Earlier, I wrote how the environmental writer for the New Zealand Listener was fired after Heartland demanded he be silenced, and:
Well not any more. The Listener hired a lawyer to threaten him and the post has been taken down and an apology put up, which includes this statement:
In fact Mr Hansford was not sacked by The Listener, and nor did The Listener seek to censor or suppress Mr Hansford’s views.
When you use lawyers to suppress people’s views it kind of undercuts your claims that you didn’t suppress Hansford’s views.
Dave Hansford commented on the post. I’m reproducing the comment here in case the Listener uses legal threats to suppress his views:
Pamela Stirling’s statement in John Drinnan’s column this morning is correct. I took on Ecologic back in November when the incumbent columnist, Francesca Price, took leave to work on another project.
As such, it was indeed a temporary arrangement. But it was not terminated on the due date, and continued to run as Francesca’s leave extended. The fact that Francesca did not, in the end, return to reclaim her column did not automatically mean it was mine in perpetuity.
But if my time was simply “up,” it’s baffling that I wasn’t simply told that. I was told instead that negotiations over Francesca’s return were under way. They were not.
Francesca had already made it clear she was not returning. I was then told that I had been “rationalised” in a response to a shrinking contributors’ budget. That the column would be brought in-house because the magazine could no longer afford a freelancer to write it.
I accepted that explanation, but it soon transpired that The Listener had, in fact, approached another freelancer to take the column over (They declined, and the column will now indeed be written in-house), placing a question mark over the claim of an ailing contributor’s budget.
At no time was any suggestion raised that I had made any errors in the climate deniers column, or left the magazine legally exposed.
I cannot prove that I was rolled because of legal posturing by the Climate Science Coalition, and I have never stated that as fact.
What I have stated repeatedly is;
That I was dropped from the Listener column, Ecologic.
That it came less than a fortnight after my column of March 22 about the Climate Science coalition’s financial and ideological links to the Heartland Institute and, by extension, Exxon Mobil.
That it came in the wake of a published call for my dismissal by the President of the Heartland Institute.
That it came in the wake of a threatened complaint to the Press Council and alleged threats of legal action by the Climate Science Coalition.
That The Listener agreed on a settlement with the Climate Change Coalition that gave the CSC the right of reply published this week.
That the Listener did not inform me of the bringing of the Press Council complaint.
That I was not informed of the letter from The Heartland Institute calling for my removal, nor given a right of reply.
That I was not informed of the Listener’s decision to give the CSC right of reply on behalf of my own column.
That both reasons I was given for my axing proved to be unsubstantiated.
That my subsequent request for the truth of the matter was never replied to.
That I was told that “We stand behind our columnists.”
Given this concert of circumstances, and the artifice surrounding my axing, it is valid to ask questions of the Listener and of the Climate Science Coalition about the nature and terms of their negotiations.
The implications for the independence of the media, and for the public interest, are too great not to.
Perhaps these events were entirely unrelated. But if they were not, they mark a black day for the freedom of the media.