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David Penberthy

Apr 1, 2011

News Ltd War on the Greens tactic #1: shamelessly make stuff up

Although it was only The Australian that openly declared its intention to

Although it was only The Australian that openly declared its intention to “destroy the Greens”, it’s pretty clear that the rest of News Ltd is no more committed to fair and honest coverage of the party.

Take this morning’s effort by David Penberthy, former editor of the Daily Telegraph and presently editor-in-chief of news.com.au and thepunch.com.au, smearing the Greens not only with misrepresentations, but an outright untruth:

There’s one other person who was directly assisted by the Greens at last Saturday’s poll and it’s Pauline Hanson. To the enduring disgust of the Labor Party, the Greens chose to direct preferences to the One Nation founder ahead of the ALP, and she may now creep into the Upper House courtesy of their support.

Um, no they didn’t. That is not true.  Labor is whinging that the Greens declined to issue preferences in the upper house – as if it’s their responsibility to tell their voters who to preference, rather than their voters’ own bloody choice – but I haven’t seen anyone shameless enough to declare in print that the Greens actually preferenced One Nation.

Probably because it’s pretty easy to disprove:

The rest of Penbo’s piece is the usual childish misrepresentations and smears – he tries to turn the support of one candidate for her council’s policy to boycott the state of Israel while it persists with certain policies into “a polite modern rendering of Kristalnacht” (Australian politics has gone Godwin mad!) and declared that the party had “crashed and burned” by, in the midst of a massive state-wide swing to the right, not increasing their vote more than a couple of percent. He tries to build up the antipathy of some Labor people into a full-on war between the two parties. Basically, anything he can think of to try to damage them.

Still, I suppose, that’s just the usual relentless News Ltd spin – nothing new there.

But the claim about Hanson is an outright falsehood designed to hit Greens voters who still think that a professional media organisation wouldn’t try to get away with claiming something that wasn’t in any way true. Those voters are in for an illusion-shattering morning, I guess.

Or maybe Penberthy will claim it was just an hilarious April Fool’s Day prank and he was always going to correct it by lunchtime. We weren’t supposed to take anything he or his organisation says about the Greens seriously! How many hints do they have to give us before we’ll realise they’re taking the piss?

Yeah, that must be it.

ELSEWHERE: At the end of Penbo’s smear, News publishes some charming comments about The Greens, including this one:

It’s time for these cave dwellers to be eradicated from our society.

I wonder what she has in mind.

UPDATE: Called on the above, Penberthy doesn’t apologise or correct – he tries to pretend he said something different:

Um, no, Penbo. You said this:

Putting that back to him got this response:

So, he’s doubling down. Now it’s about the alleged “effect”. Not preferencing someone is preferencing them and Penbo will put his credibility on the line to stick with that. Okay then.

(Anyone want to guess what time the article will be silently corrected? It hasn’t happened yet.)

UPDATE (11.50am): Almost noon and, despite having known about the untruth for hours now, it’s still up. Are they really planning to brazen this out?

UPDATE (2/4): Looks like they’re going to stick with the untruth. A day later, and no change. You might want to let the Press Council know what you think about that kind of shamelessness.

Meanwhile, the Weekend Australian goes all out to try to crush the influence of anyone in the Greens who could be called “left”.

UPDATE #3: The Greens demand a correction.

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56 comments

56 thoughts on “News Ltd War on the Greens tactic #1: shamelessly make stuff up

  1. Gerard on Nazi comparisons – Pure Poison

    […] new MP must’ve just mixed up his right-wing News Ltd ranters: it was David Penberthy, in his now notorious smearing of last Friday, who made that hideous […]

  2. Penbo muddies the water – Pure Poison

    […] David Penberthy continues with his flawed attack on the NSW Greens, which he began on Friday with a manufactured preference deal that never was. Not only is Penbo refusing to correct the story, he’s actually muddying the water further by […]

  3. Said Hanrahan

    Well it looks like News Ltd’s campaign to divide and rule the left in Aus politics is going just dandy. Yes I’m looking at both Labor AND the Greens.

  4. Punch doubles down – doesn’t just refuse to retract clear untruth, actually repeats it – Pure Poison

    […] Ltd’s The Punch – edited by David Penberthy – has not only failed to retract the demonstrably untrue claim he made yesterday that the Greens “chose to direct preferences to the One Nation founder ahead of the […]

  5. Jack Sparraaggghhh

    Eponymous, I guess Gederts is referring to the same cadre of strawmen who proposed to re-use the heat from a council crematorium because of the resonance with “people who followed another creed that appealed to their totalitarian instincts.”

    They’re the ones under Gederts’ bed keeping the poor dear awake until 4am.