It appears the comment feature for the blog of self-styled climatologist, Andrew Bolt has been shut down by the Herald Sun:
Bolt’s blog a comment-free zone. The comments section of Andrew Bolt’s blog used to be a sight to behold – a free-wheeling, invective-filled wonderland of debate and discussion. Now, it’s a wasteland. On 10 July 2011, for example, the conservative crusader’s seven blog posts attracted 1289 comments. Yesterday, only 225 comments published. As Crikey hit deadline, just three comments had been waved through today.“NO MORE COMMENTS TODAY, PLEASE – OTHER THAN FOR THE THREAD ON OURSAY,” Bolt implored his readers yesterday. “NO MODERATORS AVAILABLE.”He also, we recall, asked readers to let News Limited’s powers-that-be know if they wanted the situation fixed (his post has since been amended).The Herald Sun, it appears, is no longer willing to fork out the cash necessary to stop Bolt’s blog from becoming a defamation danger zone. The columnist used to do much of the moderating himself, with assistance from wife Sally Morrell. Last year, Anne Summers detailed how Annabel Crabb and David Marr were subject to sexually-explicit slurs by Bolt commenters after appearing with him on the ABC’s Insiders.In response to questions from Crikey this morning, The Herald Sun’s editor-in-chief Phil Gardner gave us this cryptic answer: “Moderating procedures across heraldsun.com.au are continually being reviewed.”
Bolt has a habit of getting the facts wrong and letting his readers engage in free-wheeling invective, the end result is often costly litigation (Bolt has lost two court cases so far).
Partly this in response to a story by journalist Anne Summer’s in the Monthly on on just how nasty Bolts readers could get:
A few months earlier, on 5 July, a similar thing had happened to Annabel Crabb after she, too, had had an argument with Bolt on air during Insiders. Some of the comments were “grotty, sexist stuff”, Crabb told me, “about my appearance, or what my sexual performance would be like after a few drinks”. The episode in which the fight occurred marked the eighth anniversary of Insiders, and the ABC took the guests to lunch at a restaurant in Carlton afterwards: “The unnerving thing was that [the comments were] all going up while Andrew and I were having lunch together,” said Crabb. “I found it confronting because we’d always got on well together.” Such attacks became so common, Michael Bodey reported in the Australian in April this year, that some people were unwilling to appear on Insiders with him, “because Bolt’s minions harass them afterwards”. Jason Wilson, a lecturer in digital communications at the University of Wollongong, described being “Bolted” in early August 2009 after he criticised Bolt’s performance on Insiders. Bolt’s post the next day featured a photograph of Wilson and an inaccurate description of him as working for GetUp!, and it accused him of using the Pravda model of journalism. For the next week Wilson was subject to abusive emails, many of which contained Bolt’s post cut-and-pasted into the message. One was even c.c.’d to Bolt, like a dog bringing a stick back to its master. Some of the emails threatened violence although most simply offered abuse, calling Wilson “a prick”, “an insignificant, parasitic socialist wally”, “a smug little shit” and a “leftoid, as in haemorrhoid, as in a continual pain in the arse …”
Bolt’s blog has fueled climate scepticism -and made scientists targets – for years. He worked hard to turn public opinion around on acting on climate change.
That his blog would eventually collapse in on itself is no surprise.
But damage Bolt has done to the quality of debate in Australia is immeasurable.