A year after publishing this very public and comprehensive expose on The Australian newspaper's unethical reporting behaviour there has been no legal challenge or response from the journalists and editor involved. This speaks mountains. You can hear an audio recording (below right) of the the reporter Greg Roberts wimp out when challenged about the dishonest article he wrote. This man is without credibility in his profession.

Response to Greg Roberts' article in The Australian -
published 5th October 2007

by Scott Balson - February 2008

The Australian newspaper's slogan is "The heart of the nation"... if it was then the heart of this great country downunder would be unethical, deceptive, biased, greed-driven and vindictive. It is not. The flawed slogan of this newspaper reflects the chasm between its presentation of fantasy as truth, where journalistic ethics count for nothing - where power is everything and Murdoch is the puppet master. Read on for more.

Understanding the background to this page:

Australia's only national newspaper, The Australian, waits until Scott Balson, the target of its vindictive editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell, leaves the country. The paper then runs a highly disparaging article naming Balson, who has exposed the Heiner Affair online since 1996, as "racist" and "anti-semitic". Once tarred and feathered Balson is then linked back to the whistleblower behind the Heiner Affair, Kevin Lindeberg, who's credibility is then challenged with The Australian accusing his valiant campaign for justice of being supported by radical extreme right wing elements. Mitchell finds a willing accomplice, The Australian reporter Greg Roberts to compile the fabricated story. Their plan comes unstuck when their defamed victim, Scott Balson, finds out about the article and takes the paper, successfully, to the self-regulating authority on reporting ethics - the Australian Press Council. It is no surprise that The Australian is in the News Limited stable. This is the standard of reporting in Australia where media ownership has become highly controlled under Rupert Murdoch and his lieutenants like editor Chris Mitchell. If they do this to innocent citizens just what do they do to curry favour with politicians and gain favours? Think about it! The Heiner Affair scandal

Scott Balson interviewed on ABC Radio over Murdoch's immoral power over politicians - 2nd August 2011 - Steve Austin (Queensland 612)

Background to this extraordinary expose:

  1. News Limited's Hypocrisy
  2. Background to the article published by The Australian
  3. Balson's Complaint to the Australian Press Council (APC) - and The Australian's Dismissive Response
  4. The results of the Australian Press Council hearing (hearing 30 January 2008) - complaint upheld
  5. The adjudication published in The Australian - 7th February 2008
  6. Read the adjudication on the Australian Press Council's web site
  7. Complaint over heading given to adjudication in The Australian newspaper
  8. The Discredited Reporters at The Australian:
  9. Related online articles

  10. How the media works

  11. The Nemesis project

  12. Call for action

  13. What makes this adjudication even more remarkable!
  14. You never heard about this on the news? How surprising!

  15. Email Scott Balson

Return to the shredding scandal

Balson interviews reporter Roberts over his ethics

a must read/listen... (audio)

From this link you will hear an audio clip of a phone call initiated by Scott Balson with Greg Roberts on the day the adjudication appeared in The Australian.... guess who refused to be interviewed after he is asked the HARD question!  

(Roberts also writes for The Courier-Mail in Brisbane)

A photo of Greg Roberts is currently being sought to include here.

Proof that News Limited is, based on their standards, "anti-semitic" and oh-so hypocritical.

In June 2007 New Matilda says "Last month, to considerable fanfare, Australia's major media organisations launched an organisation called Australia's Right to Know as part of a campaign to remove restrictions on free speech. It has mainly targeted restrictions on the use of Freedom of Information laws and a clamp-down on journalists reporting confidential government information.

The campaign was initiated by News Limited and includes Fairfax Media, the ABC, SBS, Australian Associated Press, as well as owners of commercial radio and television. It's an admirable effort to counter the growing restrictions on access to information in government and the loss of accountability that is the counterpart of public ignorance.

Here is a 2009 official comment from the mainstream media's new web site:

The full article from "Australia's right to know" here. The relevant extracts (Thursday 13th August 2009):
There is significant debate within Israel itself about policy regarding the Palestinians. However, attempts by others to debate issues relating to Israel and the Palestinians, and most recently Israel's attacks in Gaza, often lead to a charge of anti-Semitism.

