Obsessive reporting

The Sydney Morning Herald isn’t coping well with the thought that Israel Folau might have even the slightest chance of winning his legal action against The Australian Rugby Union Rugby Australia.

Reporter Tom Decent and his editors are particularly piqued that quite a few people are putting their money behind Folau in a Go Fund Me campaign:

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to controversial rugby union player Israel Folau will end up in the pockets of Rugby Australia if he loses a protracted legal battle against them.

Well, yes, that’s how legal cost allocation tends to work once cases have been decided.

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle told Nine News last night she was surprised Folau, one of the highest paid athletes in Australian sport, would ask the general public for financial support.

Where “surprised” is a synonym for “shitting herself“.

“From our perspective [GoFundMe] is a place where sick children get support, so certainly it is not a strategy we thought was appropriate,” Ms Castle said. “They [donors] have seen what the money is going to be used for and they have to make their own decision.”

No, I’m pretty sure it isn’t just for sending bald kids to Orlando, with a huge range of causes from the deadly serious to the frivolous on there.

There’s top level categories for people asking for donations for their weddings and holidays and jokers asking for beer money. For example, I’ve recently been following the progress of a couple who are having a fabulous time circumnavigating in a small yacht who are being funded by donations on the page.

Once Folau’s GoFundMe page was activated just before midnight on Thursday, the money starting rolling in for the exiled Wallabies fullback who pleaded in a viral video for financial support to help stand up for religious freedom.

By 8pm yesterday, more than $410,000 had been sent his way as donors from all over the globe showed their support for an athlete prepared for the “fight of my life”.

That’s quite impressive, but don’t expect any back slapping from the media as it doesn’t fit their narrative. In fact….

However, questions have been raised about the wording of a disclaimer at the bottom of the fundraising page. It read: “In making this contribution I acknowledge that my contributions are made freely as a gift on the basis previously affirmed and that there will be no obligations on Israel Folau to do anything for me in recognition of the gift or to apply the funds in any particular way with respect to his legal action, and that I hold no expectation to receive anything in return for my contribution.”

A basic search of the other requests for donations would show that’s just standard for every request. In fact, every Go Fund Me campaign has the following default disclaimer as part of the platform’s terms and conditions:

All Donations are at your own risk. When you make a Donation through the Services, it is your responsibility to understand how your money will be used. GoFundMe is not responsible for any offers, promises, rewards or promotions made or offered by Charities, Campaigns or Campaign Organisers. We do not and cannot verify the information that Campaign Organisers supply, nor do we represent or guarantee that the Donations will be used in accordance with any fundraising purpose prescribed by a Campaign Organiser or Charity or in accordance with applicable laws.

It might be argued that, by putting the disclaimer on his page, Folau is being more open and honest than everyone else who prefers to let it languish behind a hyperlink.

Still, it’s nice of Tom Decent to draw everyone’s attention to this. Great public service there, Tom; Woodward and Bernstein will be proud of you.

When contacted by the Herald, a spokesperson for Folau declined to comment on the wording of the disclaimer or what the 30-year-old’s plans were if the money raised was surplus to his legal fees.

Frankly, if I were advising the Folau team, I’d suggest they treat any contact from the Sydney Morning Herald as one made in bad faith, based on all the bias they’ve already demonstrated.

Tom is lucky they still answer his calls to even say, “no comment” or something a little more robustly Anglo Saxon.

While it is expected Folau will use the cash for his upcoming challenge, the $3 million goal he set far exceeds the usual expectations for such a legal bill. One barrister labelled the price tag “outrageous”.

A barrister so brave that they didn’t want to be named? Surely there’s an opportunity for the shy and anonymous lawyer to get his/her/zher name out there to offer to under-bid the incumbent legal team?

RA chief executive Raelene Castle (right) said she was surprised one of the highest paid athletes in Australian sport would ask the public for financial support.

Well, if he’s being overpaid by so much, who’s fault is that Raelene?

