Oz editor Chris Mitchell’s defamation action against academic Julie Posetti is so obviously baseless that his only hope can have been that Posetti would not have the resources to fight. Fortunately Canberra University, where she works, has taken a stand in support of academic freedom, and is defending the action. The letter of reply to Mitchell’s lawyers, posted here, is good reading, including the observation
We note also that, while we appreciate that what is published in The Australian (of which your client serves as editor in chief) may not necessarily always reflect your client’s own personal views and is not determinative of the position, it is nevertheless somewhat telling that the “Media diary” article titled “The Posetti tapes” appearing in the online version of The Australian on 30 November 2010 suggested that the “Tweets are a fair summary of what Wahlquist said”.
The line of defence taken by the lawyers is the correct one of fair reporting of a matter of public interest, but I hope they also do discovery for a truth and public benefit defence – we might find out how it is that News Ltd journalists all know what line to take on so many issues.
fn1. One might suppose this to be a given. Sadly, plenty of corporate universities in Australist have done their best to stifle academics who annoy powerful interests, not to mention those who criticise their own administration.