The Decline of Patrick Smith

Patrick Smith was once a respected journalist. A beacon of clear thought. He won awards, directed discussions and most importantly, from my perspective, promoted critical thinking. Alas, this is no longer true.

I wrote last year of his mental decline as he let his emotions cloud his better judgement. (Patrick Smith: Incompetent or Liar)

I believe he did eventually drop that line of alleged reasoning, but I’m sad to report his condition has only worsened in the proceeding 12 months and the prospects of recovery seem dim.

Today Smith penned an article dismissing claims of a secret deal between the AFL and ASADA to ensure Essendon players avoided sanction.

As a symbol of his decline, the previous sentence is a slight misrepresentation. He didn’t actually write it, he merely copied and pasted the it. He wrote the exact same article a year ago, save for a few tweaks in presentation.

In July, 2013, there were reports of ASADA granting the AFL favourable treatment and claims of a deal.

Smiths response was to pass on the denials of the AFL’s CEO, Andrew Demetriou.

Adhering to the slightly suspicious maxim made famous by Claud Cockburn, ‘Never believe anything until it has been officially denied’, this is when a competent investigative journalist redoubles their efforts. After all, if the claims were overtly fanciful, denial would be unnecessary. There were conflicting reports on an important issue involving possible corruption and coercion from a known corporate bully. To a credible journalist, finding which is true is the priority.

Not for the accredited AFL football media, an official denial from on high is their cue to cease and desist.

A year hence, the story has resurfaced, complete with corroborating evidence.

Smith response was to repackage the previous year’s article. The only change is the CEO. It is now Gillon McLachlan cast as the denier.

In the initial game of ‘he said, she said’, Smith’s approach was to endorse the official line and dismiss those expressing the opposing view as NRL ‘sympathisers and sycophants’.

But now? With the new evidence in the public domain? Now his stance degrades from what was at best laziness or blind faith to an outright denial of reality.

In a nutshell:

Media Reports: The AFL had a secret deal.

Smith: That’s just unsubstantiated nonsense. It was merely a ‘framework’.

Media Reports: No seriously, they had a secret deal, here’s the emails.

Smith: The AFL assures me it was only a ‘framework’.

These are the standards of evidence advocated by a once rational being. If Smith truly believes this is the way, I suggest he should consider lobbying the government to implement his new system on a national scale. The government could save billions in law enforcement. Regardless of the facts, if the accused offers a denial, they are innocent. Just imagine; no courts, no police, no prisons. The deficit would be instantly eliminated, and no outcome would never be wrong. Right? He’d be a national hero.

Odd, though, that Smith doesn’t apply his delusion to Essendon.

Considering the ‘framework’ hypothesis, why was the AFL upset about a rewording of the document? Why did they feel it necessary to lobby the Prime Minister’s office for a reversal? Why did ASADA change their ‘framework’ given it’s already established in the code? Or more to the point, why did it even need to be written down? The procedures and potential outcomes can be found by anyone on Google in mere seconds. There were clearly negotiations taking place. And lastly, why were Essendon misled over the content of these negotiations?

So many questions. But then again, the AFL denied it, so case closed. Insert fingers in ears and sing. Done, finished, gone. Along with what remained of Smith’s dwindling credibility.

He is right about one thing, though; there was no ‘deal’.

I’m no lawyer, but I’m fairly certain the first rule of conspiring towards an unlawful outcome is to not document it in a legally binding contract. Hence they didn’t, which left the AFL vulnerable as evidenced by ASADA’s latest actions.

Essendon exploited a similar loophole with James Hird’s salary. The AFL were content to have Hird paid while on suspension, as long as it was done quietly and the obvious bribe wasn’t exposed. When details reached the public sphere, the AFL had no proof or legally binding contract to defend their position.

The AFL’s course was to claim it was their ‘clear intention’ Hird not be paid, just as it was their ‘clear intention’ Essendon players be exonerated should incriminating evidence ever eventuate. There was no ‘deal’.

The AFL intended to unlawfully influence an outcome – or in the case of Hird’s salary, obscure their inducements – and in both cases they failed. They are not only corrupt, but it appears impotent.

The AFL are accustomed to intimidating individuals and small clubs, not confronting a worth adversary. They have been bested by both the Bombers and ASADA in quick succession.

Hopefully these defeats bind the bully and usher in a new era of accountability. Standing in the way of this necessary progress are the usual suspects. Those who place protectionism ahead of the cold hard facts, of which Smith is but one.

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