Despite the guilty ruling handed down yesterday, News Corp has maintained its controversial stance on George Pell.
In the wake of the George Pell conviction, News Corp has remained the vociferous defender of the disgraced Cardinal, publishing several pieces across its mediums that proclaim Pell’s innocence.
Pell, who News Corp executive chairman Rupert Murdoch described in a 2014 tweet as “brilliant”, was found guilty of five offences of child sexual abuse, charges he will be appealing.
Pope Francis appoints brilliant Cardinal Pell from Sydney to be no.3 power in Vatican. Australia will miss him but world will benefit.
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) February 25, 2014
Unsurprisingly, the tweet was met with strong opposition even at the time of its publishing, as Pell had been one of the figureheads behind a mass coverup of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.
Murdoch announced his intentions to leave Twitter in March 2016, and he has not been found on the platform since, making it unlikely that the divisive tweet will be deleted any time soon.
Outspoken political commentator Andrew Bolt, who works under the News Corp umbrella as a contributor for the Herald Sun and Sky News, has been prominently championing Pell’s cause, insisting that the Cardinal is innocent and that “maybe they had the wrong guy”.
In his piece for the Herald Sun, titled “Why Pell has been falsely convicted”, Bolt expresses that, in his opinion, Pell is a “scapegoat, not a child abuser”.
Bolt’s beliefs are consistent with the sentiment he has been maintaining throughout the trial, adamant in his defence of Pell and convinced that his reputation and name were being smeared by the media.
The trial, which carried a suppression order in order to prevent “a real and substantial risk of prejudice to the proper administration of justice”, has been extensively covered in the Herald Sun by Bolt and his colleagues over the years, with headlines such as “The case against George Pell just fell to bits”, “Why didn’t the ABC report the case against Pell is crumbling?” and “Another false claim against Pell disproved. Can the witch hunt now stop?”
Clearly, this sentiment is not shared by everyone with the publication — Susie O’Brien wrote that “not even Pell is above the law” in December of last year — however looking through the archives, the majority of columns have been supportive of Pell.
Bolt’s latest offering, “On George Pell’s conviction: how can this stand?” compiles the opinions of Father Frank Brennan, Australian Catholic University vice-chancellor Greg Craven and conservative columnist Miranda Devine, each expressing why they believe that Pell is innocent.
Perhaps the most chilling pieces on Pell, courtesy of former Herald Sun journalist Cheryl Critchley, come from a series of interviews around the time of the alleged assaults, wherein Pell claimed that the celibacy rule “showed the enormity of his commitment”.
I wrote these Herald Sun stories around the time the assaults George Pell has been convicted of would have taken place. I interviewed him several times and asked him how difficult it was to was to remain celebate. He said you just had to deal with it… pic.twitter.com/UudfigDJ00
— Cheryl Critchley (@CherylCritchley) February 26, 2019