Behind a Tele carbon tax beat-up. Michael Whitbourn’s terrific Australian Financial Review account of a carbon tax beat up — wisely moved outside the pay wall this morning — deserves highlighting. Let’s run through the key points:

  • The national political editor of The Daily Telegraph hatched a story idea and a conclusion in one: the carbon tax will have such an impact on public transport tickets that commuters will return to their cars.
  • On July 14, Barry O’Farrell’s communications director Peter Grimshaw was employed to dig up the proof. He emailed his staffers: “The ‘Tele’ is very keen to do a story for tomorrow’s paper on the impact of the carbon tax in relation to Public Transport V Cars, with the theme being there will be an incentive for people to use cars under Gillard’s plan. If we have any figures/modelling he thinks he can get a big run on this tomorrow … Can we pull together any info/figures asap that would back up this case.”
  • Government advice from the Department of Transport in fact countered the argument. Grimshaw wasn’t going to supply that because of its “not so helpful quotes”.
  • Tony Abbott’s policy director Matthew Crocker saw Grimshaw’s note and emailed through a “gold mine of attack points!” on the possible effect of the tax on Sydney Ferries.
  • O’Farrell’s office eventually dispatched figures it said were from NSW Treasury, but were actually cooked up by his own office based on the “upper end” of Transport Department data.
  • On July 15, a front-page report stated the tax would push up fares by up to $150 a year — six times higher than the 0.5% estimate by federal Treasury.

We wonder: will the federal government’s media inquiry examine how political minders are dispatched to prove pre-written tabloid headlines? — Jason Whittaker

Front page of the day. Today’s UK Independent front page reveals more Fleet Street impropriety between newspapers and private investigators:

MPs recall Murdoch over phone-hacking evidence

“James Murdoch, the chairman of News International, has agreed to reappear before the culture, media and sport select committee after being recalled to give further evidence on phone hacking.” — journalism.co.uk

7/7 disaster victim’s mother to sue NotW publisher

“The mother of a victim of the 2005 London terrorist attacks is suing Rupert Murdoch’s media empire after she was told by police that her son’s mobile phone is likely to have been targeted by a private investigator working for the News of the World.” — The Guardian

News Corp shareholders add to lawsuit: hacking is only latest impropriety

“News Corp. shareholders have filed a second amended complaint in their lawsuit against the media conglomerate, alleging that phone hacking is just the latest impropriety in a sustained pattern of abuses.” — The Wrap

Sneaky Seven: Macca’s ad breaches rules

“The Seven Network broadcast McDonald’s advertisements during children’s programs in a breach of industry restrictions, a media watchdog has found.” — The Age

Senator suing Seven over Today Tonight report

“NSW Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells is suing the Seven Network over a Today Tonight report on parliamentary travel entitlements. It described her $17,000 study tour of the Italian wool industry as a ‘dubious’ mission to ‘reconnect with her heritage’.” — TV Tonight

Grog’s Gamut joins The Chaser

“Political blogger Greg Jericho, better known in the online world as Grog’s Gamut, has scored a new job as a researcher on ABC program The Hamster Wheel, the upcoming production from the team behind The Chaser.” — The Australian

Peter Fray

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