Hours before Lachlan Murdoch dropped his defamation case against Crikey, the ABC dropped its own reaction to Fox News and Dominion reaching a $787.5m settlement over US election lies.
In a move which could be interpreted as the public broadcaster thumbing its nose at News Corporation and the local media watchdog, Four Corners will re-broadcast Sarah Ferguson’s spicy documentary Fox and the Big Lie on Monday.
“Fox will no longer be scrutinised through a trial, so this is the complete story,” the ABC said.
This is a bold move because the two-part doco infuriated News Corp Australia and Fox News, and triggered an unprecedented 45 articles in local papers. The Australian called it a “full-frontal hit job on Rupert Murdoch, News Corp and the US Fox News channel”.
When the ABC didn’t budge, Fox took its lengthy complaint to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (Acma).
Acma said it breached the accuracy and fair dealing requirements of the ABC’s editorial code, but did not violate impartiality standards.
The 7.30 host responded with a furious 1,200-word piece published by the ABC, saying that she “expected the Fox Corporation to complain loudly about our coverage. I did not expect ACMA to respond in the terms it did”.
One of Acma’s more dubious findings was that using the word “mob” to describe the 6 January rioters was emotive and strident language.
Asked whether the program would include the elements Acma said breached editorial standards, the ABC said the two-part program had been edited and updated.
“Fox and the Big Lie has been edited to be a standalone program and updated to include the latest developments,” a spokesperson said. “It abides by the highest editorial standards.”
Fox and the Big Lie goes to air on Monday 24th April at 8.30pm on ABC TV and ABC iview.
The Oz’s own goal
It might be the first time the Australian has told readers that its editorial pages are routinely “tainted by right-wing idiocies”.
But on Thursday the Australian’s feature writer Greg Bearup quoted John McDonald, the Sydney Morning Herald’s art critic, insulting the masthead along those lines.
“He said while editorial pages of The Australian were routinely ‘tainted by right-wing idiocies’, it was one of the few places willing to do a big investigative story on the arts”, Bearup reported in his investigation into the level of white involvement in some Indigenous art.
But before the SMH laughs too hard at the Oz’s self-own, Macdonald took a swipe at his own august journal the Herald on the way through.
“My own paper, the SMH, has fallen into the trap of feeling it has to be ‘supportive’ of institutions such as the NGA, running a week-long ‘campaign’ to argue the case for more government funding,” McDonald said in his newsletter which we are sure he didn’t expect to end up on the front page of the Australian.
Albrechtsen targets ‘diversity divas’
While the Bearup article did not give any examples of said “right-wing idiocies” in the Oz we found a good example this week in Janet Albrechtsen’s column, “Women’s climb to the top should be a matter of choice”.
Albrechtsen was commenting on statistics that revealed that, while women comprise just over 40% of non-executive directors of ASX 200 companies, only 11% of bosses of ASX 200 companies are women. But she believes this disparity is not down to structural sexism but to women’s choices.
She doesn’t think we need policies to close the gap and refers to women who “demand” equality as “diversity divas”.
“As usual, the ‘one size fits all’ brigade – who are not satisfied with equality of opportunity but want equality of outcome – miss the real point,” Albrechtsen wrote. “The culprit is not negligent boards, lack of quotas, oppression or misogyny but that women very often make different choices to men.”
Devine chides the disappointed
Australian journalist Miranda Devine, now part of the rightwing media in New York with a column in the New York Post and regular appearances on Fox News, chided journalists for being disappointed the Dominion v Fox News trial was settled this week.
On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert was also disappointed, echoing many Australian journalists and media watchers who had been salivating about the trial. “Dammit, I want my trial, I want it!” Colbert said. “You were supposed to be provide me with six weeks of delicious content. I wanted to see Rupert Murdoch put his hand on the Bible and burst into flames.”
Devine: “All the disappointed media operatives huddled at Wilmington’s Superior Court, like [New York Times columnist Michelle] Goldberg and CNN’s crestfallen Oliver Darcy, could make themselves useful in the president’s hometown.
“They could investigate a story that is bigger than Watergate but which they have shamefully avoided or downplayed for almost three years: Biden family corruption and the associated coverup, including by the FBI and Big Tech.”
When she was not writing about Hunter Biden’s laptop, Devine was one of Rupert Murdoch’s loyalists who pushed the line that Biden’s election win will always be questioned. Her articles remain online despite Fox paying a $787.5m settlement to Dominion for broadcasting lies about the election.
“While most media have derided Powell’s claims, there is a long history of fraud complaints from all sides of politics about Dominion and other electronic voting machines,” Devine wrote back in 2020.
But Devine is expanding her remit beyond Hunter. According to US media columnist Max Tani in Semafor, Devine has the “lucrative, dicey assignment” of writing the “house biography” of Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
Colbert discovers Crikey
Colbert picked up on the now-defunct Australian court case, and poked fun at Crikey’s name in the same Fox News segment on The Late Show.
“Fox is trying to make some money back here, because they’re also a plaintiff and election lawsuit on behalf of Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch, seen here [in a photo] asking Rupert, ‘what happened to my new step mommy?’
“Lachlan is suing an Australian website for implying he was a conspirator in the January 6 insurrection. The actual name of that website, Crikey News. If Crikey loses it’ll be good for its main competitor Didgeridoo.”
Unfortunately, Colbert attempted to play a didgeridoo, failing to pick up on the cultural sensitivity around a non-Indigenous person playing the ceremonial instrument.
Irvine’s bumpy exit
The senior economics writer with the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, Jessica Irvine, has resigned from Nine and will begin a new role producing personal finance content for the Commonwealth Bank next month.
Irvine has been a prominent figure on the mastheads for 18 years – bar a two-year stint as national economics editor of News Corp’s tabloids – and made a name for herself by sharing details of her own budget with readers. She wrote a best-selling book, Money with Jess, and has a popular Instagram account with financial tips.
The head of external communications at CBA, Danny Johns, told Weekly Beast Irvine will “help lead and develop content and resources on personal finance, financial inclusion and financial literacy as part of the support and guidance we provide to our customers and the community”.
But Irvine’s transition from high-profile newspaper reporter to CommBank communications professional did not go as smoothly as the Herald and Age’s editors would have liked.
In December, Irvine and Ross Greenwood from Sky News agreed to be interviewed by the CommBank marketing team for an explainer on the cost of living. We are told this was an unpaid gig.
In the video, which is still on the CommBank website, Irvine introduces herself as “the economics editor of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age” and her title is super-imposed on the screen.
When the video was re-edited into a social media post that looked more like an ad, Nine’s executive editor, Tory Maguire, became aware of it, and Irvine was asked to explain. Nine asked for the posts to be removed.
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