Can Fairfax news be trusted when a known master of fake news becomes their editor?

I have stopped reading anything written by John Garnaut after I caught him red-handed and challenged him directly on several of his articles: he produced three stories that contradicted each other on what he saw during the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake; he made up stories in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on the Rio Tinto Bribery case where the Australian executive eventually admitted to corruption and disputed only the amount involved; and he used dodgy hyperlinks as sources for his article in the Foreign Policy magazine about ‘the revenge of Wen Jiabao’ against Bo Xilai when Bo was arrested for corruption.

However, a few days ago, in a group email discussion about China, an Australian acquaintance highly recommended a speech by John Garnaut in 2014 at the Australia Institute of International Affairs. I then replied to the group with the following analysis about the master of fake news:

I listened to John Garnaut’s 2014 speech at the Australia Institute of International Affairs for fifteen minutes and confirmed that he is still making up stories like he used to.

The title of this 2014 speech is ‘The rise of Xi Jinping and destruction of Bo Xilai by John Garnaut’. However, the truth is, Bo Xilai was arrested for corruption and his wife for murder by Chairman Hu Jintao administration in 2012. At the time, John Garnaut wrote an article in the Foreign Policy magazine, and called the down-fall of Bo Xilai ‘The Revenge of Wen Jiabao’.
In this 2012 article, John Garnaut tells his story with a lot of hyperlinks, and I bothered to click through the contents of his hyperlinks, and found him using dodgy sources, with the description in some of his sources actually telling a different story. I than called John Garnaut “a novelist, not a journalist.” This is an article (Bo Xilai, Rumour Journalism, Western Prejudice and China’s Internet Crackdown)written by me in April 2012 examining the content of the hyperlinks in this article – which proves that he lies, lies and lies throughout.

During the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, John Garnaut wrote a joint report with Francois Bougon on what they saw in one of the quake zones, but a year later, in 2009, at the anniversary of the earthquake, John Garnaut wrote another piece “recalling” what he saw in 2008 using the story in the exact same location as his 2008 joint report with Francois Bougon. However, he suddenly changed the entire story – which greatly differed from his 2008 joint report. I discovered the two contradictory stories in 2010 (the background of my discovery is in the following article), and then challenged John Garnaut publicly with an article titled ‘Can we trust our Media? The Shocking Behaviour of The Age Journalist’s John Garnaut’ (12 May 2010).

I then forwarded the article to The Age, and Media Watch and received a reply from John Garnaut with no answer to the issues I raised, so I published the full contents of his email, and put up another article titled ‘Media Accountability—The Age must say ‘Sorry’ to Australians’ (24 May 2010) to apply pressure.

Soon after, John Garnaut offered me an explanation that the 2008 joint article with Francois Bougon wasn’t written by him – they simply added his name – and provided me another of his articles in 2008 that he claimed was consistent with his 2009 story. However, I discovered that this 2008 version still had many discrepancies. So I then put up another article:
More Dodgy Materials Exposed – The Age and John Garnaut Case Continue’ (14 June 2010).

I than put the case to the Australia Press Council, but they refused to handle it. I then wrote the article ‘Has the Australia Press Council Protected Media that Violated Its Own Written Principles?’ (29 Jul 2010)

John is no doubt a professional fake news creator: during the Rio Tinto bribery case, he made up three stories about the internal workings of the CCP as if he had insider information about what the CCP leadership thinks and says behind closed doors. The case ended with the Australian executive admitting to corruption with the presence of an Australian diplomat in the Court, and disputing only the amount involved. I then put up this article: ‘The Brutal Truth about Rio Tinto Bribery Case – What People Should Know?’ (21 April 2010)

At the time, I did not mention John Garnaut’s name in my article when quoting the fake news he made in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

The following are extracts from John Garnaut’s work in the FairFax group of newspapers before the Rio Tinto Australian executive admitted to corruption:

Sydney Morning Herald (13 July, 2009) under the heading ‘Chinese President backed Rio spy probe’ quoting an (unnamed) Chinese Government source suggesting that “The Chinese President, Hu Jintao, personally endorsed the Ministry of State Security investigation into Rio Tinto that led to the detention of the Australian iron ore executive.”

Again, Sydney Morning Herald (7 Nov 2009) under the heading ‘Exposed: the man controlling Stern Hu’s fate’, speculating without quoting any sources that “Wu Zhiming, is due to decide his (Stern Hu’s) fate within 10 days”. This is followed by an unnamed source: “But some Chinese lawyers say the justice system is more tightly controlled in Shanghai because it has been the stable, long-time power base of Jiang Zemin,” then another unnamed statement: “Some say Wu has a tighter grip on Shanghai than even the mayor or Communist Party secretary”. Then, “The President, Hu Jintao, and a host of lesser players might also vie for influence” (not quoting any source again), and “political analysts (unnamed) say there is a risk that Rio Tinto’s iron ore team will – or might already have – become stuck in the middle of a bitter struggle between President Hu and Jiang.”

On 11 Feb 2010, The Age made further speculation under the heading ‘China steps up Stern Hu bribe case’,  again using the technique of quoting an (unnamed) observer: “Observers say the decision is likely to have been made at the highest level of Chinese politics,” followed by this statement: “Some had expected President Hu Jintao’s visit last month to Shanghai – the territory of his political rivals and his first visit in two years – would lead to the case being resolved in Mr Hu’s favour.”

As readers may observe from the above three reports from John Garnaut that link the Chinese top leadership to the Rio Tinto case, he appears to be an insider to the leadership circle in China and is able to know every bit of the leadership’s intentions and decisions. The technique that John used in these three reports is exactly the same as the article in the Foreign Policy ‘The Revenge of Wen Jiabao’. The only difference is that in the Foreign Policy, John needed to provide links that supported his story; whereas in the FairFax media, he was able to say whatever he wished without any links to support his story.

Therefore, when a proven master of fake news is promoted by FairFax from China correspondent to Asia-Pacific editor, what credibility could Fairfax news possibly have?

Fake news are threat to democracy, please circulates this article to as many people as possible to keep our media honest!


About the author:

Wei Ling Chua is an Australian author of a series of books on the issue of media disinformation and how it is hurting the world and humanity. He is also the author of: Democracy: What the West Can Learn from China, and Tiananmen Square “Massacre”? The Power of Words vs. Silent Evidence. His contact:, Twitter:

Wei Ling Chua

Accredited INS and ANFS Freelance Journalist
Independent Researcher of Media Disinformation
Author of a series of books relating to the issue of media disinformation and how it is affecting the world and humanity
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