A journalist with an agenda

Comment and compilation
By Barry Tucker                    19 September, 2013

An ABC radio presenter and wife of a former* News Corp editor appears to be running a vendetta against Schapelle Corby.

Miss Corby was sentenced to 20 years jail in Indonesia in 2005 for attempting to import 4.2 kg of cannabis, concealed in her boogie board bag. She has always maintained her innocence. Ms Corby was in the news again recently due to reports of further steps being taken to have her released on parole.

Three days ago the independent Mathaba News Agency reported on a column in Brisbane’s The Courier-Mail (News Corp) by ABC journalist and presenter Madonna King.

The story was headlined “Don’t be fooled by Schapelle Corby’s misguided fan club”.

Ms King’s husband, David Fagan, was* until recently the editor of The Courier-Mail. Ms King has a regular column in the paper and has written about Ms Corby on a number of occasions. She is the joint author, with Cindy Wockner, of “Bali 9: The Untold Story”. Ms Wockner is a freelance journalist who also writes for News Corp publications. Ms King and Ms Wockner have Twitter accounts.

What could be Ms King’s reason for running a vendetta against Schapelle Corby? She is not the only Australian journalist who appears to be anxious to maintain the impression in the public mind that Ms Corby is guilty as charged. These journalists and authors also maintain that claims Ms Corby’s boogie board bag was being used by a ring of drug smugglers operating in Australian airports are a fiction. Ms Corby’s defenders claim that corrupt activities at Australian airports are being covered up to hide embarrassing details about slack security arrangements.

Madonna King

Madonna King

Ms King appears to have something of an obsession with Schapelle Corby’s looks. She refers to her doe-eyed appearance, as if Ms Corby is using her wide-eyed innocence to hide guilt.

In The Courier-Mail column linked above, Ms King makes a comparison between Schapelle and Renae Lawrence, one of the Bali 9.

“Her case, just as heartbreaking for her family as Corby’s is to hers, doesn’t rank the same attention or sympathy,” Ms King writes.

“Could that be because she’s not as attractive as Corby?”

Could it be that Ms King is envious of Schapelle Corby’s looks? A cartoon accompanying her column mocks Ms Corby’s wide-eyed facial features. It’s not an attractive look when a newspaper ridicules and humiliates the defenceless, but that is the kind of low journalism we have come to expect from the Murdoch news media.

Using the law to hound, imprison or bankrupt political enemies has become the standard tool of neoConservative politics, one that has been effectively used by the Australian Liberal Party under its leader, Tony Abbott.

The news media behaviour in the Corby case has always reminded me of the Lindy Chamberlain case. Mrs Chamberlain (as she was then) claimed her baby, Azaria, was taken by a dingo at the Uluru (Ayers Rock) camp site. The bulk of the news media assumed Mrs Chamberlain was guilty, evidence was mishandled, auto paint was misidentified as human blood. It took decades and a number of retrials and inquiries before Mrs Chamberlain was proven to be innocent.

See also Was Schapelle Corby “sacrificed”? in this blog. That story contains links to The Expendable Project and other sources.

CORRECTION (22 September, 2013): This article originally referred to Ms King’s husband, David Fagan, as being the Editor of The Courier-Mail. News Corp announced his “removal” from the position of Queensland Editorial Director on June 13, 2013. He was previously Editor of The Courier-Mail. See this ABC News item for further details.