Channel 9 News in Sydney last night appeared hell-bent on inferring that Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews lied under oath at a parliamentary inquiry into the bungled COVID-19 hotel quarantine scheme.
Peter Overton began the segment with this: “Nine News can reveal that the ADF had 100 personnel ready to police returning travellers but were told by the Victorian government on six occasions they were not needed.”
Reporter Charles Croucher aimed up hard from the get go : “Officials united over aged care but not the decision that left troops out of Victoria’s quarantine and let COVID-19 in”.
The segment showed the Premier fronting the inquiry where he said: “I don’t believe ADF support [to police quarantine] was on offer and ADF support has been provided under very limited circumstances.”
Back to Croucher: “Nine News understands that 100 troops were ready for each state, including Victoria, to ensure compliance in quarantine hotels from March 27. On six occasions between April and May troops were offered by the Major General in charge.”
It was clear as day that the Nine News segment was doing its best to back general comments made in recent days by the Defence Minister Reynolds and by implication to expose Andrews as a liar.
But here’s a question for Croucher.
He would surely have been aware that Victoria Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp in a statement yesterday backed the premier’s claims that at the crucial 4.30pm meeting that Crisp chaired on March 27 that decided to go with private security at quarantine hotels, defence force support in hotels was never sought or offered.
It was a red-hot Twitter topic during the day.
Glass House could also point our that later offers, if made, were rather irrelevant after a pathway decision had been made, no matter how flawed it later turned out to be.
But, hey, maybe the Feds knew private security contractors would turn out to be a disaster and would be more likely to root stressed folk in lockdown more than soldiers or cops would – if indeed that’s what happened! Did they tell Victoria of their amazing foresight? Now the answer to that would be news, right, Charles?
ABC news at 7pm reported fully on the statement (below right) that clearly contradicted some of the minister’s general comments, not made under oath.
The Bug’s Media Glass House has a simple question for Nine News producers.
Instead of being hell-bent on trying to infer that Andrews is telling porkies, why not lift your own game and admit you had a professional responsibility to be fair to him and broadcast crucial information such as Crisp’s statement?
And seeing this sort of sloppy reporting sparks hashtags such as #danielsliedandpeopledied and allows right-wing shock jocks such as Ben Fordham to foam from the far-right-side of their mouths and call for Daniels’ head, then you should try much harder than “Nine news can reveal” and “Nine understands” for things left totally uncontributed.
If you want to prove someone’s a liar and doesn’t deserve to be in office, name your sources. Better still, go back to Reynolds and ask her specifically for the six dates that troops were offered to Victoria and the exact words used to explain their possible deployment, who the messages were from and who they were sent to, and who knocked the offers back, what they said and when.
It’s called honest, hard-toiling journalism.
Try it once. It might even make you feel good … well, at least until you get the strong email of rebuke from Nine Entertainment chairman Peter Costello.