Strewth v Bolt. It’s been two weeks since The Australian splashed with its exclusive that Tony Abbott had considered unilaterally sending troops to Iraq. And in the absence of further confirmation of the story, stablemate Andrew Bolt has been urging the paper to retract.

Through its Strewth columnist James Jeffrey, The Australian responded on the weekend, highlighting how the journo behind the scoop, John Lyons, had been on-the-money in previous exclusives on the Hawke and Rudd governments.


Bolt wasn’t impressed. “I expected much better from James,” Bolt wrote on the weekend.

Sun drops the boobs as sales fade. Remember when everyone thought the UK Sun had dropped its topless page 3 girls, only to be trolled when the paper bought them back? Well, that only lasted a day. The paper didn’t carry a single topless woman on page 3 in February, suggesting the daily tradition is no more. Monthly circulation figures suggest The Sun hasn’t paid for the absence. It’s sales did drop 10.1% year-on-year in February, but that was a slightly lower rate than the 10.6% decline, year-on-year, in January.

But even if The Sun did have a slightly less awful month than the last, it is still fading. Sun sales dropped 10.1% year-on-year in February to 1.8 million a day on average (a slightly lower rate of decline than the 10.6% seen in January. The Sun’s average daily sales last month were the lowest since 1971, around two years after being bought by Rupert Murdoch as he converted his gains from the now-defunct News of the World. The same circulation figures also reveal falls of 3.9% for the rival Mirror (now a confirmed phone hacker). Another red top, The Star (with page 3 boobs) reported a rise of just 386 copies a day to 425,614, which was a fall of more than 11.7% on February, 2014.

For the UK national papers as a whole, the average rate of print circulation decline was 7.7% in February for the dailies, while the fall for the Sundays was a much faster 10.3%. UK analysts point out that February is always a weak month, being shorter than the others and coming after January when papers launch subscription drives for the year. But The Sun’s sales drop was the largest of all UK dailies and Sundays last month. — Glenn Dyer

Where are the subeditors? From the front page of today’s Advertiser

Video of the day. How Lebanese TV host Rima Karaki deals with disrespect.

Front page of the day. The Spectator Australia‘s take on the “sordid plot” to oust Abbott (we’re not really sure what is going on here but it is eye-catching).