Who says Australia doesn’t punch above its weight? While we’ve not been able to claim the most influential Australian-born media figure as one of our own since 1985, US election season has seen a number of Australian journos make their mark on the international stage.
Markson first started ingratiating herself with Trump and his media surrogates with a “bombshell” report in The Daily Telegraph on apparent “Chinese negligence” around COVID-19. Based, apparently, on a single source, it alleged that China destroyed evidence relating to the virus at Wuhan research facilities. This got her quoted by national security experts and interviewed on Fox News back in May.
Now she’s returning to US audiences via a Sky News interview with ethno-nationalist and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, currently on bail for fraud and money laundering charges. The interview concerns the “sketchy” Hunter Biden piece that ran earlier this month, thanks in part to fellow Aussie tabloid veteran Col “piss in the sink” Allan. More on him in a moment.
The interview repeats and extends the claims of the story it’s based on. ThinkProgress founder and former Hillary Clinton campaign researcher Judd Legum argues that it contains a series of factual errors unchallenged by Markson. Of course, this hasn’t stopped people watching the footage nearly 3 million times on YouTube.
As we said, longtime Murdoch tabloid editor Col Allan — having returned to The New York Post last year as an “adviser” after resigning as editor-in-chief in 2016 — was apparently instrumental in getting the Hunter Biden story out there. According to The New York Times:
Top editors met on October 11 to discuss how to use the material provided by [Rudy] Giuliani. The group included the tabloid veteran Colin Allan, known as Col; Stephen Lynch, The Post’s editor-in-chief; and Michelle Gotthelf, the digital editor-in-chief, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting. Allan … urged his colleagues to move quickly, the person said.
One of the revelations in the Times piece regarding the Post story is that the journalist who wrote it was so embarrassed they took their name off it. It was eventually credited to a former Sean Hannity producer, but we’re amazed Miranda Devine didn’t swoop in to take credit.
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The outrage merchant is spending the year at the Post doing what any good journalist should given the chance to cover politics in a major world power during an election year: write love letters to those in charge.
Her assertion that “if the president bounces back on to the campaign trail he will be an invincible hero, who not only survived every dirty trick the Democrats threw at him, but the Chinese virus as well” unsurprisingly caught the president’s eye. Donald Trump retweeted it — along with Devine’s email address. You can guess what happened next.
Senior Axios reporter Jonathan Swan’s record isn’t unimpeachable here. He rightly took a great deal of heat for a chummy sit down with the president while Trump was enacting the (still ongoing) horror of separating immigrant families from their children.
But he clawed back a bit of cred in August, pushing the president hard on his coronavirus response and general incoherence. Some sample dialouge:
Trump: ‘There are those that say, “You can test too much.” You know that.’
Swan ‘Who says that?’
Trump: ‘Read the manuals. Read the books.’
Swan: ‘Manuals? What manuals?’
As an added bonus, Swan’s facial expressions throughout recalled Jim from The Office negotiating the stages of grief.