Middleton bows out. SBS’ chief political correspondent Karen Middleton has announced she’s leaving her position, after 10 years in the press gallery.

“So l know l said l was only on leave and I was,” she wrote on Twitter last night. “But now l am leaving SBS to pursue a more freelance life. Thanks — it’s been a great 10 years.”

CBA exec sues. The Commonwealth Bank is funding a defamation case against consumer advocate and key Fairfax source Michael Fraser, Fairfax’s metro titles reported today, over comments Fraser made on a website about CBA general manager of customer relations Brendan French.

According to Fairfax’s report, the bank is funding the action but claims it isn’t formally involved, saying Fraser was a “person who has conducted a systematic campaign of harassment, intimidation and threats to one of our employees over many months”. The defamation action follows attempts by CBA to hire private investigators to uncover Fraser’s inside sources, as Fairfax has reported.

Under Australian law, large corporations are not allowed to sue for defamation. But it’s possible for executives in those corporations to sue — indeed, they don’t even have to be named to mount a successful action, Sydney University associate law professor David Rolph told Crikey. Since uniform defamation laws came in in 2005, not many executives have gone to court over comments made about them in relation to their work, he noted. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t sued and settled. “It’s very easy generally speaking to threaten someone with a defamation action,” he said. “Being sued for defamation is expensive, and people try to avoid at all costs. That has a real impact on freedom of speech.”

“If you think you’re safe just because you’re talking about a company, that’s not necessarily going to protect you. If the people involved in a company’s management can be individually identified — you can still be held liable. I think that says something about breadth of defamation law.” — Myriam Robin

How politicians read a newspaper. In two words — with paranoia. Former Gillard staffer (and new Monthly political editor) Sean Kelly writes on Politics Oz:

“Some of the speculation … is ridiculous. But it’s also how politicians think. And while it seems absurd, it’s also understandable – in the absence of clear facts, trying to string together disparate clues is all they have.”

In Cold Blood, the TV series? The Weinstein Company has optioned the TV rights to iconoclastic mid-century American journalist Truman Capote’s seminal true crime book, In Cold Blood. It would be the first TV series made from the book, which has already been made into a movie in 1967 and a telemovie in 1996. Capote’s life has already been examined in Capote in 2005, which lead to the late Philip Seymour Hoffman winning the Oscar for best actor, and the 2006 movie Infamous. The Weinstein Company was unclear on whether it would be made by it, or by its TV arm, which is in the process of being sold to ITV of the UK for around US$950 million. In Cold Blood was originally a four-part serial in The New Yorker magazineand follows the brutal 1959 murders of a Kansas farm family and the effect of the killings on both the community and the two men who were eventually convicted of the murders. It made Capote’s reputation as a writer and he never topped it. It also set the template for thousands of books, magazine articles and newspaper stories seeking to explain crime and other events in more than just the bare bones of the crime itself. It took Capote six years to write. He researched it with fellow author Harper Lee, who wrote To Kill A Mockingbird. Capote and Lee grew up living next door to each other in Monroeville Alabama. — Glenn Dyer