A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
“For months, journalists sat through one of the most high-profile trials held in any court in the world, without permission to report a moment of it — until now.”
That’s how Emma Younger of Australia’s ABC News framed Tuesday’s news from Melbourne.
Australian Cardinal George Pell, one of the most powerful men in the Roman Catholic Church, was found guilty of child sex abuse last December. But it all happened in secret. CNN and all other news outlets that are accessible within Australia were legally prohibited from reporting on the trial or the conviction. “Under Australian law,” CNN.com’s story explains, everything was “suppressed due to concerns they could prejudice future juries.”
The legal restrictions were lifted on Tuesday morning in Melbourne because a planned second trial was called off.
Newsrooms were ready. They’d had months to prepare. They fired off stories and sidebars and Q&A’s. CNN International produced a special report. “This is absolutely explosive,” CNN’s Anna Coren reported from outside the courthouse. “It will send shockwaves not just here in Australia but certainly around the world, right to the top of the Vatican.” Read/watch more here…
>> “Pell has repeatedly maintained his innocence. His legal team confirmed on Tuesday they had filed an appeal against the guilty verdict…”
About the suppression order
The restrictions were deeply frustrating to many journalists, both in Australia and beyond. Back in December, immediately after Pell was convicted, several of the country’s papers ran stories about the suppression order. “IT’S THE NATION’S BIGGEST STORY,” screamed the front page of the Daily Telegraph. “Yet we can’t publish it.”
Younger’s story on Tuesday noted that “none of those outlets formally opposed the suppression order being made.”
Melissa Davey, the Melbourne bureau chief for the Guardian, covered the entire trial. She tweeted on Tuesday, “I have been unable to comment on what unfolded until now. Other media did, albeit vaguely. I had no interest in potentially jeopardising justice for victims or the right to a fair trial for Pell.”
Jorge Ramos and crew detained in Caracas
Six Univision staffers, including veteran anchorman Jorge Ramos, were briefly detained at the presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, on Monday. They were there to interview embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro when he bristled at the questions.
Ramos said Maduro “got up from the interview after I showed him the videos of some young people eating out of a garbage truck… Immediately after, one of his ministers came to tell us that the interview was not authorized…”
And that’s when the journalists were detained. The tapes were confiscated. Ramos was able to call Univision HQ to alert his boss, but his phone was taken away mid-conversation. The network, in turn, alerted the State Department and called Venezuelan government contacts and tweeted out a statement about the situation.
After nearly three hours, Ramos and the crew members were released. Univision broke into programming for a special report, with Ramos joining by phone. “They interrogated us. They put us in a security room. They turned off the lights,” he said in Spanish, according to our translation.
Will the interview ever air?
Ramos called the episode a “violation.” He said Maduro’s aides still had the tapes. “They have stolen our work and are trying to keep what is happening from airing,” he said…
>> ABC’s Tom Llamas also interviewed Maduro on Monday… Quotes here…
>> As I noted in my story, this all happened on the same day that VP Mike Pence met with opposition leader Juan Guaido…
Arrests made in SF news crew robbery
Here’s the story as it was reported by the local station: “A KPIX 5 news crew covering the Oakland teachers strike was robbed of a camera and tripod by two suspects, one of whom shot the crew’s security guard before fleeing on Sunday evening.” Details here…
Per the AP, “two people were detained and the stolen camera was recovered.” In parts of the SF metro area, the story noted, “assaults on routine assignments became so commonplace in recent years that some TV stations have hired armed guards to ride with news crews.”
Wounded security guard is recovering
The guard hired by KPIX, Matt Meredith, was hit in the leg. He is a retired Berkeley police officer. According to Joe Vazquez, the reporter who was out on assignment, Meredith was shot; then robbed of his phone; then was able to return fire on the suspect. On Monday Vazquez tweeted, “Matt is out of the hospital, recovering. Thanks for protecting us!”
– Standing by for a possible Tuesday morning ruling from the appeals court regarding the DOJ’s appeal in the AT&T case…
– The House is expected to vote on a resolution of disapproval to block Trump’s national emergency declaration…
– Michael Cohen is scheduled to testify behind closed doors ahead of his public session on Wednesday… Elie Honig says Cohen needs to answer these five questions…
A new congressional push to get #JusticeForJamal
CNN’s Alex Marquardt reports: “Democrat senators Ron Wyden, Jack Reed, Marin Heinrich and Kamala Harris plan to introduce legislation on Tuesday requiring the Trump admin to answer what they know about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The proposed legislation would require the Director of National Intelligence to ‘submit to Congress a report [unclassified] on the death of Jamal Khashoggi. Such report shall include identification of those who carried out, participated in, ordered, or were otherwise complicit in or responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi.’”
FOR THE RECORD
– The Washington Post is establishing the Jamal Khashoggi Fellowship. Saudi scholar and activist Hala Al-Dosari is the inaugural fellow… (WaPo)
– Most important read of the day: “The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America” by Casey Newton… (The Verge)
– Moderators told Newton that the constant exposure to conspiracy theory videos and memes “gradually lead them to embrace fringe views.” For example: “One auditor walks the floor promoting the idea that the Earth is flat. A former employee told me he has begun to question certain aspects of the Holocaust…”
– Bloomberg’s Joshua Brustein reports that some FB employees have been concerned about the outsourcing of content moderation for a while. He quoted an employee’s post on an internal forum: “Why do we contract out work that’s obviously vital to the health of this company and the products we build?” (Bloomberg)