It has been a week of extraordinary events which began with the deleting of a Glenn Milne article in the online edition of The Australian and publication of an apology to the Prime Minister.
The action was part of a series of defensive measures which threaten free speech in this country. The most dramatic public event was the publication of the brief post, below, as Andrew Bolt closed down his blog. Today, Bolt explains what has taken place.
No politics until further notice. Principles to weigh up. Faith to keep. Sorry.
Afrer discussions, I now feel free to speak my mind. So I shall. In tomorrow’s column. I apologise for the mysteriousness, but I did not want to act in anger or before matters had been resolved. I had to be fair to my employer and to my readers, and I apologise if you think I’ve had the balance wrong over the past 24 hours.
Thank you to everyone who has rung, emailed or commented on this post, here and on radio.
How Gillard tried to kill a story
The Prime Minister overstepped the line when she called the chairman and CEO of News Limited, John Hartigan.
Calls that look like an attempt at censorship have many sinister overtones, with threats of inquiries and forced sales left hanging in the air.
And I ask her: What are you so afraid of? What else would you stoop to in order to cling to power?
Yesterday morning I was considering resigning as a News Limited columnist.
I thought this company that I love, that I have long admired for its defence of free speech, had caved in to pressure from a Prime Minister to close down reporting of a matter of public interest.
That matter was Gillard’s former relationship, professional and romantic, with union official Bruce Wilson who, unknown to her, was ripping off employers and members of the Australian Workers Union, of which he was state secretary.
I was under instructions not to comment on this myself, after I wrote about it on my blog on Saturday, until further legal advice was received.
Posts from my blog were pulled on Monday, although I believe they were fair, accurate and in the public interest.
Worse, The Australian newspaper, also part of News Limited, on Monday removed from its website a column by Glenn Milne – also referring to Gillard’s past relationship – that had appeared in the morning paper.
In its place, the paper ran an apology for Milne’s “assertions about the conduct of the Prime Minister” and said they were “untrue”. Nor did this silencing of debate affect only News Limited. Presenter Michael Smith, of Sydney’s 2UE, owned by Fairfax Media, was also silenced.
Smith had received a statutory declaration from Bob Kernohan, a former AWU state president, detailing Wilson’s frauds from 1992 to 1995.
But again questions are raised about Gillard’s judgment in having had this relationship, and Smith last weekend pre-recorded a half-hour interview to explore them. He had lawyers clear it to avoid any risk of defamation.
But on Monday, while Smith was on air, his radio station cancelled the interview. It banned him from running it on Tuesday, too.
Here’s how all this came about.
Read “How Gillard tried to kill a story” at Andrew Bolt’s blog