Denise Shrivell1 has been the subject of four articles in the Murdoch owned The Australian, in which they state, repeatedly that she is one of the key figures is an ‘anonymous’ online campaign calling for advertisers to boycott the Seven network, radio station 2GB and Sky News because of their content of hate speech. The irony is probably lost on them. She is a former Fairfax and News Corp sales executive with some 30 years’ experience in the industry, who now owns and operates MediaScope, a small media advice business.
Sleeping Giants Oz2 (SG Oz) is an organisation whose aim is to stop hate speech on the media by lobbying advertisers to stop them advertising on media outlets that allow hate speech to go to air. They were quite successful in approaching advertisers on Sky News after Adam Giles had an interview with Neonazi Blair Cottrell3. In the interests of disclosure, I contacted advertisers myself in the wake of the Adam Giles debacle, asking them politely to think about where they advertised.
Now Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, has given a speech on the floor of the Senate, starting off by talking about internet trolls, stating that a US intelligence report had detailed Russia’s influence campaign during the recent US elections, and that there was a similar effort undertaken by Russian troll factories during the Australian 2016 federal election. Then, by way of insinuation of a connection with troll factories, she then jumped to mentioning SG Oz. Initially, she did more or less state the aim of SG Oz (as in the previous paragraph). However, then she asserts that this thinking is “confused” because someone contacted Dan Murphy regarding an advertisement in the Daily Bellylaugh4 opposite a page containing an incendiary article by the appalling Miranda Devine which argued against marriage equality, supposedly in the interests of ‘freedom’. Again, I think the irony of Devine talking about ‘bigotry as freedom’ would be lost on Fierravanti-Wells because, like Devine, she is a religious nutter.
Fierravanti-Wells states that “the anonymity of Sleeping Giants’ campaigns destroys their credibility”, and that such campaigns often have ulterior commercial or political motives. One could say the same about the donors to the Liberal party, over half of whom remain anonymous. Again, the irony is probably lost on Fierravanti-Wells. In her long speech, Fierravanti-Wells then goes after Denise Shrivell who she states is a “key figure in Sleeping Giants Oz” and is a prime mover in this group. She then mentions the fact that Shrivell has door-knocked for Labor candidate Kristina Keneally during the Bennelong by-election, and is “obviously untroubled by [now] Senator Keneally’s previous association with Sky”. Then in a superb non-sequitur (as we find out below), Fierravanti-Wells states that “although Sleeping Giants Oz claims to have no political allegiances, on Twitter Shrivell is fanatically pro-Labor and anti-coalition…”4.
Shrivell has replied to the campaign of vilification and innuendo by The Australian and demonstrates that Fierravanti-Wells is, of course, talking through her hat. Shrivell states clearly that “I am NOT Sleeping Giants Oz – the Twitter based advertising activist movement which advises brands their ads are aligned to mainstream media hate speech. Nor am I their organiser or volunteer. I choose to actively speak and raise awareness with colleagues, industry and beyond about the issue of hate speech in mainstream media and the actions of Sleeping Giants Oz”. She also states that no money is generated by her actions and “It is driven by me with zero commercial influence”. She then states that her motivation is straightforward: “Hate speech negatively impacts people in our community, often those who are unable to respond. It also creates public division, tension and inhibits equality. It undermines our industry – one that I’ve been a proud member of my entire adult life – and an industry which is already struggling with a variety of issues including trust. The fact I am completely independent means I can do and say things others can’t and can pursue relevant issues I care deeply about. This is one of those issues”5.
The reason that Murdoch’s ‘ruperters’ feels threatened enough to tell lies about Shrivell and SG Oz, is because they perceive them as a threat to a proportion of Murdoch’s advertising revenue. The reason why Fierravanti-Wells’ Liberal Party feel threatened is twofold: firstly, because it threatens Murdoch; and secondly, because it may hamper their ability to use the dog-whistle when they get desperate.