to all it was the product of Pyne’s factional enemies in the SA Liberal Party.  Milne is famous for being the Liberal Party’s go-to journalist.

Maybe Milne thinks he’s the only one who gets emails making allegations about political figures’ personal lives.  We all get them, Glenn, and most of us have the sense to bin them.  True, false, whatever, they’re of absolutely no public interest. Except, apparently, to you.

Contemptible.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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