Feb 7, 2018

Media roundtable: was it ethical of the Tele to publish its Barnaby Joyce story?

Opinion is divided on what was one of Canberra's biggest "open secrets".

Emily Watkins — Media reporter

Emily Watkins

Media reporter

This morning The Daily Telegraph splashed with a story that's been political gossip for months: Barnaby Joyce's ex-staffer and now-girlfriend is pregnant with his fifth child. This comes months after another story, which also ran on the front page, about the unspecified "personal crisis" that was spilling into the Deputy Prime Minister's public life in the lead-up to the New England byelection.

The story has brought to the fore the age-old debate for political journalism: when is a politician's personal life in the public interest? So we did a whip around of some interested observers on the ethics of publishing this story.

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112 thoughts on “Media roundtable: was it ethical of the Tele to publish its Barnaby Joyce story?

  1. Itsarort

    “Pork-barrel” takes on a whole new meaning for BJ… Let’s hope it doesn’t detract from the criticisms of his other recent fiascos.

    1. brian crooks

      what about the other allegations of drunken impropriety as told to tony windsor and reported in some independent online news publications, these are the complaints that should be investigated, if you hold others to certain standards then you should maintain the same standards yourself, imagine if this was the deputy leader of the opposition going into a by election, the murdoch media and the shock jocks would be screaming to the high heavens for the voters to throw them out, seems there`s 2 standards in Australian politics, its do as I say, not as I do on the conservative side, I feel for is his family, the victims, betrayed and abandoned through no fault of their own,I hope his wife Natalie takes him to the cleaners, financially, this behaviour must be the going thing in national party politics, a local state member has done a similar thing recently and it was hushed up too.

  2. Terrence Larsen

    Barnaby is the Deputy PM, Leader of the National Party and a Minister of the Crown.
    His wages are paid by the tax payer.
    The taxpayer has every right to know what their employees are up to on the job.
    I doubt that all this happened off the clock.

    1. Mick Donohoe

      So your boss has the right to know your private affairs? Or are you the boss and are claiming the right to know all the private affairs of your employees?

      1. AR

        If he was using our time & money for his frolic, yes.

        1. spicelab

          Fine. Then by extension we should extend these standards to all Government employees right?

          1. Terrence Larsen

            Small red herring.

      2. Terrence Larsen

        I repeat how much was carried out on the clock ie while he or she were being paid by the taxpayer for their respective jobs including allowances?

      3. brian crooks

        mick, it wasn`t a private affair, its been out there for months, and yes, he should be held to the same standards as the coalition held labor `s julia Gilliard and the liberal peter slipper, there was no privacy for them, not to mention the jim cairns julie merossi`s affair, there was no consideration of their privacy, and there`s a lot more to come out of this sordid mess yet, there`s other allegations that must be investigated in the full glare of the public eye even more damaging, as ye so, so shall ye reap seems appropriate her.

  3. susan winstanley

    Rob Stott nails it: “My only question is why now? If the story is newsworthy now, surely it was newsworthy months ago when the entire Canberra Press Gallery knew about it.” After the High Court sacked Barnaby Joyce and he became “just Barnaby” he stood as a candidate in the New England by-election, which he won, absent any competition from Tony Windsor, and absent any critical Press coverage. Rumours were rife in the electorate and in social media that his wife and children were disgusted with Mr Family Values, yet none of this was reported by the Press. Why? Because politicians lives are private? No matter how big the scandal? Really? Or is it the same old story, Good Old Boys ganging together to hide their sexual infidelities, while breath-taking double standards apply for women like Cheryl Kernot and Julia Gillard. And anyway, Joyce was not a politician then, he was a candidate. Does the Press protect candidates too? And why are his personal affairs only NOW public game for the Murdoch papers? Because they could “confirm the story” with a paparazzi shot of a pregnant woman? Are you kidding? no seriously, are you kidding? How about day two of the Jim Molan debacle and News Corp wants to get him off the front pages.. so splash the woman and shame her, not Barnaby. Another black day for the Oz Press.

