Seven story under fire over privacy issues

Seven News Director Peter Meakin has retreated from key arguments in a story which outed NSW parliamentarian David Campbell.

The Seven Network has retreated from key arguments in a Seven News story which outed NSW parliamentarian David Campbell and resulted in his resignation as transport minister.

Amid furore over revealing details of Campbell’s personal life, Seven News Director Peter Meakin, told the Sydney Morning Herald, ‘I accept the fact that it [use of the car] doesn’t breach the ministerial guidelines, whether it should or not is another issue.”

Seven News revealed footage of Campbell exiting a sex on premises venue on Thursday night. Campbell resigned before it went to air.

Meakin said, ”If the guy is a minister for police and is frequenting brothels and sex clubs, heterosexual or homosexual, I think that’s a matter of some interest because he is exposed and he is potentially compromised.”

But Campbell yesterday said he said he had never been threatened over his gay life adding that his family needed privacy to “try and resolve this, put this behind us and try and get on with our life”.

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally said, “I do think it’s a matter for debate whether or not a person’s sexuality is of relevance to their role as a minister or their role as a member of Parliament.”

Crikey reports that Seven state political reporter Adam Walters, who broke the story, previously worked as a spin doctor in former premier Morris Iemma’s ‘strategy unit’, and alludes to personal ties.

Meanwhile Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Alex Greenwich described the story as a ‘gay witch hunt.’

“Whether he is gay, bi, curious or confused we need to appreciate that anyone of his generation grew up in a very homophobic Australia, both in terms of social attitudes and laws,” he told gay newspaper SX.

“This man has dedicated much of his life to public service, and without any understanding of the psychological issues associated with someone of his generation being able to be comfortable with his sexuality, he is being condemned by the media for walking down the stairs of a gay establishment.”

Gay and Married Men’s Association spokesman Greg Smith says the story is a sad reflection of the media at its worst and it will be a worry to people who are coming to terms with being gay.

“Many people come to organisations like GAMMA because it is discreet and private and the matters that are discussed in the organisation stay there,” he said.

But Peter Meakin told ABC Online,” When it comes to handing out Walkley Awards, we probably won’t get one for this.

“Am I proud that we have done the story? Yes, I am.”

Source: smh.com.au, Crikey, SX, ABC

41 Responses

  1. I do not understand how anyone can think this is even remotely a story.

    1. Can anyone discuss an actual policy or initiative that Mr Campbell was working on in any of this?

    2. The justification that “he may be blackmailed so it is in the public interest” – no, it is in the public interest if a journalist actually does a real story that he has been blackmailed, not a pretend one. This is no different to the Weapons of Mass Destruction justification for war – there is no justification for war unless they attack you. This is a preemptive strike and is not justified.

    3. JFK was considered one of the greatest politicians of the 20th century. Have you heard his audio records during the civil rights watershed? His heart was absolutely in the right place. And his extra marital affairs were well known, but as long as he did his job, no one cared. Didn’t Jesus say “let he who has not sinned cast the first stone”.

    This outing is as pathetic as the standard of so called journalists we currently have in this country. If anything was a public scandal of interest, it would be the ‘newsroom’ meetings of these self indulgent, immature, ignorant and insecure dweebs.

  2. Just shows you how low Channel 7 will go for a ratings grab.

    An appalling piece of gutter journalism and highlights that commerical news in this country is purely tabloid and sensationalist.

    I’ve had friends from the US and UK who have commented that the nightly news here is so dummed down it makes the “Sun” in the UK seem like a respected broadsheet newspaper!

  3. There are plenty of marriages in this country where partners are aware of bisexual activity of the other partner. Not convinced Seven knew of the private arrangements between Mr Campbell and his wife, prior to airing this story. Can those defending Seven’s actions be so confident?

  4. @Paull: That’s a bit harsh. “Family man” and “regular visitor of a sex club” are not mutually exclusive. He’s a man living with his family and is therefore a “family man”. He has every right to show a photo of his family as representing “him” – all politicians do it. He’s hardly going to show a photo of him and “a friend” sitting naked in a sauna (or whatever).

    It’s certainly less deceitful than the man who also shows a photo of his family but beats his wife when he gets drunk. There’s no evidence that his family were unhappy or that he was unable to “run his family”, an illuminatingly sexist perspective I might add.

    Finally, even if he was unable to manage his family affairs to your satisfaction, your drawing a very long bow to suggest that he is therefore incapable of running the state (or, more accurately, his ministry). Sexual infidelity never implies dishonesty or incompetence in other unrelated matters.

  5. I would like to see a lot more examination of Adam Walters motives in sitting outside that club for however long he sat there.

    There are lots of hints but not actual statements that there may be more to Adam Walters motivation than meets the eye.

