On Mayne and the Hun

Sam Varghese writes: Re. “Mayne: Hun happy to ignore handouts when it suits the Murdochs” (Monday). Stephen Mayne is cynically exploiting the fact that he is the founder of Crikey and using it to defend the practices of a council where he is on the payroll. He has now moved on from Crikey and should not use it as a vehicle to boost his personal interests, even if he can. Else, he is just as bad as any Murdoch hacks whom he accuses of various things in this article.

If Mayne has a complaint about the Herald Sun, then he should take it to that newspaper’s editor. If Mayne wants to write something that serves the public interest – like pieces about his activities as a shareholder activist – then one would have no objection. But this kind of cynical exploitation for his personal profit is exactly what puts people off the media. Councils live on public money and should thus expect robust examination. Mayne appears not to know the difference between an organisation that lives off taxpayer funds and one that manages to get by on its own funds.

Sources risked through data retention

Mark Newton writes: Re. “You want data? Get a warrant” (yesterday). Everyone in the media (including, if I read Tuesday’s editorial correctly, Crikey) seems to be forgetting that every communication features a sender and a receiver; a speaker and a listener; a source and a journalist — and they’re all logged by data retention.

So consider the hypothetical: Laurie Oakes publishes excerpts from a 15 page PDF obtained from the Department of Premier and Cabinet on October 18th last year, containing details of dodgy fundraising in Manly. “Someone” in the PMO wants to hunt down the leaker and destroy their career, and they task the AFP to commence a leak investigation. Will the AFP seek a warrant to pull Laurie Oakes’ telecommunication records so they could see from whom he received email? Ha, not likely. They don’t need to: they can simply access ALL of the communications data from ALL the people who work at PM&C and search for email messages sent to Laurie Oakes on October 18th 2014. None of those public servants are journalists, no warrants required. Source uncovered, career destroyed.

This is entirely 100% predictable. If warrants were going to slow down law enforcement agencies at all, there is no possible way that the government would be talking about requiring them for journalists. The only time the AFP will ever need a warrant is if they what to pull data on two journalists taking to each other.

Horns no accident

Joe Boswell writes: Re. “Media briefs” (Monday). On the Time magazine front cover silhouette of Clinton. Time‘s claim that the appearance of horns on her head is just what happens and “any resemblance to cats, bats or devil horns is entirely coincidental” looks deliberately disingenuous. The denial slyly omits one of the likely reasons for portraying someone with horns. It is the traditional sign of a cuckold; no doubt in these enlightened times a wife too may be a cuckold.