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Is Andrew Bolt implicated in this dishonesty?

4 August, 2010

Andrew Bolt has a habit of claiming he has been defamed, then hinting (or threatening?) at legal action, but he has a funny way of going about it if he genuinely plans to proceed. Yesterday he decided to get worked up about the @andrewbolt twitter account that has been around since February 2009 (and interviewed by Jason Wilson). He had a  sooky sooky wah wah and wrote:

It shouldn’t need saying, but I do not have a Twitter account and the fake one seems to be the work of people whose employer will be very embarrassed to find its staff once more engaging in deceitful slurs. A little warning there. A tearful sorry afterwards will be both too late and insincere, especially from people with their record of sliming.

[…]

I’ve been given names, and at some stage may use them. Parody is perfectly fine, but identity theft is low.

The poor, precious petal. Bolt is no stranger to slime or the dog-whistle. He has made untrue and insulting smears and statements about both individuals and cultures, and has had a successful defamation claim made out against him. What was very amusing about this whinge was that just a few hours earlier he had written “It could be cheaper for all if we just hardened up.” Bolt should have taken notice of his own advice, but it was quite inappropriate for him to aim it primarily at someone who has been a victim of sexual harassment at their place of work.

A few hours later he posted Taking offence. Rather than Tony Abbott apologise for saying Are you suggesting to me that when it comes to Julia, no doesn’t mean no? Bolt suggests it should be Kathleen Swinbourne apologising for saying “Mr Abbott’s comments trivialise the seriousness of violence against women and he should apologise”. Memo from Andrew Bolt to the womens: harden the fuck up, you don’t know my pain. The man clearly knows no shame.

There is also a certain madness to his method, and not just on this occasion. In this instance, why would Bolt publicise @andrewbolt? His blog is apparently popular and received two million page impressions last November. Any defamation action runs the risk of attracting more publicity to the defamatory material and any action to censor online material results in the Streisand effect, giving that material more publicity (“the Net treats censorship as damage and routes around it”).

In this case Bolt made his readers who might have been otherwise ignorant, aware of @andrewbolt. He gave much merriment to the twitterverse, 800 new followers to @andrewbolt and helped to spawn many new fake Andrew Bolt accounts – so now you can #followthebolts – all 45 of them. It was also reported on news.com by the afternoon.

An element of a successful defamation action is the publication (communication) of the said defamatory material.  A person may be liable for defamation if they publish the material, regardless of whether they are the author of the material or not. Anyone who republishes that material is a new publisher of it and gives rise to a fresh cause of action. So here are a few examples, where if it were possible, it could be said that Andrew Bolt defames himself.

Smeared by the ABC, using my own money. And some of that money would be paid by the ABC, one would suspect.

ABC hires the man who bashed Howard with a stick. Here Bolt publishes private correspondence with Eric Beecher that includes the defamatory imputations while he “considers my options”.  In this one he is also concerned that his bottom may be viciously assaulted by a calculator.

My favourite example of this is where Bolt publishes what appears to be a private conversation that he must consider defames him, then turns around and asks his readers: should I sue?

When Hore-Lacy tries to convince even my own sister-in-law that I’m really South African, apparently implying that I’m as racist as the South African stereotype, should I take his lead and sue, or just brush it off as the normal hurly-burly in a society that should treasure debate?

Andrew Bolt once again displays that he is a “victim” who squawks loudly against the “victim industry” and a man who is never sorry but demands personal apologies.

As Andrew Bolt would like it, let’s give the last word to him:

When asked by news.com.au why he did not have an official Twitter account, Bolt said: “How much more do you want from me?

“I think the blog is extremely time consuming and very successful. And I don’t really need to tell people what I had for breakfast.”

Elsewhere:

Real Andrew Bolt is wrong, says fake Andrew Bolt

Jason Wilson: Thunderous Bolt sensitive to parody

Pure Poison: I wonder who he’s talking about

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. 5 August, 2010 8:30 am

    Nice post, Ileum. My thoughts exactly.

    Andy has turned whining into performance art. He is to journalism what Dan Brown is to Shakespeare.

    If he were any further up himself with his own sense of self-importance, he’d be a pretzel.

  2. 5 August, 2010 12:56 pm

    Thanks, Ross.

  3. 5 August, 2010 4:33 pm

    The funniest thing about this whole incident is that Bolt seems to be claiming that @andrewbolt is so authentic that it can’t be identified as parody, what on earth does that say about Bolt?

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