When the Daily Telegraph shamed Gladys Berejiklian on page one for grabbing a coffee with her boyfriend sans mask, the reporting was very precise.
“Questions about a lack of clarity in the health order over what constitutes ‘near’ have been raised, with Ms Berejiklian standing about 7.93m from the cafe and 9.27m from the coffee machine, but only applying her mask after she spotted a photographer,” the Tele said.
How they determined the exact position of Glad and her boo was never disclosed, but the gotcha moment followed last week’s aggressive questioning by Sky’s Andrew Clennell.
It’s a remarkable turnaround for News Corp, which is now turning the blowtorch on the NSW government as it clocks up four weeks in lockdown.
Hazardous slap down
The New South Wales health minister, Brad Hazzard, might have held his fire at the next day’s press briefing because his slap down of the Tele only brought more grief.
“Seriously, taking an opportunity to have a go at the premier’s private life by getting a photo when she was more than double where we are from you now,” Hazzard told the press pack.
“We know that the health orders are given as a guide to help the community get through what is a very difficult time.”
Calling out News Corp’s reporting is brave. “Bungle-prone Hazzard”, the Tele said the next day, was responsible for health orders “riddled with grey areas and blurred lines” and “the state and nation have suffered”. Was the Tele calling for clearer orders like the ones issued by “Dictator Dan” down in Victoria?
Pay up, premier
But the Tele looked mild compared with Alan Jones’ treatment of Berejiklian and her “incompetent acolytes” on his Sky News program where he railed against the premier all week, even calling for her to take a pay cut.
“The whole response to coronavirus is now completely out of control,” Jones said.
“Hand over 50% of your salary to prove that you’re not as brazen, defiant and indifferent as you clearly are,” Jones said.
“Add to that heartless, unsympathetic, and incompetent.”
Matter of opinion
When the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age hired veteran political commentator Niki Savva as a columnist they wanted to put her up against her bête noir at the Australian, Peta Credlin, and that meant a Thursday slot. So began a reshuffle of columnists at the Nine papers which led to some rather public brawling.
Savva quit her column at the Oz last month after editors told her she had to share a page with Credlin, and will write her first piece for Nine on 5 August.
Former Liberal leader John Hewson had to go and was given the bad news by opinion editor Julie Lewis. But Hewson was not going to be dropped without slapping his editors publicly, and he tweeted his rage, blaming political censorship.
Hewson was thanked by the SMH editor, Lisa Davies, and the newly promoted managing director of publishing at Nine, James Chessell, who felt it necessary to list all the “sycophantic ideologues” to show the diversity of opinion.
Davies said: “Thank you for your contributions to debate over a number of years John, our readers have valued your insights. However we are committed to refreshing and diversifying our rotation of columnists, especially in line with our pledge for 50/50 gender balance.”
So Hewson was dropped and Savva was picked up to increase the number of women writing opinion? Ah, not across all masthead at least, because another former Liberal politician Amanda Vanstone was also dropped, this time by the Age editor, Gay Alcorn.
A few Games men
Davies’ claim looked even more curious a few days later when the SMH trumpeted its line-up for covering the Olympic Games in Tokyo and they were all men.
The five blokes – Chip Le Grand, Phil Lutton, Michael Gleeson, Eryk Bagshaw and Malcolm Knox even made a Facebook video in which they talked about their excitement at the opportunity of reporting on an Olympic Games.
We asked the SMH about the “pledge for 50/50 gender balance” and how it related to the coverage of the Games. Davies declined to comment but Nine says the pledge relates to opinion writing only and a bigger team with women was planned before Covid restrictions hit and quarantine requirements forced some mothers out.
Meanwhile Seven’s Olympics coverage got off to a bad start. Despite having “the country’s biggest-ever broadcast and digital event” and “45 dedicated Olympic channels across Seven and 7plus all live and in HD” the Olympics broadcaster missed the announcement that Brisbane had won the Games when the audio dropped out.
Big Brother build
People who are upset a Channel Seven reality show secured critical skills visas for international celebrity contestants on Big Brother VIP – the since departed Katie Hopkins, Caitlyn Jenner and now Meghan Markle’s brother Thomas to enter Australia – may be surprised to hear producers also got an exemption to continue building the BB house.
Work on the BB house at Olympic Park in Sydney continued this week after construction was halted by the NSW government on Monday, according to photographs published by the Daily Mail.
Hopkins, a British far-right figure, was deported on the weekend for boasting about breaching hotel quarantine conditions from her Sydney hotel room, but was soon replaced with Thomas Markle Jr.
“Markle Jr, 55, is one of a number of high profile international names tipped to compete in the reality show that is scheduled to begin shooting at Sydney Olympic Park over the coming weeks,” the Tele reported.
Seven says the arrival of international artists in Australia “does not impact or impede on Australians returning home from overseas”.
“Any international artists associated with Seven are on arrangements that exist outside of the flight cap on international arrivals and have been granted exemptions by the government to come here,” a spokesman said.
“All our artists also undertake quarantine measures in line with government legislation. Much like the arrival of world-class international actors bolstering Australia’s film industry at present, these artists are contributing to the making of leading TV productions, creating jobs for many people at a difficult time for the creative and production sectors.”
Vale John Cornell
Legendary comedian and TV and film producer John Cornell has died in Byron Bay aged 80.
Best known as Paul Hogan’s larrikin offsider Strop on the Paul Hogan Show, which ran for 16 years on Channel Nine, Cornell was a prolific creator and businessman.
He co-wrote the movie Crocodile Dundee, which remains the highest-grossing film of all time in Australia, as well as being the force behind World Series Cricket in the 1970s with the late Nine mogul Kerry Packer.
Cornell began his career as a journalist and was the founding producer of Nine’s A Current Affair before moving into comedy when he met Hogan.
A private man, Cornell moved to Byron Bay with his wife, actress Delvene Delaney, and three daughters in the 1980s and bought two landmark hotels in the area.
“After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2001, John concentrated his efforts on philanthropy, supporting his community and worthy environmental, sporting and medical causes,” the Cornell family said in a statement.
“A classic Australian character, John Cornell made the lives he touched much richer, not only through donations, but also through his generosity of spirit, humour, humility and honour. A true egalitarian, John sought equity and equality, and fought for a fair go.”
Armed with figures from Senate estimates, the Australian confidently reported that the ABC “has admitted its employee numbers have risen in the past 12 months”.
Not a good look for Aunty, who is always claiming to have lost staff, the Oz said on page one in a continuation of the war on the ABC.
But a closer examination of said figures shows the situation is more nuanced as most of the staff were temporary and brought in to work on Covid-related projects. “These figures reflect the increase in production during the Covid period, as detailed below,” the ABC said. “Short-term increases in internal production staff were required to deliver content for audiences in response to Covid disruption.
“The ABC has also calculated the reduction in employees since the beginning of 2014, which equates to a reduction of approximately 10%.”
Another claim in the story, which was described by the ABC as “ridiculous”, was that it was outrageous that 120 people were involved in the Australia Talks production, hosted by Annabel Crabb and Nazeem Hussain. What the Oz has done is counted the credits on the program to get to the figure. But the credits include everyone at the ABC from the commissioning executives to the lawyers and publicists involved and not just the production crew.