Kate’s prophesy. When Fairfax journalist Kate McClymont launched the book she wrote with the ABC’s Linton Besser about corrupt NSW politician Eddie Obeid, she told the crowd gathered (including Crikey’s correspondent) a joke her lawyer had made, about buying the book the moment it was out “as it could be pulped by lunchtime”. As it was, it took almost three weeks for the book to be pulled from the shelves, as it was yesterday.
Booksellers got an email from publishers Random House at 4.30pm from publisher Random House telling them they weren’t allowed to sell any more copies and that they had to withdraw the book from sale immediate, for “legal reasons”, Pages & Pages Booksellers Jon Page told Crikey. He wasn’t told what those legal reasons were, but illumination came in this morning’s Daily Telegraph, which revealed this morning that the book allegedly mixed up Christopher Browns:
“Fairfax journalist Kate McClymont and her co-author Linton Besser are being threatened with a lawsuit by Christopher Brown, who they claimed was in business with the disgraced Eddie Obeid in a company called Scobde Pty Ltd.
“It is understood the authors mistook Mr Brown for a Christopher Geoffrey Charles Brown, who was born in Colchester, England, in 1947 — 19 years before Mr Brown was born in Parramatta.”
Brown, the son of Hawke government minister John Brown, has reportedly hired defamation lawyer Mark O’Brien to represent him.
Page, from Sydney, told Crikey the book had been flying off his shelves since release. But in Melbourne, Crikey understands sales have been somewhat slower. Readings’ Martin Shaw told us it had sold well enough, “but by no means gangbusters: obviously its NSW profile is much higher.”
In a tweet, McClymont confirmed the book was recalled over a case of mistaken identity. She said a formal apology was on its way. — Myriam Robin
Politics 101. Credit to the Oz: in its jihad against Citizen Clive, Australia’s national broadsheet has run a piece in his (limited) defence on the op-ed page today. Professor James Allen, one-time associate of torture enthusiast Mirko Bagaric, and the man who attempted to praise the women’s movement by declaring that “feminism is now out of the nappies stage in its development”, has charged in with a defence of our current Senate follies. This is the system our founders intended, says Allen — a strong upper house with checks and balances blah blah. Does anyone doing Australian Politics 101 want to set him straight? Bueller, Bueller, Kelly….? Yes, that’s right. The Senate was originally designed as a winner-take-all vote, with the idea that it would be a house that represented the states — although by the time the constitution was ratified, the party system was sufficiently established in Australia that it was clear that any sweeping electoral victory in the House of Representatives would most likely take the Senate with it. The voting system was changed to a proportional-preferential system in the 1940s by the Labor government, which was convinced that it would keep the upper house out of the hands of conservatives forever. Well, kinda.
Soon after, the Split occurred, and the Senate became the power base of the DLP, the Democrats, the Greens and now the crossbenches, with only short intervening periods of major party control. The founders of the federation intended that the Senate would, from time to time, represent states’ rights — small states against big, rural against urban — by voting en bloc, and thus ensure that the system retained its federated character. They sure as hell didn’t intend that a government with a comfortable majority in the lower house would have to build coalitions to pass its legislation, senator by senator. “We are not living through the breakdown of politics,” says Allen (whose byline bio indicates that he is writing a book called Democracy In Decline). With articles like this — and Maurice Newman’s global cooling malarkey — we appear to be witnessing a breakdwon of basic quality control on the Oz‘s op-ed page. — Guy Rundle
Please come back, James Jeffrey. Strewth! Christian Kerr’s back, so the column’s gone again. Today’s effort had eight items — seven of them stuff he saw in the papers or on the TV bubbling away in the background, and one item about Gold Coast trams. Yesterday’s? Seven items, all media cut-outs. Brief excitement — rumours that Belinda Neal is coming back to politics! Oh, no, it’s from an ABC report. Christian, see that big thing with the cord and the buttons on your desk? It’s called a phone. See the name of the company you work for? It’s called news. Why not use the former to get some of the latter. We’ll keep an eye on the Strewth news/lame-o pasting ratio from here on in — Guy Rundle
A victim of fashion: Overnight, Conde Nast sold US fashion bible Women’s Wear Daily, its magazines and most of its websites for a reported figure of less than US$100 million to Jay Penske Business Media — owned by Penske Media Corporation — which has revitalised the faltering Variety in LA. Penske slashed Variety‘s five editions per week to just one, after paying US$25 million for the publication in 2009. Fifteen years ago, Women’s Wear Daily and associated magazines were worth US$650 million when Conde Nast, the big US publisher (think Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Vogue), bought the operation from Walt Disney. The sale marks the second major cost-cutting move revealed by Conde Nast this month. Last week it said it would spin off its shopping magazine, Lucky, in a joint venture with e-commerce site, BeachMint. Legendary US fashionista Anna Wintour has been an adviser to Lucky, and she will remain so after the deal. BeachMint is a monthly subscription service that teams up with celebrities to pick items for customers. Its backers include Goldman Sachs. Conde Nast will be the biggest investor in The Lucky Group, and will continue to print its 10 issues per year. — Glenn Dyer
This economist cures haemorrhoids. We got this from The Economist’s digital editor. Who said print is dead indeed.
Front page of the day. This one is fictional — an improvement (courtesy of The Independent) on the New York Post’s actual decision to run a still from a video showing journalist James Foley an instant before he was murdered by a masked extremist.