People in glass houses

Planks and specks

Two weeks ago the entire national clutch of News Limited print publications published an apology to Brett Stewart for the hurt and embarrassment caused to him by their “series of articles” about the police investigation into allegations of sexual assault made by a 17 year old girl against him.

These would be the screaming banner headlines alleging all manner of error, including gross intoxication, alleging things like:

MANLY fullback Brett Stewart was so drunk he cannot remember allegedly attacking a teenage girl but witnesses claim the footballer had to be pulled off the 17-year-old.

Police witnesses told The Daily Telegraph Stewart exited the taxi that had ferried him home from Manly’s season launch and crash tackled the girl.

The Daily Telegraph has learned the diabetic Manly star was so drunk he could not immediately remember what took place.

All of which was proved in court to be a complete fabrication, hence the apology (and presumably a hefty compensation pay-out). 

Which makes it profoundly perplexing that last weekend News Limited publication, The Daily Telegraph saw fit to publish this bitter piece of vitriol from notorious hack Rebecca Wilson, trawling over the same hoary and fabricated myths, reporting them yet again as fact and in the same breath supporting David Gallop’s recalcitrant refusal to admit error for his knee-jerk decision to suspend Brett Stewart for alleged intoxication.

Another bitter hack from the Fairfax stable, Peter Fitzsimons also had the gall yesterday to suggest the suspension was “rightful”.  Are these people journalists?

Brett Stewart's farcical court case debunked the Daily Telegraph myths

Wilson’s entire stance is based on David Gallop’s fabrication that the suspension was entirely based on Brett Stewart leaving a premises intoxicated, thus bringing the game into disrepute.  (Where do these three people and their suspension wooden spoon go each time Jonathan Thurston ends up drunk in the watchhouse, Darren Lockyer is captured on video tackling publicans, three Broncos take a woman into a toilet cubicle for a tryst or Todd Carney gets pulled over by the police for the umpteenth time?)

This facade was thoroughly debunked in Brett Stewart’s court case last year. In her opinion piece Wilson describes Manly supporters as “insular and hateful”. Call us what you will but at least the Manly supporters site, Silvertails, had the decency to send one of their own to each and every minute of the two-week court case so they could be appraised of the full picture (unlike those of Wilson’s ilk who vent their hateful ignorance on the general public of Western Sydney).

What Gallop, Wilson and Fitzsimons are side-stepping is days of police testimony that is entirely contrary to the quotes above, the very hoary Daily Telegraph myths that are the debased foundation for the suspension meted out on Stewart. Days of police officer after police officer taking the stand and under oath suggesting Stewart was “courteous”, “in-control”, “respectful” and “bemused at the charges” (and anyone who followed the full case was similarly bemused that this case based on the testimony of a mentally deranged girl and her fraudster father ever reached court in the first place).

All that is left is Gallop pointing to a Manly report on the night in question (prepared amidst the whiff of smoke and cordite that is the now apologised-for News Limited hysteria). Oh crime upon crimes, the report suggests Brett was asked to leave a premises. And I wonder how many other clubs, with a culture of player welfare and image management, aren’t guilty of this “crime” on a weekly basis?

From the get-go Manly’s management and board took a very different approach to Gallop on the issue of Stewart’s alleged intoxication. They wanted him to play football until he had his day in court (a privilege afforded every other NRL player who has faced charges). Gallop threw the book at Stewart, defamed him and stopped him “working” for four weeks.

The police testimony at the court case thoroughly vindicated the stance of the Manly Board and completely undermined that of the NRL. Rightful? The only rightful thing to do here is to apologise methinks. Why is it so hard?

Which brings us back to Wilson and her perpetuation of myths, her revisionist approach to history in spite of court transcripts of testimony under oath that trash her stance. By re-hashing the falsehood of the past, and suggesting Stewart (and Manly) are petulant, surely she is guilty of lowering the Australian definition of defamation “likely to cause ordinary, reasonable people to think less of the person about whom the words are published.” I trust Brett has been on the phone to his lawyers over the weekend.

Particularly grievous when Wilson’s own personal history hardly gives her much of a pedestal to lecture from: Read the following and judge for yourself whether Wilson is in any glasshouse from which to be casting stones?

Where in her piece on Brett Stewart did she disclose her relationship with News Limited chief executive John Hartigan and thus her potential conflict of interest in pursuing the News Limited party line on their coverage and subsequent apology to Brett Stewart?

Where’s her empathy after she too has suffered the embarrassment of her drunken trysts reported in the press?

Or worst of all how does she gt up on her pedestal with her history of endangering life and limb of innocent motorists via drink driving?

Some of the Eagles Angels

Little wonder she goes easy on Roosters’ Todd Carney for his drink driving, she must have a certain empathy. But it reinforces the maxim that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. I wonder if La Wilson would like her own sons to emulate serial bad-boy Todd Carney with his checkered history of drink driving, evading police, being banned from his home town for a year, and on it goes. Or Stewart who has fought a brave battle to sporting success as a diabetic, freely gives of his time to charity and is guilty of a “crime” of being in the wrong place at the wrong time when false allegations were made against him?

At his trial his defense barrister implored the jury to “let the light of truth shine in on this outstanding individual.” It took the jury a few short minutes of deliberation to do just that and find him not guilty.

At the height of the dramas in 2009 Sydney Morning Herald and Roar columnist Spiro Zavos called the Eagle Angels “useful idiots” for their advocacy of Brett Stewart. Those same highly credentialed and venerated women are vindicated in a court of law, but they, and Brett Stewart are yet to be exonerated in the court of public opinion.

When it comes to Gallop’s obstinate refusal to acknowledge the light of truth the real “useful idiots” are the Wilsons and Fitzsimons of this world and their parlous standard of ill-researched gutter journalism.


2 Responses to People in glass houses

  1. MUM SAYS says:

    Excellent…keep on it like a Bull-dog. Right is might!

  2. HG31 says:

    Sock it to them! These kind of journos have caused untold misery all over the world and should be called to account for their lies and half-truths.

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