There was a time when the Independent. Always. mastheads of the then Fairfax-owned Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald would never, ever, miss an opportunity to rip into Rupert Murdoch and his rotten rags.
So we need to ask Jacqueline Maley a similar question Kid Shelleen asked Butch Cassidy in the Hole in the Wall: “Jacqueline, what happened to you?”
Have a captain’s at this telling paragraph from an otherwise fair and reasonable article in the weekend’s Sun-Herald on Labor’s political branch-stacking woes.
No punter is naive enough to think this sort of thing only goes on in Labor politics, although Labor does seem to have elevated it to an art form. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s own preselection for his seat of Cook was controversial, to put it mildly. Morrison only won it after the original victor, Michael Towke, withdrew following the publication of reputation-damaging articles about him in News Corp papers.
See anything missing here? That’s right. It’s devoid of venom. There’s no big boot up the Dirty Digger’s arse and his rotten red tops.
And, oh, what sanitised words. Poor Mr Towke had to withdraw following the publication of reputation-damaging articles about him in News Corp papers.
Hmm. Wonder what he did wrong?
And hence the problem. The only thing wrong is that the paragraph is missing a word, maybe two.
Try … had to withdraw after he was defamed in a series of untruthful articles about him in News Corp papers. Much the same number of words, Jacqueline!
Maley as much as anyone should know the Towke story after he had the temerity to knock Scott Morrison out of the race in the first round of the local vote for Liberal preselection for Cook some 13 years ago.
Morrison responded to his 82-8 trashing by either being heavily involved in or happily allowing Liberal Party thugs to get mates at News Corpse to run four scandalously libelous articles about Towke.
‘’Liberal ballot scandal in Howard’s backyard’’ was the Daily Telegraph headline on July 18, 2007. ‘’Towke future on hold” came three days later. The next day, in The Sunday Telegraph, a third story: ‘’Party split as Liberal candidate faces jail”.
Then came a fourth story in the Daily Telegraph, on July 25: ‘’Towke lied, but just by degrees.’’
Four different Telegraph journalists, two of them very senior, wrote those four stories,
Maley should know all of this because it was fully outlined in her paper 10-and-a-half years ago by Paul Sheehan.
She should also know that that News Corpse sister rags didn’t have a leg to stand on because it was all bullshit even though they reportedly put Towke’s mum in hospital.
Towke bravely refused a settlement offer of $100,000 because the deal had a secrecy clause.
He eventually settled for half that amount, but with the right to tell the story about how his reputation and political career were ruined so that a Pentecostal creep driven by prosperity theory and no scruples whatsoever could achieve his goals.
The was the true story of Towke, a man probably with more integrity and decency in one little finger than Morrison possesses in his entire body.
Maley had to have known all of this background. Surely she should have felt obliged to at least give a slight nod to the truth behind the story.
Instead she left Towke hanging in the breeze with weasel words that inferred some fault on his part.
Or maybe Maley really believes Towke was all the nasty things New Corpse accused him of?
Maybe she’s had a rethink as the Heralds sadly drift to the right under the ownership of Nine Entertainment and the watchful eye of Peter Costello?