Not once, or even twice – but four times in one week (so far), The Australian has gone after former federal vice-president Karina Okotel.

On August 27, this article claimed:

“Two of the Victorian Liberal Party’s most-senior MPs have demanded former federal vice-president Karina Okotel be expelled over her knowledge of a hard-right plot to dump seven state MPs.”

It’s said Former Liberal leader Matthew Guy and frontbencher Tim Smith said her connection to a strategy to “end the careers of seven upper house MPs needed to be dealt with.”

Interestingly, the most-liked comment beneath this quipped:

“’An outspoken critic of same-sex marriage and the Safe Schools strategy, Ms Okotel is a darling of the Conservative religious right.’ I suppose what counts as extreme right wing views is different in Victoria.”

You see, reading an article in corporate media is never as revealing as digesting the mood of the comments. Anyone who says, ‘I don’t read the comments’, has no business being a journalist. The comments are your insight into whether you are aligned, or out of touch, with your audience.

Saturday’s bizarre piece in The Australian was a prime example of an article with a transparent agenda clearly serving one side of the factional tussle, which readers saw straight through.

“Explosive secret tapes and the hard-right religious plot,” the title suggestively said, before failing to reveal any information from said “explosive secret tapes” or any “hard-right religious plot.”

And so, it was delicious to read the most liked comment as being:

“Warlords? Hard right? This all sounds like someone’s fevered imagination.”

Another astutely pointed out:

“It’s interesting that people with Christian values are represented as nutters yet rarely do we see the socially progressive Left labelled as hard-lined socialists. Please advise who all the Christian conservative parliamentarians are so I can give them my vote.”

Attempts at painting former federal Liberal vice-president Karina Okotel as a sinister extremist failed. Miserably. Why? Quite simply: because they are out of step with the popular mood of the country.

The article began with incredibly pejorative word choices, belying any veneer of objectivity or balance:

“The Victorian Liberal party’s hard right actively recruited members to branches as part of a plot to promote religious candidates for preselection and place conservative warlords in electorates to organise internal activities.”

Is this seeking to win an award for an over-loaded, emotive, overly-exhausting opening sentence?

“Hard right”?
“Recruit members”?
“A plot”?
“Religious candidates”?
“Conservative warlords”?

Well, hello there, transparent agenda.

Standing her ground beautifully, Karina Okotel told The Good Sauce:

“I consistently call on people who share my values to join Menzies’ cause. It is clear what we must urgently accomplish together with a singular focus and that is the defeat of the Australian Labor party and their Green comrades.”

That’s it; that’s the “hard right” “plot” to recruit “Conservative warlords”. Hardly sinister is it? In truth, the transparency really sits in the same media outlet repeating the term twice in a matter of days.

If it is “hard right” to be concerned about the damage that Labor is doing to Victoria, it seems fair to posit that the vast majority of our nation right now would err on the side of “hard right”.

Karina continued:

“Politics should never be about hoarding power and control, but about serving the needs of the many, the most vulnerable, those forgotten between elections & conferences. It should be about guarding the legacy left by our founding fathers and carefully improving our country for generations to come.”

She is correct.

Isn’t it strange that all the whispers so faithfully regurgitated with the most lurid language possible also happen to coincidentally benefit the faction freshly embarrassed for their dealings? I wonder who stands to benefit the most from enthusiastically discrediting a woman who parted ways with that faction’s leaders years ago when – long ago – the discrepancies between the talk and the walk became too large to overlook?

Rather than being a successful take-down of Karina, it appears The Aus‘ may have outed itself as being tipped off by a jaded gent in the Boy’s Club who is feeling threatened by an ethnic minority, authentic, highly effective female human rights lawyer and campaigner who threatens the status quo.

Nice try.

Corrine Barraclough has a journalism career spanning 20 years, including senior positions at national magazines in London, New York & Sydney. She embraced the whirlwind of celebrity and entertainment journalism and the heady lifestyle that went with it before walking away from it all to live on the Gold Coast and pursue a balanced life.

The Corrine Barraclough Show discusses family law, its impact on mental health and the damage of the gender-bias in mainstream media.

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