Law Council of Australia president Arthur Moses warned that the thousands of individuals who donated anywhere from $5 to as much as $10,000 yesterday might not realise exactly where their money is going.

Again, it’s great that the public are being made aware of the Ts&Cs of the Go Fund Me website all of a sudden. Interesting that Moses wasn’t leading his people across the sea to safety for all other campaigns.

“The issue of crowdfunding and its application to litigation opens up a veritable can of worms for the legal profession and the courts,” Mr Moses said. “This an issue which the legal profession and the courts must grapple with if this practice continues to increase.

Hold the front page; “lawyer finds a problem to be solved by lawyers“.

“A security for costs order is an order that requires a litigant to deposit money into a secured account. This means that if the case is dismissed or the litigation fails, this money would be used to pay legal expenses of the opposing side.

“There are also questions around what occurs with remaining funds if the money is not used in its totality. Is it returned to those who donated or to the person who collected the funds?”

Yes, we’ve covered that already. Read the terms and conditions, Moses.

It’s a donation with no guarantee.

Yet knowing this, people have still freely donated half a million dollars already? That’s got to hurt.

There were also suggestions Folau’s GoFundMe advertisement breached the site’s rules, which states that users may not attempt to raise money for, “for the legal defence of … intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases”.

Suggestions from whom? The Sydney Morning Herald sportsdesk or someone more qualified in analysing the terms of service for a website?

Actually, this is a brilliant example of fake news. The clause partially quoted above is part of a list of inappropriate causes. Have a look at what Tom deliberately cut out and replaced with some dots:

8. campaigns we deem, at our sole discretion, to be in support of, or for the legal defence of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity or serious disabilities or diseases;

In other words it’s entirely at the website’s discretion and they are concerned with not getting involved in criminal cases, which this isn’t.

Selective editing, Tom? For shame, Tom Decent, for shame.

Bill’s Opinion

It doesn’t matter which side of the debate you support, there’s no excuse for deliberate selective editing to fraudulently bolster your side.

Also, whipping up a non-story about terms and conditions applicable to every campaign for donations as if they were unique to Folau is a clear form of journalistic fraud.

It must be quite a life burden to have a surname such as “Decent” to live up to.

22 Replies to “Obsessive reporting”

  1. I guess when Tom’s fucking his significant other, if that person exists and they’ve taken his surname, he’s inDecent (funnier if I could figure out how to italicise the “in” part). Actually it’s not that funny at all; still a tad weary and incoherent having watched England’s thrashing in the wee hours of this morn…

    1. I thought it was quite interesting that England deliberately threw the game to ensure they have the easier semi final against Australia rather than India.

      As for Tom, have a look at his Twitter account to see how “Independent. Always” he is on the reporting the Folau case.

  2. The other thing is, lets just say he raises the $3m from others to pay for his “legals”, how well funded he is has absolute no bearing on the what appears to be, assuming no conciliation outcome, or arbitration, legal hearing on the lawfulness of his termination.

    What will have a bearing on the hearing is his conduct and what mitigation he has taken to reduce the damages to both parties post termination. His sermons, his public fundraising efforts for the “his trial and his appeal”, is a very aggressive stance to take at this early stage of the process. It is clear that he will not participate in conciliation and his given up on nay resolution outside of court being reached, before the commissioner has certified that it cannot be amicably resolved. This will be used in evidence against him by the judge when he considers the amount of damages due to Folau.

    Folau is a very nice Aussie battler son of deeply religious Polynesian immigrants, a tremendous sporting athlete, principled and in a bad spot and a great loss to Australian rugby. Unfortunately he is being ill advised by those that have a bigger agenda than him.

    1. “His sermons, his public fundraising efforts for the “his trial and his appeal”, is a very aggressive stance to take at this early stage of the process.”

      I make a point of not taking legal advice from unemployed non-lawyers. I’d suggest Folau should follow the same rule.

      1. A layman that could read and if they cared to look as section 776 (3) (a) of the Fair Work Act would know that it is impossible at law for him to be where he claims to be in the legal process.

