How despicable – and hypocritical. The deceitful Gillard Government itself doctors a quote to justify its attack on the free press:
THE Gillard Government’s suggestion that a former head of the Australian Press Council was seriously offered double funding by an editor in return for not having findings against his paper has been exposed as a joke.
Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, used the example of an offer to double contributions as evidence for the need to reform the Press Council and appoint a Public Interest Media Advocate…
But the former head of the Australian Press Council, Professor Ken McKinnon, said tonight the conversation which he related to an inquiry into media standards was said jovially over a lunch.
In his evidence to the Finkelstein Inquiry into media standards, Professor McKinnon… said: “One editor jovially once remarked that he would rather double his annual contribution than have a complaint upheld.”
The exchange is recorded in Professor McKinnon’s written notes which he gave to the Finkelstein Inquiry.
BARRIE CASSIDY: Why is that needed? Where is the public benefit in that?
STEPHEN CONROY: I’ve been entertained by the claim that this is a solution looking for a problem. Well let me read you some quotes from evidence given publicly to the Finkelstein Inquiry. It may come as a surprise to you, Barrie, they didn’t get a lot of coverage in the mainstream media.
Let me read to you Professor Ken McKinnon who was a former chair of the Australian Press Council. He said: “I had an editor say to me if you promise not to uphold any complaints from my paper we will double our subscription, is that a deal?”
A joke by an editor is presented by Conroy was a serious proposal. And it is done by Conroy omitting a crucial word.
Doug Cameron seized on the same doctored non-evidence, presenting a joke by one editor as an offer by an entire media group.
Professor Ken McKinnon, the former chair of the Press Council, indicated that he had been approached by one media group to say that they would double their contributions to the Press Council, provided no adverse findings were made against them. That wasn’t your group, was it?
CHAIR: You are aware of Professor Ken McKinnon?
Mr Williams : Yes; he is a friend of mine.
CHAIR: He is a friend of yours. Has he ever raised with you the issue of being told by one of the media groups that if he dropped off some of the claims and allegations that were being made against the group, the group would double its
Mr Williams : No, he has never raised that with me.
CHAIR: Are you aware of that claim?
Mr Williams : I became aware of it yesterday when I heard the minister give that recital. We have conducted an investigation to the extent we could since yesterday.
CHAIR: To the extent you could, has anyone from News Limited taken that position with Professor McKinnon?…
CHAIR: Why don’t you ask Professor McKinnon who said it to him?… Maybe we will ask Professor McKinnon.
Mr Williams : Senator, I am perfectly happy to ask Ken McKinnon about that.
Mr Williams : I am perfectly happy to do that, and I am very confident of the answer: the answer is no. In any case, I hope you had regard to what Campbell said. He said, ‘No editor is in any position to make any commitment to the Press Council as to money being given to the Press Council. It’s simply not true.’
Mr Williams : It’s not true.
CHAIR: That’s your submission.
Mr Williams : That happens to be the truth
CHAIR: If that’s your submission, that’s fine.
Mr Williams : That is the way it operates.
CHAIR: That is fine. Professor McKinnon made the statement that somewhere it will come out who it was. Every group is denying it was them, and you have joined the list. That is okay.
CHAIR: …If I could draw your attention to that, maybe you can once again establish that it was no-one from Fairfax that made that comment to Ken McKinnon.
Mr Hywood : It was certainly not me.
And Labor has the hide to complain about misreporting of the media, using this misreport as one of its key evidences for the need for state control over the media.
So, what other evidence does the Government have of the media being out of control?
Throw out these louts before they do real damage.
More damage, I mean.
Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am. He is also heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of radio station MTR 1377, and his book Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.