Those who believe Israel's policies are misguided should not remain silent and governments should not be locked into uncritical support of Israel.

..... Fear of criticism from the Jewish lobby in Australia has so far prevented Australian governments taking effective action. If we want to be a real ally to the US, if we want justice and peace, we have an opportunity.

NOTE: It is editorial maggots like Chris Mitchell who have attacked those (like me) in the past who questioned Israel's inhumane treatment of Palestine that are responsible for the situation referred to above.

The New Matilda article linked here, referred to above goes on to say:

The purpose of Mitchell's approach was to persuade me to change my views, as if they were based on an inadequate study of The Australian's reporting and comment on the issue, itself an odd perception. For reasons I don't understand, the paper made strenuous efforts to ensure that I received the package of material by courier the next day so that I could read it over the Easter break. Having spent years reading and assessing The Australian's coverage, the material made no difference to my perceptions, although the determination to get me to change my views shed new light on the internal politics of the paper.

Bias in The Australian's approach is not just a matter of perception but can be demonstrated. To test this, we at the Australia Institute examined all opinion pieces and editorials over the first three months of 2006, a period selected because it was one of intense activity on the climate change issue. I have no doubt that the results would be replicated for other periods.

Full Australia's right to know article copied here


While Scott Balson was on his way to S Africa to launch his latest book "Children of the Mist" he received an unsolicited email from The Australian's Greg Roberts. What followed was a classic example of fabricated reporting and a complete lack of ethics through which the paper labelled Scott a right wing extremist as well as anti-Semitic and, through guilt by association, suggested that whistleblower Kevin Lindeberg was a racist too.

Do's and don'ts of interviews with News Ltd papers:
  1. Never be interviewed on the phone - demand emails so that you have a record of what you have said.
  2. Never refuse an interview.
  3. If the paper misreports go to the Australian Press Council and lodge a complaint within 30 days.  

On his return to Australia Scott immediately lodged a formal complaint with the Australian Press Council who informed him that neither The Australian or the reporter, Greg Roberts, would attend the hearing. (In other words to avoid being cross-examined over their motives).

In January 2008 Scott Balson phoned up Greg Roberts and called him a coward and weazil after hearing he had refused to front up at the Australian Press Council complaints hearing. By refusing to front up he was able to avoid being cross-examined about the motives behind running with such an unethical article. It is a scandal that reporters can escape cross-examination during a complaints hearing on their published articles while these same reporters have a go at others who refuse to front up at government and medical hearings etc... the hypocrisy is quite extraordinary! 

Scott Balson flew to the hearing and faced Prof Ken McKinnon (Chairman), Prof H P Lee (Vice-Chairman), Jack Herman (Secretary APC), Phil Dickson (Industry Member), Adrian McGregor (Freelance Writer), Brenton Holmes (Public Member), Deborah Kirkman (Office Manager APC), Cheryl Attenborough (Public Member) and Warren Beeby (ex News Limited). Profiles at this link and this link.

Scott Balson's complaint and the Press Council ruling... can be seen below:

Facts about The Australian's discredited reporter, Greg Roberts:
  1. never contacted Scott Balson about the main theme - the "racist", "anti-Semitic" and "extremism" allegations.
  2. fabricated a response alleging Scott had denied being an extremist
  3. fabricated the claim that Kevin Lindeberg and Scott had co-operated in establishing the web page on Heiner.
  4. used eight year old, fabricated allegations to support his view that Scott was (currently) racist and anti-Semitic
  5. found Kevin Lindeberg guilty by association*
  6. published the article when he knew Scott was overseas - ie unlikely to know he had been knowingly defamed

    *Editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell's aim in running this "article" was to come to the defence of his friend Kevin Rudd, now Prime Minister, just weeks before the 2007 Federal Election. Rudd is Godfather to Mitchell's baby and was being outed by Piers Akerman in his blog on The Daily Telegraph as being implicated in the scandalous shreddergate affair. Labelling someone is very easy was to discredit them - Balson became an innocent victim used by The Australian to discredit Lindeberg. Mitchell's preconceived "news story" was totally fabricated and Greg Roberts was a willing accomplice. Both editor and reporter have demonstrated a complete lack of reporting ethics.

