Much-loved Ryde community figure, John Booth, the owner of The Weekly Times newspaper, has broken his silence on the recent antics of Mayor Bill Pickering.
Pickering was exposed for duping both the mainstream media and ABC TV’s Media Watch over what now appears to have been a premeditated plan to politically destroy more talented and certainly more popular rival, Vic Tagg.
Pickering was at the centre of sensational reports in February that he was on the receiving end of a “king hit”, “cowards punch”, “knock out hit” – depending on which of his political allies you spoke to – from former Ryde Mayor Vic Tagg.
Save Ryde called it out as a stitch up the following day while others took the sloppy efforts of some reporters to task on social media, including this exchange between NIne’s reporter Chris O’Keefe and Twitter user ‘@MediaWhoreAU’.
If you haven’t seen O’Keefe’s report, you can check it out below, because someone in or connected to the Pickering camp (not that there would be many in that camp) loved it so much, there are a few dozen copies floating around youtube – all with similar formatting and text styles but under different accounts.
It’s a great case study in some of the pitfalls journalists need to avoid. He was fed a line and took it hook, line and sinker! He must be just a little embarrassed now – actually, more likely he hasn’t even noticed
Booth is incensed with numerous fabrications regarding the in relation to the incident involving Tagg and more generally with his role in passing on dubious information to ICAC which ran a sham inquiry into Ryde and made several serious bungles, which may result in Pickering coming back under the spotlight for a “please explain” – stay tuned. Making a false report to the ICAC is a serious offence, punishable by jail sentence.
TWT’s editorial on April 29th asks whether the community has the right to expect honesty and integrity in the people we elect to office.
“We hear a lot about ICAC and corruption and the supposed fight against corruption in high office but what about liars in high places?” it asks.
“Especially if the lies are directed against innocent individuals of integrity and the lies can result in a person being convicted and imprisoned for five years.”
The May 6th editorial points out the attempted stitch-up of Tagg and the ridiculous and untrue “king hit” description, among others, that were perpetuated with media coverage by outlets that didn’t really do their homework.
“We believe that person should publicly withdraw that allegation and publicly apologise for the harm and distress it has caused to the victimised individual and his family,” it says.
“We would expect no less of a person of integrity who may wish to continue to be respected an continue to hold some form of public office in the future.
“Otherwise in our opinion he is a dead man walking.”
Meanwhile, Media Watch has gone all quiet over its baffling report in which it fell for another “tip off” in a campaign clearly attempting to damage Booth. It was the classic strategy of keeping Media Watch busy with a furphy, while the sloppy journalism that reported the attempted stitch-up on Tagg, was left to fly under the radar. No prizes for who you think might be getting in Media Watch’s ear.
Media Watch has not yet responded to social media questions about how it will clarify its off the mark report, which centred around how little prominence Booth gave the stitch-up story.
When a Magistrate declined to convict Tagg over the incident last month, he was shown evidence including medical records and a provocative and defamatory letter circulated to 15,000 residents in Ryde in which he attempted to smear Tagg over a Ryde ICAC inquiry which is now being probed over suspected tampering.
Booth, it seems, was the only member of the media who gave the story what it deserved – next to nothing. He delighted in reporting that Tagg had been basically cleared by the court while Pickering was left in all sorts of bother.
The Northern District Times ran its story on pages one and three also – but unfortunately dedicated too much space to Pickering’s faux anger and ridiculous calls for bolstered legislation that would help him in attempts to bury a future political rival.
In the seriously misguided reporting department on the day of the phony controversy, was the SMH’s Leesha McKenny who lent a hand with LIsa Ventin’s story in The Sun-Herald’s attempt to match The Sunday Telegraph, which broke news of Pickering’s performance first online.
But the Sun-Herald managed to report things that were quite dubious and only “witnessed” by a few political allies, as fact. It’s astounding there’s no one in the media that can pick a stitch-up like this obviously was.
Anyway, PIckering juiced this story dry, staging a media call the day after his little stunt and the SMH ran all of those stories including the one where Tagg was charged. But when Tom Decent popped up and did the first story in a long while involving Pickering that was accurated an without the obvious signs of media manipulation – as well as free of a Leesha McKenny byline – the paper dumps it from its print edition and only runs it online!
For what it’s worth – Tom Decent for Urban Affairs Reporter. Leesha McKenny for next redundancy round.
If it makes McKenny feel any better, there’s other reporters who are easy pickings for Pickering too. This must be the most cringeworthy report of an event later shown up to be concocted.
And if you want the record set straight, Seven News’ experienced crime reporter Robert Ovadia had this recent chat on ABC 702 Drive with Richard Glover.
Say no more!