Aged reporter accuses Vic premier of deception, but then has second thoughts


With the Victoria election due in about three weeks and the incumbent government looking all set to go wild, the state’s media are resorting to every tactic in the book to push their wheelbarrows.

It is probably this kind of approach that led Paul Sakkal, political reporter for ageaccusing Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews of making an “extraordinary and misleading statement” when the latter issued a statement on a report by the state’s broad-based Independent Anti-Corruption Commission.

Sakkal apparently had doubts about his comments, as he deleted the tweet in question. But deleting such things from Twitter does not always guarantee that they will be gone, as can be seen in the image below.

[Full disclosure: I worked for the website of The Age for nearly 17 years, from June 1999 until May 2016.]

But let me not put the cart before the horse. Sakkal’s tweet came in the week of a report he testified last week claiming that Andrews had been questioned by the IBAC as part of an investigation into suspicions of corruption.

He was gathering information for a follow-up, but when he sent questions to Andrews’ office and a few others, the IBAC obtained an injunction to stop the story from being published. age then tried to have the injunction lifted, but was unsuccessful. The newspaper was clearly offended by this, as it published an editorial claiming that this type of blocking was not in the interest of the people of the state.

tweet sakkal

The commission then suggested that laws be put in place to make it an offense for journalists to publish anything about its investigations before they are made public. andrew said he has no intention of going down this road.

On Saturday, Andrews released a statement in which he said “regardless of any slander, innuendo or media reporting based on unnamed sources,” he would not comment on any IBAC matters outside of the commission’s final reports.

And he added: “I act appropriately at all times and in all things. This is the oath I have taken and I take it very seriously.”

Andrews’ statement was tweeted by ABC reporter Bridget Rollason, and it was in response to this that Sakkal’s rather misguided tweet was sent.

As I commented an earlier occasion, agethe smaller of Victoria’s two main newspapers — the other is Rupert Murdoch’s sun herald — has always strived to project himself as impartial in his coverage, a claim he also made ahead of the federal election in May.

During the federal election in May, the editor of ageGay Alcorn, wrote in one of his letters to subscribers [which for some curious reason was placed behind a paywall] that the paper had not moved to the right.

This was to counter the fact that many people believe that the newspaper – and its fellow stablemates at Nine Entertainment, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review — tend to lean to the right as the chairman of Nine is Peter Costello, the former federal treasurer under John Howard for 11 years.

Sakkal called me as soon as he received an email I had sent asking for his opinion on the matter. He said he didn’t want to say anything for publication.

Maybe age should exercise some restraint on journalists who tend to become emotionally involved in their reporting.


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