June 01, 2003


The ABC is attempting to bluster its way out of bias accusations. The Age’s Peter Wilmoth reports:

The news and current affairs department at the centre of the controversy is not lying down. Mr Uechtritz told The Sunday Age it was "hellishly unfair" that hard-working professionals "have their work and themselves slurred by a broad brush and a narrow agenda".

Conservatives slurred by the ABC’s broad brush and narrow agenda would agree. The ABC is hellishly unfair.

The news and current affairs unit has prepared some early examples of rebuttals of Senator Alston's claims.

An item on March 21 reported on "international aid agencies . . . fear that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis could soon be streaming out of Iraq". Senator Alston cites this story as a "beat-up". He claims: "No catastrophe, not even a crisis. Only one aid agency (Red Cross), not hundreds of refugees, not even possibly."

The news and current affairs unit responded by citing a Care Australia website item that said "Care Warns of Humanitarian Catastrophe in Iraq - Care believes that the war in Iraq has the potential to cause significant civilian casualties, unleash a public health disaster . . ." It cites another website reporting that "the UN warns that up to 900,000 refugees could surge across Iraq's borders . . . while another 500,000 Iraqis could be displaced within Iraq."

The unit concluded: "The program faithfully reported the fears and preparations by several agencies concerning a large refugee problem . . . Figures in the 'hundreds of thousands' are consistent in the literature."

So the ABC was “faithfully reporting” the claims of other biased lefty organisations. Which turned out to be totally wrong. And apart from the Red Cross the groups weren't even cited by name, or quoted directly making the claims the ABC alleged. Great rebuttal. Here's Max Uechtritz defending the ABC:

In wartime, distortion - for good reasons and bad - is a given. And that's why the most essential tenet of journalism, healthy scepticism, needs to be applied with full vigour.

Where was this "healthy scepticism" over the refugee claims, Max?

Posted by Tim Blair at June 1, 2003 01:45 PM

Hear, hear!

Posted by: Rosemary at June 1, 2003 at 02:01 PM

The ABC invested so much energy and (im)moral capital in their anti- Bush, anti-Howard campaign that they had to spin the reality of the coalition's succcess to stave off embarrassment.

Posted by: Marko at June 1, 2003 at 02:44 PM

Not only was the BC biased but they got it wrong so often. Only BBC world service was worse denying the Americans were at Baghdad Airport when they were.

Surely if they were an effective network their analysis would get it right sometimes. The amount of mistakes by AM during the War seems to suggest they should back away from analysis and just report the facts: they have neither the expertise, the skills nor the balanced point of view to give the taxpayers what they deserve: an accurate news service.

Posted by: Jehangir at June 1, 2003 at 03:34 PM

tsk, tsk.....you obviously miss Alston on 'Insiders' this morning. Pity, it was wonderful television, watching the Alston quick-side-step.

Posted by: Niall at June 1, 2003 at 05:45 PM

Jehangir is correct when journalist are not capable of performing to the required professional standards they need to get back to the basics and practice until they are able to professional and honestly disseminate the news. Hell if they can't tell the true then they should just shut the fuck up. The world would end it would just get smarter.

Posted by: D2D at June 1, 2003 at 06:25 PM

Er, nice sidestep yourself, Niall. Why not comment on the actual post?

Posted by: tim at June 1, 2003 at 06:33 PM

Gee Nial,

did you watch the whole show or just enjoy that portion?

You must have missed the deafening silence when Andrew Bolt asked B Cassidy (twice) whether or not Hawke complained the ABC was too far to the left or the right.

Cassidy's answer stated the obvious .

Posted by: nic at June 1, 2003 at 07:12 PM

Oh, I watched the whole show, nic. Andrew did a great job of appearing the arse he is.

Posted by: Niall at June 1, 2003 at 08:01 PM

I remember blogging about that 500,000 figure when it happened.

And that's why the most essential tenet of journalism, healthy scepticism, needs to be applied with full vigour.

I use healthy scepticism with full vigour when I blog about the ABC.

Posted by: Scott Wickstein at June 2, 2003 at 12:26 AM

The ABC performed well under difficult circumstances -- sifting through the lies, mis-information and preposterous assertions of Powell, Rummy, Bush and the Deputy Sheriff.
John C

Posted by: John C at June 2, 2003 at 02:00 AM

Well, running down its political opponents is the ABC's job. Sifting through the lies of all its leftist allies ain't in the charter.

