12th February 1999 by Sammy Richter
Scott Balson as the author of "Murder by Media, Death of Democracy in Australia" and Interactive Presentations Pty Ltd as the publisher of the book have received no complaints or threats to date - legal or otherwise. Dymocks have received no complaints or writs - a fact confirmed to the author on Tuesday 9th February 1999 by Anne Maher when the company's chairman, John Forsyth, personally intervened and demanded that the franchisee stores be warned to take the book off their book shelves.
It has got to be noted that Murdoch is a prime and justifiable target of the book. His empire controls Penguin and Collins books - two of Dymocks' largest book suppliers. I wish to make it quite clear that I am, in no way, trying to put Dymocks on the spot - just demonstrating how powerful the influence of the Murdoch/Packer empire is in Australia in stifling freedom of speech. I have no doubts that Scott Balson has said nothing that is defamatory - unlike the comments made daily by the Murdoch/Packer press about Pauline Hanson and One Nation.
This is the Australia I have always read about as being as a symbol of democracy - what a joke!
The day after the fax was sent by Dymocks Murdoch's The Courier-Mail carried this highly defamatory cartoon of Pauline Hanson and the two Davids, but of course there are two sets of rules that set the rich and powerful apart in this area.
The fax sent to Dymocks stores on 12th February 1999 and the result - cancelled orders. Nearly 500 books had been sent to Dymocks stores across Australia when the book was removed through the Chairman's personal intervention.
The letter dd 12/2/99 scanned in the links below was sent by the Managing Director of Dymocks, Keith E Perkin.
Page 1 of Dymocks scanned response
to Scott Balson can be seen here.
Go to Page 2 of their response here.
The printers Balson had difficulty with were later found to be part of the growing Murdoch empire - in itself a frightening thought.
Note the extracts taken from the outside back cover of the book. (eg "...many documented accounts of media bias..." and tie that up with... "I note your comment that the book cannot be the subject of legal threats because "it is based on fact and what reporters have written over the last three years". Even if that is in fact the case, we have been advised that truth alone is not a defence to defamation actions in Australia." - great democracy!)
Here is a word by word transcript of the back page referred to in page one of the letter. The comments that offended Dymocks are shown in italicised bold text:
This is a first hand account of the real power driving Australia into the future - and you aren't part of it. The many documented accounts of media bias in this book reflect what is wrong with having such polarised media ownership in the "lucky" country.
You will read first hand how the Murdoch/Packer families set and control the Australian agenda. Their respective media empires are often nothing more than a channel through which their own interests are promoted and protected through effective control of what Australians see, hear and read and complicity of the major political parties.
Much of this book looks behind the scenes at Pauline Hanson's One Nation party. The party was an unwanted complication for the media barons. This book discusses how this fledgling party was first deliberately and carefully ostracised by the media and then spat out as if it was some reviled demon that had somehow sprung upon the Australian landscape.
The author, Scott Balson, as the Internet webmaster of Pauline Hanson's One Nation was in an unique position to not only be able to record the lies and bias of the media in Australia but to present the other side of what actually happened. The book provides references to over 400 supplementary Internet links. This allows the reader to, optionally, access an enormous amount of additional background material and to discover how the party's and one million Australian dreams of representation in the federal government was effectively destroyed by the Laboral factions (the major political parties) and their big business partners, the media barons.
Between them they represent the "Four Corners of Australia's Trojan Horse".
Finally the book also looks at how the media is being used to undermine democracy in a similar manner in the US.
Page 2 of Dymocks scanned response can be seen here.
Now here is the cracker:
"I note your comment that the book cannot be the subject of legal threats because "it is based on fact and what reporters have written over the last three years". Even if that is in fact the case, we have been advised that truth alone is not a defence to defamation actions in Australia."
Now does that mean that Dymocks and every other book store in Australia should stop trading for fear of being taken to court for "defamation" over factually based books carried by them? Or does it only apply when the truth effects the scams of Murdoch and Packer?
Balson's involvement with One Nation somehow becomes a factor in the decision and, most interesting of all, without him raising the issue of "censorship" of his book the Managing Director writes:
"I put you on notice that any statement which you make which suggests that Dymocks' decision resulted in any way from an attempt to censor your book and the views expressed in it from being circulated, will result in the commencement of legal proceedings against you without notice".
Dymocks appear to have dealt with that option quite effectively... now what is that old saying about where there is smoke there is fire?
|And here is proof that Dymocks are legally correct when taking
on a wealthy man:
Kerry Packer (and his business practices) were the subject of a report on current affairs programme, "The 7:30 Report".
In determining the outcome of a defamation case, the presiding judge directed the jury to decide NOT on the basis of whether the offending information is FACTUAL or NOT, but whether it was defamatory.
Truthful, accurate, and yet defamatory? In a case brought to bear by the owner of a huge string of cross-media interests? Speechless.... or should that be "gagged"?