Yesterday the pond spilled cornflakes and milk all over A family torn apart over its own fortune. (behind the AFR paywall so you can eat your cornflakes in peace)
It was partly the quaint fun of having an actual real newspaper on the kitchen table, and partly the fun of reading about Gina Rinehart's battles with her family.
If ever anyone wanted final, convincing incontrovertible proof that money doesn't bring happiness, and that power and money have made Rinehart a deeply power-crazed and money-corrupted woman, they needn't look any further than that story.
The intrigues, spite and hate that have appeared in the court documents are remarkable and the conclusions of the experts dragged in by the AFR to comment are predictable:
McGowan (Phillip McGowan, a director of deGroots Wills and Estate laywers) describes the case as remarkable for its "level of animosity" and the time it has been in court. He says once families go to court, it's unlikely peace will ever be restored. In Rinehart's case, her family extends not only to her children but grandchildren. "My experience is it's rare, if not unique, for families to come together once these sorts of issues have been tossed about in the litigation process. I've never seen it where a family comes back together. You will get parties siding with other parties in the family and you will get that schism in some way and you know I've never seen it heal itself," he says.
So we will all be watching when the matter returns to the court for a directions hearing on April 11, on a matter that could drag on until the twelfth of never, and that's a very long time.
Meanwhile, the wild-eyed, vengeful Rinehart, accustomed to the power and lackeys money will buy, decided to take Fairfax journalist Adele Ferguson to court to reveal her sources (as you can read here in the forced video featuring lizard Oz story Gina Rinehart takes Fairfax journalist Adele Ferguson to court).
The case looks like it could become one of those Chancery cases featured in Dickens' jaundiced view of the legal world in Bleak House.
The subopoena against Ms Ferguson appears to be related to arbitration in Western Australia, with the state's Supreme Court appointing Tony Fitzgerald, QC to arbitrate the family's dispute.
Fairfax says that “Ms Ferguson has been warned: `Failure to comply with this subpoena without lawful excuse is a contempt of court and may result in your arrest'.”
Ms Ferguson told Fairfax: “As a journalist I will not ever reveal my sources, or do anything that may disclose the source of information that has been provided to me.”
Fairfax Metro editorial director Garry Linnell said the company stood with Ms Ferguson on the matter, “and support her 100 per cent.”
Now what happens if Ferguson stands by her word, refuses to reveal her sources, and is thrown into the clink for contempt of court? How will this possibly advance Rinehart's cause? Why would a major Fairfax shareholder indulge in this kind of court action?
The interesting thing arising in all this legal fuss has the way lines have been drawn in the sand.
Michael Mullins, for example, wrote in Eureka Street, under the header Gina's subpoena threatens press freedom:
Freedom of the press is about freedom to report, not to dominate. It is a value that is cherished by serious advocates of democracy and denied by totalitarian regimes. It is a complex principle that contains a range of imperatives, some of which are contained in the Media Alliance Code of Ethics. These include upholding the confidentiality of journalistic sources where confidence is requested. During the week, in which the press freedom debate has raged, this core principle of reporting has been challenged by one of Australia's up and coming media barons.
Naturally this shocked the unctuous Andrew Bolt - who day after day is sounding more and more like Uriah Heep - to his very core.
The Bolter was outraged. How dare these wretched left-wing Jesuits dare to take a view, he ranted on On the free-speech hypocrisy of Eureka Street.
In one of the more surreal sights in recent times - the Bolter is a routine supplier of surreal sights, way better than Dali - the Bolter turned all barrels on these upstarts:
Eureka Street, the Leftist magazine sponsored by the Jesuits, has been curiously silent about the Gillard Government’s latest vindictive attempt to muzzle journalists.
Is this another craven case of the Left defending not a principle but a side?
Is this another case of monstrous hypocrisy - an acquiescence to government censorship of speech the Left doesn’t like, while demanding every freedom for itself?
Craven? Monstrous hypocrisy? Defending a side?
Oh yes, it was cornflakes sprayed on the computer screen time.
Here's how to decode the Bolter's Uriah Heepness:
No, it is not about the Government attacking press freedom - the story every big media outlet in the land is covering - but about mining magnate Gina Rinehart allegedly doing so.