Posted by: Harry at June 2, 2003 at 02:48 AM

As Mike Carltons said,the Minister is entitled to his view. "He might also dance naked around Canberra's Capital Circle, smeared in feathers and chocolate fudge, with a trumpet up his clacker playing The Battle Hymn of the Republic, should he so desire. The one would be as sensible as the other."
John C

Posted by: John C at June 2, 2003 at 03:58 AM

Max Uechtritz's "the military are lying bastards" was fair enough advice - pity the ABC only applied this to the US and Australian military in Iraq.

Posted by: Softly at June 2, 2003 at 07:18 AM

Mark Steyn finally resurfaced.

For those of you who continue to rely on the idiots in the mainstream media - those puffed-up leftists who bought and sold Iraqi Info Min. BS and refuse to print the CENTCOM (THE #1 source) daily logs of Coalition progress in Iraq (CENTCOM is still the most trustworthy news source, cynics are lazy or liars...the facts are stubborn things. CENTCOM.mil - check it out - daily)....read Mark's 'vacation' report.

The brave patriot went to Iraq to check the "chaos" for himself. Results - both predictable and maddening.

Bash Bush and Blair at your own risk. Some of us, though middle-aged and gimpy, are ready to kick some Clymer tail (redundant, I know).

God bless Mark Steyn, and you, Tim.

When communities in civilized, free nations call this website "hate speech" we have some serious bugs in the world system.

Posted by: Petunia at June 2, 2003 at 08:23 AM

Two more instances of ABC bias.
1) An ABC TV reporter interviewing Wooldridge when he was minister for that otherwise twitish thing called the department of health:

`you have destroyed the system' ; she screamed this out, yes, screamed , several times. As she continued her rant she made stamement swhich Wooldridge minded her, properly, were crossing into defamation.
An extroadinary performance, to say the least, by that reporter,and worse of ABC for deciding on it in the first place.

2) The anchoress on an ABC prime programme interviewing Dr.Kemp when he served as minister of education: `you wanna bet' she challenged in a raised voice, the not screaming it, overriding Kemp before completing a reply to a question.
This instance had a most enjoyabel denouement: kemp butted in, you are mistaken and was about to state reasons why when the anchoress overrode
him with another you wanna bet out-burst.

Kemp managed to get out his reason.Watching that anchoress's physical response was like watching a balloon deflate fast after punturing by a pin. I laughed a hearty laugh, it was funny watching an ABC `unbiassed reporter' given swift comeupannce- an uppance, mind you, brought about because of the nastiness and stupidity of that reporter.

Go Tim, go Alston.

Posted by: d at June 2, 2003 at 10:38 AM

But you are as inherently biased as the ABC. Look at all the facts, make up your own mind.

BTW. Are you the role model of Dexter Pinion?

Posted by: Andy at June 2, 2003 at 10:55 AM

Facts, Andy? The ABC volunteers the facts, has supplied them over many years.Two points are involved bias, and superfial reporting and analyis and facts, well one might paraphrase Pontius Pilate: `what is a fact', indeed a puzzler going on ABC's performance.

Posted by: d at June 2, 2003 at 11:59 AM

If I'm as biased as the ABC, does that mean I'm also entitled to $750,000,000 of tax funding every year?

Posted by: tim at June 2, 2003 at 12:33 PM

Unfortunately (or fortunately) you do not have a large full time worker base whom you have to provide salaries for. Therefor, no.

Isn't it a desirable aspect of a democracy to have dissenting opinions? Or are you proclaiming a conservative dictatorship?

Posted by: Andy at June 2, 2003 at 01:03 PM

Ah, so if Tim were to suddenly have a `large full time worker base' then he could be entitle to a hefty funding?
Something needs to be kept in view : whether apupil in school or an undergraduate in a tutorial, the expectation is to proceed on an objective basis and not by the governing opinions unrelated to matter of any of the above parties.
Court cases, certainly in common law are conducted rigorously or esle one or both parites litigant mught just have grounds for appeal -i.e. justice is not down because someone's personal beliefs were allowed to bias the case.

Whatever the views of ABC staff, reports on the Iraqi war strayed beyond evidence or suborned evidence to the aprior `spin' the ABC put on the war, as Alston's notes show.
The 2 cases one provided , above, as examples on, to put it mildly , the ABC's curious notion of unbiased journalism, are clear cut in their force.

The really tedious bit would be poring over archives of ABC transcripts to show how consistnely bad the ABC is.That is a matter Andy, which has nothing to do with the independence of the ABC as such. It has everything to do with : does the ABC fulfil its charter, particularly when it consumes $750 millions of money which is taken from those whose assests that $750 m /annum is... those who do pay the taxes .

What Tim is running is proper indeed.

Posted by: d at June 2, 2003 at 02:07 PM

what's that freak show Petunia thing back there?

Posted by: ron at June 3, 2003 at 01:37 AM