February 18, 2004


This week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin mentions John Edwards, Kylie Minogue, Steve Irwin, Mark Latham, Kim Carr, Nick Minchin, Nigel Milan, Jenny Brockie, Helen Caldicott, John Traicos, Robert Mugabe, Chloe Traicos, and Andrew Bartlett.

Last week’s column has now reached Parliament. The following is a Senate committee exchange between Senator Santo Santoro and ABC boss Russell Balding:

Senator Santoro: I was interested to read in last week's Bulletin magazine that John Tulloh, the ABC's head of international operations, recently sent a memo to ABC staff telling them not to refer to Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad as terrorist organisations. The memo is reported to state:

"Please be careful with Middle Eastern references. Several recent slip-ups have attracted justified complaints. The ABC follows UN guidelines on proscribed groups: Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad are NOT included in the UN's list of terrorist organisations and therefore must not be described as such."

Would you be prepared to make a copy of that memo available to the committee?

Mr Balding: I will look into that. If it is appropriate I will be more than happy to provide it to the committee.

Senator Santoro: Can you think of any circumstances that would apply where you think that that would not be appropriate?

Mr Balding: I cannot think of one at the moment, no.

Senator Santoro: I would like to elicit some further opinion from you. The memo goes on to state that if any of these organisations:

"... claims responsibility for, say, a suicide bombing or similar outrage, then it is entirely appropriate to describe the incident itself as an act of terrorism. A suicide bomber who detonates himself or herself is a terrorist. While we must avoid labels where possible, do not be afraid to call such a person a terrorist."

It would appear from this that, according to the ABC, at least as expressed within that memo, it is possible for representatives of non-terrorist groups to repeatedly commit terrorist acts. Would you think that that is the case?

Mr Balding: I think we need to have a look at the definition of 'terrorist'. I think that what John Tulloh would be trying to do is provide some guidelines and a style guide to ABC journalists to assist them. I am more than happy to have a look at that and provide comments to you.

Sounds like progress. Also mentioned during the same hearings: a study of the ABC’s Iraq war coverage, by me and James Morrow. Copies are available via the Institute of Public Affairs.

Posted by Tim Blair at February 18, 2004 12:20 AM

"Senator SANTORO —Thank you, Mr Balding. Are you aware of a new IPA backgrounder just published by the Institute of Public Affairs that is entitled Anti-American bias collective: your ABC and the Iraq war, written by journalists Tim Blair and James Morrow?

Mr Balding —No, I am not.

Senator SANTORO —It is quite a major publication and quite a major backgrounder."

santoro sounds like quite the reasonable fellow

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at February 18, 2004 at 01:55 AM

Re: your column, Tim --
They inject shampoo? WTF?

Posted by: Alice at February 18, 2004 at 02:37 AM

They didn't say anything about the Christopher Sheil Question Mark Scandal? You're a disgrace! Full stop.

Posted by: Angus Jung at February 18, 2004 at 02:57 AM

Aw, c'mon, Tim. Helen Caldicott is not an "anti-nuclear basket case" she's an anti-nuclear nutcase. Get it right.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at February 18, 2004 at 03:36 AM

"mentions...Kylie Minogue"

Any pictures?

Posted by: aaron at February 18, 2004 at 03:51 AM

Always good to see Bob Mugabe cracking a mention...He is an award winning president..don't laugh....

Crufts dog of the show 2002
Crufts hurdler 2003
Mass Murderer (Crufts are thinking of introducing it) of the Year 2004.

Current Zimbabwe population 12 million : Estimates of population to die from starvation/AIDS = 3 million to 6 million depending on which organisation (international) you base your figure.

In other words loveable Bob will wipe out between 25 - 50% of his population on current estimates.

As a percentage he must be going for the record.

What do you do with a cunt like this?

You sanction the shit out of him. You isolate him and then you pressurise anyone coming out of that country.

Most are doing just that.

Except of course good ol' Jacques Chirac who laid on the red carpet recently.

What a President, what a man, what a fucking wanker.

Anyhow enough about Bob and his Froggy friend I'm sure you have work to do...

Posted by: Traps at February 18, 2004 at 04:40 AM

Sounds like the ABC crew finally got the Hutton Report right. At least in their own minds, if not on their news programs.

Posted by: papertiger at February 18, 2004 at 05:24 AM

To Tim,

Are you permitted to post extracts from the backgrounder you did for the IPA on the ABC's coverage of the war? If you can then I'm sure many readers would appreciate seeing some of the juicy bits.

