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FAKING HELL: Left-wing email newsletter’s deputy editor caught out fabricating facts

jasonwhittakerfakingit On Friday, VEXNEWS broke the story of the unceremonious sacking of Glenn Milne, bantam-weight pugnacious little slugger who was well past his prime, by News Limited, the world’s greatest media company.

All very amusing stuff and a source of delight across the political spectrum, for Milne pretended to dress to the right at times and is married to a well-accomplished lobbyist lady regarded as one of the better ones around the nation’s capital. She once worked for Crosby Textor and is the thought to be a Lib and Milne was therefore presumed by some to be that way.

Not necessarily the case, patriot Gallery insiders opine. His views were definitely of the latte sipper kind, at least compared with, say, a Dennis Shanahan.

Let us not be distracted by yesterday’s man too long before we rip into yesterday’s left-wing email newsletter, which we reluctantly name as Crikey.

Crikey has been ripping off – without attribution or credit – VEXNEWS and our predecessor blog the OC  for many years.

And it did so again on Friday, quickly dropping in the story about Milne’s departure and adding in something we didn’t have.

They claimed yesterday that Fairfax stalwart Shaun Carney was to take over Milne’s gig. Nonsense.

Strewth in The Australian took out the baseball bat of freedom, reporting the that The Ageista wasn’t going anywhere:

IT’S the small details that can really make an article, such as the line in Crikey yesterday that The Age’s Shaun Carney had “announced to a shocked News Limited press suite” that after 25 years at the Pravda-on-the-Yarra, he was crossing over to work for The Sunday Telegraph and other Sabbath day papers in the News empire. Rather than shocked, the News Limited press suite was a bit more on the bemused side: the new recruit is actually former Oz scribe Simon Kearney. As The Sunday Tele editor Neil Breen told Strewth, “It’s totally hilarious. And I’m sure Shaun Carney got as big a laugh out of it as me.” Carney tried to take it in his stride, telling us, “The only disturbing part was the suggestion that I had already moved, which led to the past-tense reference: `Carney was associate editor . . .’. Very disconcerting, like reading my obituary.”

The Australian is of course right Simon Kearney (pronounced Carney) is in fact the highly respected successor to the Milne.

The fact that the names sound the same was sufficient to trigger a comedy of errors and blatant journalistic fraud that appeared in the left-wing email newsletter on Friday.

It appears the left-wing email newsletter’s ‘Deputy Editor’ Jason Whittaker – who has recently moved from Brisbane to Melbourne – must have misheard the Simon for Shaun and the Carney for Kearney. It appears his creative writing instincts took over from that point as he embarrassingly wrote (a couple of hours after our yarn):

Glenn Milne boned from News? The automated email response from News Limited gallery hack Glenn Milne delivered the news: “Please be advised that as of the 13/03/2010 I no longer work for News Limited Sunday Papers, I still work for The Australian.” Milne is directing correspondents to a Gmail account, presumably because his role at News is now as Australian column contributor only.

So what’s happened? The veteran Canberra reporter had been dishing the political dirt for the Sunday tabloids — including The Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Herald Sun and The Sunday Mail (Brisbane and Adelaide) — catching Kevin Rudd at a New York strip club, and swearing at MPs, exposing Greg Combet’s love life, uncovering Jan McLucas’ travel rorts and other salacious scoops prowling the halls of parliament house on Saturdays. It seems all that digging got too tiresome for the man Paul Keating dubbed the ‘The Poison Drawf’ (and that was before his celebrated run-in with Crikey founder Stephen Mayne at the 2006 Walkley Awards). Milne couldn’t be reached for comment. [VEXNEWS: Worth noting that two of four notable Milne yarns, the Rudd swearing and Greg Combet’s piece were VEXNEWS stories first, we are first with the worst]

Crikey understands his replacement has already started work. Shaun Carney has defected from Fairfax — after almost 25 years at The Age — and last week announced to a shocked News Limited press suite he would now be filing for the Sunday titles. Fairfax didn’t respond to questions before deadline. [VEXNEWS: LOL, they were probably too confused by his email, they might have tried ringing Shaun but clearly there was no time for that given that we’d waited til very late in their deadline cycle to put up our yarn]

Carney was an associate editor and senior columnist with the Melbourne newspaper. He’s written two books, including a biography on federal Treasurer Peter Costello — ironic given Milne was seen as Costello’s biggest supporter in the press gallery. — Jason Whittaker

How very embarrassing for Whittaker who appears to have:

■  Stolen the Milne story from VEXNEWS which just prior to their deadline had already done the rounds of Twitter;

■  Confirmed it only by sending the Milne-clown an email, getting an automated out-of-office reply;

■ Heard gossip that it was someone ‘Carney’ getting the job replacing Milne;

■  Used Google to find out what little he could about the wrong bloke; and

■  Made up the rest in an effort that would have made Jeffrey Archer of Kane & Abel and perjury fame proud.

