Crikey and Lachlan Murdoch’s lawyers have first day in court as judge warns of ‘hyperbole’ | Amanda Meade

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Tthe libel battle between Private Media’s Crikey and Lachlan Murdoch had its first day in court on Friday, and while mediation is mandatory, both sides appear determined to fight it out in court.

Murdoch’s lawyer Sue Chrysanthou SC and Private Media’s silk Michael Hodge KC will have to settle their legal arguments at a case management hearing on October 10 after failing to agree on part of Crikey’s defencewhich Chrysanthou wants deleted because it is “embarrassing and irrelevant”.

She also had a dig at Crikey political editor Bernard Keane, the author of the article Murdoch says he slandered him, for a line in the publisher’s defense that said Murdoch is the CEO of Fox News. Murdoch is not the CEO of Fox News; he is the CEO of parent company Fox Corporation.

“It is disappointing, given Mr. Keane’s PhD and his so-called expertise at Fox News, that he does not know that my client was never the CEO of Fox News,” Chrysanthou said. In response, Judge Michael Wigney said the parties should not engage in “hyperbole”.

Hodge returned the fire by saying Chrysanthou had inadvertently “encouraged Lachlan Murdoch to deny that Joseph Biden won the 2020 presidential election and that Donald Trump lost it”.

“I think as our friend [Chrysanthou] indicates that this is not what she intended with the post, but it is in accordance with the rules, the position taken.”

The court heard that Murdoch may give evidence but if he did it would only be to the extent of his hurt feelings over the article headlined “Trump is a confirmed unhinged traitor. And Murdoch is his uncharged co-conspirator”.

Back to you, Canberra

ABC Insiders host David Speers tells the Weekly Beast he is selling his home in Melbourne and moving back to Canberra, where he was based when he was political editor at Sky News.

But that doesn’t mean he won’t host the Melbourne-based Sunday morning political show. Speers, along with many of his guest panelists, faces a weekly commute as the program is part of the ABC’s Melbourne production house, which includes ABC News Breakfast.

“I lived in Canberra for 20 years covering Parliament,” Speers said. “I love the city and that means coming home.”

After more than 20 years, the program this year became the most watched morning program on Australian television with a year-to-date average of 803,000 viewers.

In May, the show’s special post-election episode set records with a first-time audience of 1.2 million viewers and a total audience of 1.4 million.

Tony Armstrong’s grim remark

ABC News Breakfast’s Tony Armstrong proved again this week that he is more than just a sportscaster. And we don’t mean his star turn as an entertainment reporter interview with Oprah Winfrey about her Apple documentary, Sydney.

His personality and versatility has seen him appear across the ABC and next month he sits down with Zan Rowe to share his love of music in an episode of Take Five. Armstrong tells Rowe that he used to be really self-conscious, which is quite the admission for someone who won a Logie for best new TV talent. “Being a kid who was an only child, also being a Native kid, you already stand out … and you’re always kind of trying not to stand out,” he said. “When I was a kid, I was always obsessed with making new friends and meeting people because it was just mom and me.”

On Wednesday, in some moving moments on the News Breakfast sofa, Armstrong adopted a somber tone, addressing First Nations people who have been affected by a series of disturbing news events, including the blanket coverage of the Queen’s death, and of course, the allegations that First Nations players were mistreated by AFL club Hawthorn.

“I know the Queen means so much to so many people, [but] to First Nations people she was the ultimate symbol of colonization and we all know what colonization brought to First Nations people,” Armstrong said.

“Earlier this week I think we had a ban on spit caps. They were disproportionately used on First Nations people.

“We are currently seeing what happens in Right Walker case and some text messages sent to and from various individuals serving in the police force.

“We’ve had 517 deaths in custody since the royal commission to date and now these allegations, I mean – it’s not easy to be out here. I’m very sorry to read these allegations.”

Nine strikes averted

Last week Nine’s publishing arm avoided a strike after reaching agreement with staff on a revised pay offer.

Journalists at the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Australian Financial Review, WAtoday and the Brisbane Times fought hard for a 15.5% pay rise over three years, but settled for 4% in the first year, followed by 3.5%. They had already cashed in a one-time bonus of $1,750.

But now, after Nine entertainment CEO Mike Sneesby’s remuneration was revealed in the 2022 annual report this week, staff may be a little less happy about their latest win.

Nine CEO Mike Sneesby.
Nine CEO Mike Sneesby. Photo: Dean Lewins/AAP

Sneesby, who was appointed in March last year, took home more than $3 million. His predecessor Hugh Marks had a final payout of $4.1m. Nine’s head of sales Michael Stephenson got more than $2 million after a 10% pay rise. Chairman Peter Costello, who is approaching his 10-year anniversary on the Nine board, was paid $357,000.

