How the Herald Sun turned on its own after the George Pell scoop | Weekly Beast

Lucie Morris-Marr, the first journalist to reveal that Victoria police were investigating George Pell over allegations of child abuse, has detailed in her new book what she endured at the Herald Sun after breaking the story on the tabloid’s front page.

In Fallen: the inside story of the secret trial and conviction of Cardinal George Pell, Morris-Marr says elation over her scoop quickly turned sour, and she ended up suffering from severe stress after attacks from Pell and her colleague Andrew Bolt.

“My suspicion that News Corp was doing a U-turn seemed to be confirmed by Monday morning when Andrew Bolt described my scoop as a ‘witch hunt’ and a ‘smear’,” she wrote.

Lucie Morris-Marr (@luciemorrismarr)

So touched and honoured to see so many incredible and special people at the launch of my book tonight. Thank you to the remarkable @ChrissieFoster7 for launching the book and @paul4frankston for caring so much about the issue of clergy abuse. #fallen @AllenAndUnwin #pell pic.twitter.com/NGtzYj1U4J

September 16, 2019

When Victoria police referred the story to the state’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission, Morris-Marr asked the editor, Damon Johnston, to provide security in case her home was raided, which he agreed to.

But her confidence was shaken when she turned up for a meeting with editors to discuss the Ibac probe only to come face to face with Bolt. He “drifted into the room asking ‘is this where the Ibac meeting is?’,” Morris-Marr wrote.

“I was so angry I put my hand out towards him and said ‘no’.” Morris-Marr says Bolt turned up for the meeting because a joke that he should attend was “taken seriously by the editor’s secretary” and he was invited. Johnston later ejected Bolt from the meeting, she wrote.

A complaint to News Corp HR that Bolt had breached the News Corp editorial code of conduct was not upheld. Morris-Marr alleges that News Corp deliberately chose not to renew her contract after the dispute between her and Bolt: “I was out and Bolt was in.”

Bolt has always denied he had anything to do with her departure from the paper.

Morris-Marr went on to report on the Pell trial for CNN and the New Daily and, when her book was published last week, it went to the number one spot in the true crime bestsellers on Amazon.

Suffer the children

Australian media identities lined up to attack the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg this week for her scathing speech at the UN.

From just one mention in the Australian media in September 2018, Thunberg’s prominence has grown to 2,848 mentions this month, according to Streem media monitoring.

The more the 16-year-old has been mentioned, the more annoyed some commentators have become.

There were the middle-aged white men who threw insults at the climate activist: the Nine footy personality Sam Newman, the broadcaster Alan Jones, the columnist Andrew Bolt, the Australian’s resident climate contrarians Chris Kenny and Graham Lloyd, and the Sky commentator Mark Latham. Then there were the middle-aged white women: the Tele’s Miranda Devine and the Sydney Morning Herald’s Amanda Vanstone. All very predictable.

But it was the Nine broadcaster Karl Stefanovic whose intervention was a little surprising.

“[Thunberg is] being managed and her stance is being used by activists,” Stefanovic told listeners while filling in as a shock jock on his friend Alan Jones’ radio station 2GB.

“She was very fired up, wasn’t she? I thought, ‘What are my kids doing on school holidays next week? Not doing that.’”

Mike Carlton (@MikeCarlton01)

To be honest, I’m amazed that the UN hasn’t asked Karl to address them yet… https://t.co/fwS1OEhFpN

September 25, 2019

Referring to the former Labor prime minister’s remark that Thunberg “represents the anger of that generation”, Stefanovic said: “Kevin Rudd, give it a rest. There’s anger out there – but there’s anger at this kind of activism as well.”

“I’ll tell you what, I’m an incensed middle-aged white guy this afternoon.”

Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg)

Hang in there! Help is available. https://t.co/aenieXxVut

September 26, 2019

For someone who is supposed to be rebuilding his reputation and credibility after the adverse publicity he received over a marriage break-up, Stefanovic is going about it the wrong way.

The Australian set the tone for anti-Thunberg sentiment with a front page that screamed: “Deciphering Greta’s gobful.”

Inside, the associate editor Chris Kenny described the climate warrior as “a hysterical teenager” while the environment editor, Graham Lloyd, said her speech was “heavy on rhetoric and threats but short on detail and facts”. Lloyd, who spends a great deal of time querying climate science, then analysed with his own take on the truth.

In the Herald Sun Bolt said the “hysteria” of Thunberg – and women in general – was out of control.

“There was Greta Thunberg, the child messiah of global warming, howling at the United Nations this week,” Bolt wrote. “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words … People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing.”

“We see the same catastrophism here.”

Then there was the ex-footballer Newman, who showed his true colours by tagging his post #ClimateChangeHoax.

