Not even a close relationship with News Corp co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch and his wife Sarah could save Christopher Dore’s career at the company after his alleged drunken behaviour in California last month.
According to sources, senior executives at News Corp had witnessed highly inappropriate, drunken behaviour by Dore, long before his attendance at a party at Laguna Beach which the Guardian understands led to him losing his job.
The alleged drunken behaviour at the WSJ Tech Live event hosted by News Corp’s global chief, Robert Thomson, and executives from Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, was the last straw, sources told Weekly Beast.
When Dore was editor of the Daily Telegraph in 2016 he attended a New Year’s Eve party, described by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull in his autobiography A Bigger Picture.
“We held a New Year’s Eve party at Kirribilli House (at my own expense) and watched the fireworks from the governor general’s lawn – apart from a tirade of drunken abuse from one of Murdoch’s editors, it was a congenial evening,” Turnbull wrote.
Several sources said Dore was the editor in question and he was “incoherently drunk” at the party, which was also attended by the Australian’s then editor Paul Whittaker and his wife, and the chairman of News Corp’s Herald and Weekly Times group (and Rupert Murdoch’s niece) Penny Fowler.
It is understood that at least some of the “drunken abuse” Dore meted out was directed at the prime minister himself, at the gathering attended by friends, media executives, several members of Turnbull’s ministry and staff.
Despite this allegedly inappropriate drunken behaviour at the governor general’s official Sydney residence being apparently well known at Holt Street, Dore was promoted to editor-in-chief of the national broadsheet in 2018, the fourth Murdoch masthead he edited in his 31-year career.
The company says that Dore quit due to ill health. Two days after the shock announcement editor Michelle Gunn told staff she understood they were “feeling heavy of heart” after Dore left due to “personal health issues”.
“Chris wants you all to know that he is going to be OK,” Gunn said. “And he knows that you all join me in sending him every good wish.”
Weekly Beast has contacted Dore and News Corp separately for comment but has not received a response.
Good wishes may not have been so forthcoming, however, at The Walkleys last week. Michelle Gunn had been slated to present the Walkley award for Outstanding Contribution to Journalism at the gala event, as the category was sponsored by News Corp Australia.
But at the last minute, well into the awards ceremony, Gunn pulled out, and News Corp executive Nicholas Gray was a late draftee.
Gunn has not responded to a request for comment on why the sudden change. The winner of the category was Sally Neighbour, the former executive producer of Four Corners, who is not exactly a favourite of the Murdoch masthead.
Neighbour – along with reporter Louise Milligan – has been the subject of relentless criticism in the Australian, including being targeted in a vicious editorial last year.
“Many senior people at the Australian know well the work, the habits and the hubris of Sally Neighbour and Louise Milligan,” the editorial said about the journalists who both worked for the paper.
The Walkleys chief executive, Shona Martyn, told Beast: “Certainly Michelle was down to present it and it changed to Nicholas Gray. But I wouldn’t be able to say that she backed out because she didn’t want to hand it to her.”
Tick of disapproval
Nine News and Today sports presenter Tony Jones was interrupted by his own Apple watch while reporting on the World Cup this week, stopping the live broadcast briefly to tap his watch and say “stupid watch”.
Jones later told Neil Mitchell on 3AW he hadn’t worked out how to turn it off before going on air.
“It was someone who … is heavily involved in the state election who was phoning me to let me know some information about a particular story,” Jones said.
After 40 years on television, Tracy Grimshaw bowed out on Thursday with an episode that celebrated the battlers she had helped on A Current Affair, complete with a final novelty cheque from Coles for a flood-affected community.
Grimshaw signed off with a stinging defence of the unashamedly tabloid TV show she has fronted for 17 years. She said critics of the show like to reminisce about the “good old days when Mike Willesee would shred some hapless politician, and the program we were told was supposedly highbrow”.
“They forget this is the same Mike Willesee who got Hoges [Paul Hogan] on once a week in his stubbies to taste-test meat pies or interview a beauty queen.
“Now, we haven’t always got it right over the years. A few years ago, we fell in love with bra stories. Yeah, let that settle on you for a second. I hated them. And now we don’t do bra stories any more. It was a struggle to stop the power going to my head on that one.”
Anthony Albanese, John Howard, Ita Buttrose, Steve Liebmann, Jeff Kennett, Eddie McGuire, Andy Lee, Josh Frydenberg, Sooshi Mango, Sam Newman and Nick Giannopoulos all paid tribute.
“We are your show and the million of you who watch every night know that,” she said. Thank you.”
As the popular star left the studio Nine Entertainment presenters and executives alike lined up to clap her out, including the Nine CEO Mike Sneesby, newsreader Peter Overton, Today show hosts Karl Stefanovic and Ally Langdon and programmer Michael Healy.
ABC misstep on Rinehart
In the 1980s, Gina Rinehart’s father, the late mining magnate Lang Hancock, infamously suggested that Indigenous Australians should be sterilised to solve “the problem”.
Last month, referring to the backlash to the sponsorship of Netball Australia by Hancock Prospecting, ABC Hobart Breakfast presenter Ryk Goddard incorrectly said Hancock “wanted to euthanise the whole of the Aboriginal people”.
After complaints, the ABC found Goddard was in breach of the ABC’s editorial standards because what Lang Hancock actually said was “The ones that are no good to themselves, can’t accept things, the half-castes and this is where most of the trouble comes, I would dope the water up so that they were sterile and would breed themselves out in future and that would solve the problem”.
Goddard was also found in breach for saying Rinehart is “still defending that comment” because she has never defended her father’s comment, the ABC found.
Friendlyjordies fire scare
Friendlyjordies, the YouTuber who made a name for himself for his political commentary, is taking an “indefinite hiatus” from producing videos after his Bondi home was hit by a suspected arson attack.
“I think we’re going to just tone back on the videos for a bit, and by tone back I mean that’s it for a while, for obvious reasons. [I’ll] get back to it at some point, but for now Friendlyjordies is on an indefinite hiatus,” he said.
NSW Police said officers are investigating links to another fire at the same home on 17 November.
The announcement by ABC TV that a reboot of the great Australian sitcom Mother and Son is hitting the screen next year reminded one former ABC journalist about a relic from the show that sat neglected for years at the old ABC TV studios at Gore Hill in northern Sydney.
The 1955 Morris Minor convertible that actor Garry McDonald drove as Arthur Beare was housed in a dusty open garage in thelate 1990s after the show ended in 1994. The ABC eventually sold it for $18,000 at auction to an anonymous fan.
ABC moves on diversity
A media diversity report released this week found that journalists with Anglo-Celtic background were still “vastly over-represented” on TV, and that their representation had actually increased, from 75.8% in 2020 to 78% in 2022.
The Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi told parliament the defensive remarks of some media management to the findings “were disappointing to say the least. There is clearly resistance to acknowledging the depth of this problem, let alone getting serious to address it”.
The report had attracted criticism, most notably from the ABC, whose news executive Gavin Fang questioned the methodology.
Among the free-to-air networks the ABC and SBS have done vastly more than the commercial networks to address the lack of diversity on air, behind the scenes and in the area of disability.
On Friday, Wiradjuri woman Suzanne Dredge was appointed to the new ABC role of head of Indigenous News, where she will build and lead a standalone Indigenous reporting team, along with ABC Indigenous affairs editor Bridget Brennan.
A three-time Walkley-winner, Dredge said in the ABC’s 90-year history there had never been a First Nations staff member on the News Executive team.
“The media plays an important role commissioning and reporting stories that contribute to our views of the world, which is why First Nations people need to be part of the storytelling and decision-making at a senior level,” Dredge said.