Andrew Bolt’s takedown of Greta Thunberg breached Press Council Standards

An article penned by Andrew Bolt about teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg being “deeply disturbed” and a “strange girl” with “so many mental disorders” did not treat the issues of mental heath and disabilities appropriately, Australia’s press watchdog has ruled.

In its defence of the article, News Corp, publisher of the Herald Sun and The Daily Telegraph, said it is entirely reasonable to describe Thunberg in such a way.

Bolt’s vendetta against Thunberg breached the Press Council’s standards

Bolt’s opinion of Thunberg, it said, was based on factual material publicised by both Thunberg and her mother.

It contended that as Thunberg and her family have been so open about her struggles, there is no chance Bolt’s article would contribute materially to substantial offence, distress or prejudice, or pose a substantial risk to health and safety.

The article appeared online as ‘Andrew Bolt: Greta has no doubts, but we should‘ on 31 July last year, and then ‘The disturbing secret of the cult of Greta Thunberg‘ as an abridged blog the next day. In print, it was ‘Time to doubt Greta’s dogma’ on 1 August.

The articles also argued Thunberg was “freakishly influential”, and commented “I have never seen a girl with so many mental disorders treated by so many adults as a guru”.

The Press Council’s Standards of Practice require publications take reasonable steps to ensure factual material is presented with reasonable fairness and balance. It also requires publishers to avoid causing or contributing materially to substantial offence, distress or prejudice, or a substantial risk to health and safety, unless doing so is sufficiently in the public interest.

The Council accepted that Thunberg’s mental state was a matter of public record, and had been relayed with reasonable accuracy in Bolt’s article.

The language used, however, and its treatment of mental health issues was likely to cause substantial offence, distress and prejudice, the Council ruled, as it attempted to diminish her credibility based on her disabilities. There was no public interest in undermining her credibility as a person, her opinions or her supporters on the basis of her disabilities, the Council said.

The Herald Sun published the ruling on its website today and on page four of the Herald Sun. The original article remains online.

The ruling in today’s Herald Sun (Click to enlarge)


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