Monday, September 19, 2022

Scurrilous journalism award in Australia

At least it cost the lying media a bundle. Dr Laming has an account here telling how grievously the media lie hurt him. He shares there what it's like be the centre of a media stitch-up. Australia's defamation laws have their problems, but in Laming's case they ensured that some justice has been done him.

Had the journalists concerned just checked with Laming before rushing into print the story would never have been published -- as it was an easily refuted story.

But the opportunity of sliming a prominent conservativre was just too juicy to miss. Leftists hate those dreadful conservatives who keep puncturing their balloons so horror stories about conservatives seem obviously correct to them

The contentious entry criteria for the Walkley Awards could be overhauled as part of the independent review into a reporting prize given to a since-discredited story about former federal MP Andrew Laming.

Last Wednesday, Dr Laming won a defamation case against Nine in relation to one key element of its award-winning report, after the network accepted that it was untrue.

On Friday evening, the foundation directors announced a review into the Walkley Award won earlier this year by Nine journalists Peter Fegan and Rebeka Powell for their March 2021 reports about Dr Laming, one of which falsely claimed the then politician had committed the criminal act of “upskirting” – taking a sexually intrusive photograph of someone without their permission.

In one of three reports about Dr Laming’s alleged misconduct in March last year, Nine quoted a witness who said he’d seen the MP take an inappropriate “upskirting” photo of a female staff member while she was stacking a bar fridge at her Brisbane workplace.

The woman was wearing shorts, not a skirt, at the time. The photo was deleted before anyone from Nine could view it. Dr Laming was questioned by police about the alleged incident, but was never charged.

Dr Laming has always strenuously denied any wrongdoing in relation to the matter.

Fegan and Powell won the 2021 Walkley Award in the television/video news reporting category for their report on Dr Laming’s alleged misconduct; the pair also won a Clarion (at the Queensland media awards) for their investigation into the MP.

In its statement on Friday, the Walkley Foundation said it would commission an independent review of the “particular award” given to Fegan and Powell, but it is widely expected that the review will also scrutinise the wider issue of whether journalism that is the subject of ongoing legal proceedings should have caveats attached as part of its conditions of entry.

Currently, entries for major journalism awards in Australia, such as the Walkleys, require a disclosure if the reporting is the subject of ongoing legal action.

But there are no rules governing the overturning of awards if subsequent legal action finds the story to be untrue, as was the case with the Laming “upskirting” claim.

Dr Laming has claimed that Walkley organisers had known for “nearly a year” of his complaint that a story submitted for the awards had made “baseless” upskirting claims against him.

Dr Laming told The Australian on Sunday that he wants to play a key role in the review. “Through my lawyers I have notified the Walkley Foundation that I wish to submit materials to it for their consideration,” he said.

Dr Laming is unhappy that the Walkleys – which he describes as “Australian journalism’s highest honour” – lent weight to the Nine story by publicising comments that lauded the story when it won the prize.

“The comments made by the judges at that time lauding the network and journalists for their work in the face of ‘legal pushback’ is hard to reconcile with the complete abandonment of Nine’s defences and its subsequent unconditional public retraction and apology to me,” he said.

“Despite being on notice at the time of a legal dispute and the waves of retractions, apologies by others over republications of Nine’s story, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (which oversees both the Walkleys and the Clarion Awards) persisted with both a state and a federal award – and as of right now, even despite announcing a review, they continue to refuse to rescind what is now an award for effectively a story that been withdrawn, deleted and has been accepted by all as a work of fiction.”

Dr Laming said that he initially made allegations to the MEAA in October last year.

“We first notified the MEAA of baseless allegations in the Nine TV news story in October 2021, so they have been made aware of our complaint for nearly a year,” he said. “The MEAA would know that Nine publicly abandoned its unmeritorious truth and honest opinion defences last month, and in my view, from that moment the awards … became completely untenable.”

Dr Laming says he has so far received no response to a letter he addressed to Walkley Foundation chief executive Shona Martyn last week. He asserted in the letter that the Walkleys needed to do more than simply leave it in the hands of award recipients to return them.

“There is already sufficient evidence at hand to rescind the award, and leaving it in the hands of recipients to return awards is weak,” he wrote. “By continuing to promote these awards, the Walkley Committee further harms my reputation through imputation that the stories were true. Nine now admits they were not, and these court documents are public.”

He concluded his letter to the Walkleys: “I reserve my rights in this regard.”

Dr Laming’s former LNP colleague James McGrath has also written to the Walkley Foundation, calling for Nine’s award to be withdrawn.

