Robyn Riley

Mar 15, 2009

Sensationalism, not political analysis

The Herald Sun's Robyn Riley has come out in furious defence of her newspaper's decision to

The Herald Sun‘s Robyn Riley has come out in furious defence of her newspaper’s decision to publish photographs of a teenaged Pauline Hanson posing explicitly. Riley’s weak argument is that the photographs are in the public interest and that public figures are public property — even their actions as teenagers over thirty years ago.

Public people are public property whether they like it or not.


People have a right to know the type of person they are being asked to endorse.

Firstly, the argument that these pictures have anything at all to do with Pauline Hanson’s current campaign for office in Queensland is tenuous in the extreme. Pauline Hanson, like any other candidate, should be judged on her policies with contextual information taken from her public actions during her adult life. Private actions during her teenage years have nothing to do with her ability to represent the people of Beaudesert.

Secondly, Riley builds some strawmen arguments of mammoth proportions in her pre-emptive defence of her paper’s actions. Check these out:

Pauline Hanson may argue… The independent candidate for Beaudesert may say… Expect Ms Hanson to complain… Expect her to whine…

The Herald Sun‘s decision to publish explicit teenage photographs of Pauline Hanson was nothing more than sensationalism, and there was not a jot of genuine political analysis in its actions. Robyn Riley’s defence of her newspaper attempts to justify those actions but fails.

UPDATE: Credit where it’s due — Andrew Bolt thinks that the publication of the photos was a breach of Hanson’s privacy.

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17 thoughts on “Sensationalism, not political analysis

  1. Please don’t notice, please don’t notice - Pure Poison

    […] Funnily enough Bolt also, in his painting of an evil Left, a “class and a creed that could strike [such people] down with such cackling savagery”, declines to point out that the “Far-Left” Crikey he’s indicted as part of this villainy was extremely critical of his newspaper’s conduct in that affair. So was this site. […]

  2. Robyn Riley apologises (sort of) - Pure Poison

    […] the now-discredited photographs it claimed were of Pauline Hanson, columnist Robyn Riley wrote a furious pre-emptive defence of her newspaper’s actions. PAULINE Hanson may argue it is an invasion of her privacy for the […]

  3. Queensland election: stumbling to the finish line « Woolly Days

    […] not sure what it is about the redoubtable Hanson but today she also united Tim Blair and Pure Poison in condemnation of the publication of the photos. The Herald Sun dubiously claimed the 30 year old […]

  4. John Surname

    Moderate my comment you facsists.

    {No — Scott}

  5. John Surname

    I think the photos are hot. Phwoaaar.

  6. Hanson picture update - Pure Poison

    […] out against News Limited’s publication of teenage Hanson pictures and Robyn Riley’s indefensible defense of the publication. …publication of the pictures – in both the Sunday Herald Sun and the […]

  7. nickws

    For shame nobody thought to write a mashup:

    Help her, don’t exploit her
    An unhappy candidate whose ‘dancing with the stars’ seemed to me a plea for help, and who confesses she is indeed in trouble, should not be depicted on the frontpage naked by a newspaper hoping to win extra sales from her growing despair

  8. nickws

    andy works there, is presumably held in high esteem by editorial staff, and therefore has the clout to affect change so this kind of blatant muck-raking doesn’t happen again

    Now you’re just being mean & taking the piss out of the poor man in the hope he trawls through here. ‘Held in esteem’, indeed! But seriously, neither Bolt nor Blair has enough juice to spike a Terrorgraph ‘exclusive’. Hence their cynical “dirrrty politicians smearing our Pauline” guff.

    Though I still reckon Bolt is politically more important with individual Rightwingers across the nation than any Newscorp rag, even the big quality one which loses so much money for Rupert…

  9. Jeremy Sear

    Now they’re complaining they might have been had:

    “He said they were taken at Pelican Bay Resort near Coffs Harbour between 1975 and 1977.

    But there is no Pelican Bay Resort, and Coffs Harbour’s Pelican Beach Resort did not open until 1986. “

    Funny that they didn’t do any such checks before they published the photos…

  10. confessions

    monkeywrench has a point. both bolt and blair were quick to slam the entire organisations of NYT, LA Times, CNN, CBC etc as ‘nasty but typical leftist’ news agencies when sarah palin’s poor campaign performance was spotlighted by them. ‘hate’ was a word often used by bolt to describe the attitude of professionals like couric and gibson towards palin (“why do the feminists hate her so” and so on).

    in not taking the same absolute stance on this new low by the hun just makes andy’s spirited defence of palin look like the shallow idealogically driven rhetoric I always suspected it was. andy works there, is presumably held in high esteem by editorial staff, and therefore has the clout to affect change so this kind of blatant muck-raking doesn’t happen again.

  11. Toaf

    Plenty of negative comments from Herald Sun readers, which is good to see.

  12. monkeywrench

    Scott, it’s ‘good that he’s spoken out”, but when that speech is carefully crafted to shift the blame from his own employer to the easy target of “politics” then I feel tempted to resort to the ‘H’ word that you managed to accidentally excise from my first post. These cut’n’paste tools can be hard to handle, eh!

  13. andy coulthart

    In a few days, when the pundits have had their two bob’s worth, it would be interesting to compare these on Hanson (right to privacy vs public property) to those in 2004 on the Latham stag night video (or non video)?

  14. Scott Bridges

    I think it’s healthy for there to be various views expressed in a single publication. It’s good that he’s spoken out.

  15. Reg Blatt

    Will Andrew resign from the paper or is he prepared to lower his standards to keep on getting a paycheck? Not that he is on his own there but ultimately he is part of the problem he identifies.

  16. Jeremy Sear

    Absolutely pissweak, Riley. It’s a pretty sad indictment on your reasoning and judgment if you can’t tell the difference between analysis of a candidate’s policies/character and publishing private photos of her from her youth.

  17. monkeywrench

    But surely Andrew Bolt summed the media up back in September 2008 when he equated Sarah Palin to Hanson as a victim of the usual Leftist media conspiracy.
    His piece today, though, is decidedly less firm about who’s to blame. Today “politics’ gets the blame for this tawdry exercise in public prurience.

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