Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Convicted drug trafficker gets small media mention . . .
. . . but friend of accused drug trafficker gets the spotlight glare

Based on last night’s 7.30 Report feature-length story on the sometime friendship between an accused drug trafficker and Schapelle Corby’s father, I’m quite prepared to throw in my two-bob with the Right, and call for the immediate and total de-funding of the ABC. What a nasty, tabloid put-up job, and seemingly gratuitous exercise in personal vilification. No wonder today’s Oz couldn’t wait to condense and re-heat it.

Admittedly, anything with a Schapelle Corby connection is prima facie newsworthy. But at the same time, the (supposedly) quality media should keep a sense of perspective. That is, assuming all the insinuations of the latest story are true (although personally I don’t believe they are): (i) Schapelle Corby is/was some kind of low-level mule, who has taken the rap for her father-and-others, and (ii) if arrested red-handed in Australia with the same size bag’o’dope, she would have, at worst, already done her time in jail, and now be out on the streets, all without ever have attracted a skerrick of media attention for her deeds.

So where’s the comparable media outrage over Telstra’s standing behind convicted drug trafficker, Peter William Jones re some baton-carrying honours? A case of letting a man’s past not haunt him indefinitely into the future, perhaps? Not on your nelly – rather, Telstra, the convicted trafficker, WA Water Corporation chairman Tim Ungar, and the WA ALP government seem embroiled in just another multi-million dollar corruption scam.

Naturally, The Age couldn’t bring itself to repeat the latter two week old snippet, because who carries a ceremonial baton is far more important stuff, period. Just as is who Schapelle Corby’s father’s friends might be. After all, “we” know that blue-collar drug-dealers, and even their mules, are always Mr Bigs, while white-collar drug-dealers are always relatively benign: for it is only the latter that are the media’s friends, neighbours and financial lifeblood (think of Telstra’s ad account).

Update 3 February 2006

The Australian 1 February 2006* re-ran the gist of its (non-) story the previous day, but with a twist: it named the accused drug trafficker (the one who is/was a friend of Schapelle Corby’s father). Possibly, conventional sub judice rules simply don’t apply to The Australian, possibly the print edition that I got in Melbourne was different from the north-of-Tweed one in this respect – I dunno.

One thing is clear, however: should Tony’s (even "The 7.30 Report" used his real first name) trial abort: a Corby connection (however remote), and so a prurient media clamour, will be proved a get-out-of-jail-free bonanza for potentially every crim in the land – other than an actual Corby, of course.

* Michael McKenna “Corby family [sic] denies link to mate’s dope charge” The Australian 1 February 2006 (no URL)

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