You see, the Gillard government is attacking the Murdoch press - innocent lambs the lot of them - in the most vicious way imaginable (well he is the son of Satan, spawned by Mao mating with Stalin), while all Gina Rinehart is "allegedly" doing is taking a journalist to court, demanding she breach her ethics, and risk getting flung into jail for upholding them.
Why it's a shocking misjudgment of a wonderful woman who just loves the Bolter's report, running on network Ten, and isn't it handy she's on the board to Ten to make it so?
Naturally the Bolter was at Rinehart's throat the moment the court action was mentioned:
First to the gratuitous insult. Rather than being “slow off the mark”, I criticised Rinehart’s action on the very day I read of it: I like Rinehart and do not understand the legal argument here, but this is not a good look for someone on the board of the company employing the journalist...
What a vicious savaging of Rinehart, with the stern comment that it wasn't a "good look".
Oh I say old chap, that lack of shaving is NAGL. What's say we spruce up and hit the town and see if we can score a couple of foxes ...
Of course what stung the Bolter was the truth:
Free speech defender Andrew Bolt, who is Rinehart's media commentator protege, was slow off the mark with a token reference.
That must have hurt, because token is as NAGL token scribbles, and somewhere along the way, the Bolter seemed to realise that NAGL was a risible response:
My point is that Rinehart is perfectly within her rights under the law to pursue this action, but Ferguson feels bound as a journalist not to comply. This puts her at risk of contempt of court, which can carry a jail sentence. For a major shareholder of Fairfax and board member at Channel 10 to take action which could ultimately see one of her company’s own journalists jailed is indeed a terrible look.
Now it's a terrible look. You now, a NATL!
Why it's gone from a tear in the stockings to way too much make-up smeared all over the face.
Hmm, surely that's going too far, way too far ...
How to trivialise the issue and defend Gina, since there's not much point being a humble lackey and supplicant, if you can't do your Uriah Heeping properly and ever so 'umbly:
But Mullins misstates what is at stake. This is not an attack on free speech, for all his sneers. Rinehart’s subpoena does not question Ferguson’s freedom to say what she has. Ferguson’s freedom to speak is simply not at issue.
Yep feel free to speak, or spend a little time in jail.
Nor is Rinehart seeking to force Ferguson to “reveal sources”, as Mullins suggests. Ferguson has already declared the source for her report is Rinehart’s son.
At issue is the confidentiality of Ferguson notes and the protection of her source, John Rinehart. Ferguson will not want to hand over any material which may (or may not) reveal he broke a confidentiality deal with his mother.
If journalists do not defend their sources our ability to get information is compromised. Ferguson is defending a tool of her trade, even if means protecting someone who may have broken a legally binding agreement to say nothing. And I would do the very same.
Uh huh, so protecting your sources isn't a high-flown principle, but a mere petty tool of trade. I guess that means the rest of the high flown rhetoric in Media Alliance Code of Ethics can be dismissed as mealy-mouthed tools of trade.
Now let's keep diminishing the Rinehart folly:
So there is a principle to defend, but it is not as grand, fundamental or ethically clear-cut as Mullins suggests.
Actually, if you think you shouldn't reveal your sources, a bit like priests refusing to reveal chats in the confessional, it can turn into a grand, fundamental and ethically clear-cut issue and principle, but as always the Bolter diminishes himself by the way he seeks to diminish the issue and support his heroine (try reading Courageous journalists being forced to reveal sources to see a comment on an issue outside the orbit of the Bolter and Rinehart love fest).
And then the argument turns positively bizarre:
Nor do we know which way the courts will decide, if it gets that far. it is for the courts, not Rinehart, to establish whether the freedom of the press is at stake, and whether it is worth defending.
Say what? It's up to the courts? WTF?
Let's just rejig that in relation to the Gillard government's media reforms:
Nor do we know which way the courts will decide, if it gets that far. it is for the courts, not Senator Conroy to establish whether the freedom of the press is at stake, and whether it is worth defending.
After all, the Bolter understands that freedom of speech must include the freedom to be a twit, and regularly sets out to prove it.
Naturally once he's managed to confuse and befuddle the issue, the Bolter gets personal and goes for the throat:
So why is Eureka Street going to town on this issue while staying silent on a far broader attack on a free press and the free speech - an attack not by an individual but by a government, and not on one journalist but all?
Well, first, of course, because Rinehart is a wicked miner and Ferguson, a Leftist journalist from Fairfax, is “one of us”.
