Jhe Weekend Australian got the scoop of the year on Scott Morrison’s unprecedented power grab. But the paper may have buried the lede, running five paragraphs across the front page and instead splashing a story about the teacher brain drain, while highlighting another about John Howard. Perhaps the broadsheet’s downplaying of the story is why the nation’s media largely ignored the bombshell for 48 hours.
The Aussie got the exclusive first snippet of Plagued, a new book by its political editor, Simon Benson, and chief political correspondent, Geoff Chambers, in the Inquirer section. The accompanying report was on page two.
Benson and Chambers, who had access to the prime minister and his inner circle for two years as the coalition government managed Covid-19, revealed that Morrison “launched a radical and so far secret plan in March 2020 with the Attorney General at the time, Christian Porter. to be sworn in as Minister of Health and Finance alongside Greg Hunt and Mathias Cormann”.
Like Morrison, who was later to confirm that he freely provided the information, the authors seemed to underestimate the furor this – and subsequent revelations of additional secrecy and a total of five wallets – would spark.
The two journalists presented the story of Morrison’s extraordinary decision not as an affront to democracy and the Westminster system of government, but as “an elegant solution to the problem they were trying to solve”.
Benson, a friend of Morrison and a journalist known to have received ‘drops’ from the former government, was granted access to the Prime Minister during the pandemic to chronicle his leadership during the Covid-19 crisis.
Morrison confirmed during his marathon press conference on Wednesday that the book “was written based on interviews that were conducted at the time, in the midst of the storm.”
While Plagued revealed that Hunt was aware of the Prime Minister’s appointment to his portfolio, there was no mention of whether Cormann was in on the secret.
There was also no hint of the problematic nature of Morrison’s secret appointments or a lawsuit he hadn’t told the public about. As Australian editor Paul Kelly wrote two days later in the same newspaper: “The dilemma for Morrison is secrecy. The secret is the curse of this fiasco.
After Saturday, the Aussie moved on and it wasn’t mentioned at all in Monday’s paper. The authors served up a separate story from the book, about China’s under-reporting of the surge in Covid-19 cases.
It was Samantha Maiden, political editor of news.com.au, who produced a series of scoops. She revealed on Sunday night that the portfolios Morrison secretly swore himself into also included the Resources portfolio. Now there were three.
“In this case, however, it was unrelated to the pandemic,” Maiden wrote. “It didn’t happen at the same time as the 2020 changes in the health and finance portfolios.”
It was up to Maiden and Andrew Clennell, Sky News Australia’s political editor, to reveal on Monday that Cormann was in fact unaware of the secret wallets, a crucial detail that was omitted from the book.
On the same day, on RN Breakfast, Patricia Karvelas revealed that the Prime Minister had sought legal advice about Morrison swearing to himself in several portfolios and Nationals leader David Littleproud told her that what Morrison had done was ” quite ordinary”.
Maiden wrote on Tuesday that in a “stunning journalistic failure, it emerged that no media followed the Oz scoop for nearly 48 hours” over the weekend.
It wasn’t until Tuesday’s paper that the Oz realized the enormity of what they were sitting on, though Chambers followed the new developments online on Monday.
Now the Australian was conveying the seriousness of Morrison’s actions: ‘The revelations – in a new book, Plagued, to be published on Tuesday – have shocked Mr Morrison’s most senior coalition colleagues – now including Liberal leader Peter Dutton – who say they were caught off guard by the actions of the former prime minister and opposition MPs are demanding he explain himself.
Even the current prime minister commented on how the story was handled, saying he was stunned “it wasn’t the front page of every Sunday newspaper”.
“Because I found these revelations quite extraordinary,” he said.
The authors have been criticized for sitting on the dynamite revelations for two years, especially since the news may have affected how the public voted in the election. The fact that Bridget McKenzie confirmed in January 2021 that she was in a relationship with Benson added to the intrigue of who knew what, when. The Nationals senator and former minister was interviewed and called the developments “worrying” but was not asked when she knew.
It is common for journalists to withhold material from a book, especially if they are committed to the topic.
However, such an undertaking can prevent political journalists from informing their readers about what they need to know.
Asked on Sky News by Kieran Gilbert when he and Benson became aware of the secret wallets, an issue which was raised by Albanese, Chambers said: “Well we spoke to dozens of people over two years and that was part of of the story and, well, the story is out now. So that’s my answer.
It’s not the first time Foxtel boss Patrick Delany has made a silly remark during a speech at an event.
Hosting a Sydney red carpet premiere for HBO’s House of the Dragon, the Game of Thrones prequel, Delany said he was initially puzzled when he heard about Game of Thrones and said: “What’s that show with the stocky-looking girl walking through the flames?”
Delany apologized, saying the comments were meant to be “self-deprecating and lighthearted”.
It’s not as faded as the recent gaffe, but in 2018, Delany raised his eyebrows at another event when he admitted he’d never heard of another HBO show, Barry. , an American black comedy, broadcast on Foxtel. “I didn’t even know about this show and I’m the CEO of Foxtel!”
When ABC television’s Caroline Jones, who died this year at the age of 80, was appointed to host Four Corners 50 years ago, the title was “Girl will take over Four Corners.”
This is no doubt why Jones was the driving force behind the creation of Women In Media, a non-profit organization that provides scholarships, mentoring and post-motherhood refresher sessions for women. in the business.
The first report on women in the media industry published this week found that more than one in two women think media bosses are still not serious about gender equity and that he weekly wage gap of more than 16% persists between men and women in the sector.
Women have long overtaken men among journalism school graduates, yet 56% of members surveyed wonder where their career is headed, according to National Co-Sponsor Victoria Laurie. “They are dissatisfied with their advancement and see the lack of opportunity leading to male-dominated leadership positions,” Laurie said.
News Corp’s ax falls
Despite announcing a near doubling of its profits in 2021-22 to a record US$760 million (A$1.1 billion) this month, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation put the ax in the Australian newspaper business.
Weekly Beast can reveal that News Corp Australia has identified 15 editorial positions as redundant: five at Australian; two at the Daily Telegraph, three at the Herald Sun, two at the News Network and three at the production centre.
A News Corp spokesperson declined to comment.
At the same time, The Australian’s editor, Christopher Dore, is losing a significant portion of his senior staff, each of whom has racked up decades with the paper.
The layoffs within the group coincide with the departure of several veterans, some of whom raised their hands for a forfeit, including sportswriter, Wally Mason; Melbourne-based business columnist Richard Gluyas; and columnist and unofficial correspondent on transgender issues, Bernard Lane.
The Weekend Australian Magazine’s editor, Christine Middap, is stepping down and taking on a writer’s role, and Alice Workman, who was editor of a daily column, Strewth, is leaving the paper.
We hadn’t noticed that Strewth, once a go-to column when written by James Jeffrey, who is now Anthony Albanese’s speechwriter, hasn’t appeared in print since May 6. It was put on ice after the election and then quietly put to sleep.
Dore was approached for comment.
News Corp will stop printing comic strips, once a staple of print daily newspapers, in all of its newspapers starting 9/11.
Australian cartoonists who will lose their gigs are Jason Chatfield (Ginger Meggs), Gary Clark (Swamp), Tony Lopes (Insanity Streak) and Allan Salisbury (Snake Tales).
The others are syndicated strips in the United States.
A News Corp spokesman said this reflects changing readership habits as the public takes more interest in puzzles, games and crosswords.
“Our editorial cartoonists remain as loved and appreciated as ever and continue to play a vital role in our print editions and increasingly in our digital growth strategy,” he said. “It also reflects a global trend where comic book audiences have shifted to movies and events rather than newspapers.”