    There are lots of reasons David Campbell ought not to be Transport Minister but his sexuality isnt one of them. Channel Seven, Peter Meakin and Adam Walters should hang their heads in shame.

  6. @ Mac: Spot on. Finally someone talking a bit of sense. Sexual preference has nothing to do with this. I feel mostly for his wife, he lied to her for the majority of their marriage.

    @JB: Did you have the same response to when Tiger woods’ affairs were exposed? And what is so wrong with filming a public street that happens to have a sex club? Afterall, if there is nothing illegal about the activity, then how is it different to filming someone walking out of a gym? A movie? Or football game?

    The story absolutely was of public interest, at least to the people of nsw who have a right to be run by competent people. If he managed to keep this secret from his wife for over 2 decades, what is he keeping secret from the people of NSW?

    Good on you seven! You’ve done the right thing and I applaud the journalists who had the courage to air this story. This was the only way that he was going to come clean with his wife about his cheating.

  7. Absolutely disgusting by Seven to do this. Sit outside a sex club to film a man coming out is pathetic, and this is exactly why despite doing a four year journalism degree, i no longer want to pursue journalism because i am completely ashamed of the profession.

    It’s a gossip story, but there’s certainly no public interest, and complete disregard for privacy. I’ve known first hand what it’s like to be outed to some people without my blessing, but to be publicly outed like this is disgraceful and the fact that Seven have splashed it aroudn like a massive scandal is probably the reason he felt the need to hide it for 20 years.

  8. I’d just like to add to my post: if want David Campbell was doing was in the privacy of his own home, then seven certainly would be breaching his privacy, however David did this openly for all to see- and so does anyone who enters a sex club that is located in a public area.

    As for stories on Peter Meakin’s drink driving- at the time of him being caught, stories about him were all over the news- so if you’re going to use that as justification for seven “outing” David campbell, then I guess seven really did
    do the right thing afterall.

  9. The thing tha gets me is, if David campbell had been caught visiting a hetrosexul sex club, and confessed to having done so for 25 years, there would be no uproar against, or condemnation of, the media outlet that exposed him. However, because it happened to be gay, everyone jumps to his support.

    The fact is, David Campbell misrepresented himself as a family man and kept the secret hidden not only from those closest to him, but the whole state.
    You have to ask youself, if a man is unable to run his family, how can we expect him to be able to run the state?

  10. While David didnt do anything illegal I dont see why he can be surprised. He uses his private life as a campaign tool to get elected and therefore opens it up to scrutiny (sending Christmas cards to his electorate with the whole family on them- not just him). I feel for him, especially since he has done nothing illegal but I cant understand why he is crying foul over privacy when it has never been an issue for him before.

  11. it should only have been News if he was hypocritical about his sexuality, and actively voted against pro-gay causes. There seems to be no evidence of this, therefore it’s not anybody’s business but his own.

  12. My particular favourite explanation from Meakin is ‘he portrayed himself as a family values man by putting out Christmas cards with a picture of his family!’ What nonsense. He isn’t like one of those American evangelicals who talk about the gay agenda to destroy America and then go back to the hotel room to do meth with a male hooker or jet off to Europe with a rentboy – he just put out a family photo, for god’s sake. He never made himself out as a paragon of virtue. No matter what self-serving justification Meakin puts out, it’s perfectly obvious to everyone that Seven did the story because it’s titillating and sordid, so who cares if you destroy the guy’s career and family?

    Another issue, which hasn’t really been raised by anyone yet, is that they were taping the door of this club for a while and presumably have other people on film entering or leaving. Have those tapes now been destroyed, or does everyone who was there that evening now have to worry that there’s film out there featuring them at a sex club?

  13. i am tipping these idiots at 7 woukdn’t want their private lives splashed across the news. this wasn’t in the public interest and the creep at seven just were looking to pump their own tyres up

  14. I noted that part of Seven’s justification was that he is a public figure who had been leading a double life. Well, if that is the justification for publicly outing people, then there surely must be people at the Seven Network who would be worried.

  15. Quentin Dempster on NSW Stateline grilled Adam Walters about his motivations in running this story. It reeks of personal bias and muck raking. Despite the media all over the place gleefully telling this story, political figures and community voices have supported Minister Campbell in his crisis. This is the media at its most divisive and negative. As David Marr pointed out however there was nothing defamatory about 7’s story – but morally it has shellshocked the lives of the Campbell family. GAMMA is right, makes coming to terms with sexuality a tougher process than it need be. It has not been a good week for gay identity in the media.

  16. The one thing almost everyone is over looking is David Campbell didn’t do anything illegal, even the use of a government car to go to the club was not against the rules. It was how ever a dumb thing to do!

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