With malice

By September 19, 2017Society

Caroline Overington wrote a piece for the Australian in which she asked people to give Nicole Kidman a break after the latter’s Emmy Award win for her performance in Big Little Lies1 (an excellent story, well worth watching). The things Overington pointed out were precisely the things that are often blown up or simply invented in the vacuous gossip magazines like those published by Bauer Media. It is Bauer Media that have just been ordered to pay $4.56 million in general and special damages to the actor Rebel Wilson for eight articles they published in 2015 in which they asserted she was a serial liar. Wilson’s legal team maintained that these assertions by Bauer Media cost Wilson acting roles in movies and thereby inflicted significant financial losses on the actor2.

Overington, the author of one of the articles published by Bauer Media maintained in the court case, that Wilson lied to her in an interview about her age and birth name, and hilariously, being related to Walt Disney3. Either Overington is gullible (she does work for the Murdoch press after all), ignorant, or had an axe to grind. I am related to Walt Disney and Charles Darwin and Charlemagne, simply by the fact of belonging to Homo sapiens. It is a simple matter of genetics and statistics.

Bauer Media was pilloried by the judge, Justice John Dixon, for its failure to verify details of the story and for its malice in publishing it. He also singled out Overington in stating that she is “a well-known and respected Australian journalist who holds herself out as specialising in investigative journalism,” and then: “Publicly branding a person who has, over the course of their life, enjoyed a reputation for honesty and authenticity, as a serial liar … was an extremely serious thing to put against the plaintiff not just without a legitimate basis, as the jury verdict made clear, but with malice.”4 The respect Overington may have enjoyed has probably diminished after this journalistic fiasco. Why Overington has pleaded with readers to give Nicole Kidman a break, yet did not extend that courtesy to Wilson is unknown.

Maybe Overington should stick to novels; fiction seems to be her forte.


  1. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/nicole-kidman-attracts-criticism-after-her-speech-at-the-emmys/news-story/248dafe87a8b27453d375f9028eada1c
  2. http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/rebel-wilson-awarded-456-million-after-defamation-win-20170912-gyg9ao.html
  3. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-05/former-journalist-felt-duped-by-rebel-wilson-during-interview/8591122
  4. http://www.afr.com/business/legal/rebel-wilsons-45m-payout-a-shot-across-bow-says-defamation-lawyer-20170913-gyge96


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