Sam Newman (@Origsmartassam)

This annoying little brat addressed the UN on the so-called climate crisis. WHO lets this shit have a platform? Mendacious, inbred sycophants, that who. #ClimateChangeHoax pic.twitter.com/W1fvYdtFSW

September 24, 2019

Devine, now enjoying the benefits of working for Rupert Murdoch with a stint in New York at the New York Post, called for someone to be “arrested for child abuse”.

“It is grotesque that a child, already emotionally vulnerable due to her condition, has been so indoctrinated by adults,” Devine wrote.

To round off the Tele’s coverage its blogger Tim Blair said Thunberg was a “teen climate queen” who had delivered a crazy, absurd and melodramatic speech.

Vanstone, in the SMH, said: “The Thunberg circus has become a complete farce.”

Sweet nothings

Jones has had a lot to say about Thunberg and the climate change protest, most of which is best forgotten. But he was given acres of space to defend himself in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age on Friday, papers that are owned by Macquarie Media’s parent company, Nine Entertainment. Nine owns 54.5% of Macquarie and is moving to total ownership.

In a friendly interview Jones demonstrated how caring he was to listeners – he bought $1,000 worth of chocolates from a failing chocolatier – and how he was not a misogynist: he was “unfailingly courteous to women”.

“Now, I don’t run around bullying or shouting at people,” Jones told the paper. “Yeah, on air, every so often I’ll get a bit excited but I’m doing a million words a day. I just want people to be sensible and reasonable and balanced.”

Lost in the post

Speaking of climate change, our readers were a little confused with a post on Facebook, writing their postcodes on the comments on Facebook instead of clicking the link. Fortunately, Guardian Australia’s data editor, Nick Evershed, was on hand to help them out.

Joshua Badge (@joshuabadge)

Folks, I cannot 😂 pic.twitter.com/it4T2FGpuy

September 25, 2019

Hack attack

The West Australian published an interview with a young Perth-based hacker who revealed how he had managed to hack entertainment giants including Disney, Intel and Microsoft and get away with it. Dylan Wheeler spoke at length about how he had pulled it all off at the tender age of 14.

Dylan (@degenerateDaE)

This journalist has not spoken to me… he listened to a podcast by @DarknetDiaries @JackRhysider and wrote an article? Journalism on point, also lmao that hair style hasn’t been rocked in many many years. pic.twitter.com/LrfgTgZAff

September 22, 2019

“I don’t think we had too much of a sense of risk. If we get caught it will be a slap on the wrist, right?

“There was nothing we didn’t have or we couldn’t pivot to and that is where it became a big issue.

“It got so big, it blew up so fast – we literally had everyone in the gaming industry.”

But, according to the podcast newsletter Podnews, the reporter, Tim Clarke, didn’t speak to Wheeler for his full-page profile. “All 23 quotes with the ‘hacker’ in question were in a story from Darknet Diaries which was not credited in the piece,” Podnews reported.

Soon Wheeler himself had confirmed he’d never spoken to Clarke.

The paper’s readers’ editor, Alison Wakeham, told Weekly Beast an error had occurred in the production process.

“Tim Clarke’s original copy had made it clear that he was quoting from a podcast, but the mistake was introduced when the page was being produced,” Wakeham said.

“On being made aware of what had happened, we corrected the online copy, also adding a link to the podcast, and the digital version of the newspaper.”

A huge load of garbage

Sometimes reporting on fake news results in the spread of erroneous information even further.

Some media reports on the hoax photo claims to show rubbish left behind by Australian climate strikers were so obscure they buried the fact it is a hoax and perpetuated the myth.

“The Australian Youth Coal Coalition called out Sydney’s climate change protesters, sharing this photo – but they got one detail very wrong,” Seven News wrote on Facebook with the photograph of the rubbish strewn across a park.

“Photo of plastic waste ‘left behind by Sydney climate protesters’ goes viral.”

Only the single quotation marks around the words ‘left behind by Sydney climate protesters’ gave the reader a clue that the photo is a hoax.

In another Facebook post Seven News Australia wrote: “Look at the mess today’s climate protesters left behind in beautiful Hyde Park. So much plastic. So much landfill. So sad.”

Then there was the news.com.au story which did not make it clear until the 15th paragraph that the photograph was a hoax.

“A climate change photo that has been shared more than 34,000 times has outraged Facebook users,” news.com.au said. “Tens of thousands of Australians marched against climate change on Friday — now one image has gone viral, for all the wrong reasons.”

On Monday morning the Sydney radio host Alan Jones also repeated the hoax claim.

“Why did climate protesters leave Sydney’s famous Hyde Park littered with tonnes of waste and plastic bottles?” Jones asked, reading out an ill-informed letter from a listener and failing to correct the record.