        How the press spin it and if there were any yoga teachers involved has nothing to do with the facts. Folau is a novice in this area, most folk are, most of your readers will be as well, they are quite entitled to and can cheer on from the sidelines but some of us not yet unemployed commentators can read and are aware of the process and how the system works.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if Folau hasn’t read any of the three brief and well set out plain English requirements of the process that he is bound to at this stage of his dispute are, no doubt his legal counsel has advised him accordingly, that it looks very much like he has jumped the gun here and the other party now knows this as well.

        1. Again, we’ll take your legal view on this with gravitas it deserves.

          Let’s chat about it in more detail next week at our regular Centrelink appointment.

          1. If you had read it you would have seen that its not a legal view. Its a clear and unambiguous future step in the process that must be observed, that requires the commissioner to do something in order for this matter to go legal.

            The other area of industrial law that a layman would grasp if they referred to it is, that if you are receiving an income from an employer, you are not unemployed.

          2. You are under a delusion that I somehow wish to debate the legal issues of a case for which neither of us have possession of many of the relevant factors. I am not interested.

            Similarly, I remain profoundly uninterested in the specific provisions of your gardening leave from a job you failed at.

            Isn’t there a forum full of a bunch of property bears insulting each you can go troll more usefully?

          3. By all means play the man, not the ball and not an opposing view to yours.

            How is the house hunting going anyway?

          4. You’re claiming ad hominem victim status? Are you the same Bardon who posts here usually? What about over at the Australian Property Forum?

            Your saintly behaviour is legend, sir!

            House hunting is going better than your search for relevance in an employment market that has moved away from you without you spotting it, thanks for asking.

          5. All that is left over at the APF is failed bears giving each other tenant high fives, I dont drink in there these days.

            Thanks for your off the cuff view into the direction that my employment market is now taking, I always consider the contra-view, even if it lacks any evidence whatsoever.

          6. You’re welcome.

            Feel free to give us all a good laugh with more claims of poor treatment and victimhood status. Best chuckle of the morning. Do you have any Scouse genes?

          7. That’s your best shot? Brutal.

            They must be sorely missing your incisive banter in the office these days. Do you still get invited to the Friday night drinks to impart your wit?

        2. Just say frog zample that I am fighting a case of unfair dismissal. It has still to go to arbitration but given previous utterances by the powers-that-be it looks extremely likely that the earlier decision will merely be rubber-stamped. What am I to do? Prepare for the next logical step, or wait until the issue has faded from public memory and then try to enlist support? Disclosure: I’m a devout atheist who feels more than a little sick in the stomach when rugby players cross the tryline making religious gestures. If Folau fairly gets his lumps, I will find it hard to suppress my glee, with the emphasis on fairly.

          1. They are at a stage of the process where they should be conciliatory towards a settlement and looking for an early resolution including pay out figure, with each other.

            Falou lost a lot of his support when he back flipped on his Christian walk away stance and went full mauri warrior and shot his load off way to early. He lost the moral high ground the moment he opted to play it for money, the root of all evil.

            Our society expects them to talk to each other at this pre-legal stage.

            Falou is looking more like an isolated misguided Islander fool as each day goes by.

          2. “Falou lost a lot of his support when he back flipped on his Christian walk away stance”

            I wish I’d lost so much support that I was stuck with just half a million dollars donations in two days.

          3. It’s chicken feed, and God only knows who donated it. Its so petty and indicative of his whole unhinged and over zealous approach to this delicate matter. We just dont want to see this kind of behaviour here, or petty rubbish on our TV’s, clogging up our court systems, the ape like throwing of shit around the place, Australia is far better than this.

            Its like a rub down from the notoriously corrupt King of Tonga, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had the cash now, they are like that out there. Captain Cook would turn in his grave if he thought that bringing Christianity to these savages would have one day resulted in this garbage that we are seeing now before us.

          4. “God only knows who donated it”.

            I quite enjoyed seeing Peter Fitzsimons-Wilkinson chucking a tender in.

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