Culture

ABC Radio’s Jon Faine Went Hard At The Herald Sun’s Front Page On Duncan From #QandA Today

"What a way to conduct yourselves."

In the course of less than a week, Melbourne father-of-two Duncan Storrar has become the unlikely centrepiece of an election campaign. Storrar’s comments on economic inequality on Q&A on Monday night struck a chord with watchers, and people have donated more than $60,000 to help Storrar provide for his two daughters.

But with prominence has come a backlash, with media outlets digging into Storrar’s private life and putting it on their front pages. On Wednesday, the Australian drew criticism after leading its print edition with the ‘news’ that Storrar, a full-time student who receives a disability pension, pays no net tax.

But today’s Herald Sun has gone several steps further. Branding Storrar a “villain” and a “thug” on its front page, today’s edition details Storrar’s criminal history and runs critical quotes from some of his children.

It’s worth noting that Storrar has never made any claims about his character, nor asked for people to fundraise for him. All he did was ask a pointed question of a government minister on Q&A — which is enough, apparently, to become the target of a coordinated media attack campaign.

As has become pretty standard whenever a front page like this hits stands, reaction has been swift, and overwhelmingly negative. On Melbourne’s 774 ABC Melbourne today, host Jon Faine rounded on Herald Sun editor Damon Johnston over the front page, accusing him of “bullying vulnerable individuals such as Duncan Storrar”.

“You go back more than 15 years to expose [Storrar’s] criminal record, bully and vilify him. What are you doing?” Faine asked Johnston. “What is your motivation, other than to whack someone who dares question your preferred party?”

Johnston defended his paper’s line of reporting, arguing that “if you’re going to be on the national stage in the middle of an election campaign…I think you’re entitled to be subject to a bit of scrutiny. It was all part of legitimate public debate.”

“I query your paper’s values system. It’s as blunt and as profound as that,” Faine replied. “Twice this week, you’ve taken people with obvious mental health issues…people who dare question people in power and positions of authority, and they get ground into the dirt. Is that the way you want to run your paper? What a way to conduct yourselves.”

Johnston is set to give more radio appearances this afternoon.