    1. CML

      Well said, Susan!
      I wonder if this ‘news’ would have affected the vote in new England at the recent by-election? What a bloody hypocrite…with his position on SSM, and worse, his overwhelming support for the ‘sanctity’ of heterosexual marriage.
      Then again…maybe the sheeples don’t care… if it is one of their own, that’s alright then!!
      Bernard Keane…you are sooooo wrong!!!!!!

      1. brian crooks

        his new partner should have gone to spec savers is all I can say.

      2. brian crooks

        his new partner should have gone to spec savers is all I can say.

      3. Douglas Clifford

        Hear hear…

    2. lykurgus

      As Arthur Daley said about being tapped for jury duty, “If he’s one of our own, then it’s a ‘not guilty’, innit. But if it’s a perv in the dock, then it’s into the shovel and plenty of porridge”. So the predator calling himself a deputy PM gets to bore us silly with how incredibly hurt he is about his predations being revealed.
      Meanwhile, the harassment of Susan Lamb continues (and may soon increase), and the clown car that this rag has become, has joined the dead trees in hand-waving that rampant hypocrisy too.
      Either she’s not “one of our own”, or it’s “you tell on me, I tell on you”.
      Or both.

    3. Wallywonga

      The Canberra Press gallery are part of a cosy political club. So, to keep with the “in” crowd, apparently live by inconsistent, hippocritical rules.. et tu Mr Keane?
      There are issues of character – sincerity, integrity which are important to voters, and are inevitably evidenced in private as well as public life.
      In the case of Joyce, his conduct here is just what we have come to expect from him. The “farmer’s friend”, who preferably cavorts with some of the worst white collar crims in this country, is apparently even prepared to “cook the books” to assist them (irrigators).
      So in response to this story, like all the others, we get the “naiive country bumpkin, really didn’t mean no harm” bull crap that we always get from him. Expect that his estranged wife, rather than being a victim, could have a field day with this.. good riddance to him, and good luck to her!

  4. 124C4U

    wasn’t there a big hoo-ha about some bosses having it off with members of their staff?
    The perpetually Outraged Mob was up in arms about it and carting on fit to bust.
    Then was there not endless pontification on media including the Drum with untolled “experts” spouting off about “correct” behavior in the workplace. Many workplaces having a ban on any relationships between staff members. With sacking an appropriate action if discovered.
    Now, Just because it’s barmy Barney or some pollie it should be kept quiet! Give us a break!

  5. zut alors

    No surprises the Murdoch rag wasn’t prepared to devote the front page to the scandals surrounding Cousin Jethro’s ministry of the Murray-Darling water management. That would require no debate on whether it’s in the public interest.

  6. pinkocommierat

    Campion used to write exploitation-style pieces about car accidents in a style that was totally insensitive to the families of the victims. Joyce makes his living boosting mining and fracking in regions where he owns land, while his nominal constituency can go jump.
    What surprises me is the story took as long as it did to break.

  7. Adrian

    I think it’s fine to report, its more where you report it. Front page or in the political section is not the place. In Women’s Weekly or the social pages, that seems fine.
    I don’t really think badly of BJ from the reporting. Life happens, and it’s good to see it happening in a positive fashion for a polly.

    1. brian crooks

      Adrian, and do you show the same compassion for his wife and family, I bet not, I hope your wife does the same to you one day, then maybe you might understand a bit better, its not just swapping a partner, its a family break up.

      1. pinkocommierat

        I guess we’re seeing two amoral people being reported on by an amoral media outlet. It suits them.

      2. Steve

        That’s a ridiculous thing to say, Brian. Infidelity and marriage breakdowns happen all the time for a range of reasons. So long as it’s consensual, it’s a personal matter.

        1. Polym

          OK but Joyce is an elected public figure, who has self endorsed as a righteous protector of Family, Loyalty and all the other crap he spouts. You can say No. When interviewed he sounded as if he was discussing an engine failure.
          Public figures involved in such activities leave them selves open to blackmail, so it is Not their right to make whoopee with staffers unless they are up front with we, the paying public and their long suffering families.