The Queen’s funeral draws 3.5 million viewers

The Queen’s funeral did not end up being the most watched broadcast in Australian or even British television history.

In the UK it was seen by 29.2 million people and in Australia around 3.5 million across all broadcast channels.

Seven had the most viewers followed by Nine and ABC, who were only a few thousand apart: Seven had 26%, Nine 23.8% and ABC on 23.7%.

ABC’s average audience was 1.07 million across the two channels in metro areas and another 470,000 in regional areas.

Sport consistently draws the most viewers in Australia. Last year’s AFL grand final between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs had an audience of 3.9 million on Seven.

NYT criticized over Jack Charles’ obit

The New York Times’ Australian bureau chief Damien Cave has apologized for the “lack of context and clarity” in the paper’s coverage of death of native actor and activist Uncle Jack Charles.

Compare the pair: The Queen, monarch of the empire that colonized Australia and tried to wipe out Aboriginal people, has been defended non-stop for the past week with all sorts of absurdities like “she was actually powerless, though” while Uncle Jack Charles is summed up such: pic.twitter.com/nTmcbnGqFh

— Omar Sakr (@OmarjSakr) 21 September 2022

When the NYT wrote the story on Twitter, it highlighted the acclaimed actor’s “heroin addiction and penchant for burglary”, sparking outrage and accusations of racism and disrespect.

There is not enough context on this planet to excuse the fact that NYTArts described a highly talented and beloved member of Australia’s art scene as a criminal recidivist, instead of acknowledging his against-the-odds survival in a systemically racist society. https://t.co/Ci4e8KtGRS

— Moanie Pandium ☄ (@MoaniePandium) 22 September 2022

The beloved Boon Wurrung, Dja Dja Wurrung, Woiwurrung and Yorta Yorta senior was a member of the Stolen Generations and endured several prison terms for burglary and drug offenses in his younger years and at times struggled with heroin.

An earlier tweet for this obituary was deleted – if you were one of those who called it out (@KetanJ0, @Sarah_Kras et al.), we heard you and apologize for the lack of context and clarity. Nuances are always the goal, and sometimes we miss the mark. The story is also updated. https://t.co/D0K2EZEXGK

— Damien Cave (@damiencave) 22 September 2022

Over on the Australian sin Jack Charles obituary published on September 17 also emphasized the negative of the headline, Jack Charles would rob houses after performing on stagebut no one seems to have noticed.

In the comments, historian and obituary writer Alan Howe, a lifelong Murdoch lieutenant, made his position crystal clear in a response to a reader.

“I would never defend Jack Charles’s life of crime,” Howe said. “He wasn’t a Robin Hood-like figure, just a drug addict thief. I think Charles sought to lessen the seriousness of his actions by emphasizing that he stole from houses in mainly wealthy suburbs. But it doesn’t wash with me.”

Fair play?

Russell Jackson, the ABC journalist who broke Hawthorn racism review storyhas accused Eddie McGuire of trying to smear his reputation.

On Wednesday, Jackson revealed allegations that key figures at the AFL club required separation of young First Nations players from their partners, and pressured one couple to terminate a pregnancy for the sake of the player’s career.

Discussing the news on Nine’s Footy Classified programme, McGuire suggested Jackson did not give former Hawthorn coach Chris Fagan enough time to respond to the allegations in his article.

Eddie McGuire has tried to smear my reputation here and I won’t stand for it. I sent detailed questions to Chris Fagan’s Lions email address with 24 hours notice. He did not respond to my email, even when I called his phone and left a message giving him more time. https://t.co/4iewmxspfB

— Russell Jackson (@rustyjacko) 21 September 2022

“Eddie McGuire has tried to smear my reputation here and I won’t stand for it,” Jackson said on Twitter.

“I sent detailed questions to Chris Fagan’s Lions email address with 24 hours notice. He didn’t respond to my email, even when I called his phone and left a message giving him more time.”

When fellow AFL commentator Caroline Wilson said she understood Russell had contacted all parties, McGuire replied: “I understand it was sent to Brisbane to the general number on the email.”

Wilson: “But he still contacted them.”

McGuire: “It was an email that went to the club, went to the general number. It doesn’t matter.”

Nine and McGuire declined to comment.

Both Fagan and Clarkson have denied any wrongdoing at the club. Fagan has said he is “deeply saddened” by the allegations and both coaches say they will co-operate with the AFL’s independent investigation.

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