Yesterday Crikey’s Tips and Rumours column noted PR flack Lyall Mercer’s tendency to not co-operate with the ABC on investigations into asylum seeker conditions on Nauru — Mercer represents the Nauruan government (as well as groups like Hillsong and the Queensland LNP) and has numerous times told the ABC’s Hayden Cooper to to piss off. “Due to continued unbalanced and inaccurate coverage of Nauru by the ABC we will not respond to this request,” he was quoted as saying on 7.30 on Monday — and it wasn’t the first time.
But Cooper isn’t alone in drawing Mercer’s ire — one doesn’t even have to send in media questions to earn it. Several months ago, The Guardian Australia’s Paul Farrell (sarcastically) tweeted: “Lyall must be busy preparing his next fact filled release”. He got the following emailed response from Mercer:
I though your public tweet — ‘@LyallMercer Lyall must be busy preparing his next fact filled release’ — was inappropriate. The clear sarcasm reflects on your objectivity and balance, both essential to good journalism.
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I acknowledge that the Guardian has an obvious perspective about issues but I thought this went too far. The Government of Nauru — like all governments, companies and organisations who are featured in the media, deserve the right to communicate their points of view, and their views are as valid as those who have opposing viewpoints.
If you prefer we don’t send you the ‘facts’ from the perspective of the Government we’d be happy to oblige.
Regards Lyall Mercer On behalf of the Government of Nauru”
Needless to say, Farrell hasn’t been receiving press releases, or responses to media queries, since.