        2. brian crooks

          bullshit steve, can you imagine the screams from the good christian barney and news limited it it had been shorten or albanese, they persecuted slipper for personal emails to ashby, wasn`t that a personal matter, typical of the so called christian conservatives, if its your lot hush it up, if its anybody else, go for it, the christian lobby has been too good at hushing things up, otherwise half the various clergy would have been locked up years ago.

    2. Casbar

      “Life happens, and it’s good to see it happening in a positive fashion for a polly”??? Where does one start with this blinding oversimplification of an event that is truly the opposite of what you state. I do not even think Barnaby Joyce could say his life is “positive” at this juncture. You might be able to make that statement if Joyce and Campion had chosen to restrain themselves from their tryst, for Joyce to end the marriage with his wife, support his daughters as they navigated their feelings about the family breakdown (as a decent parent would) and then, maybe, continue to pursue his relationship with his new love. Even then, it would likely be only “positive” for Joyce and Campion. His wife and daughters would still be dealing with their respective losses.

  8. Decorum

    Decorum, Member of the Public, Australia.
    I find it interesting. So yes, it’s a matter of Public Interest. Thank you.

  9. Jeremy Henderson

    It seems to me that ALL of those in the press gallery commenting on this are so obsessed with the politics of it, that they are missing the biggest point in all of this. The story may well be about Barnaby Joyce, but the victim is his partner, who becomes a target simply because she happened to fall in love with him. And to suggest that hypocrisy in a politician is newsworthy?? Go pull the other one, and try to climb over your heap of sanctimonious bullshit in the process.
    And while I’m at it, can you justify why it is newsworthy if the child of a politician is charged with an offence, be it speeding or drug-related? How does their parentage make that newsworthy, other than exposing the fact that every one of us, irrespective of our profession, faces challenges as a parent? Give me a break!

    1. Casbar

      Do you really think the victim is his partner? Not his wife and children. Natalie Joyce, in her press statement last Wednesday, discussed the fact that she had sacrificed her own career aspirations to support Joyce’s political life and that, as part of that, she and her family had welcomed his staffers into their home and their lives. This suggested to me heavily (in the context of her whole press statement) that she was alluding to Campion entering their home, perhaps socialising with the Joyce family; all whilst conducting an affair with the husband and father in that family. Campion made a conscious choice. So, I strenuously disagree that she is, in any way a victim because every choice comes with good and bad consequences. The victims are Natalie Joyce and her 4 daughters. Kudos to the daughter who drove around Tamworth in a ute, using a loud hailer to implore voters to vote for anyone but Joyce.

  10. Mick Donohoe

    Surely the story here is the hypocritical way in which the Telegraph handled this. When a right wing politician is fighting for his seat and the Coalition government may hang in the balance it’s a “personal crisis” and he is subject to “rumours and innuendo” , but once his spot in parliament is safe it’s “in the public interest” to publish. As for the argument that the Telegraph only just confirmed the story – how does a picture of a pregnant former staff confirm anything? Have they publicly revealed their relationship, has he or she confirmed he is the father, or is just that they got a photo to go on the front page and could not resist the “opportunity”? I have very little or even no regard for Barnaby Joyce and this story will not change that in any way, moreover my contempt for the Telegraph and rags like it is so large that even this story can’t increase it.

    1. susan winstanley

      well caught in slips, mick, yes, women across this wide brown land are having a bit of a laugh at Sharri Markson assuring us that the Daily Telegraph was only able to “confirm this story” today with a paparazzi shot of a pregnancy

      1. Douglas Clifford

        Hear hear…

      2. Douglas Clifford

        Markson would have been able to “confirm the story” if she’d read “Independent Australia” of 17th November 2017, over 2 months ago…

        1. klewso

          But now Turnbull is threatening to bring in laws that threaten to take away a hack’s right to print whatever they want : or sit on that which they don’t want broadcast (when it would embarrass the party they pimp for).
          To do what hacks think is their right, to censor from public view – Limiting News their way – like the way they sat on this for as long as they did, ’til this sort of “rainy day”?

        2. Casbar

          Douglas Clifford – yes! And, as if a photo of a pregnant Campion proves anything.

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