A blogger’s the culprit!!

The increasingly farcical Milne versus Mayne prizefight at last Thursday’s Walkley Award presentations has taken an even more bizarre but very entertaining  twist.   Yesterday the Poison Dwarf came out with a very  funny piece titled Why I snapped  on live TV  .   It blamed Mayne for having linked to an unnamed blog that had apparently retailed sleazy gossip about Milne:

But what snapped my brain at the Walkleys was Mayne’s decision a few months ago to put up a link on Crikey to a blog which accused me of being a sexual predator. It alleged, without foundation, that I stalked women in Parliament House and that, when I went to the ministerial wing, women tried to avoid me.

It also accused me of being a serial philanderer.

Today Crikey’s other muckraking political correspondent Christian Kerr ‘fessed up that it was actually he who had linked to the unnamed blogger!   Milne mugged the wrong Crikey  muckraker!   A quick Google reveals that the unnamed blogger is none other than recent bankrupt and former ALP Right headkicker Andrew Landeryou (although it isn’t clear to me that Landeryou actually ever made most of the allegations Milne seems to be claiming).   Nevertheless, one could be forgiven for wondering whether Landeryou might not  be gleefully taking advantage of his bankrupt status and emulating one of Melbourne’s more bizarre media characters of the 80’s, former Toorak Times editor Jack Pacholli, described in the following blunt terms in a SMH obituary a couple of years ago:

Four years ago, a Melbourne judge told Jack Pacholli he was a liar, con man and convicted thief. But he was so much more. Pacholli ran a weekly newspaper in that city called the Toorak Times. He liked to think it was in the muck-raker tradition of Smith’s Weekly and Truth, but they were way above his division. Pacholli was really a bottom feeder who took Australia’s gutter press to new lows.

Fact and fairness were alien concepts to Pacholli and in his mad, scatter-gun, vitriolic columns he wrote what he liked, careless of the consequence, emboldened by bankruptcy that made him both financially untouchable and unrestrained by the law of libel. Anyone who complained was told to sue his dog, Oscar.

Unwittingly, Pacholli blazed a trail that left Australian journalism a legacy of bias, opinion and personalities preferred over the reporting of facts for many readers and many managements. …

Pacholli modestly claimed to have created Australia’s discount whitegoods industry while in Sydney, flogging fridges and vacuum cleaners off the backs of trucks. But selling fags was one thing, whitegoods another; while his businesses grew, his acumen did not: John Dennis Pacholli, retailer of Caringbah, was declared bankrupt in NSW on October 23, 1957. …

After his mining misadventure, Pacholli turned his hand to newspapers, starting the Toorak Times in 1972. Melbourne’s establishment families were running out of the money massed by their 19th-century forebears through gold and land speculation and their village, Toorak, was being invaded by new money. Pacholli unintentionally caught the the moment by putting on its masthead a butler serving the paper on a tray and the line “for the socially aware”.

The Toorak Times erupted onto the Melbourne scene when the city was enduring a rash of new newspapers driven by the arrival of the first local Sunday editions and new mores that had been flushed out by Truth newspaper’s revelations about police control of the illegal abortion industry, the growth of brothels (and their need to advertise their wares in the gutter press) and print’s last renaissance before the onslaught of the electronic media and (later) the internet. Pacholli offered gossip, advertising supplements disguised as news, sporting columns and over-the-top opinions unafraid to go where no libel lawyer had been.

Already a barking mad conservative, Pacholli was driven to distraction by the election of the Whitlam government. Over the years as editor he gathered an addled collection of raging columnists including People Against Communism’s Jennifer McCallum, Women Who Want to Be Women’s Babette Francis, a League of Rights-leaning Geoff McDonald and the RSL’s Bruce Ruxton. Another columnist, the Australian Civil Liberties Union’s John Bennett, was not so addled but his support for British Holocaust denier David Irving raised eyebrows.

But not all Pacholli’s columnists were lopsided. He variously used a member of the Myer family, Pamela Warrender, blithe man-about-Melbourne Peter Janson and television writer/performer John-Michael Howson (Adventure Island’s Clown). …

Litigants spent years and thousands of dollars trying to unravel who owned the Toorak Times. Pacholli owned up to editing it. He named his dog chairman of the board and told his pursuers to take it up with the mutt. Pacholli made every post a PR moment, once arriving at court to face a civil action in a polka-dot Rolls-Royce.

Such unmitigated gall made him an ideal story. Mainstream press regularly interviewed him for oddball features, the resultant articles mainly exercises in writing while nose pinching to avoid the whiff. Even the new-fangled 60 Minutes program thought him a worthy subject in its first year.

