May 28, 2003


No bias at the ABC, oh no no no no no no:

Communications Minister Richard Alston yesterday escalated the Government's war with the ABC, questioning the journalistic ethics of news and current affairs chief Max Uechtritz and accusing the broadcaster of biased reporting on Iraq.

In a sign of the Government's increasing hostility, Senator Alston's office yesterday distributed a dossier to Canberra journalists, containing 16 examples of alleged anti-US reporting from ABC Radio during the Iraq conflict.

The dossier also contained background information about remarks made by Mr Uechtritz at a broadcasters' conference last September in Singapore.

"We now know for certain that only three things in life are certain - death, taxes and the fact that the military are lying bastards," Mr Uechtritz is reported to have said during a forum on war reporting in Afghanistan.

Mr Uechtritz yesterday described the minister's claims as "nonsense" and said his reported comment had been a "throwaway line", but Senator Alston said the remarks were cause for concern as Mr Uechtritz's attitude could have flavoured the ABC's news coverage.

The dossier of alleged examples is heavily critical of AM presenter Linda Mottram, instancing a series of reports in which the journalist referred to the US Government's "propaganda war" and described the death of three journalists as a "body blow" to the coalition's campaign that "undermined the Pentagon's claim that it is waging a compassionate war".

Iím working on a piece about the ABCís war coverage, specifically its radio coverage. Should be available in a few weeks.

Posted by Tim Blair at May 28, 2003 01:29 PM

Peter Thompson at breakfast was the worst, but all of them sneered for the duration of the war. I stopped watching tv within two days (hopeless), rapidly discovered the warblogs and relied on them throughout for news and info. But I listened to Radio National every single day, became enraged, it was across the whole schedule. Look forward to your piece.

Posted by: Susan at May 28, 2003 at 02:31 PM

Tim it is dead easy to dispel the "myth" of AlpBC bias. Just list the right wing opinion presenters who offset Adams,Lane, McCutcheon, Mottram etc etc.
Also seeming as we have a current collective prediliction to knowing salaries etc could we have the AlpBC remunerations out in the public too?

I see that Indira Nadoo gets amere $256000 pa for her outstanding contribution to public broadcasing.

Posted by: LAWRIE at May 28, 2003 at 02:56 PM

I heard Alston's accusations and Big Max's reply and to be quite honest a little bit of research backs up Big Max however I suspect Alston already knew that.

Let's be fair dinkum there was a propaganda war going on with both sides lying their guts out with Iraq naturally being the worse offender.

The problem here is everyone wants to see black and white and sometimes people are both at the same time!

Posted by: Homer Paxton at May 28, 2003 at 03:01 PM

What is it about you Tim? Why are you so rabidily hostile toward the ABC ?
Is it because of so called Left Wing bias? Who says it is Left wing? Just you and Alston and a few other clowns who presumably think it should be Right Wing.
Just in case you didn't notice Tim, this country is well served by Right Wing media who get a much greater audience than the AB friggin C. viz - News Corporation and all its Publications, The Daily Telegraph, The Nine Network, Australian Consolidated Press. The Seven Network, The Ten Network, Sydney Commercial Radio.
The ABC is the single lone voice in the Australian Media Landscape that is not beholden to commercial interests, and can therefore speak freely, and you want to gag it. Shame on you and Shame on Alston!

Posted by: rex ringschott at May 28, 2003 at 03:04 PM

What's up with the double-dipping of your little missive there, Ringschott? You must be a journalist.

I'm kidding, Tim.

Posted by: Dylan at May 28, 2003 at 03:28 PM

Put yourself in my shoes, Rex. Imagine how much more you'd hate Fox News if your taxes paid for it.

Posted by: tim at May 28, 2003 at 04:20 PM

And shame on you Rex Ringschott!! You just don't get it do you! Why should the ABC be used to counter perceptions of right wing bias in the commercial media. By your own admission that makes it a tool of the left! The ABC may be listened to / watched by only 12% of Australians, but it is funded by 100% of the taxpayers and should damned well remember it. The sooner the disgusting biased old hag is privatised, the better.

Posted by: Henry at May 28, 2003 at 04:42 PM

But all this ignores the real question: Does Aussie radio play the same lame crap as American radio? I'm not referring to this talking radio crap, I mean the shit radio's supposed to play: Music.

On a different note, I never knew Fox had so much power and control until I started reading the internet. Are they also responsible for the water spinning in the other direction when you flush the toilet down there? I mean, when the water starts its little vortex down the hole, do the words, "Trade Mark NewsCorp" magically appear for a moment and then swoosh down the bowl? If so, would this be the first time a corporation has Trade Marked a natural force or effect? I've heard rumors that Coca-Cola was interested in El Nino, but such things are rarely spoken of in public.

Posted by: Paul at May 28, 2003 at 04:59 PM

A few weeks ago when the SARS virus was hot topic, I was watching World at Noon on ABC, when Joe O'Brien asked Dr Cameron, who had just returned to Australia from Hong Kong, something close to: Dr Cameron would you AGREE that Australian hospitals are ill equipped to handle the SARS virus?
The answer was no he didn't think so.

Talk about left wing bias by presenters. O'Brien thought it was another weapon to blast John Howard, their number one enemy.

Posted by: Peter at May 28, 2003 at 09:23 PM

Sure, the staff at the ABC just can't help themselves from being anti-American. But they do it for the self-love of being anti-American... not like the al Jazeera boss who was on the take from a (former) Iraqi dictator (see link),,1-693937,00.html

Posted by: Siltsone at May 28, 2003 at 09:23 PM

I haven't come across anyone providing evidence that the ABC/SBS is more biased than commercial free-to-air television stations. Commercial tv seems to have less in the way of news than the ABC and SBS, and therefore would have fewer incidents of biased news.

The SBS seems willing to air documentaries of all political persuasions - including "Who shot Mohammed Al-Dura", "Stealing the Fire" (about a German company trying to give Iraq nuclear enrichment technology), "Saddam's Friends" (detailing European supply of weapons and German laxness on controlling supply of WMD precursors).

In addition, dealing with bias via a minister gives the impression of interference by politicians averse to critical coverage, whereas a better approach would be to empower viewers to complain about bias.

Posted by: Andjam at May 29, 2003 at 10:03 PM

My favourite piece of ABC bias was the 666 Canberra morning show on the day that parliament resumed (late Jan) when Jordie Kilby (in fine ABC nepotism son of presenter Dave) was requesting people to attend a demonstration against the government. He had on Pat Power (Catholic bishop to the Socialist Alliance), who was leading one march, but Power was not pushing it enough for Kilby, so he took it upon himself to detail why the march was going ahead and when it was on.
Kilby finally ended his spiel for the demo by telling listeners if they could not make Power's at midday, they should try and get along to the unionists one later in the afternoon.
Bias really?

Posted by: Ed at May 30, 2003 at 03:52 PM