The Daily Telegraph gave chef Pete Evans a huge free kick this week, devoting a double-page spread to the celebrity’s wacky, if not dangerous, views on the coronavirus, Dan Andrews, Donald Trump, vaccinations and the media. Nowhere in the coverage, which included a video interview and a 45-minute podcast with the former My Kitchen Rules judge were his statements countered, fact-checked or analysed.
“We’ve partied together, we’ve worked together,” the entertainment writer Jonathan Moran – author of the Geoffrey Rush “King Leer” story, which cost the paper $2.9m in damages – said to Pete in the cosy interview at Evans’s Byron Bay property.
“I am not going to argue with you, it’s not my job.”
Paleo Pete gave JMo the rundown on his views, including “there isn’t always truth in mainstream news, Trump is a “master communicator” and “highly intelligent”, and Democrat Joe Biden “may have dementia”.
Suffice to say Evans loved the treatment the Tele gave him, recommending it to his 275.9k followers on Instagram with the words “Thank you MSM”, meaning mainstream media.
The treatment of Evans stands in stark contrast to that of Daniel Andrews, who has been slammed by the paper for allegedly bungling the coronavirus crisis.
The Daily Telegraph’s editor, Ben English, clearly ignored a call by his gossip writer Annette Sharp, who wrote just weeks ago that Evans should be ignored. “Come on Facebook, Twitter and other agents of hate,” Sharp wrote. “Ban this man from your community. It’s time he was shut down.”
Evans has been fined $25,000 by the Therapeutic Goods Administration over claims he made about a $14,990 product called a “BioCharger”, which was claimed to cure coronavirus, and the Australian Medical Association has warned him not to spread misinformation after he promoted a controversial anti-vaccination podcast to his 1.5 million Facebook followers.
Potshots at the premier
Speaking of attacks on Dan Andrews, we couldn’t go past the performance of fly-in-fly-out Channel Seven reporter Denholm Hitchcock this week. A reporter for Seven’s Spotlight, Hitchcock rocked up to the premier’s daily press conference with a foot-in-door swagger. His opening line: “Would you wreck or jeopardise the economy of the state to save lives?”
Not satisfied with Andrews’ answer – “Well, that’s a choice that we have made as a national cabinet from day one” – Hitchcock engaged in a terse exchange of words with the premier.
“Journalist asks tough questions to a politician at a press conference?,” Hitchcock wrote on Instagram later. “Reasonably certain that’s part of my job description.”
Claremont front pages ‘from arrest to verdict’
The West Australian produced a rare afternoon edition on Thursday to report on the highly-anticipated Claremont killer verdict. The back page of the free 16-page special edition reproduced 16 front pages over four years as the 51-year-old Telstra technician was brought to justice.
Loss of a ‘straight-shooter’
Ken Blanch, a journalist whose proudest achievement in 76 years of reporting was winning a pardon for an Indigenous man wrongly accused of rape, died this week aged 92.
“Ken had a career that owed its glitter to the sweat of honest endeavour rather the baubles and trinkets of celebrity,” former Queensland journalist and editor Terry Sweetman told Weekly Beast. “He was a straight-shooter who always knew right from wrong and was always on the side of the former.”
Two years ago, aged 90, Blanch watched on as Queensland governor Paul De Jersey signed the pardon for Kipper Billy, who died in 1862 while awaiting execution for a rape he could not have committed. He was killed while trying to escape the hangman’s noose at Queensland’s old Petrie Terrace jail.
Blanch had applied for a pardon for Kipper, who he first wrote about in 1990, and said he could die a happy man knowing he had set an innocent man’s soul free.
“I don’t think the man was treated fairly alive or dead – my little heart always beat hard for Kipper Billy,” Blanch said.
Coincidentally, Blanch died the day before another 92-year-old – the man who has been called the greatest editor of all time, Sir Harold Evans, trailblazing former editor of the Sunday Times.
Back on watch
A little over a month after South Australia’s largest regional newspaper, the Border Watch, closed after 159 years, the paper will relaunch next month.
Much like Australian Associated Press, which was pronounced dead before being rescued by angel investors, the Border Watch will come back under new ownership.
The Mount Gambier paper was rescued by a group of independent newspaper owners and will come back with former editor Brett Kennedy at the helm.
“I’m delighted a number of my former the Border Watch colleagues, who are among the finest journalists and media consultants in the industry, are also re-joining the team,” Kennedy told the ABC.
“We feel a great sense of pride and privilege to be restoring a community service that has served Mount Gambier and the Limestone Coast so well for almost 160 years.”
It hasn’t been plain sailing for AAP, which had to be propped up last week by the Morrison government with a $5m lifeline a week after the wire service admitted it was struggling financially and launched a crowdfunding appeal.
Lauren Southern, the far-right Canadian YouTube celebrity, is right at home on Sky News, now she has settled in Australia.
On her now defunct YouTube channel, which she gave up for a year before returning in June, she used to promote the idea that white people were subject to an orchestrated “Great Replacement” by means of non-white immigration.
She has appeared on Outsiders on Sky and on Sunday she was back on Sky’s panel show In My View lecturing Australians on the lockdown in Victoria and our refugee policy.
In a piece to camera Southern told viewers the coronavirus restrictions in Victoria had reached “power-hungry absurdity”.
“Absurdity that is not informed by medicine or morality,” she said. “People’s businesses they put their lives work into are going under. People aren’t getting to see family members before they die. They aren’t getting to see the birth of their children. Australia’s mental health is utterly in decline.”
Southern certainly had strong views on the subject, but she didn’t have the facts, wrongly asserting that the Andrews policy of “9am to 5pm” curfews was “hurting cafes”. “Is corona going to get us at 8am more than 9am” she mocked. Well, no Lauren, the curfew is not hurting cafes because cafes are usually open in the daylight hours and the curfew is from 9pm to 5am.
According to a report in the Australian Jewish News, she has pulled out of speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (Cpac) next month as was earlier reported. But Southern told Beast “this is news to me”.
Adam, meet Avi
It’s not just Sky News that is flirting with the right. The Australian’s economics editor, Adam Creighton, who is a major critic of the lockdown, has been retweeting and agreeing with Avi Yemini, a far right anti-Muslim immigration figure who was convicted of assaulting and harassing his ex-wife last year.
After being told who Yemini was, Creighton just shrugged. “I’ve never heard of him. OK”. He has not deleted his tweets.
Yemini, meanwhile, has reinvented himself as a journalist and represented the rightwing Rebel News at the anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne, where he was arrested.