Saturday, 3 November 2012

The propensity of politicians to sue

A glance at a dictionary would show you that a Sydney Morning Herald story used an inappropriate word to describe Martin Ferguson's role in renegotiating the mining tax after the sacking of Kevin Rudd. Take the word used literally and you would think that the resources minister had arranged things with mining companies for his own personal financial advantage. It is the kind of word that as a journalist conscious of the need not to needlessly defame people you would hope toavoid even if it was used by the person whose views you were reporting.
Having done far worse things during 50+ years in journalism, far be it from me to caste a stone especially as the context of the article makes it clear, to me anyway, that Rob Oakeshott did not think that the offending word had its dictionary meaning. How much better it would have been if he had responded to the letter from Martin Feguson's law firm's letter by admitting his error rather than complaining about legal intimidation.
And how much better still if the minister had picked up the phone and rung the independent MP before deciding on a duel by lawyers at 20 paces.
The only winner in this sorry little story is Prime Minister Julia Gillard who intervened to stop the mountain being made over the verbal molehill.

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