It’s always good value when Media Watch criticizes The Australian because journalists there react with foaming-at-the-mouth outrage. For example, when Media Watch nailed them for misrepresenting Rajenda Pachauri they reacted with 4672 words blasting Media Watch, including the entire editorial, stories from Caroline Overington and Matthew Warren and an opinion piece from David Salter.
So I looked forward with anticipation to Caroline Overington’s response to this story on Media Watch:
Wentworth is held by Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.
But it’s tight, as a News Limited commissioned poll showed at the weekend: two party preferred, Turnbull and [Labor candidate] Newhouse are each on fifty per cent. …
It’s looking likely that preferences from the Independent Danielle Ecuyer [ex-girlfriend of Newhouse] could decide which way Wentworth falls. …
Replying to the independent’s email that it was too early to decide preferences, Overington wrote back.
Too early! My girl, you’ve got four weeks!!
Please preference Malcolm.
It would be such a good front page story. Also, he’d be a loss to the parliament and George – forgive me – would be no gain.
Danielle Ecuyer was stunned by the email.
I’m disgusted to have been lobbied by a journalist from The Australian for my preferences.
Here at The Australian, we look forward to Monday nights. We just know that Media Watch will have a swipe at one of us.
Well, you do provide them with plenty of ammunition…
On Tuesday mornings, it’s not uncommon to find us standing in line, waiting to offer high-fives to the grinning journalist lucky enough to have been tackled by executive producer Tim Palmer.
It’s a moment of great joy.
Gee, you don’t get that sense from the 4672 words they had blasting Media Watch last time. They seemed, well, angry.
Anyway, what about that email?
In the email, I give her a wink, to show her I am joking when I say she should give her preferences to Turnbull.
Perhaps, but Ecuyer didn’t think it was a joke:
Yesterday, the independent candidate, Danielle Ecuyer, lodged a formal complaint with the Australian Electoral Commission, alleging Overington’s emails to her on October 26 had been intended to affect the outcome of the race for Wentworth.
Also, if Overington was just joking that it would make a good story if Ecuyer preferenced Turnbull, why also argue that Turnbull was a better candidate?
And look at how unsympathetic Overington was to the “only joking” defence the week before:
The Coalition can win this election. It can eke out a five seat majority. It can hold Wentworth, and Bennelong.
Chances are you have never heard of Steve Price. He presents a radio program in Sydney and, it is safe to say, he is not of the Left. He is, however, a witness of truth.
Price says he saw the former rock star Peter Garrett in the Qantas lounge last week (getting down and dirty, among the ordinary folk, they were) and Garrett told him that he didn’t need to worry about Labor’s election promises, because Labor was basically saying anything it needed to say to get elected.
The ALP would “change it all” once they got over the line. …
Garrett says he was only joking. He wasn’t joking. He was getting cocky, which is different.
Oddly enough, Overington doesn’t mention that there was a witness to this exchange who said that Garrett was, in fact, joking.
Meanwhile emails from Overington to Newhouse (the candidate Overington said would be no gain to parliament) have been published by rival paper the Sydney Morning Herald:
Overington 11.08am “Hey there … Let’s chat today, shall we? I could come out to Bondi, since I live there. And now you are single, I might even make a pass at you.”
Newhouse, 11.11am “You describe me [previously in an article] as short, dark and Jewish so why would you do that? And I know you are married [and I know who too] so why would I reciprocate?”
Overington, 11.14 am “Not married, me. Separated five months ago. I might like short, dark and Jewish, you never know. My grandfather is Jewish. But he married a Polish blonde. Perhaps we are related.”
Overington, 11.35am “Either you say yes to a photograph smiling and happy and out campaigning, or we stake you out at [street name and number deleted] and get you looking like a cat caught in a trap, in your PJs. Your choice.” …
Overington, 12.51pm “Okay, we are sending a bloke out at 1pm. We do not have all day, George.”
Overington, 2.48pm “We’re out the front of your house, and your office, just so you know.”
That Overington, such a kidder.