Rohan RivettHaving at last seen Black and White, the film version of the Stuart Case mentioned ..I have to say that, so far as its portrayal of the late Rohan Rivett is concerned, it is a sad, indeed cruel, mistake.
This is not the fault of the actor.
One can live with a film Rivett who doesn’t look, speak, or behave like the man himself - that may be unavoidable.
The pity is that Rivett, who was a great editor-in-chief of the Adelaide News, should be deprived of the proper credit due to one who inspired and led the paper’s crusade for justice to Rupert Max Stuart. Instead, Rupert Murdoch, who controlled the paper at the time and played a much less significant part, has had greatness thrust upon him. The film takes a great many other liberties with the Stuart case. It uses the old formula - “Based on a true story” - but that cannot excuse everything.
The myths multiply.
On 30 October, the ABC’s 7.30 Report carried an item described as “A tale of two Ruperts: the media mogul and the man he saved” - meaning Keith Rupert Murdoch and Rupert Max Stuart.
Introducing it, Kerry O’Brien said the case “caused an uproar in South Australia - fanned by then-fledgling newspaper proprietor Rupert Murdoch”.
Yet the journalist who prepared the item, Murray McLaughlin, reported with strict accuracy, “The News and its editor Rohan Rivett campaigned on Stuart’s behalf”. How did others get it wrong?
Rupert Murdoch reminisced a little in the report: “Well, I remember being tried for treason...”
Mr Murdoch was never tried for treason.
His company, not himself, was charged on nine counts of libel, including seditious libel.
No mention of treason.
Rohan Rivett was in peril in person, charged with the same nine counts, and like the company cleared of all. This did not fit into the film either.
David Bowman is a former editor-in-chief of the Sydney Morning Herald. A version of this article appears in the December 2002 edition of the Adelaide Review