From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

When a whisper becomes a shout. Senate estimates on Monday was devoted to getting to the bottom of the supposed public protest that led to the “burqa ban” at Parliament earlier this month being introduced by the Speaker and president of the Senate. As was found in estimates, it all came back to a tip that was aired on 2UE’s “The Whisper” segment on the morning of October 2, which, like many on commercial radio stations around the country, relies on anonymous tips from listeners to give information on anything from a swearing Premier to overturned junior football results. 2UE’s anonymous tipster said a group of people in burqas were due to protest at Parliament House. Channel Nine picked up the rumour and turned out at Parliament to film the supposed protest. Australian Federal Police asked the film crew why they were there, and they passed the rumour of an imminent influx of burqa-clad protesters onto their superiors, who passed it onto the parliamentary Speaker (the supposed protest failed to materialise). While some have expressed surprise to Ms Tips that a rumour on a radio station could go so far, the importance of these segments shouldn’t be underestimated. Ms Tips understands commercial television networks in Melbourne begin their day by tuning into rumour file and whisper segments and many news stories originate there. But where did the original tip come from? Ms Tips hears that there wasn’t a tip at all:

“It turns out that the email from 2UE was a fabrication. It was made up by the announcer Garry Linnell and John Stanley.”

It was the rumour that ruled the news cycle for days — could it really be possible that it was made up by the radio hosts? We put that to 2UE and were told:

“This ‘whisper’ (or rumour) was made via an anonymous phone call to the station; The rumour was not ‘made up’ by the 2UE Breakfast hosts, John Stanley and Gary Linnell. The 2UE ‘Whisper’ segment is, by its nature, reliant on anonymous tip and rumours. At no time did 2UE claim that this story was substantiated fact and any claim to the contrary would be incorrect.”

We still don’t know where the tip came from, and we wouldn’t ask 2UE to give up their source, but it is important to note that it could have been anyone — in Canberra or not, informed or not. Of course, Ms Tips never underestimates the power of an anonymous tip or rumour — if you’ve got one, let us know here.

Correcting the record. Politics watchers were surprised this morning to receive a press release from “Assistant Treasurer” Arthur Sinodinos, who stepped down from the role in March when he was called as a witness at ICAC hearings in NSW:

The acting Assistant Treasurer is actually Mathias Cormann, whose picture graces the website when you click through the email. It didn’t take long for Treasury to issue a correction — apparently it was their fault:

Treasury isn’t the only office trying to correct the record this morning. Education Minister Christopher Pyne was attempting to quell the rumour that Julie Bishop could take over the prime ministership from Tony Abbott by saying, “I want her to be Prime Minister for 10 years, and after that people can worry about the next thing in 10 years”. He quickly tried to cover by adding, “Yeah, Tony Abbott, I said” but the damage was done, with a news report up on Fairfax sites before the morning was out. Pyne’s office released the transcript this morning, with the mistake carefully disguised:

Looks like there’s a few people in the government looking forward to the weekend …

Those swearing princesses have a shady source. A video of girls dressed up as princesses and dropping the F-bomb has gone viral this week — its fun message of “fuck sexism” is meant to make us want to buy T-shirts, but there are parts of the internet warning us otherwise. The group behind the video, FCKH8, while also looking for a vowel, has also used a similar video that tried to sell T-shirts in the wake of the Ferguson riots and been accused of using intellectual property without permission from the artist. Just goes to show that sometimes we should think twice before sharing.

Defence Minister gets defensive. Has Defence Minister David Johnston given up? Failing to attend National Security Committee yesterday morning on the basis that, as he told Senate estimates, he would have nothing to add — this while Australia has men and women in harm’s way in Iraq — might reflect an accurate judgment on the inept Johnston’s part. But does it also reflect the pique of a man who knows he’s in the ministerial departure lounge? And what better portfolio to absorb Scott Morrison’s restless energies and obvious boredom, post-stopping the boats, than Defence? While Morrison’s cabinet colleagues have been busy rebuffing his efforts to expand his responsibilities into their portfolios, would they be quite happy for Morrison to move to Russell Hill, from whose bourn no minister returns?

Selfies go meta. While we are familiar with Australian politicians’ love of taking selfies with constituents, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has taken it to a new level — snapping a selfie with this wax figure of himself. We’d love to see what the actual selfie looks like, but this is what was uploaded to Facebook:

There’s a lot in a name. Yesterday Ms Tips linked to this nice bit of data collection that shows whether a name is meant to be more conservative or liberal, based on donation records in the US. While we first just checked “Tony” and “Bill”, we hear that readers have had quite a bit of fun. “Miranda”, as in Devine, the News Corp columnist, has one of the most liberal names we found, with 8.1 out of 10 on the scale. Readers may also be interested to know that “Bernard”, as in Keane, is at 0.6 towards the conservative end, as is “Gerard”, as in Henderson …

Data retention — it shall not pass. The Greens’ fight against data retention has already been memed, but now Senator Scott Ludlam has taken the fight in a new direction in another bid to go viral. This week’s Juice Rap News covers the government’s proposed data retention laws and features Ludlam “going full Gandalf on this government’s arse”. It’s no Julian Assange in a mullet, but it’s still very good:

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed anonymous form

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey