Sharri Markson's coronavirus 'bombshell' impresses Fox's Tucker Carlson | Weekly Beast

Those less convinced in Australia cast doubt on source of Wuhan lab ‘intelligence’. Plus: Trump and Jennifer Hawkins

The origin of the coronavirus has opened up a new battlefield between the Murdoch press and just about everyone else – and given the Daily Telegraph’s Sharri Markson an international platform on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News.

Following in the footsteps of her colleague Miranda Devine, who also made it onto Fox News, Markson told Tucker Carlson Tonight the “bombshell dossier” she had uncovered showed some of the world’s foremost intelligence agencies were investigating whether the virus was linked to a lab in Wuhan.

The Tele has devoted several front pages to the Wuhan lab this month, including Saturday’s report which cited a 15-page dossier compiled by “concerned western governments” that says that China deliberately suppressed or destroyed evidence of the coronavirus outbreak.

But security agencies say there is no current evidence to suggest coronavirus leaked from a Wuhan research lab, and Markson herself says “scientific consensus is that the virus came from a wet market”.

Thanks for having me on tonight @TuckerCarlson to speak about The Daily Telegraph’s reporting on China’s cover-up, disinformation and lies over the Coronavirus. https://t.co/EkB3e3ZTGx

— Sharri Markson (@SharriMarkson) May 5, 2020

Markson told Carlson that “leftwing sections of the media” in Australia don’t want to believe the virus may have leaked from a laboratory, and the Fox News host congratulated her for “an amazing piece of journalism” that he was ashamed to say “no one in America” had uncovered first.

But back home not everyone was as fawning. The political editor-at-large did not take criticism of her stories lying down, responding to Media Watch’s critique of the Wuhan lab theory with a mocking tweet: “ABC media reporter, Paul Barry, thinks he knows more than the Five Eyes intelligence agencies which are currently investigating the origins of the Coronavirus, along with Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo!! Hilarious.”

The utter hypocrisy of Nine newspapers dedicating resources of two senior journalists over at least two days to try expose my confidential sources while going to court to protect their own.

— Sharri Markson (@SharriMarkson) May 7, 2020

On Thursday the Nine newspapers cast doubt on her story, saying the dossier is unlikely to be an intelligence document and more likely just a research report, based on publicly available information including news reports. Markson responded by accusing the journalists of trying to expose her confidential sources.

Trump and ‘our 2004 Miss Universe’

Another Australian reporter, Ebony Bowden, also made a splash in the United States this week, with an interview she conducted, along with colleague Steven Nelson, with Donald Trump for the New York Post.

Such an incredible photo of my colleagues @ebonybowden and @stevennelson10 in the Oval Office during their recent interview with @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/FkDKIBC5Gq

— Jon Levine (@LevineJonathan) May 5, 2020

It was a career highlight for the young Australian reporter who said the president asked after “our 2004 Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins” when he found out she was Australian.

Women’s Day redux

One of the casualties of Bauer Media’s extensive cuts in Australasia this past month – some 500 staff and more than a dozen magazines – was surprisingly back on the shelves weeks after it was axed and all the staff were let go. New Zealand’s number 1 weekly magazine, Woman’s Day, was on sale again, a month after the company walked away from its entire operation in NZ, axing magazines that had been published since the 1930s. But the magazine, which looked just like the NZ favourite, was just a rejig of the Australian Woman’s Day by Bauer Media in Oz, hastily rebadged as a Kiwi production by the addition of a few local stories. Former staff told The Spinoff the local copy had been filed weeks ago before they were given their marching orders by Bauer. “It’s weird seeing our work from five weeks ago suddenly appear like that in a magazine we didn’t know was happening,” one staffer said.

Daily Mail’s Stefanovic scoop

For the Daily Mail there is nothing too trivial that doesn’t make a good long headline. When Today show co-host Karl Stefanovic had a baby with new wife Jasmine Yarborough this week the website jumped on the story with the latest angle about his ex-wife journalist Cassandra Thorburn.

“Karl Stefanovic’s ex Cassandra Thorburn grabs coffee in Sydney as she’s spotted for the first time since the Today host welcomed a child with new wife Jasmine Yarbrough,” was the headline. Yep, “grabs a coffee” was enough for a story.

Thorburn had been “spotted in public for the first time” since the baby was born, readers were told, alongside three paparazzi shots of the 49-year-old “dressed casually in leggings, a lightweight jacket and trendy sunglasses while grabbing coffee in Sydney on Monday”.

SNEAK PEEK: Karl Stefanovic stars on the cover of this Sunday's Stellar, inside The Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Herald Sun.

