If the headline is confusing, it’s kinda supposed to be, but only in the sense that a headline is supposed to reflect a story… and this story is confusing. Very, very confusing.
Admittedly, New Matilda is a little late to it, but while fact-checking a yarn on Warringah Independent Zali Steggall (the woman who ended the political career of Tony Abbott) earlier in the week, we came across a news report from Sky News in July this year that, to put not too fine a point on it, captures brilliantly how low Australia’s least watched, albeit not quite least trusted, news source has sunk.
It’s the sort of story that would be equally at home at a 1950s Joseph McCarthy red scare parliamentary inquiry.
With a straight face, Sky News reports:
“Advance Australia has claimed a GetUp! activist who campaigned against Tony Abbott in Warringah is now a taxpayer funded worker in Zali Steggall’s office.”
Right. That’s a confusing first par, because the function of an opening sentence in any news story is to summarise the most important parts of a story so that people will read on. That lede par, however, didn’t sound very important… or in fact, like a story.
But as it turns out, that is actually the story. Someone who was “reported to be a known GetUp supporter” is now working in Steggall’s office. Hold the presses!
Obviously, there’s a lot in Sky’s story that is thoroughly entertaining: the phrases “known GetUp! supporter” and “one of only 54 members on a, ah, secret chat app” for a start; also the straight face of the news reader while he tries to read something that clearly isn’t news.
But it’s the source of the story – community activist group Advance Australia – that makes this one of the most transparently ludicrous yarns of 2019.
By way of background, the shiny, balding talking head in the story – the guy with the large brown slug crawling up his face – is the national director of Advance Australia.
Here’s how the ABC reported on the group when they crawled out from the political primordial slime last year:
Its national director is Gerard Benedet was the chief of staff to former Queensland LNP Treasurer Tim Nicholls in a previous life.
“We’re not aligned to any political party,” he told 7.30.
And Sky news is not a bad parody of a news service, nor is it the preferred source for people partial to tin foil and hats… and stocking up on canned goods while awaiting the Lizard Apocalypse.
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