Balson's Complaint to the Australian Press Council (APC) - and The Australian's Dismissive Response

In their response to his complaint The Australian suggested Scott refused to be interviewed - a lie.

The results of the Australian Press Council hearing (hearing 30 January 2008) - complaint #1380 upheld:
(The Australian refused to be represented at the complaint hearing)

Extract from Australian Press Council adjudication:

The Press Council has upheld a complaint that The Australian unfairly associated author and webmaster Scott Balson with organisations known to espouse racist, conspiracy and extreme right wing views....

Mr Balson said that the views in question were printed in an open forum on a news website that has been inactive for over seven years and were clearly referenced then as not his personal views. He argued that equally extreme views were now commonly aired on websites run by media organisations.

(see page two link above)

In upholding the complaint, the Council notes that people active in the political arena can be burdened with past associations long after such connections may have ceased to have any relevance. While the reports refer to Mr Balson as a "former" One Nation webmaster, and he does not deny that one of his website forums once carried extremist material, it is important that newspapers identify when these associations occurred, or demonstrate to readers that such associations are held contemporaneously. (see page three link above)  

Complaint over heading given to adjudication in The Australian newspaper.

The byline or heading "Extreme political views from distant past" in Scott's opinion takes out the sting of the press council's ruling and implies that Scott WAS a racist many years ago. He wasn't and the words in blue above from the Australian Press Council's adjudication clearly explain just why this is the case. In other words the heading misleads readers to the true nature of the ruling.

The Australian Press Council's response to Scott's complaint can be seen at this link.

The March ruling can be seen at this link... includes the following comment:
I should also note that, arising from your letter of concern, among others, the Council its reviewing, at its triennial Planning Day later this year, what constitutes prominent publication of adjudications..

The discredit reporters

The vindictive campaign run against Scott Balson by The Australian's editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell was supported at every level in this detailed case study of appalling journalistic ethics by Brisbane-based reporter Greg Roberts.

Since putting this detailed report on the Internet it has become clear how regularly both Mitchell and Roberts throw their journalistic code of ethics to one side and fabricated stories to try to destroy the reputation of citizens they personally feel threatened by. We have had dozens of emails. Roberts and Mitchell have done this while under the legal protection of News Limited's retainers with leading Australian legal companies - protecting them from defamation action and retribution.

This is worse than cyber-bullying, this is worse than official corruption, this is the abuse of power, the abuse of all that is morally right and reveals the true nature of Roberts and Mitchell. Both men are cowards and weasels.

Greg Roberts

And what about The Australian's controversial editor-in-chief "Chris Mitchell"?

So why does Chris Mitchell side with PM Kevin Rudd implicated in shreddergate?

Quote: So why on earth would such a couple select Kevin Rudd as godfather? The Australian is now severely compromised -- ever further compromised by Mitchell selecting his wife to write a glowing magazine profile of the godfather of their child.

In 2000 I wrote the following about Chris Mitchell following their refusal to cover my evidence of double standards in the application of the law in Queensland:

Chris Griffith of The Courier-Mail told me that he had a "Great story" after receiving my press release and scan of the CJC report.... He spent Monday 9th April gathering facts and put forward a story which was never run - it was stopped by the chiefs-of-staff (read the disgraceful, unethical editor Chris Mitchell). In this original story he graphically compared the intimidation of me by the police during and after my arrest to the lack of action against The Bulletin. This, I was told, and the CJC's failure to pursue the issue, was to be the focus of the story. (Direct link here)

I think what the episode really shows is the decline of the news journalism cultures at The Australian since The Courier-Mail’s Chris Mitchell took over. Mitchell brought with him many of his Courier-Mail team and also appointed spiky young culture-warriors like Tom Switzer to senior editorial positions. Under Mitchell’s tenure, The Australian has taken on a more tabloid and confrontational tone, regularly attacking its critics and even starting a celebrated and quixotic poll war over the accuracy of Dennis Shanahan’s NewsPoll commentary.

