Courier Mail's defamatory comments on a great dead man, Manning Clark, exposed

19th July 1999

The Courier-Mail labelled Australian historian Manning Clark as an "agent of influence" working for the Communist Russian party in 1996.

The highly defamatory and perverted series of articles served just one purpose - to denigrate Clark's good name.

Yesterday the ABC put the record straight. A record which The Courier-Mail have failed to adequately straighten - not that we should be surprised because this Murdoch publication is nothing more than trash.

Here are extracts from the ABC report on Clark:

In 1949 Clark was offered the inaugural Chair of History at the New Canberra University College.

The Clark's stayed in the home of an external affairs diplomat, Jim Hill.

He was accused of espionage. Once again Clark, to his critics was guilty by association.

Clark's wife: "Jim Hill had been posted to London so his house became vacant." She explains how it was a temporary arrangement because of the shortage of housing.

In August 1996 Brisbane's Courier-Mail, a Murdoch paper, launched an eight page attack on Clark alleging that he had been "an agent of influence working for the Soviet Union". Extract from paper: "Professor Manning Clark was awarded the Soviet Union's highest order the Order of Lenin."

Mediawatch presenter, "Where, why, by whom, what for? Sorry they don't know."

Manning Clark's wife commenting on the picture used of Clark: "They (the Courier-Mail) have converted his beard to a revolting stubble. They turned his eyes from blue to brown and they have given his mouth this terrible sinister leer and I ask myself what good does any journalist or photographer think he's going to achieve by converting Manning's face into this leering, sinister, I don't know, prowler."

Andrew Clark (The Sun), "It (The Courier-Mail) said my father was a traitor, a communist an agent of influence and a spy also there were, later on, articles by complete maggots of people saying that he was a pro-Hitler, pro-Stalin, just the most fantastic nonsense. A really guttersnipe tissue of lies and insane fantasy."

Assoc Prof Robert Manne (Historian) "It was clear that a couple of people saw him wearing a Soviet medal but there are many Soviet medals and I never thought that it was an Order of Lenin. But the Courier-Mail went from the assumption that it was an Order of Lenin to the assumption that he was one of the spies of the century was one of the most absurd pieces of journalism that Australia has ever seen."

Michael Thwaites (ASIO 1950-71): "I can say without hesitation that I am not aware of any evidence that Manning was in any sense or form an agent of the Soviet Union. I differed with him in many ways he sometimes expressed views that I thought were misleading. His book has been mentioned "Meeting Soviet man" after his visit to Russia and I remember thinking when that came out that that was a very one-sided picture but that's a world away from saying that he was in any way working consciously for the Soviet Union."

Humphrey McQueen (Historian) on Manning's book "Meeting Soviet man": ... if you have no idea what this book is about then I suppose then you could be stupid enough to think that it was pro-Soviet... it must be blatantly obvious to all but the most evil people that this book is about what has gone wrong in the Soviet Union."

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