Thursday, October 04, 2007

MEDIA: Telegraphic hypocrisy?

The Daily Telegraph recently reported on a stoush between shock jock Ray Hadley and ABC Media Watch host Monica Attard.

MEDIA Watch host Monica Attard has had the tables turned on her after being exposed for initially refusing to pay a tradesperson - then hiding behind legal threats through ABC lawyers.

The "self-appointed guru of what's right and wrong" copped a serve of her own yesterday after 2GB broadcaster Ray Hadley read on air an email complaint from a listener referring to Attard as "the rudest person I think I've ever spoken to".

I'm not sure when Monica declared herself a guru of anything, let alone so difficult a subject as ethics. However, it is a bit rich for the Telegraph to be accusing Ms Attard of using ABC's in-house lawyers.

Why do I say this? Because some years ago, I myself was threatened with defamation proceedings by a Tele journo for a posting I made on a closed internet discussion group which at the time had less than 100 subscribers.

The letter I received (which I still have a copy of) was written by ... you guessed it ... an internal News Limited lawyer! I refer to that incident in this article ...

Some years ago, in the immediate aftermath of the first Bali bombing, a former client of mine was charged with possessing possible explosives. One journalist reported that this fellow had Arabic books in his house and had recently started attending religious classes at the local
mosque.

The police involved in the investigation had already ruled out the possibility of terrorism. Yet the journalist involved wanted to use the pages of his Sydney newspaper to spread hysteria about the
possibility of terrorism by making reference to a recent religious conversion on the road to Damascus (or in my former client’s case, Mecca).

Ironically, the journalist involved had a distinctly Arabic-sounding surname. His* own background suggested that a visit to his own home might reveal Arabic books and possible visits to the institutions of religious denominations at the heart of Middle Eastern conflict. I raised these points on an e-mail group, with a view to levelling the playing field and exposing what I felt was the journalist’s hypocrisy.

Some four months later, I received a letter from an in-house lawyer of the media organisation for which that journalist worked. That letter corrected some erroneous assumptions I had made concerning the journalist’s ethno-religious background (I got his Middle Eastern denomination wrong in my e-mail).

More importantly, the letter threatened me with defamation proceedings for daring to question the journalist’s integrity on a private subscriber-only e-mail list. Perhaps the journalist should have
realised that sometimes threatening a litigation lawyer with legal proceedings is as effective as threatening a surgeon with a penicillin injection.

To make matters worse, the journalist did not even bother to spend his own money to brief a lawyer, preferring to use the resources of the company’s legal department to fight a personal legal
battle.

(*Not the journalist's real gender.)
So what's good for a tabloid scribe isn't good for an ABC journalist. Then again, this is the same newspaper that complains about a TV Soap that "leads kids astray" while showing pole dancing, yet makes hundreds of thousands of dollars advertising strippers, massage parlours, brothels and other "adult services" in its classifieds section.

Words © 2007 Irfan Yusuf

2 comments:

Anonymous said...
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dumdarby said...

Doug, you coke-addicted numbskull. Which woman would sleep with you? Which man? Which animal? Which vegetable?