Image right: The disgraceful Chris Mitchell

Mitchell did himself no favours defending Overington’s conduct by claiming Overington had made similar propositions to ‘half the newsroom.’ Guy Rundle in today’s Crikey has finally come out and called it: Chris Mitchell has ‘wrecked the reputation of The Australian.‘

Source here.

This is how (badly) Mitchell runs The Australian - source The Sydney Morning Herald

Speculation on Crikey that Chris Mitchell might be sacked by Murdoch.....

Murdoch would have good cause of course to sack Mitchell. Over the past couple of years, Mitchell's leadership has wrecked the reputation of The Australian, and for little benefit. Whatever gains the news section has made in matters like the AWB scandal have been undercut by its fast-and-loose attitude to the responsibility of its op-ed writers, and – resulting from that – its demeaning and near-psychotic wars with Media Watch and Robert Manne.

Source here

Three stories

Needless to say, the Courier-Mail wasn’t best pleased, and spent a good whack of my first year making life difficult. This involved using Queensland’s Freedom of Information legislation in a desperate bid to obtain any and every document the University of Queensland held that happened to mention me by name. The main instigator was a single journalist, Deborah Cassrels. At that time married to Chris Mitchell, the editor (they have since split), she had a series of odd vendettas against people; I was only one. Interestingly enough, Robert Manne was another. Once Mitchell left Queensland to edit The Australian and took up with Christine Jackman (another journalist), the frivolous FOI applications stopped. (You can see Deborah Cassrel's large feature article published in The Courier-Mail in February 2000 in which she falsely alleges Scott Balson a racist and anti-Semite. The article was written days before his trial - now the subject of a film exposing The Courier-Mail and the Queensland Government under Peter Beattie.)

Source here

The Oz and the "culture wars":

Robert Manne writes:

In support of Clive Hamilton's comment yesterday: Shortly before Chris Mitchell became editor-in-chief of The Australian, the paper re-printed a 7,200 word attack on me originally written by Deborah Cassrels (Mitchell's ex-wife) for the paper Mitchell then edited, the Brisbane Courier Mail. Since he has become editor of The Australian in early 2003 there have been more than 200 articles in that paper in which I have been mentioned. The overwhelming majority have been abusive, many extremely so. Particularly in recent times there have been several editorials accusing me of various sins, from sympathy for Islamic terrorism to nostalgia for Communism. Others of whom The Australian disapproves , including David Marr, Guy Rundle and Clive Hamilton himself, have been treated in a similar way. The purpose has been clearly intimidatory. With all of us it has failed. The Australian's recent call for civility in public debate is the equivalent of Wayne Carey pleading the case for monogamy.

Source Crikey.com - at this link

The final lesson from the Clarke fiasco was the ruthless way Mitchell used his power in a one newspaper town in an effort to shut down dissenting views on the story.

Source here: how right wing Mitchell "stuffed up The Courier-Mail.

Comment: these "old school Murdoch editors" like Mitchell have not woken up to the fact that they can no longer get away with whatever they want - the Internet exposes their dark sides and distortion of the truth. The links above are just the tip of an very BIG ice berg - do your own research on Google.

More on Mitchell's appalling ethics at this link

Call for action

Reporters and members of the media have to be extremely concerned about the complete disregard that The Australian newspaper had for journalistic ethics in this case. It is clear that the editor-in-chief, Chris Mitchell, had a pre-conceived plan to discredit Kevin Lindeberg and his quest to find justice over the shredding of the Heiner documents.

Scott Balson got sucked up into the resulting fabricated story and became the pivotal point around which Lindeberg's moral campaign was labelled and discredited as being "backed by extremists, anti-Semites and racists". It is the paper's sheer disregard for journalistic ethics while rushing to get this fabricated story out that should cause serious concern for every reporter working at News Limited. This reflects so badly on you personally - that such a senior editor has undermined your good name. You are now associated with unethical reporting through your employment at News Limited.

It was only a completely chancelike set of circumstances that brought Mitchell's plan unstuck. His motivation in publishing this fabricated "news story" just weeks before the Federal election in 2007 was clearly to come to the aid of Kevin Rudd - regardless of ethics or his position at The Australian. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is irrevocably linked with the shredding scandal and is the Godfather of Chris Mitchell and Christine Jackman's baby.

Chris Mitchell has to go.