David Penberthy

Apr 4, 2011

Penbo muddies the water

Today in the Punch David Penberthy continues with his flawed attack on the NSW Greens, which he began

Today in the Punch 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 reinterpreting his own words from Friday.

The Greens are taking The Punch to the Press Council over my column of last Friday accusing them of pushing Pauline Hanson ahead of the ALP by refusing a preference swap with Labor at last weekend’s NSW election.

No Penbo, that’s not what you said on Friday. Here it is once more, in case you’d forgotten:

To the enduring disgust of the Labor Party, the Greens chose to direct preferences to the One Nation founder

You didn’t accuse the Greens of “pushing Pauline Hanson ahead” Penbo, you stated as fact that “the Greens chose to direct preferences to the One Nation founder”. It appears that Penberthy has decided to invoke the Humpty Dumpty defence “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”, because there’s no other way to explain away the fact that he was completely wrong on Friday, and is refusing to admit it.


Hilariously, Penberthy now accuses the Greens of preferring:

…a pedantic discussion about their on-paper refusal to distribute preferences, rather than any debate over the actual impact of their refusing a preference deal with the ALP.

Apparently at The Punch, accuracy is now considered pedantic. If Penberthy wants to have a discussion about the impact of the major parties not engaging in preference deals to lock out smaller parties then let’s do so, but that discussion needs to include the ALP and the Liberal party, who each have a lot more voters they can advise on preference distribution than the Greens do. If the ALP were so concerned about Pauline Hanson they could have directed their voters to put the Greens second in the LC, even if the Greens didn’t reciprocate, but they chose not to.

As we mentioned in an update to an earlier post on this issue, the article by Mark Kenny has been edited to remove the false assertion that the Greens preferenced Hanson, which Penberthy explains was:

re-worded … after the party complained to avoid an ongoing stoush.

There’s no correction on Kenny’s piece, or any indication that it’s been changed post publication. We’re not talking about fixing up an errant apostrophe here, it’s a pretty big claim that’s been sent down the memory hole without acknowledgement on the original piece.

Perhaps even more worrying though is the caviller disregard that Penberthy appears to have for the Press Council.

If the Press Council rules against us we will happily publish its ruling on the site, as we have done in the past.

If, the Press Council rules against us? If? Is Penberthy seriously suggesting that the Press Council may find in his favour, despite the Greens complaint being about a claim that is demonstrably false? If Penberthy is unconcerned with being censured by the Press Council, doesn’t that seem to indicate that it’s not actually doing its job? If there are no serious consequences for refusing to correct false statements, then what incentive does our press have to strive for any kind of accuracy in their reporting?

In light of Penberthy’s refusal to back down it’s fascinating to speculate whether the original error has come about because the authors didn’t understand the differences between a Federal Senate election, where every party must submit a preference ticket to the AEC for preference distribution, and the NSW Legislative Council, where preferences are entirely at the whim of the voters, who can indicate multiple preferences above the line. What would be more embarrassing for two senior News Limited journalists, admitting that they’d made stuff up about the Greens, or that they didn’t understand the differences between electoral systems that they’re commenting on? Curiouser and curiouser.


18 thoughts on “Penbo muddies the water

  1. SHV

    cavil v. to quibble or make petty objections
    (cavilled, cavilling)

    cavalier adj. arrogant or offhand

    In the case of Penbo it’s a safe bet that you meant to use the adjective rather than a version of the verb.

    You could just change it without any need to mention the change. But if you did that, you could easily predict the cavilled reaction of those lying scum from news ltd.

  2. CJ Morgan

    @ 15:

    I suppose it’s to the Punch’s credit that they’re publishing them – although I’m wondering if it’s a tactic to mitigate the Press Council complaint… Something like, “strictly speaking we knowingly publish bullshit, but we also publish comments that criticise us for it”? Freedom of speech and all that.

    Maybe I’m too cynical.

  3. Daniel

    David “Penbo, The Big Berthy, Penbonator, Daveberthy” Penberthy

  4. monkeywrench

    It cheers me that the majority of comments at The Punch are giving Penberthy a shellacking.

  5. quantize

    [email protected]

    that’ll never ever happen while money runs the show

  6. marylew

    The toothlessness of the self regulation of the Newspaper and TV media in this country I think is one of the large reasons that people feel the need to defend themselves against the media in ways I personally don’t agree with. Case in point Bolt’s.

    The media have in many regards only themselves to blame for what is, in my opinion, attempts to limit free speech. If the media acted responsibly and disciplined it’s members properly (and promptly) for the incidents of outrageous conduct that occur within it then in all likelihood citizens with the means probably wouldn’t feel the need to try and shut them down.

  7. shepherdmarilyn

    Well this morning on the ABC website I saw quite a few stories regurgitated from Newsltd. papers without being fact checked or anything else.

    In the book about Dr Haneff the auther made the point tht our media these days read the OO online and run with the stories themselves later.

    I mean they are letting Amanda Vanstone pretend she was the voice of moderation in the liberal Howard government and letting her have a column to claim it, in the fairfax papers that is.

    As for the PC, they don’t do thing about factually wrong stories.

    If they did they would not have ignored the tonnes of evidence proving that giving refugees a ride is not people smuggling and someone would have been asked to stop it.

    Instead Jack Herman told me 4 years ago when I sent the evidence that they would not even discuss it because they had taken a position already from the government.

    They are a pathetic disgrace, the media are useless and so we have hundreds of destitute Indonesian fishermen being sent to prison for not people smuggling.

    The transcripts of the court cases make it very clear.

    it is ignored because the media is the press council and vice versa.

  8. quantize

    How long before we see on the ABC ‘The opposition says’….regurgitating this bullshit.

    This is THE problem with most conservative writing in Australia. It’s crap based on rubbish…repeated enough, becomes ‘facts’ then we get their idiots posting it here.

  9. returnedman

    And thus begins a series of posts of guffaw-provoking photoshopping …

  10. The Magical Liopleurodon

    Well if nothing else, he is trashing his credibility among those who actually pay attention to this stuff.

  11. Firstdog


  12. monkeywrench

    Penberthy writhes around like a fish on hot sand trying to save face; why doesn’t he just admit he “got it wrong” wink wink, and apologise? Now he’s just looking foolish.
    Great photoshop again, Dave.

  13. quantize

    but will our toothless, aimless, pointless Press Council do anything?

    the guy lied.. now he’s desperately trying to throw smoke up.

    If this gets through, then there simply aren’t any standards to speak of in Australian journalism (perhaps thats a given)

  14. CJ Morgan

    It’s classic disinformation. Plant a factoid and let it go viral.

    I’m truly astounded at Penberthy’s gall. Has anybody contacted Media Watch?

  15. Bellistner

    In The Sunday Mail/birdcage liner, @penbo claims he never buys his Fruit and Veg at the big supermarkets. I ask if this makes him a ‘urbanite, latte-sipping elitist’, and thus becomes the natural sworn enemy on one Mr Bolt?

  16. confessions

    [Journalists that don’t understand the electoral system shouldn’t write articles about it.]

    via Possum on twitter. Unfortunately ignorance has never been a barrier to getting stuff published at News.

    Nice photoshopping btw! 😆

  17. Dave Gaukroger

    And thus begins ‘conventional wisdom’.

  18. Angra

    Dave – on ABC News 24 this morning there was a NSW Lib member repeating the claim that the Greens had preferenced Hanson. Thus the Greens must be supporting Hanson ?!?

    He wasn’t taken to task.

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