Crikey issues second grovelling apology after opinion piece on Brittany Higgins triggers readers

Far-left Australian news outlet Crikey faces backlash and calls for change after publishing and deleting an article about Brittany Higgins that had its audience up in arms.

Crikey issues second grovelling apology after opinion piece on Brittany Higgins enrages readers
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The editors of Australian news outlet Crikey have issued a second grovelling apology and promised to "revamp" their editorial processes following the publication of a contentious opinion piece about Brittany Higgins, which was later removed.

Sophie Black, editor-in-chief, and Gina Rushton, editor, were forced to writre a nearly 500-word editorial on Monday, marking the second apology issued by the publication.

The article in question, authored by columnist Guy Rundle and titled "The Brittany Higgins case: we’re not required to leave our brains at the security entrance," argued for the public's right to hear the full story due to Higgins' compensation payment from the government.

However, the reception from Crikey's audience, known for its radical activism, was overwhelmingly negative with readers unable to handle a differing opinion.

Readers expressed their disapproval in online comment sections, with many announcing their decision to cancel subscriptions to the embattled publication.

The CEO of Private Media, the parent company of Crikey, was even wheeled out to try and pacify enraged readers on social media in an attempt to salvage the outlet's tarnished reputation.

Rundle's piece was published during a federal parliamentary sitting week when the Coalition criticised Labor and accused Finance Minister Katy Gallagher of misleading parliament regarding her knowledge of Higgins' rape allegation.

In the deleted article, Rundle argued that the case transformed with Higgins receiving a substantial taxpayer-funded compensation payment from the incoming Albanese government in a swift process.

He also observed that Higgins had a strong motive to make a false sex crime claim due to the damaging nature of being discovered "naked and asleep on your boss's office sofa."

Brittany Higgins alleged that she was raped by fellow Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann in Linda Reynolds' Parliament House office on March 22, 2019. The criminal trial was halted due to juror misconduct, and plans for a retrial were abandoned due to concerns surrounding Higgins' mental health.

After removing Rundle's piece, Crikey provided a brief explanation, acknowledging the inaccuracy of the columnist's claim about the speed of the compensation process and disputing the $3 million figure attributed to it. However, this response failed to appease Crikey's readers, who expected stronger action from the publication.

In their extended apology, Black and Rushton took full responsibility for publishing the article and admitted that their editorial processes had failed.

They claimed that the piece did not meet Crikey's journalistic standards and expressed regret over the harm caused. While acknowledging Rundle's ability to challenge perspectives, the editors claimed that his article fell short of achieving that goal.

They also revealed ongoing discussions between Crikey's publisher, Private Media, and Rundle, who stands by his argument and approach.

Despite the apology, readers on social media demanded stronger accountability, suggesting that firing Rundle would be a necessary step in addressing the issue.

Brittany Higgins herself responded to the situation, condemning the article as "pithy but disgusting given the context." Her partner, former journalist and political player David Sharaz, directed a tweet to Private Media's CEO, questioning the acceptability of hosting such victim-blaming content.

In response, CEO Will Hayward acknowledged the criticism and shared a link to Black and Rushton's editorial, accepting that the publication "deserved" the backlash.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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