Pacholli’s newspaper unwittingly gave Australian journalism a new ethos. Until the Toorak Times, most newspaper opinion and column-writing in Australia erred on the side of balance but his misadventures with fairness taught mainstream media that lopsided reasoning could not only be gotten away with, but its proponents were provocative entertainment for readers who wanted to be annoyed.

Years later, celebrity journalism, the shenanigans of Princess Di, Pamela Anderson, Christopher Skase, Alan Bond and friends and reality television made the Toorak Times look somehow nearly truthful. But Pacholli’s moment in the sun passed long before his legacy became acceptable to large sections of the mainstream media. Maybe being discharged as a bankrupt in 1986 took the sting from the man but the con man would not be denied. …

I’m not suggesting that Landeryou is a conman or anything, but the parallels in terms of bankruptcy and defamation-daring muckraking are fairly obvious. There used to be a journalistic convention, only occasionally honoured in the breach, whereby the sexual peccadilloes of even prominent politicians (let alone journos themselves) were regarded as off limits.   Laurie Oakes’ exposure of the Gareth Evans/Cheryl Kernot tryst pretty much put an end to that, followed by last year’s Brogden affair (in which Crikey played a prominent role if  I remember rightly).  

Changing  defamation laws also  play a role in this new  more cavalier approach to muckraking.   Until this year a  media organisation  had to prove “truth and public benefit”  to successfully defend a story exposing a public person’s private life.   Thus former Australian cricket captain Greg Chappell succeeded in obtaining a permanent injunction against the Nine Network’s A Current Affair some years ago, to restrain publication of a story about his alleged penchant for extra-marital dalliance.   The judge ruled that the story was not  capable of being supported by any defence then known to the law, even if all the allegations made were true.   That is no longer the case since the new uniform national defamation laws came into force early this  year.   Now truth is all that need be proved.    Nevertheless, although  I certainly wouldn’t advocate reversion to the old defamation law, I also don’t think Australian journalism is any the better for its increasingly rapid descent into the depths of prurient British-style tabloid journalism.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Ruddy Reactions…

It’s been a disjointed day for your Bannerman. Firstly a network failure at the coal face followed by a very late start to the working day, which thanks to a faster than November broadband plan passed…..well, faster than expected. The……

Kim
Kim
14 years ago

Today Crikey’s other muckraking political correspondent Christian Kerr ‘fessed up that it was actually he who had linked to the unnamed blogger!

I thought you didn’t read Crikey Ken!

Trackback.

Bannerman
14 years ago

Says much about Milne. Especially after his unrepentant slagging of Mayne on Insiders last Sunday. But perhaps that’s because Sunday was before he’d done his research? Tsk! Tsk! Mr Milne! Such tardiness for one supposedly not philandering the women in the Ministerial wing.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
14 years ago

Landeryou’s site is so outrageous that one would expect to find all sorts of awful things on it that one would presume are the worst kind of tittle tattle. I know Evan Thornley a bit and he gets a regular shellacking on Landeryou’s site all of it bogus from what I can see. So I presume it’s all untrue until proven otherwise. Still, that’s an outsider’s view. If I were a victim I expect I’d feel a bit differently.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
14 years ago

Having read Milne’s piece it’s pretty poor. If you do the wrong thing, you apologise. He’s done that at least in form. And I guess there’s nothing wrong with a little explanation. What comes through in the article of course is a brazen lack of contrition for ‘going the biff’. His mistake? To do it in public. And, what’s worse, in front of cameras! Shame shame shame – etc.

Disappointed,

Port Melbourne.

joe2
joe2
14 years ago

Ah, the twists and turns of the continuing Milne/Mayne saga. Two newly involved colourful characters… violence, betrayal ,mistaken identities,threats and innuendo. This story has more legs than a caterpillar. Bags first rights to the opera or play.

Andrew Landeryou
14 years ago

[paragraph deleted]

By contrast, my blog of freedom is a labour of love. It’s not something I could sell, note the lack of even a domain name, it’s a free site on blogspot. And while it’s serious to me, it’s hard to argue that I’m doing it for money, which is what your post implies.

In fact, I’m yet to work out which charity will receive the small amount of revenue we’ve collected from Google Adsense, perhaps you can make a suggestion.

So your lengthy laboured comparison of us to an old sleaze who has much more in common with Crikey and Stephen Mayne is quite wrong.

My blog of freedom preceded Solomon Lew bankrupting me on the most spurious of grounds. No defamation lawsuits before then. Not one. Not even a threat of one.

