"The problem for Robert Manne, Meg and Crikey is that EVERYTHING Meg wrote on your website about Operation Neath, Operation Briars, Cameron Stewart and Hedley Thomas is wrong, as will become clear soon enough. Her only source was an OPI spin doctor. "Our reporting will be completely vindicated and both Hedley and Cameron will be requiring some pretty serious apologies. Surely you all read The Age and the Herald Sun down there and have seen the rapidly increasing scrutiny of OPI’s dirty tricks by both papers."Rumours of a smoking gun around the setting up of the OPI and its subsequent investigations have been floating around the Herald & Weekly Times' Southbank offices for months. There is believed to be one big major splash in the offing that may turn the saga on its head. Mitchell and The Australian have campaigned hard on the OPI in Victoria after former Police chief Simon Overland spoke out over a front-page exclusive penned by Stewart in 2009 documenting the Operation Neath terror raids on the morning they occurred. Overland believed the story was irresponsible because hard copies of the paper were available before it occurred. An extended back-and-forth ensued between the OPI and criminal proceedings in the Magistrates Court that could result in serious jail time for a member of Victoria Police's Africa unit Simon Artz. Simons covered the case and wrote a number of opinion pieces critical of the Australian's motives and Thomas' "siccing" onto the story. Other Finkelstein academics have also been fingered by the paper. In this morning's edition, enquiry adviser Matthew Ricketson's dinkus was featured above the fold as a pointer to a yarn that revealed he had been paid $175,000 for his work on the enquiry. Ricketson's Vice Chancellor at the University of Canberra, Stephen Parker, has been a staunch defender of his charge, blogging in March that the attacks on Ricketson were an assault on academic freedom. He is also believed to be outraged by The Oz's blow-up of recent days. UPDATE: Glyn Davis posted his critique of The Australian this afternoon as foreshadowed in the story above. He accuses the paper of using a "tenuous and trivial claim to attack an academic critic" and wonders "about the fairness of the coverage or the pattern of personal attacks on those who express views unacceptable to editorial writers."
The Oz v academics: Manne, universities hit back
The Australian newspaper has come under sustained attack this morning from several angles as its simmering spat with the nation's academic community threatens to turn nuclear.