Don Gordon-Brown flicked through a free copy of Friday’s The Courier-Mail to see how much further the paper has declined into irrelevance since he spent six years there a lifetime ago.
Journos strive to be factual. It’s their job. So Courier-Mail scribe Renee Viellaris must be kicking herself for the big error in the intro of her splash in Friday’s Courier-Mail. She writes that Barnaby Joyce stepped down as Deputy Prime Minister “after revelations of an affair with ex-staffer Vikki Campion…”
First par in the lead story at the front of the book! Oh, the embarrassment. Is there really anyone in Oz who doesn’t know the facts about this matter? Vikki most certainly is now an ex-staffer. That’s a given. But she wasn’t an ex when Barnaby first staffed her and that was very much the core of those revelations that brought first his pants and then him down.
I’m giving Renee the benefit of the doubt that she’s just had an almighty brainfade. She could have easily written “after revelations of an affair with mother-of-one Vikki Campion….” for that’s also what Vikki is now. A mother-of-one. And an ex-staffer.
What I will completely reject are any sinister suggestions that Renee has deliberately fudged the facts – blurred the lines – been too clever by half with words – to put the Beetrooter in the best possible light to create the impression that their couplings didn’t take place while she worked her arse off under him. Sorry for any unfortunate images those words might have evoked. Hope you had a bucket handy.
I also reject comments heard about the traps that Renee is not so much a journo as a tory-teller. No, it had to be a brainfade. Renee’s too professional for that. I’m sure Renee could just as easily have had a brainfade and used “ex-staffer” if, hypothetically, Bill’s shorten had been in the firing line in similar circumstances instead of the Beetrooter’s.
No, a brainfade it had to be. But may I say it remains factually wrong and misleading, and I was disappointed to see such an error in the very first paragraph on page one of a paper I really had hoped might have shown improved since my last FREE perusal.
What was the story about, I hear no-one ask? It was just a piece of nonsense with the Beetrooter, deprived of relevance, perhaps hinting that he wouldn’t have slipped Vikki a length if his missus had been allowed to work in his office. That he’d presumably still be happily married (and Deputy PM) if that had been the case. I know. I know. Did you guffaw too?
And before we leave the front page, Renee points to her (almost) exclusive story inside the paper about how the Federal Government will investigate whether the naughty Queensland government’s vegetation management laws have made the state’s recent bushfires worse.
On page 2, two new deputy editors are announced. Editor Sam Weir says both have shown an amazing ability to know exactly what Rupert Murdoch would want of them even though he would never, ever, say so. I call it compliance by osmosis and it’s been going on across the Dirty Digger’s mastheads for decades. Okay, Weir didn’t say that in the paper but he should have, because that’s usually the main reason people get promoted within Newscorpse. Too harsh? These kids are probably very good journos – they look to have a combined age of about 45 so they will only get better – but my best guess is that they’ve already clearly shown they’re made of the Right stuff.
After a couple of pages of generally boring …sorry, I meant general news, Renee is back, co-writing the land clearing piece with Michael Wray.
“Labor to feel heat on land clearing” is the heading under a federal politics strap. Big photo of a glum Bill Shorten nearby.
It’s clear Bill Shorten’s got a lot of explaining to do over a state Labor government issue. The Shorten photo actually goes with a separate story about events in Canberra but he’s looking at the Viellaris/Wray piece and you can almost sense he knows he’s in deep shit. And let’s face it: poor Bill could run into a burning crèche and rescue some kids, and the Murdoch fish-wrappers would hint he’s a paedophile.
I appreciate that Renee and Michael weren’t those responsible for beating this nonsense up into a federal-politics-page lead after a day of unprecedented Coalition chaos in Canberra but our co-writers are proving their equal in getting the tone of this piece just perfect. The Feds’ wide-ranging probe (hope they wear gloves) is needed because the state government has “bluntly rejected” calls from farmers, lobby groups and even Prime Minister Morrison for a judicial inquiry. Bastards! The Polish Princess clearly must be hiding something, right?
The federal probe (did anyone else’s sphincter pucker at the use of that word again?) will look at whether the “green inspired” vegetation management laws “exacerbated Queensland’s fire disaster”. Personally, I think Renee and Michael have missed a golden opportunity for some subliminal messaging there by not capping the “G”. We all remember the disaster that was the last federal Greens/Labor coalition government; I certainly don’t. So cap “G” in future, guys.
The exclusive report says the House of Representatives inquiry will call state treasurer Jackie Trad (take her down to the cells!) to give evidence and it will then hand down a report in April just before the federal poll. The journos don’t add this but surely this cunning LNP political masterstroke will put paid to any prime ministerial ambitions on Shorten’s part? All those Queensland seats he had hoped to snare!
The House of Reps probe (oooh!) has not “negated” the federal LNP’s calls for a commission of inquiry! Isn’t that good to know, folks? The feds are not going to be tricked into thinking their own HofR probe (aaahhhh!) means they can’t still try to force Queensland to have a top-shelf inquiry as well! They’re too smart to fall for that sort of base political trickery.
Then follows six meaty pars of concocted LNP indignation, from Morrison down, with quotes aplenty, demanding Palaszczuk’s mob comes clean on this burning issue. There’s one little par of nine words wedged within all of this, saying Trad by law cannot be forced to appear at the inquiry (damned guilty if she doesn’t, for mine!)
The state Labor agriculture minister is given the third last par for rebuttal. “Stopping short of answering calls for a state parliamentary or judicial inquiry” (gotcha!) is how the second last par begins, with the state government confirming some bloke will hold a review of the fires. (How naughty would they be if they didn’t?) The last par has the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Minister saying “there are lessons to be learnt from every disaster”. (Der!) Score none for the home team there.
I don’t know whether Renee did the fed stuff and Michael the Queensland response and the subs just instinctively knew that someone across the waves would not want them to blend the two for a bit of fairness or balance but I think those last three pars are important in making the whole story look just a little bit less like an LNP media release, don’t you agree?
The other main story had poor Bill Shorten “caving to pressure” over national security legislation by agreeing to pass landmark terror laws. The story by Steve Scott had a bit of balance to it (memo Steve: do you really have a future at the Courier?) even though “landmark” appears to be Steve’s own work. (Essential? Pivotal? Election-winning? Come on, Steve; I’m thinking of your future there!) Nevertheless, the subs came through with the heading: BILL BACKS DOWN IN STAND-OFF – in caps!
The story offered only a hint of what a totally wretched day the Morrison government suffered in Canberra that day, according to just about every decent, respectable political scribe in the country, which naturally excludes those who work for the Dirty Digger, of course, and who just somehow knew (hallelujah, it’s a miracle!) what a certain flaccid-arsed, money-hungry, power-crazy, hopefully increasingly demented, octogenarian Yank asshole would like to read. Even though he’d never, ever, think of telling them that.
Now, let’s turn to page ….. no, on second thoughts, let’s not.
What a fucking disgrace of a newspaper this shitty, shitful, shitty, shitrag has become.
POSTCRIPT: The Queensland land-clearing probe (oh…yes! ooooh yes! YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!) proved so newsworthy that the powers-that-be at the Courier ran a swag of it word-for-word the next day.