In most publications, that little effort would be enough to get anyone calling themselves a journalist sacked. But the young Queenslander is probably safe in the corrupt little world created by Eric Beecher. His conduct not exactly without precedent at the left-wing email newsletter.

The fact that they’re still running the bizarre ramblings of newsletter founder and now local government politician Stephen Mayne about the goings-on in his little municipality says more about their descent into oblivion than any of the mistaken fictional writings of their ‘Deputy Editor.’

But this is the kind of activity going on at the email newsletter. Their pretensions at quality are best summed up by the twenty-seven year old Whittaker’s tweets earlier this month:

I am such a shithouse writer. I have the ability to craft decent prose but it’s like pulling teeth; so laborious. WHY CAN’T IT JUST FLOW?!


Today in @crikey_news I put Tony Abbott’s head on budgie-smuggling male models. As a journo, couldn’t be more proud…

And yet on the chap’s own website the errorist and former regular contributor to the “Supply Chain Review” is less than modest about his own greatness:

A journalist; an accomplished news reporter and experienced cross-platform editorial manager. A writer; able to produce crisp editorial copy and engaging longer-form pieces. A participant; broadly curious and deeply engaged in public affairs and debate.

I am passionate about the craft and want to shape its future; a student of the business of media and changing reporting models. I am a fully-equipped digital journalist, a convergence convert, with an excellent grasp of the trends and applications driving new and social media.

He left out fiction-writing from the CV, a shame because it’s clearly a strength.

Meanwhile a real journalist Simon Kearney looks like a very promising pick-up for the Sunday News Limited titles. A very well-experienced scribe and described promisingly by a former colleague as ‘an excellent digger’ he has returned from Singapore where he worked for a billionaire on various do-gooding projects. Prior to that he’s reported from the Canberra Press Gallery, was chief-of-staff at the Sunday Telegraph (a position currently occupied by Shari Markson, daughter of Max) and hails from Tasmania originally.


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  1. In view of some of the stuff run on this website posing as facts I assume this posting is ironic. S0 dear Danny (I’m still hiding from the Fatwa) I LOL and ROFL

    Posted by Duruttti | March 20, 2010, 17:35
  2. PS When freedom rings…do you answer?

    Posted by Duruttti | March 20, 2010, 17:37
  3. How is this different from when my homosexual, alcoholic, coke loving former staffer, Christian Kerr, worked at Crikey? His alter ego smeared many of my colleagues and factional enemies.

    Personally I’d rather be smeared in nutella and thrown to a pack of toothless mincing poodles to be licked clean.

    He printed any crap that I wanted him to and didn’t receive any payment from me. Although I did dress up as Hillary Bray a couple of times to give him a thrill as I went down on him.

    Posted by Pisstopher Chryne | March 20, 2010, 17:40
  4. Of course, this is a kind of a backhand compliment. Crikey readers should save their time and visit this site. I like Vex because it reminds of the red-tops in London (lol).

    Posted by Ben | March 21, 2010, 9:41
  5. I’ll give Crikey one gold star – for employing someone who is obviously on the supported wage scheme.

    Posted by tHE jOKER | March 21, 2010, 22:32
  6. Whittaker is clearly not up to par – though the Supply Chain Review sounds like a ripping good read – and nor, under Sophie Black, is crikey.

    Posted by flaubert | March 22, 2010, 20:02
  7. Crikey’s main problem now is it is just so damn boring!

    In trying to take itself seriously in the money-making department, it renders itself a fizzle. No big scoops, no real fun…they write but all I can see is blah blah blah.

    Posted by tHE jOKER | March 22, 2010, 22:35
  8. Without first dog on the moon Crikey would be dead

    Posted by First dog fan | March 25, 2010, 6:22