The Australian Daily Telegraph claimed that “PC vandals” were “threatening to tear down or alter” monuments in Sydney, Australia. But that was inaccurate and misleading, the Australian Press Council ruled.
The online and print article claimed, “The groundswell of PC activists threatening to tear down or alter Sydney monuments to founding fathers such as Captain Cook and Arthur Phillip have been likened to the worst extremes of rewriting history.”
“The front page article featured a large image of what presumably were intended to be, judging by their clothing, two Taliban members attempting to tear down or perhaps push over a statue of Captain Cook.,” the press council reported.
The press council asked the Telegraph, which is owned by News Corp., about its claim there were threats to “tear down or alter Sydney monuments,” noting that the newspaper only said they were made by vague “PC activists.” In response, the Telegraph claimed the wording was fair because the City of Sydney Council’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Panel was discussing the monument and whether it should remain. According to the press council,
“It said the debate underway within the community was most certainly focused on having changes made to the historical monuments or their inscriptions in the interests of not offending or upsetting a group of people, that is, political correctness. The publication said that because of this it was reasonable for the article to use the terms, ‘PC vandals’ and ‘PC activists.'”
That wasn’t enough though to support the claim, the press council ruled. There was no “evidence substantiating or supporting such statements” so the article was inaccurate, the council decided.
iMediaEthics has written to the Telegraph to ask for its response to the ruling.
“There is nothing in the article that could reasonably justify the statements in question, especially the reference to a ‘groundswell of PC activists,'” the press council ruled, noting the article didn’t “identify any individuals or group in fact proposing to remove or alter any monument.”
The Telegraph also said its article was a response to a column about the Captain Cook statue specifically. The council noted the column never suggested “removing monuments” and didn’t bring up several other monuments the newspaper suggested may be removed.