“The broadcaster has admitted the allegations against Dr Laming were untrue,” Senator McGrath wrote.

“Why haven’t you withdrawn the Walkley Award from Ch9? In light of the above admission from Ch9 I ask you to withdraw the associated Walkley Award.

“If you are not prepared to withdraw I would ask you justify your reasoning.”

Despite repeated requests from The Australian for further clarification around the parameters of the independent review, the Walkley Foundation declined to comment.

Nine also declined to comment.

The terms of Dr Laming’s settlement with Nine, which included an apology, were confidential but the network is understood to be liable for more than $1m in damages and legal costs.

In its apology, which was read to the court, Nine said: “9News unreservedly withdraws those allegations about Dr Laming and apologises to him and his family for the hurt and harm caused by the report.”


Pervasive media censorship of Covid skepticism

Facebook groups that criticise any aspect of the official response to the pandemic have their own history of sudden death. On 26 April 2021, for example, Facebook deleted a group with 120,000 members who posted accounts of adverse vaccine reactions.

In May, Republican attorneys general Eric Schmitt of Missouri and Jeffrey Landry of Louisiana brought a suit against the Biden administration for alleged violations of the First Amendment. They accuse top officials of using social media giants Meta (publisher of Facebook and Instagram), Twitter, YouTube (owned by Google) and LinkedIn, of using the tech titans to censor critics of government policy. Instead of Russian collusion, the lie Democrats threw at Trump for most of his term, Schmitt and Landry accuse Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, and former Disinformation Governance Board executive Nina Jankowicz amongst others, of Big Tech collusion.

In July, US District Judge Terry Doughty ordered various federal agencies to produce records requested by the plaintiffs which resulted in a trove of damning documents exposing an army of at least 50 administration officials and 12 agencies engaged in either censorship as Landry and Schmitt put it or ensuring that the American people have access to ‘factual, accurate, science-based information’ as the Administration claims. The government says it supports freedom of speech but claims it is important to ‘combat misinformation and disinformation that can cost lives’. Fauci and Jean-Pierre refused to provide their communications with the social media companies claiming they were protected by executive privilege, but Judge Doughty was not persuaded and has given them 21 days to hand over the records by 27 September.

Examples of the cosy relationship between the administration and the social media giants are evident in the documents provided so far. CEO of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg gave Fauci his personal phone number, and a parody Fauci account was pulled down within minutes of Facebook receiving a request from Clarke Humphrey, the White House digital director of the Covid response team.

A Facebook official emailed White House officials on 23 July 2021 reporting that Facebook had removed 39 profiles, pages, groups, and Instagram accounts tied to the ‘Disinformation Dozen’ – a group that was targeted by the government which includes Robert F Kennedy junior, founder of Children’s Health Defence, and son of former US attorney general Senator Bobby Kennedy. Kennedy junior said he was ‘astonished that any elected Democrat would be so estranged from our nation’s history and values as to consider it acceptable for a president to pressure publishers to censor his critics’.

The picture of Democrat-friendly censorship fits with other recent revelations. On 25 August Zuckerberg revealed to podcaster Joe Rogan that his employees had been told by the FBI to be wary of Russian disinformation, so they suppressed the New York Post’s scoop on Hunter Biden’s laptop which showed how Hunter leveraged his father’s position as vice president to make lucrative business deals. Republicans will use subpoena powers to further investigate what happened if they win a majority in the House of Representatives in the mid-term elections in November. Others who have joined the lawsuit include epidemiologists Martin Kulldorff, Professor of Medicine at Harvard University and Jay Bhattacharya, Professor at Stanford Medical School, two of the three original authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, which they launched on 4 October 2020 opposing lockdowns and calling for a standard scientific response to the pandemic, protecting the vulnerable while allowing the rest of society to function as normal.

Emails obtained in January via a Freedom of Information request revealed that Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes for Health emailed Fauci in horror when he read the declaration, describing the authors as ‘fringe epidemiologists’ and fretting that their proposal was ‘getting a lot of attention’. ‘There needs to be a quick and devastating published take down of its premises,’ he schemed. When Bhattacharya read the emails he tweeted, ‘Now I know what it feels like to be the subject of a propaganda attack by my own government. Discussion and engagement would have been a better path.’

How the case launched by Schmitt and Landry is decided we will know in due course, what seems ominously prescient is the quote from George Washington with which they opened their complaint in which Washington warned, in 1783, if ‘the Freedom of Speech may be taken away’ then ‘dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter’.




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