Photography: @stevenchee
Styling: @kellyahume
Interview: @angelamollard
Editor-in-chief: @SarrahLeM pic.twitter.com/eMPn2cgAqx

— Stellar (@StellarMagAU) April 16, 2020

A magnet for tabloid media, Stefanovic’s personal life continues to play out in the press daily. In somewhat of an own goal Stefanovic recently launched a publicity blitz in an attempt to improve the persistently low ratings for the Today show on Nine. Stefanovic sat down with the Daily Mail and News Corp to talk about his personal life despite railing against the intrusion of the press in 2017.

From Courier-Mail to the police

The Courier-Mail’s national political editor, Renee Viellaris, is known for her hardline stance on asylum seekers and has written several memorable anti-refugee stories including the 2017 one in which Manus Island detainees were portrayed as having “holidays at an idyllic island”.

More recently she interviewed Peter Dutton’s wife so she could tell the world he wasn’t a monster.

“He is a really good man. He is a really good father and he’s not a monster,’’ Kirilly Dutton, 45, told the Sunday Mail.

A regular on the Bolt Report, who has joined the ABC’s Insiders panel with David Speers this year too, Viellaris told Sky News earlier this year she agreed with Dutton that “activist doctors” use the medevac legislation as a backdoor into Australia.

It’s perhaps no surprise then that Viellaris has resigned to join the Australian Federal Police’s media unit, where Dutton is the responsible minister.

Daily Telegraph apologises

The Daily Telegraph has published a 250-word apology to former Silverchair frontman Daniel Johns, who sued the Sunday Telegraph in the supreme court of Victoria for publishing a front-page story which alleged that the notorious Sydney brothel The Kastle had become his second home.

Under the headline “King of the Kastle” in August last year, reporter Amy Harris, who was named along with editor Mick Carroll in the suit, said Johns had spent up to 18 hours a day at the brothel the previous two weeks.

On August 11, 2019, the Sunday Telegraph ran a photo of Daniel Johns and alleged he was swaggering out of Sydney brothel, The Kastle. The story was wrong. Mr Johns was not leaving the brothel and we accept he has never been there at any other time.https://t.co/A64YzUH9Fm

— The Daily Telegraph (@dailytelegraph) May 2, 2020

“The story was wrong,” the Telegraph said. “Mr Johns was not leaving the brothel and the Sunday Telegraph accepts he has never been there at any other time.

“Mr Johns was in the area because he had been visiting a friend who lived in the vicinity of The Kastle.

“We retract the story and we wish to extend a genuine and public apology to Mr Johns and his family for the error and the harm caused.”

But the apology didn’t end there. It went on to detail Johns’s “highly decorated” career, including Aria awards, albums, concerts and “chart-topping singles”.

‘Factually inaccurate’ on ABC funding

Our story on Monday that the Coalition had stripped $783m in funding from the ABC since 2014 has been described as “factually inaccurate” by the communications minister, Paul Fletcher, in a story in the Daily Telegraph, which rubbished the claims made in a report by the progressive thinktank Per Capita. “To claim the ABC has been ‘defunded’ is at odds with the facts,” he said. “The numbers show that ABC funding in 2019-20 is higher than in 2013-14 and will be higher again in 2021-22.”

The minister’s criticism was picked up by Andrew Bolt, who said on his Herald Sun blog that you can’t trust the ABC with “our money”.

But the figures in the Per Capita report are from the government’s own budget papers and Senate estimates, and are entirely accurate. The minister is not wrong about the total budget – operational funding plus transmission costs – being higher than it was in 2013-14 but that is due to inflation.

The Daily Telegraph claimed the report was inaccurate because it said the ABC lost $148.8m over eight years for an Australia Network contract “that was never awarded in the first place”.

But the contract was awarded by the previous Labor government and was subsequently cancelled by the Abbott government. Another Tele claim – that the report understates the ABC’s budget by $183.7m – is also incorrect. The $187m is for transmission funding, which is always assessed separately from operational funding for the national broadcasters, a practice accepted by both sides of politics. Transmission is a fixed cost that goes to Broadcast Australia.

The figures in the Per Capita report align with academic research by Michael Ward published by The Conversation last year .

The ABC’s managing director and the defence minister, Linda Reynolds, argued over semantics at Senate estimates earlier this year when the minister said the government had maintained funding but David Anderson said the “indexation pause” amounted to a cut.

Leaked photos ‘appalling’

Media outlets took a different approach to leaked photos of former AFL player and coach Dean Laidley, taken while he was in police custody.

Deputy commissioner Shane Patton described the leak as “appalling” and “unacceptable” after two photos, one from Laidley’s official police file and another of him wearing a long blonde wig and a dress inside the custody area of a Melbourne police station, were published by the Herald Sun and the West Australian.

The Age in Melbourne, and Guardian Australia, chose not to run the pictures.

Despite the outcry over the invasion of privacy, and condemnation from the Victorian police commissioner, the pictures appeared in the Australian, Fox Sports and other News Corp papers throughout the week. Two police officers have been suspended over the leaked photos and are expected to be charged with criminal offences.

Contributor

Amanda Meade

The GuardianTramp

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