A Who's Who of Australian media was dragged into a defamation court case about a sacked rugby league reporter who threatened to rip off a junior staffer's head and defecate down his neck.
NSW District Court Judge Judith Gibson last week threw out a lawsuit by ex-Seven News journalist Josh Massoud after hearing evidence from former TV anchor Jim Wilson, Seven News boss Jason Morrison and former presenter Ryan Phelan.
Massoud had taken News Corp, Nine, KIIS FM, Radio 2GB and Fox Sports to court, variously claiming the news outlets had defamed him as a bully and someone who threatens and intimidates colleagues, in 16 articles published in 2018 and 2019.
The articles wrongly said Massoud threatened to 'slit' the throat of 18-year-old, fresh-out-of-school staffer Jack Warren or claimed that the reporter had made graphic threats to kill him.
Massoud called Mr Warren on May 1, 2018, after learning the young man had mistakenly tweeted a story from a network Twitter account about Todd Carney leaving the North Queensland Cowboys.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
The story was yet to run on air and Massoud wanted his colleague Mel McLaughlin to break it on the 6pm bulletin that night - but Mr Warren had tweeted the story hours early.
'If you weren't so young, I'd come up there and rip your head off and s**t down your throat,' Massoud told Mr Warren.
Rugby league reporter Josh Massoud sued News Corp, Nine, KIIS FM, Fox Sport Australia and Radio 2GB for defamation, over reports which said he threatened to 'slit' the throat of a junior staffer. The lawsuit was thrown out last Thursday
Channel Seven news director Jason Morrison recalled how Josh Massoud was 'on the warpath' after a junior staff member tweeted a story about Todd Carney early. Senior producer Emma Dallimore couldn't recal ever being spoken to as she was by Massoud that day
During the call with well-known news breaker, Mr Warren - the son of a Seven executive who was working in the regional Maroochydore office - apologised four times.
The confrontation came about after Massoud made four calls to colleagues in the Sydney and two Queensland newsrooms, to complain and sleuth who had posted the errant tweet.
Mr Warren was 'inconsolable' after copping Massoud's tirade, according to evidence before the court. Massoud was suspended, investigated and then sacked, the judgment said.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
The news quickly leaked and Massoud sued the media outlets that reported on it.
That culminated in several of his former colleagues including news director Morrison and direct manager Wilson giving evidence at the defamation trial recently.'Hideous' day Massoud picked up the phone
The day of the 's*** down your neck' incident itself was 'hideous', Mr Morrison, a former talkback radio presenter, told the District Court.
Sports editor Wilson recalled getting a call from Massoud, whose blood was boiling, saying: 'Who the f*** has gone and compromised this, who's put it online?'
Wilson recounted that Massoud said 'whoever's f***ing responsible for this I'm going to f***ing find them and nail them.'
Seven sports reporter Mel McLaughlin was meant to break the story on air at 6pm - but it was tweeted out by a junior staffer in the regional Sunshine Coast office
'I just said, "just hold your horses, just take a deep breath, I'm the sports editor, let me handle it'.
Wilson observed his colleague Emma Dallimore rolling her eyes on the phone, and realised she was also on the phone to Massoud.
Massoud was 'shouting abuse and swearing so much that she could not understand what he was talking about', Ms Dallimore said, according to the judgment.
The call was placed in the stressful minutes prior to the 6pm bulletin.
Ms Dallimore later complained to Mr Morrison: 'I don't know what the hell is wrong with Josh, but he's just been screaming at me on the phone.