Despite being handed down a guilty conviction conservative pundits are still lining up to support Cardinal George Pell; is this one controversy too far?
Mere hours after Australia was rocked by the news that George Pell had been convicted of sexually abusing two boys, columnist Andrew Bolt released this:
Bolt has historically been protective of Pell and continued that tradition with the piece, questioning the victim's testimony and the validity of the convicted accusations.
Today, Pell’s application for bail was rescinded and his lawyer Robert Richter reportedly said that Pell’s offending was, “No more than a plain vanilla sexual penetration case where the child is not actively participating.”
Bolt's article still sits on The Daily Telegraph and the internet is not happy.
There is groundswell on social media from the angry public to boycott Bolt that targets his prominent advertisers.
Activist initiative Sleeping Giants Oz has a detailed thread that targets all the companies that run advertisements on Sky Channel's The Bolt Report.
They point out that no paid ads ran on the night Bolt delivered his Pell defence, this was confirmed by an official Sky channel monitor.
People have been reaching out to companies all day, asking them to rethink their advertisements.
Only NIB has responded to the online tirade.
There’s also a petition for Newscorp to sack Bolt which has gathered over 4,000 signatures since being launched under 24 hours ago.
When one falls, they all fall
Bolt isn’t the only Pell apologist being raked over coals, fellow Newscorp journalist Miranda Devine is currently trending on Twitter for her piece excusing Pell.
Again, the article is sitting on The Daily Telegraph’s home page, under opinion, right next to Bolt.
She is not trending for positive reasons.
Sitting above Devine on Twitter’s trending topics is former Prime Minister John Howard, who provided a character statement supporting Pell after his conviction was handed down.
Commenters are questioning how this decision will reflect on the Coalition in the upcoming federal election.
Dragged through the mud
Despite the extra details Richter has produced during today’s trial Pell still maintains innocence.
The conviction has been damning, not just for people like Bolt, Devine and Howard who willingly support Pell despite his convicted guilt, but for others too.
Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann has removed a Tweet in support of Pell’s 2014 Vatican appointment.
Also doing the rounds online is a 2004 video of Tony Abbott on ABC’s Lateline where he supports Pell.
Abbott more cautiously supported Pell in 2017, after he was charged, saying, “Obviously, the legal process must now take its course, but the George Pell I have known is a very fine man indeed.”
Abbott has appeared on 2GB this afternoon and confirmed his view.
Actions have consequences?
Despite the anger surrounding Pell and his conviction, little consequence has taken place at this current time.
The Catholic church has removed him as the Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy as confirmed by Vatican spokesperson Alessandro Gisotti.
There’s a petition circulating to strip Pell of his Order of Australia title that has reached 38,000 signatories and garnered a response from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Morrison has committed to removing the title should Pell lose his appeal.
Reports have confirmed that Pell has been taken to prison while he awaits his sentencing set for Wednesday, 13th March 2019.