Should Antony Loewenstein sue Greg Sheridan for libel? In his rather hysterical article in yesterday’s Oz, Sheridan slates various people for failing to condemn the actions of the Iranian government with the vociferousness with which they condemn Israel.
Leaving aside the fact that Israel claims its legitimacy from the West in a way that Iran does not — making a continued protest against its actions necessary to avoid silent consent — it’s clear that Loewenstein has made repression in Iran a subject of his blog, with three posts among the last dozen focusing on the protests, and featuring a letter from Iranian bloggers asserting their rights, which The Australian seems to have missed.
By no fair assessment can that be called ‘listless’ — indeed Iran occupies more space in A-Lo’s blog than it has in The Australian’s op-ed section.
This is clearly a deeply unfair attack on Loewenstein’s reputation — particularly since A-Lo’s book, The Blogging Revolution, was partly written out of a trip to Iran to meet dissident bloggers, a venture not without risk (as the fate of Roxana Saberi demonstrated).
Cross-examination of Sheridan’s recent reporting record would be fun. “Ever been to Iran to talk to dissidents?” “No.” “Iraq, outside the green zone?” “No.” “Pakistan tribal areas, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Venezuelan beaver cheese?” “No. I did once go in a flight simulator, though.” “Why?” “Dictators won’t give me helicopter rides anymore.”
Forget the letters page, forget the press council. Put on the writs…