Fairfax’s environment editor Ben Cubby plays the fool with passion and feeling in a strange incident where he unquestioningly repeated dubious claims by an anti-Semitic climate group and then dared to question our scrutiny of his folly. Hilarity ensued.
Ben Cubby is the “environment editor” of the Sydney Morning Herald, whose work occasionally appears in Al Age, reporting on environmental issues, or perhaps cheering on environmentalists’ issues as critics claim is frequently the case with “environmental reporters.”
CUBBY IN THE HOUSE
Apparently slightly less unhinged than the average eco-reporter, Sydney sources had insisted, Ben Cubby has nonetheless stumbled into an unfortunate and embarrassing incident where he falsely asserted that nationally-syndicated Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt was an “adviser” to a climate-conspiracist group whose leaders seem to advance a vile anti-Semitic conspiracy theory relating to “banking families.”
Cubby’s source? The very same “Galileo” site Cubby denounced as dodgy and unreliable and that ignored scientific consensus (surely itself one day to become a thoughtcrime). Given that it’s not true, Cubby’s face must be the deepest workers-of-the-world-red, you’d think.
But as we’ll see, it’s not just those who hate Jews, doubt the Holocaust or think climate science is an invention by Jewish bankers who could be called “deniers”.
Ben Cubby is in denial too. His defence was that he merely reported the fact this group had listed Bolt as an “adviser.” Of course, as Fairfax defamation lawyers could have told him, that’s certainly no defence to a defamation (to repeat what someone else said constitutes publishing it) lawsuit and nor does it approach even the lowest level of journalistic integrity or activity which at its heart is about verification.
As for the lunar group “Galileo”, it’s clear there really hasn’t been any original thought in the viciously anti-Semitic movement since the 1930s. It’s always those “banking families” up to good, they reckon. You can guess the religious background of the “banking families.” Sickening, moronic stuff.
SHOULDN’T IT MATTER THAT FAIRFAX PUBLISHES LIES?
Bolt – frequently the target of unthinking demonisation in the Fairfax/ABC editorial/political complex – made it clear that he had no association with this group, and said he was embarrassed to be connected to this kind of unpleasantness and set out his communication with the loon in charge.
The highly-regarded columnist made clear his displeasure about Fairfax’s treatment of the matter:
I note The Age has loved associating me with this movement and these comments, without going to the bother of asking me what my association really was. Only too delighted for the chance to smear.
We thought it an event no more notable than to earn a quick link from our strangely popular VEXNEWS news headline service.
Describing Fairfax’s falsehoods as fibs seemed not unreasonable in the circumstances. Many other words could have been used: deceitful, thuggish, lazy, unethical, corrupt journalism or simply downright hilariously stupid and hypocritical or even enough to justify a resignation letter. But we just called the false claims “fibs.” Like a microwaved meat pie, we must be going soft.
And yet it was obviously a sore point with Cubby in his house as he came out swinging, effectively identifying himself as the fibber-in-question. Not since Warren Beatty v Carly Simon had such tomfoolery arisen.
You’d think that would be the end of it given that essentially Cubby accused Bolt of being involved as an adviser to a group advancing anti-Semitic hate theories when that was plainly not the case. We presumed Bolt would seek and get a quick apology and everyone would move on.
What had happened was that Cubby had seen Bolt’s name on their strange little website listed as an adviser and he – and a supposedly quality broadsheet newspaper – accepted it at face-value. A rather lazy and stupid error given the dubious nature of the source and given that Andrew Bolt is easily contacted for verification. Once it might have been career-limiting.
We were on the verge of letting it go, figuring that we had enough disputes on without weighing in for someone who can defend himself much better than I can. After all, his show is now regularly besting Insiders on the ABC on the ratings, which is consistently the best current affairs show on the public broadcaster.
Indeed, we don’t agree with Andrew Bolt on everything and I cannot imagine he agrees with everything we put on VEXNEWS. For example, we certainly don’t agree that racial vilification laws ought be abolished, a position we note that’s been adopted today by Tony Abbott in a speech to the Institute of Public Affairs. Equally, we believe the Federal Court judgment that deemed Bolt a racial vilifier to be utterly incorrect. The Federal Court judge – a former ALP member who leaned to the Left – ought never have heard the case, in our view.
Holocaust deniers, repeaters of the vile conspiracy theories that have underpinned much anti-Semitism for many decades have no place in civil society or discourse. Their right to free speech is no greater than protecting the rights of the evil to scream “fire” in a crowded nightclub. That’s our view. Certainly, we don’t like his dredging up of dubious old stories on the PM that imply she is an embezzler. She’s not. She wasn’t. Plenty to disagree about.
So, in our quest for truth and justice, we tried our best to get Cubby to see how silly a failure to verify factual claims could be:
He didn’t at all like being called out on his failure to perform basic functions as a journalist so like a kid with a stick, he kept whacking away at the VEXNEWS (European, naturally) wasp nest.
So a little war of words ensued.
And it continued with Cubby continuing to deny that he’d done anything wrong by blindly accepting as fact a claim made on a conspiracy theorist’s website about their claimed associations.
Hopefully he meant his expressed enthusiasm (pictured below left) for a one-world eco-socialist government in jest, although with Fairfax environment “editors,” one cannot be sure.
As at time of publication, Cubby has still declined to apologise for his errors.
It was a serious mistake and one that in days gone by would have been enough to get Cubby sacked.
Columinst Mike Carlton repeated his error:
Australia’s very own Galileo Movement of crackpot deniers (patron Alan Jones, booster-in-chief Andrew Bolt) fears that evil forces are at work. The Galileo manager, Malcolm Roberts, assured the Herald’s environment editor, Ben Cubby, this week that climate science had been captured by “some of the major banking families in the world” who form “a tight-knit cabal”.
In Rightspeak, I understand, that’s code for the Great Jewish Conspiracy which, as everyone should know, also controls the international drug trade and was responsible for starting both world wars. It’s all there in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Even by VEXNEWS standards, calling someone part of an anti-Semitic nutter group is pretty heavy stuff. That Mike Carlton accepted it unquestioningly shows he presumed Ben Cubby had discharged his duties and done the research we once expected from broadsheet reporters.
Standards have slipped. Market forces will soon enough do what SMH editorial management won’t.