Posted by: The Gnu Hunter at February 18, 2004 at 05:37 AM


> "mentions...Kylie Minogue"
> Any pictures?

Here ya go-


i cant believe i found that site in my links...

Posted by: Me at February 18, 2004 at 06:04 AM

Balding should be fired. If he's not smart enough to cook a vaguely plausible reason to suppress embarassing memos within 0.04 seconds, he's no use to the ABC.

Posted by: Craig Ranapia (Other Pundit) at February 18, 2004 at 06:10 AM

That's fantastic. It's great to think that there'd be politicians reading Tim's work.

Posted by: Ken at February 18, 2004 at 06:15 AM

Tim are you going to write anything about the riots in Sydney? I'd really like to hear your take on it.

Posted by: El-Diablo at February 18, 2004 at 06:34 AM

The ABC's (and, in particular, John Tulloh's) attitude towards terrorism is not new. In November 2002 I complained that their newsreader referred to Islamic Jihad as a "resistance group". I received the following letter from John Tulloh:

Dear Dr Robson,
Thank you for your email of November 5 concerning a news item on Radio 666 in Canberra. Our apologies for the delay in responding.

Islamic Jihad is certainly a resistance group by any interpretation of the English language.

While Israel, the US and the EU have declared the Islamic Jihad and HAMAS terrorist organisations, the UN has not done so.

UN resolution 1373 which you cite is aimed at curbing finance and other assistance for any group or person carrying out terrorist acts. It was prompted by events of September 11, 2001, without naming any organisation specifically despite Australia's own submission on the subject.

Resolutions 1267, 1333 and 1390 do in fact list people and organisations officially deemed by the UN to relate terrorism. They do not include Islamic Jihad (or HAMAS).

We hope this clarifies a complex subject.

Yours sincerely

John Tulloh
Head, International Operations
ABC News and Current Affairs

Posted by: Alex Robson at February 18, 2004 at 07:08 AM


See here.

I know, it's unbelievable.

Posted by: Alex Hidell at February 18, 2004 at 07:36 AM

Why does the world suck so much muzzie cock? ;) traps love the post on Mugabe - u know he reminds me of a turd? Maybe that's what he should be representing at Crufts!

Posted by: koranistoiletpaper at February 18, 2004 at 07:52 AM

Snopes is wrong on this. According to Pantene researchers, you inject the shampoo but you have to wait more than 24 hours to get a hit i.e. "it won't happen overnight, but it will happen."

Posted by: Alex at February 18, 2004 at 08:19 AM

Working beautifully Alex

Posted by: Rachel Hunter at February 18, 2004 at 08:41 AM

but alice, you need to rinse and repeat, followed by an injection of pantene's conditioner...

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at February 18, 2004 at 09:02 AM

Great, mate, you are really doing your bit to make the media more accountable.

Now tomorrow I want you to hop down to senate estimates and tell them all about Matt Drudge's unsourced, unsubstantiated rumours. You never know, they might not have heard all "the details". Hopefully we can get them to pass them on to someone else.

Oh, yeah, that's right... journalist!

Posted by: Miranda Divide at February 18, 2004 at 11:50 AM

Right on cue!

Posted by: Andrea Harris at February 18, 2004 at 11:59 AM

Tim Blair on skewed journalism.


I guess the IPA just figured it wasn't going to be taken seriously on this issue anyway, so why even try to create a veneer of credibility.

Posted by: Mork at February 18, 2004 at 12:02 PM


I don't know how to say this, having US readers and all, but....., here in Hong Kong, Pantene (in cantonese)is called :

Poon Tang

Posted by: nic at February 18, 2004 at 02:34 PM

Terrorist - resistance - freedom fighters.

Depends on your point of view, or an issue of morality.

Any death by bullet or explosion is terrible.

In my humble opinion, such a death is more morally unjustifiable if done in a uniform in the name of a State than if done by a person who believes what they are doing is justified for other reasons.

Posted by: Arik at February 18, 2004 at 08:17 PM

Ark, you had equated terrorists as freedom fighters, and had suggested that it was less morally unjustifiable for some one to commit such acts whem they believe strongly in them.

Killing civilians who are going about their daily lives in market places and bus stops doesn't appear to me as freedom fighting.

Saying something is "less morally unjustifiable" sounds like a sly way of saying such things are morally right.

Posted by: madison at February 18, 2004 at 09:51 PM


Charles Manson's murders qualify for 'moral justification' under your standard.

Posted by: Cosmo at February 19, 2004 at 04:54 AM