It's a brave media outlet that seeks to airbrush Gina Rinehart from the face of the earth, but that's exactly what The Australian has done. Crikey's highly-tuned Murdoch sensors went into overdrive when we discovered The Oz had apparently photoshopped Rinehart (and two other people) out of a widely-used photograph showing Perth murder victim Corryn Rayney and her husband Lloyd. The Oz ran the airbrushed pic, which shows the Rayneys enjoying a glass of wine aboard a Hancock Prospecting flight, on Friday with its page three story on the acquittal of Lloyd Rayney over his wife's murder.
The Rayneys photo from Fairfax websites (on the left) and in The Australian (right). Where has Gina gone?
The photo most of the media used shows Rinehart gazing serenely out the window, while an unidentified woman slumbers on her shoulder.
So did The Oz scrub out the mining titan to shield her delicate sensibilities from being associated with a murder case? But that's the kind of behaviour we might expect from The Australian Financial Review these days -- not The Oz ...
The Australian's editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell told Crikey this morning that these are "two different pictures taken from slightly different angles. That is Gina is obscured because the pic is from a slightly different angle."
This got us ever more curious because the photographs' foregrounds do appear identical -- and even if they are slightly different, where did Gina go in between the photographs being taken? Did she parachute from the plane, taking her sleepy companion with her? Mitchell got back to us later this morning and cleared up the mystery once and for all. The two pictures are indeed the same, but The Oz ran an earlier version of it which had been edited by authorities to remove the people in the background (there are reports elsewhere that the edited pic was issued by authorities in 2007, when Corryn Rayney was a missing person).
The authorities later issued the undoctored pic, which (almost all of) the media is now using. The Oz still had the old pic in their system and inadvertently ran it on Friday. The Australian's editor Clive Mathieson, who helped solve the case of the missing Rinehart, said: "It was certainly not a deliberate decision."