My blog of freedom is published by one of the world’s largest media companies. No defamation lawsuits served on them. Not one. Not even a threat of one.

And for the record, as I was reminded recently the Toorak Times used to regularly slag off my old man. I have no plans to emulate such a publication I assure you.

[paragraph deleted]

As for defamation law, I agree it should be stricter. Many journalists are effectively immune from the effects of lawsuits because their employers pick up the tab and are insured anyway. I’d like to see them(us) personally liable. But that won’t be happening any time soon.

This was easily the most amusing day I’ve had in nearly 3000 posts. I have proved an important point. Despite their bravado, their acid and bluster very many Australian journalists are completely unwilling to face any kind of scrutiny of their own actions, let alone liability for their attacks on others.

That one blog story, hardly my biggest, caused a couple of supposedly seasoned journalists to wrestle it out on the stage of a supposedly prestigious nationally televised journalists’ union awards night shows just how unused to scrutiny they are.

And I can promise this. We’ve only just begun.

Francis X Holden
14 years ago

It alleged, without foundation, ……………….that, when I went to the ministerial wing, women tried to avoid me.

Well I’m guessing it might well be true now, if it wasn’t before. Not only will the ministerial wing women avoid him, so will men, politicans and sensible school boys in all other places.

Kim
Kim
14 years ago

Shorter Andrew: Game on.

Kim
Kim
14 years ago

It alleged, without foundation, “

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

Ken
The more light in a room the better for the people. By controlling speech we end up with that vestibule of deranged law like the Bracks blashemy laws.
Let the light through and we should decide what is good journalism and what is bad stuff.

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

ahia

blasphemy

Tony.T
14 years ago

I bet at least three of the test cricketers who played with Greg Chappell breathed a sigh of relief when his injunction was upheld. From what I know, Greg Chappell is small bananas in the Extramarital Business.

Fyodor
14 years ago

Wrong both times, munnkey.

Why don’t you look up the meaning of the word “blasphemy” before you abuse it again?

Taztigger
Taztigger
14 years ago

“I know that old man Kennedy runs a pretty sharp eye over the plates before the NT News goes to press each day.”

He would have to have a very sharp eye to see the plates from Cullen Bay. Kennedy is home and in bed well before the paper goes to press.

If he does see the plates before they go to press why does he correct the errors?

broken left leg
14 years ago

Landeryou writes “Many journalists are effectively immune from the effects of lawsuits because their employers pick up the tab and are insured anyway.”
Who is he kidding? The fact that he is bankrupt and not worth suing is the reason why he has never received a defamation writ.
Empty pockets is his insurance not accuracy.

Mick Pacholli
14 years ago

Most of Jack’s so-called ‘Gutter Journalism’ was in fact information passed on to him from parties knowledgeable about the stories he was breaking. It was proven time and again that what Jack wrote, and was vilified for writing, was in fact the truth of the matter, told only because the other media outlets were too gutless to let the public become aware of the facts.

After his passing many mainstream hacks started on their merry way of demonising my father, but this was heavily outwieghed by the response from the many battlers for whom he took up the sword. You are right about one thing though, he did change the face of publishing in Australia.

David Brooks
David Brooks
5 years ago

Only knowing Jack since the 70’s, i can say, now, on reflection, that as far as I was concerned he was a likeable rogue of a man. Allways treated me with repect, and returned my calls. eventualy. I feel that Jack was very ,tongue in cheek, in his comments, and our highlite of the week, when i would meet the Toorak locals , 4 breakfast, was , did your name come up in TT this week. There was a Knighted gentleman in that group, which was very ,50/50 of Jack, they loved him or hated him. So our breakfasts turned in2 some very heated moments at times. I would catch up with Jack every 3 months or so and over a drink, would look him in the face,” U was a bit rough on so and so last week Jack”.., Fuck , the prick, he can take it, and look at the free publicity i have given him. We would laugh and talk about other matters. Yes, i personally can’t say anything bad about Jack Pacholli, but, i do wish i had of known him longer and more so. Jack knew me as the chaufer. ps, excuse grammer and spelling as i rite it as it sounds.

emily phillips
emily phillips
4 years ago

I think a good journalist checks the facts, a good businessman does good business, an honest man is not involved in wroughts.
It was an interesting piece of writing that held a little too much bias for me with the man already buried however I find it disturbing that in Australia, in particular, we celebrate the rogue as if he is somehow that rough diamond he would be were his emeralds real emeralds.
Is this part of our character from convict roots; this slay the good man, love Hoges, Ned Kelly, the archetypal Mad Max and exhibit Chopper Reed?