February 11, 2004

MEDIA BOTCH

From todayís editorial in The Australian (links added):

ABC television's Media Watch is back, with David Marr still at the helm. And the question is: why? Having spent last winter ridiculing then communications minister Richard Alston for his complaints of anti-US bias against ABC radio over its coverage of the Iraq war, Mr Marr was confronted with a semi-independent review panel finding that many of Senator Alston's complaints were justified. So, in his final show for 2003, Mr Marr promptly "went" the review panel. It was not an edifying spectacle.

On Monday night, Marr picked up where he left off, with a long attack on Lord Hutton for his "trial and sentencing of the BBC". According to Media Watch, the story that reporter Andrew Gilligan put to air last May, alleging that the Blair Government had "sexed up" an intelligence dossier on Iraq's WMD arsenal, and that was rejected by Lord Hutton, is now looking "right on the money". As evidence he cited a report in London's Independent in which a former Ministry of Defence expert, Brian Jones, claimed analysts were overruled in attempts to insert caveats into the dossier.

What Marr did not mention is that Mr Jones never claimed that Downing Street overruled the analysts - he claimed they were overruled higher up the intelligence chain. And if Lord Hutton got it so wrong, and the BBC did not broadcast a false report that led to the suicide of David Kelly, why did the BBC's chairman and director-general both quit, with the acting chairman apologising "unreservedly for the BBC's errors and to the individuals whose reputations were affected"?

Marr and Media Watch have been caught out here. And you kind of think they anticipated it, given that this was all they ran from The Independentís report; no link, no nothing else so viewers or readers could check Marrís claim.

(Iíll have more on Media Watch later in the week; specifically on how the program identifies its targets, and non-targets.)

UPDATE. Professor Bunyip further examines Hutton and Marr. If only David were this thorough. Judging by the Media Watch guestbook not being updated since 4pm yesterday, one may assume executive producer Peter McEvoy has spent the morning in damage-control mode.

Posted by Tim Blair at February 11, 2004 02:08 AM
Comments

I don't recall any Australian media mentioning the Brian Jones was overruled by his superiors. I only head about this in blogland. Are the editors at The Oz reading your blog, Tim? Would they have stumbled onto this fact otherwise?

Posted by: Jethro at February 11, 2004 at 06:41 AM

No doubt Media Watch will admonish Phat Phil and Ramsey for perpetuating the plastic turkey lie.

There's that flock of bloody flying pigs again.

Posted by: Richard at February 11, 2004 at 07:03 AM
Mr Marr was confronted with a semi-independent review panel finding that many of Senator Alston's complaints were justified. So, in his final show for 2003, Mr Marr promptly "went" the review panel.

I have read the original findings of the ABC's complaints review executive (CRE), and then the findings of the independent complaints review panel (ICRP).

While noting some of the deficiencies of the CRE findings, it must also be said that the IRP findings are also open to question, and that Media Watch was quite right (IMHO) to examine and criticize those findings.

It was not an edifying spectacle.

This is ironic, if one can remember the editorial that appeared just after Media Watch had finished for the year.

"17 instances of bias identified by the IRP" stated The Oz, when in fact, the IRP upheld 12 claims of bias, but then (apparently against its own charter) identified a further 5 "not serious" instances of "breaching ABC editorial policies".

And at least that editorial admitted (finally) that Janet Albrechsten had made an error in her column that began the MW/Albrechsten row. Before Paul Sheehan forced their hand (and allowed The Oz to (ahem) "borrow" Sheehan's treatment), The Oz was maintaining that Albrechsten had done nothing wrong at all.

Unedifying, indeed. In fact, one of the worst editorials from The Australian I had ever seen.

Posted by: Jethro at February 11, 2004 at 08:32 AM

"Unedifying, indeed. In fact, one of the worst editorials from The Australian I had ever seen"

The Australian's editorial column commencing around mid-2003 became one of the most unedifying media columns in the country.

Around 2 weeks ago, almost the entire column was dedicated to the spectacular life changing success that digital television & cable networks were going to be.

Nothing less than a shameless advertising spruik for those that own the above media. More adver- than edi-torial.

Posted by: chico o'farrill at February 11, 2004 at 09:02 AM

Guys. what about the issue in hand here? rather than hyperventilating about the Oz, what of THIS issue?

Posted by: nic at February 11, 2004 at 10:48 AM
Judging by the Media Watch guestbook not being updated since 4pm yesterday, one may assume executive producer Peter McEvoy has spent the morning in damage-control mode.

The MediaWatch guest book gets updated twice a day, from past experience. I've posted comments at night, and not had them appear until late the next afternoon.

The MW home page has had "Coming soon - an improved forum for Media Watchers" up for around 3 months now, but no improvements yet. Sigh.

Posted by: Jethro at February 11, 2004 at 11:58 AM