Thomson's new media charges
Craig Thomson faced court yesterday and 19 new charges. Peter Wicks fills in the gaping gaps in the mainstream media's coverage of these events.
Bn now, you have probably heard that Craig Thomson was in court in Melbourne yesterday. You have probably read how there were 19 new charges laid against him and that this time his wife Zoe was not there to support him.
All of these things are true, but there is more that you probably haven't read in the mainstream media. I'll try to fill in the gaps.
For starters, the 19 new charges you probably don't know what they are.
The new charges are all fraud related and pertain to spending during Thomson's time at the Health Services Union.
Example of the new charges against Craig Thomson.
Interestingly, many of the new charges are for amounts of less than $50. This would mean that these charges actually cost more to process than the amount the charge alleges was fraudulently taken.
These new charges are clearly designed to create a media frenzy as most of the amounts are less than trivial.
I also note that many of the larger amounts are in fact combined totals of smaller amounts on bank statements.
Another way of making it look worse than it is are examples such as charge 157, which mentions a Diners Club statement totalling $2,385.67, although the charge only relates to $15.95 of that. The rest is just window dressing.
Other charges, such as charge number 159 for a $500 cash withdrawal, are doubled up so that there are two charges for the same allegation; you will note charge 160 is for the same offence.
This is seemingly designed for media consumption.
In fact, given that the evidence that these charges were based on has been in police hands for so long it would appear as if the charges are being drip fed to a hungry media with each court appearance. I wonder how many new charges will be laid next time?
If you think this is a bit far-fetched, think back to when Thomson was arrested with the dodgy police warrant at his electoral office. You may recall the media circus, the pre-arranged media pack, the dodgy warrant, the strip search, and the third bail condition. That's right, the third bail condition telling Thomson that he could not associate with sex workers.
At the time, the judge stated she thought that the third bail condition was highly prejudicial, seemingly designed to imply guilt and looked like it had been created with the media in mind.
At yesterday's court appearance, the judge refused to even read out this bail condition, after starting to read it, stopping and telling Thomson to note it was there. You probably didn't read that elsewhere
Thomson's wife Zoe was not at court because of the extra expense, I'd assume, given they are doing it tough financially due to Thomson's legal costs. For the mainstream media to try to imply it suggests Zoe does not support her husband is nothing short of irresponsible.
Some charges have mentioned that Thomson had watched in-house R Rated Adult Pornographic movies in his room, but didn't say what they were. Maybe this is because hotels offer adult movies, not porn.
Maybe it was Pulp Fiction, a classic war film like Apocalypse Now, or maybe he decided to give himself a fright with The Exorcist, they are all classed as R-Rated adult entertainment. But that would not have the desired implication, or attract the same media attention. Those who have read the in-house entertainment guides in hotels would be aware that hotels don't itemise movies to preserve customer privacy.
The media reporting in this case has been incredibly biased and selective, not just yesterday, but throughout the entire case.
Whether he is guilty or innocent, the press should give Thomson the benefit of the doubt until he is proven guilty; I believe that is their job, otherwise they should label every page as opinion.
In fact, I am of the belief that if Thomson were driving down a street and a five-year old girl in a wheelchair rolled out in front of him and he crashed into a telegraph pole to avoid her, the headline would read 'Thomson damages council property' and would not even mention the girl.
For Thomson, the media flack continues to come from all directions.
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