Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rupert Murdoch Threatens Caroline Overington With "Disciplinary Action" For Her "Just Joking" Election Interference

Malcolm Turnbull : Murdoch Journalist "Not Part Of My Campaign Team"

The story of journalist Caroline Overington asking an independent candidate to preference her friend, Malcolm Turnbull, probably would probably not have been more than a one or two day wonder had News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch not weighed in on the controversy.

During a shareholder's meeting in Adelaide, Murdoch was asked about the Overington Vs Ecuyer story :

News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch says disciplinary action would be taken against any reporter who tried privately to influence political candidates in the name one of the company's publications.

He says the company cannot restrict the private actions of individuals.

"If they're doing it in the name of the paper ... we would more than discourage it, we would take disciplinary action," Mr Murdoch said.

"It's a free world and a reporter is entitled to his opinions as much as anybody else. I'm sorry about that."

Caroline Overington asked Wentworth independent candidate Danielle Ecuyer to "please preference Malcolm (Turnbull)" as an employee of The Australian newspaper. She told Ecuyer it would possibly become a front page story.

Murdoch's threats to take "disciplinary action" against Overington will ensure the story reaches the international media (probably only in a minor way), where the tale of independent candidate Daniellle Ecuyer running against her ex-boyfriend for the seat of "Bondi Beach" is already scoring headlines.

Malcolm Turnbull, Overington's preferred politician for the seat of Wentworth, dives into the controversy, choosing to back his friend, and supporter :
Malcolm Turnbull has defended a journalist accused of trying to pressure an independent candidate to direct her preferences to him. Mr Turnbull says Caroline Overington, a journalist at The Australian, is entitled to her opinion.

Ms Overington says the email was a joke.

Mr Turnbull says the journalist is entitled to her opinion on the direction of preferences in Wentworth.

"Assuming Caroline Overington's comments were serious and not tongue-in-cheek - and the email exchanges seem to be fairly humorous - she was expressing her personal opinion to which she's entitled," Mr Turnbull told reporters on the Gold Coast today.

"She's not part of my campaign team obviously."

Murdoch Senior Journalist Claims Her Interference In Election "Just A Joke"