That is not a mere jibe. Mullins himself declares: By way of disclaimer, Adele Ferguson’s partner is a member of the board of Jesuit Communications, publisher of Eureka Street.
No, it's not a mere jibe. It's a pathetic, wretched jibe.
This isn't, or shouldn't, be about left v. right, it should be about the issue at hand, but as always, the Bolter can only see the world in black and white, and as a hammer, he can only see nails. Yes Gina Rinehart loves her hammer.
As for the rest of it, it's full of paranoia, anger and resentment, cultivated over the years, though surely set aside when sobbing into a provocative red wine over a tear-stimulating opera (oh that the Bolter should be tormented like Tosca):
Second, the Gillard Government is Left-wing, out to punish the wickedly conservative Murdoch media, employer of the evil Andrew Bolt mentioned above.
Again, that is not a casual insult.
Eureka Street is not at all the defender of free speech it suddenly pretends to be. It actually supports limiting free speech when it is exercised by a conservative.
It is of course a casual, indolent, careless insult.
What's worse, it leads to the insufferable Bolter bleating on once again how unfair it is that he isn't allowed to abuse people while getting his facts wrong and rabbiting on about "so-called 'white Aborigines" like a bee with no brain still buzzing away in the bottle.
You've heard it all before, over and over and over again, that insufferable piety about the long persecuted, long suffering Bolter.
"I've been silence" he shrieks, armed with a huge megaphone and several major media platforms and never able to shut up for a nanosecond, and nobody loves me or stands up for my right to blather, while blathering on every day ...
So let's just cut to the capper:
Reader Roman makes an excellent point, part of which I have now worked into my piece above:
Andrew, I think you are wrong in your position regarding Gina and the action she has taken. It is not up to individual citizens (whether company board members or not) to consider whether their legal actions have the potential to place another at risk of contempt of court. We all have a right to access the court system to address grievances involving other parties. It is up to the court to decide if the right to privilege of confidentiality, held by the journalist, is worthy of preservation in each case. Let the parties argue their cases in court - and let the court follow precedent, or create new case law in the process. The law does not exclude Rinehart from taking action.
Is it possible to find a more pathetic example of the desperate need to fawn?
Borrowing from a reader to dress up an argument, and proposing that the law doesn't exclude Rinehart from taking action, as if this somehow makes her taking the action she's taken right?
Now that Godwin's Law has been thrown out the window by News Limited, is it wrong to point out there there was nothing in the law excluding Adolf Hitler from taking the actions he took to get himself appointed Chancellor of Germany? But did it make those actions right, or even sensible? Well maybe they were fine by Hitler, and maybe Rinehart and the Bolter are fine with her use of the law, but ...
Why do acolytes always feel the need to apologise and explain away the actions of their patrons? When everybody else can see that there are a lot of emperors wandering around with bugger all in the way of clothes ...
The excellent news is that at last Network Ten has come to its senses and replaced the Bolter today with a car race.
They could have scheduled him a little earlier, but they just got rid of him for the day, and no doubt the ratings will improve. Who wants to waste a Sunday listening to ranters of the raving ratbag right kind rant on and on?
The pond can say proudly that it has never ever watched The Bolt Report, or any part thereof, and the world has gone on, and possibly even seemed a tad happier ...
Ten could improve their ratings every Sunday - why not drag Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles over from multi-channel 11 for starters?
At least those mutants like eating pizza, rather than sounding like one stuffed with irrational, paranoid, defensive cheese.
But no doubt the cosy relationship between the Bolter and Rinehart will continue ...
The downside is that as a result the Bolter has filled his blog today so that it's overflowing with even more drivel than usual - three cheers for Piers "Akker Dakker" Akerman, Muslim bashing, having beaten up the Jews himself the day before, a carbon tax rant (yes Whyalla's been wiped off the map), climate science is wrong, and only the Bolter knows, and so on and on ... like an Xmas stocking drooping under the weight of hideous compound chocolate ...
Eat even a little and you'll make yourself sick.
A kindly reader invited the pond to read the Bolter, but forget the cheese and compound chockie and pizza metaphors.
Really that's like an invitation to dine on self-seeking, self-serving, aggrandising, paranoid, illogical, irrational, fear-mongering arsenic ...
(Below: remember not too many sleeps to a very important day, and it's astonishing who you can find wearing the ribbon in support of the day).