Thursday, May 7

Keelty – getting the facts right

I'm flattered the P8 lead [1] in today's Sydney Morning Herald drew on material from my Grumpy Old Journo blog. Alas, it also repeated an error. A later GOJ post did make the correction , but I had failed to go back and fix the mistake in the earlier post. My apologies to the Herald and its readers.

On August 30 last year, in a post titled, “This time Mick Keelty must do the honorable thing and resign,” [2] GOJ described the Jana Wendt interview in which Keelty said the words which angered Prime Minister John Howard, and went on to say:

Prime Minister John Howard saw the interview and went ballistic. He immediately rang his loyal chief of staff, Arthur Sinodinos. Less than eight minutes after the interview ended, Sinodinos phoned Keelty in Nine's green room – the VIP lounge for interview guests – to communicate Howard's extreme displeasure.

The comment was based on the most reliable information at the time. But on October 27, Sinodinos was interviewed by Sally Neighbour on an ABC Four Corners program, Good cop, bad cop. [3]

After reading the transcript, I put up another post on October 28, “Is the Federal Police Comissioner a servant of the government in power?” [4]

In it, I described as “chilling” Sinodinos's comments which showed John Howard believed the AFP was required to do whatever he demanded, provided it did not involve breaking laws. I went on to comment:

Is it taking it too far to say John Howard and his chief of staff believed it was acceptable to sool the Federal Police on to targets which suited their political agenda? Providing, of course, it did not demand something which would be illegal. Did Mick Keelty fail to dispute that view, especially after having submitted to the brutal public humiliation imposed by Howard and Sinodinos?

And that post concluded :

A correction: In my earlier post I said John Howard saw Keelty's TV interview and went ballistic. In last night's Four Corners program, Mr Sinodinos said he saw the program and phoned Howard to say there could be a problem. Howard's response was: "Ring Mick and let him know that I'm very concerned about this because of the way it could be interpreted."

Grumpy Old Journo deserves a pat on the back. Its Keelty analysis and comments have held up well as more of the story unfolded. (This post was offered to the Herald as a letter, but we haven't heard back.)


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