Sports presenter Erin Molan doesn't have a "racist bone in her body" but was set up by the Daily Mail to damage her reputation, a judge has been told.
Her barrister Sandy Dawson SC also accused the media outlet of running an illegitimate ongoing campaign against Molan, a Nine Network presenter and co-host of the 2GB rugby league show, The Continuous Call Team.
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She is suing the Daily Mail for defamation claiming she was portrayed as racist, callous and arrogant in an article and tweets about her saying "hooka looka mooka hooka fooka" on air in June.
At the first case management hearing in the Federal Court on Friday, Mr Dawson asked the judge for the earliest hearing date available.
"There is an ongoing campaign by the Daily Mail to damage Ms Molan's reputation, to do so entirely illegitimately," he said.
The organisation was publishing online its defence to the claim, which he said was another way of spreading the two main falsities outlined in her statement of claim.
They were that she had described the hooka phrase as an "in-joke" and had refused to apologise.
The media outlet obviously made up the in-joke quote but attributed it to her, he said.
A journalist had contacted her at 1.03 pm on June 5 saying "are you going to apologise" and 31 minutes later the article was published saying she refused to apologise, Mr Dawson said.
There had been no complaint about her statement until the Daily Mail "generated a firestorm" prompting a reaction after it "set her up".
Molan ‘does not have a racist bone in her body’
She did in fact apologise, he said.
"She does not have a racist bone in her body."
The Daily Mail's lawyer, Paul Svilans, denied the media outlet had been running an illegitimate campaign against Molan, submitting the issue clearly was whether or not she was racist.
"We have put on a defence with 24 instances of when the applicant has engaged in racist behaviour," he said.
The defence was pleading "truth' to all the defamatory meanings alleged by Molan.
His client was relying on things like Molan putting on Japanese, Chinese and Indonesian accents and mocking Pacific Islander names, Mr Svilans said.
"That is the key issue - is she racist because of that behaviour?"
Justice Robert Bromwich was told the parties have agreed to take part in mediation but if that failed the hearing of the case could take up to seven days.
He listed the case for hearing from August 30, 2021, the earliest date the judge had available for that block of time, and for another case management hearing on February 19.
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