The ABC-led media-elite witch hunt against Australian Attorney-General Christian Porter has followed a drearily familiar script. Trumped-up allegations, an unfashionably conservative target and an unscrupulous media whipping up a frenzied lynch-mob. The method is the same whether the target is a frumpy church-goer (Lindy Chamberlain), an unashamedly conservative clergyman (Cardinal George Pell) or, horror of horrors, a successful conservative politician.
Why wouldn’t the hysterical harpies of the left-media keep trashing the rule of law and the lives of the innocent accused? It gets them the attention they so desperately crave (and are getting less and less of, as the public desert the mainstream media in droves) – and they never, ever get held to account.
For once, though, one of their victims is not taking it. Attorney-General Christian Porter has shocked the great and good of the left-media by launching defamation proceedings against the ABC.
Christian Porter’s defamation case might turn out to be the best thing that has happened to journalism in a long time. It is a dose of reality for the lynch mob in parts of the media.
Was it ever really wise to run a campaign against the Attorney-General based on 30-year-old rape claims left by a woman with long-term mental health issues who took her own life and whose own parents were apparently concerned she might have made them up?
Australia’s Byzantine defamation laws are too often used by the powerful to silence criticism, but that doesn’t mean that they’re always wrong. In this case, Porter is giving the media mob an inquiry, as they demanded – just not the foregone-conclusion faux-inquiry they wanted.
Porter has turned the tables on those who have been demanding he face a special inquiry that would require him to prove a negative — that he did not rape this woman in 1988 when they were teenagers.
Porter has outmanoeuvred the mob. He has ensured there will be an inquiry, but it will be conducted in a real court under the normal law of defamation. And its focus will be on the conduct of the ABC and its journalist Louise Milligan.
This gives him a strategic advantage while subjecting Milligan and her supervisors to intense scrutiny over whether their conduct was infected by malice, as has been asserted in Porter’s statement of claim.
The lesson for Milligan and others who have pursued Porter is simple: the rule of law prevails in this country. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Even Christian Porter […]
Milligan is in familiar territory. This is the same woman who pursued Cardinal George Pell until the High Court acquitted him of the wrongdoing alleged by a compelling complainant.
The major hurdle to Porter’s case is proving that he was the target of the media campaign. Although the particular ABC article that Porter is suing over did not directly name him, his lawyers will argue that it left no doubt as to his identity. Part of that evidence will be the fact that Porter’s name was trending on journalist muck-puddle Twitter before he named himself. Another significant part will be a fellow ABC program.
If Porter wins, his victory might well be due in part to statements by the ABC’s Paul Barry that are cited in the statement of claim. Those statements have been seized upon by Porter’s legal team as supporting the argument that Milligan and the ABC made it possible for those who read the February 26 article to realise Porter was the alleged rapist.
On March 8, five days after Porter told a media conference he was the subject of the rape allegations, the statement of claim says Barry told viewers of the Media Watch program that the ABC and Milligan “broke the story” on February 26.
Milligan and the ABC have been linking Porter to allegations of sexual misconduct since November 9 last year.The Australian
But the great irony of this case is that Porter has effectively turned the tables on his accusers. They have been asking him to impossibly prove a negative, namely that he is innocent; now, the onus on them is to prove the positive: that he did it.
Which is, in fact, the normal course of the law.
But this case is not really about money. Hopefully, it will expose Milligan and her supervisors at the ABC to the scrutiny they deserve.
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