Chris Mitchellgate: Posetti vindicated

THE ABC has posted the audio of Åsa Wahlquist's remarks at the conference, proving that Posetti's tweets accurately quoted her. The two five minute audios are well worth listening to for an insider's take on the toxic work environmnet that is The Australian. Look carefully at what Wahlquist has said since:

Mitchell rejects the allegation and Walhquist has also denied it, saying she has never spoken to Mitchell about climate change.

Wahlquist has not retracted or contradicted any of the things she said at the conference. I hope she expands on them at book length. Anyone know any publishers?

Meanwhile, Mitchell's minions continue to harrass twitterers:

The Australian newspaper's campaign against Twitter took a bizarre turn today when the paper threatened to refer a joke tweet to the police. The editor of the paper's media section, Geoff Elliott, rang ANU academic, Jonathan Powles this afternoon to say the paper would be referring a tweet he posted on Friday to the police because it constituted a threat to the newspaper.

However, it appears that the paper was unaware that Powles' tweet was in fact a parody of a now infamous tweet sweeping Britain. In that message Paul Chambers threatens to blow up a UK airport because it is closed and he might miss his flight. He was charged over the tweet, and lost his appeal a fortnight ago and was fined. But thousands of people responded by sending "I am Spartacus" tweets to show their support for what they understood was clearly a joke message.

I don't know whether Elliot didn't get the joke or thinks that jokes against The Australian are illegal.

This Twitter exchange between Jay Rosen and Mitchell Minion Sally Jackson reveals more about the way she slants her coverage to curry favour with her boss.

Jay Rosen:

Get this, #twitdef @ProfMarkPearson told @Sally_Jackson, "It is a sad day for press freedom when editors sue for libel" but she left that out

Sally Jackson:

@jayrosen_nyu BTW I also left out another interviewee who was PRO defo action. Because comment wasn't relevant to story. Conspiracy?

Jay Rosen:

@Sally_Jackson Author of "The Journalist's Guide to Media Law" could add nothing relevant to Really? Interesting! #twitdef

Clive Hamilton reveals how Mitchell threatened to sue him, but failed to follow through.

Tim Dick at the SMH weighs in:

For what it's worth - if anyone hasn't guessed yet, I write for a competing news company - here's my view: The Australian sprinkles some fantastic journalism with unfortunate episodes of self-obsession, over-sensitivity and over-reaction. It's difficult to see what could be gained from a defamation suit that could not be gained from a flat denial or letting the offending sets of 140 characters slide into the obscurity of the Twitter-ether, noticed only by the academic's followers who happened to be reading her tweets at the time. And journalists suing themselves is rarely a good look.

Update: concedes:

Her Tweets are a fair summary of what Wahlquist said

But Jonathon Holmes explains that even the slighest inaccuracy gives an opening for Mitchell to sue. His last paragraph nails it:

At Media Watch, we're well aware that The Australian reacts to criticism or challenge with a vitriol unmatched elsewhere in the Australia media. But surely Chris Mitchell - who whatever else he is, is no fool - will realise that pursuing Ms Posetti through the courts (and incidentally risking some devastating evidence from Asa Wahlquist and, perhaps, other former and current staffers at The Oz, if they chose to risk speaking out) will not be in his interest, or The Australian's; and it certainly won't foster "freedom of speech and a vigorous and open marketplace of ideas" which, as The Australian argued in an editorial in 2004, "are essential to a democratic society".

More like this

Hope Chris calls "Harto" to give evidence:

"112 More importantly, Mr Hartigan specifically gave evidence that Blunden had criticised Guthrie to him about the failure of Guthrie, on Saturday 20 September, to make any reference "whatsoever" on the front page of the newspaper to the Hawthorn versus St Kilda preliminary final which was to take place later that day.[35] Mr Hartigan stated, in the same passage of his evidence, that in his office he had a rack of newspapers, produced by News Limited and other organisations, to which he had ready resort if an issue was raised in relation to any of them. Thus he stated "... if someone says there's an accusation (about a newspaper), you can make up your own judgment very quickly".[36] In cross-examination, Mr Hartigan had placed before him a copy of the front page of the newspaper of Saturday 20 September. Notwithstanding that that document was before him, he persisted with his criticism of Guthrie for failing to make any reference, on it, to the Hawthorn versus St Kilda game. In fact, the newspaper, on its front page, made two express references to that game. That error, in the evidence of Mr Hartigan, not only revealed a clear error in his memory, but, more importantly, an evident lack of care exercised by him in giving his evidence before me."

"Lack of Care" in "giving his evidence" is a very polite euphemism.

Good luck Chris!

A bit OT: I understand it was a journalism conference. It's a pity that journalists these days appear to rely on articles by other journalists rather than doing their own research.

If you listen to the first question, it asks if an article written 35 years ago in Newsweek has 'created a scepticism in the journalist profession that has made it harder for journalists to deal with the onset of the science of climate change'

Apart from 35 years being quite a while back, as I'm sure all the readers of this blog know, that Newsweek article didn't even contain a quote from a scientist saying the earth was approaching an ice age.

Why is it that a single article in a business magazine 35 years ago would carry more weight with some journalists, than all the scientific research of the past couple of centuries, particularly the detailed research and evidence of the past few decades?

Nice one!

It might have been wise for Mitchell not to have threatened legal action. By doing so, he has effectively stated he is guilty.

Also it seems that it is Walhquist that Mitchell should be pursuing, if he believes she is lying.

Should it go to court, perhaps other journalists might be called to give evidence - "No your honour, I cannot reveal my source...that the plaintiff didn't do those things. No your honour, my chief editor >>cough<< source is not prepared to be named..."

Should be interesting to see if this fantasy and future reality intersect :-)

By Donald Oats (not verified) on 29 Nov 2010 #permalink

I would say that The Australian's recent article demonstrates pretty much that Chris Mitchell is not equipped to appear in court on this issue:

> "Mitchell adds he is proud of the paper's environmental coverage.

> He said The Australian's editorials on climate change
> "would make it clear that for several years the paper has accepted man-made climate change as fact"."

[Business Australian Story by Geoff Elliott](…)

By Vince Whirlwind (not verified) on 29 Nov 2010 #permalink

As Vince Whirlwind points out, the Ed-in-Chief claims that they accept the premise that humans affect climate as fact; he doesn't mention the bit about how the editorials then belittle anyone who might dare suggest that humans have a perceptible effect upon climate. You know, those pinko-greeno-eco-facist-feral-types who think we can quantify humanity's contribution well enough to state that we are causing a change we won't be so happy about down the track. And Heaven help those who think more than 5% is necessary in any climate emission reduction scheme (don't bother with trying to work out what the 5% is 5% of; that needs a team of post-docs to determine).

Oh, I have had a bad day today and my bile is up :-0

By Donald Oats (not verified) on 29 Nov 2010 #permalink

Pretty unlikely that Mitchell will go ahead with it. Clive Hamilton has said that Mitchell threatened him and never went through with it. Lots of bluster but not much action.

It wouldn't be much fun for Posetti but if Mitchell did sue it would be entertaining. Talk about washing your laundry in public. A highly skilled barrister might be able to make something of Posetti's tweets. The most mediocre barrister on Earth could have a field day with The Australian's climate change denialism and its breath-taking hypocrisy in using defamation laws it has long decried to attack a junior academic.