Monday, April 03, 2006


'Moet' Miranda Devine, the right wing columnist who referred to the suffering people of Innisfail as 'whingers' on the Sunday following the cyclone, and stirred up a hornet's nest of outrage, has apologised....well, she's sort of apologised in her latest column in the Sydney Sun Herald.

She quoted extensively from a few of the dozens of letters sent by angry and distressed people to the Townsville Bulletin, and included one or two of the hundreds of responses that landed in her e-mail inbox with a heavy thud.

She also quoted one of the funniest lines of all from the Townsvile Bulletin editorial the day after her original column appeared : "(Hardship in Sydney is) when the local bottle-o runs out of Moet or when the maid calls in sick and madam has to do the washing herself".

That's only true for a tiny slice of Sydneysiders, but it still cracks me up every time I read it.

'Moet' Miranda also managed to slip in a roundabout slur by claiming "Even as Sydney native General Peter Cosgrove heads the reconstruction of the cyclone-ravaged area, the story mined a rich streak of anti-Sydney sentiment in the tropics, judging by the emails."

As far as I could tell, the only anti-Sydney sentiment 'mined' was in response to Miranda's sickening slash at the cyclone survivors. Few of the responses were directed at Sydneysiders in general, they were almost all directed directly at 'Moet' Miranda herself. But she's not going to tell you that.

And apparently because 'Sydney native' General Peter Cosgrove was on his way to help out, everyone up North was immediately supposed to forget Miranda's outrageous slander.

She didn't just cop funny and slightly abusive e-mails, she also got the facts on the ground from volunteer fighters like Warren, who wrote : "What you were not privy to was the absolute selflessness of the residents of East Palmerston when our volunteers delivered tarps, ration packs, fresh fruit and water. Many refused aid because in this part of the country you don't accept charity.

"[They] would often scratch together the ingredients to supply home-made lamingtons . . . [or] appear from the darkness with all the beer they had and, somehow, a bag of ice."

And this from Shane, "I, like many other locals, have simply knuckled down, cleaned up, gotten back to work and used the experience as a character builder . . . Generally the spirit of co-operation and generosity has been exceptional."

"Glad to hear it" Miranda writes at the end of her column.

But the point will not be lost on the people of North Queensland, and the residents of Innisfail in particular.

People were scratching together lamingtons and sharing food and helping each other string up tarps and checking on elderly neighbours and delivering water and minding each other's kids and holding spots in the days long queues while the needy took a break from standing in the rain, and they did these things all the week long before Miranda wrote her despicable column.

The trouble is Miranda didn't bother to find out that all these good and kind and wonderful things were happening in the cyclone zone. She just glanced at the television, saw and heard what she wanted to see and hear and then slandered thousands of shocked and traumatised people with the misinformed catch-all of 'whingers'.

But the people of North Queensland will have to take what they can get from Miranda. They shouldn't expect a much needed Correction to any of the lies she spouted in her original column and they certainly should not be expecting any kind of proper apology.

It doesn't work like that in Sydney.

Go here and here to read our original coverage and some of the best 'Dear Ms Moet' letters.

Go here to read 'Moet' Miranda's latest column.

Go here to read the original 'whingers' spew.


This message was posted on the Bulletin's 'Comments' board, claiming to be from Miranda Devine herself :

"Your poor excuse for a journalist, John Andersen, has invented facts and verballed me in his column, `Low blow from Sydney'. I do not live in Cremorne. Nor do I have a maid. I did not use the word `hillbilly' to refer to North Queenslanders. And Laotians in Sydney are not consigned to `trimming the hedges and washing the socks of the rich'.

"He has concocted a bizarre fantasy that Sydney is peopled exclusively by wealthy people and their immigrant servants, and that I sit around drinking Moet for a living. This fiction appears to have been accepted as truth by some of your more gullible readers. I don't think inventing facts is any more acceptable for journalists in Townsville than it is in Sydney so I expect a correction."

To see what the facts that Miranda needs to correct herself from her original 'whingers' column, which senselessly kicked off this whole drama, go here.

If you're still bored, go and check out the latest stories at Your New Reality and Planet Of Strange Things. New stuff on the Australia Vs Indonesia Cartoon Wars on both sites.