Probe explains split at The Oz

MEDIA:

A swift overnight internal inquiry at The Australian appears to have identified the reason for two of the newspaper’s most senior commentators giving vastly different assessments of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s address on national security issues yesterday.

Mr Morrison, still in COVID isolation at Kirribilli House in Sydney, yesterday delivered an online address to the think tank the Lowy Institute outlining his views on the global and regional security landscape.

Readers of The Australian were this morning treated to wildly diverging views on the speech by long-serving editor-at-large Paul Kelly and foreign editor Greg Sheridan.

Kelly lauded Morrison in his column, saying: “This speech was a resolute and balanced effort to elevate national security in the election context. Its focus was strategy, not politics. It was realistic and steadfast.”

By contrast, Sheridan described Morrison’s efforts as: “One of the most profoundly disappointing prime ministerial speeches in modern times.

“Nothing the PM said in his speech was exactly untrue but it certainly communicated a false picture of our defence,” he said.

A source at The Australian said after reading today’s edition its editor-in-chief Chris Dore launched an internal inquiry into the difference of opinion.

“Chris seems to have identified the problem,” the source said.

“It appears Paul Kelly wrote his piece before Morrison delivered his speech and without reading the embargoed copy media were given the day before,” the source said.

“To be fair, Chris Dore found that Paul did actually make an effort to view the speech when the PM gave it.

“But it seems Paul didn’t tune in to the Lowy Institute’s subscriber-only online broadcast and instead mistakenly turned on Channel Nine at 12.30 yesterday and watched an episode of Days of Our Lives.

“It’s an easy mistake to make really. Isn’t it?” the source said.