Nov 26, 2012

The mechanics of how a smear campaign was legitimised

What began as a smear campaign against the Prime Minister became a major media story only a few days ago, when it stopped being merely a News Ltd smear campaign.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Julia Gillard

In the last week the AWU story, such as it is, has leapt from being a confection pushed by the government’s opponents, to being a confection the Press Gallery has decided to take seriously.

This legitimization of the story has coincided with it becoming clearer just how little of substance there actually is to it. The best illustration of this was an intriguing interview on Friday by the ABC’s Jon Faine, who unlike his colleagues at Media Watch has kept his critical faculties intact about the story. Faine put the Prime Minister’s most ardent pursuer (after Larry Pickering, a former cartoonist at The Australian regularly criticised for being misogynist and an anti-semite), former shock jock Michael Smith, on the spot to outline a specific allegation of wrongdoing. The best Smith could do, the crime that he claimed “could cost the Prime Minister her liberty”, was falsely witnessing the date of a document, though he was unable to point to evidence to support this beyond the claims of Ralph Blewitt.

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101 thoughts on “The mechanics of how a smear campaign was legitimised

  1. klewso

    Surely “union corruption” depends more on which “union” is involved – and is all the more legitimate a cause célèbre, as long as they have blue collars – going on “media reports/interest”?

  2. susan winstanley

    Thank you Bernard, for calling it as it is.
    A complete disgrace.
    The Press Gallery disgusts me.

  3. klewso

    Personally I can’t wait for the same media – having taken such a strong stand on this particular event 20 years ago (“going to Gillard’s ethics”?) – to apply the same standards of acceptable behaviour, and their own devotion of resources to investigation, to the rest of our elected representatives (how many will that leave standing – anyone “running book” on that?).
    Otherwise this becomes their own “Burn the Witch” party?

  4. JMNO

    Mark Baker at The Age has been running the same story every day – day after day the same information, some variation in presentation. And he doesn’t seem to understand how the incorporation process works, what the role of the lawyer is or how incorporated associations can work.

    It puzzles me why The Age is involved in what appears to be a vendetta against the Prime Minister, given that most of the questions Baker keeps asking have been answered either by the Prime Minister or by other people involved in the issue.

    Now of course with 2 newspapers running the same old, same old story every day, the rest of the media feels obliged to cover it. Now they can report, as Mark Baker did, that the story has received widespread coverage and attracted increasing interest! As you say it has become a story about a story.

  5. klewso

    Otherwise this is the cacophony of a (press) gallery of pink galahs.

    [And how the ABC had to be goaded into playing “Rupert Says” – but it too did eventually join in. Though it’s not as if Sales (“Murdochtrinated” as she is), with her political sympathies, ever needed a cause to slur Labor?]

  6. NeoTheFatCat

    Every time I hear journalists and media executives warning about the death of ‘quality’ journalism, I feel like saying “bring it on”. The sooner these pathetic ‘professionals’ are turfed out by the non-paying customer and made to do something of value, the better. I for one won’t miss them for a minute.

  7. Shaniq'ua Shardonn'ay

    Yep, you called it. I’m waiting for the next scandal – “Prime Ministers Boyfriend does hair for s-xual favours in tax avoidance scheme”!!!

  8. Bill Hilliger

    @JMNO I think you have identified the issue here – reporters are not very bright when it comes to an everyday understanding and comprehension of the spoken and written english language. Note an earlier press conference Julia Gillard held had many journalist struggled with comprehending the spoken word. Is it any wonder that newspaper sales are forever in decline.

  9. klewso

    Neo “quality journalism” died years ago – a victim of Murdochsamytosis – it just hasn’t found that out yet.

  10. David Hand

    There’s a touch of desperation in your commentary here. Playing the gender card, that many people who think Julia Gillard acted unprofessionally in 1995 are “older white conservative males” is a bit desperate, mate. Calling it “a smear campaign” won’t make it go away.

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