May 06, 2004


Radio National has tried this once before:

The ABC's quest for presenters who might broaden perceptions of Radio National's political tone has led to it hiring one of the broadcaster's most frequent critics, the publisher and right-leaning columnist, Michael Duffy.

Duffy – who from May 17 will present a new weekly RN program, Counterpoint – has described ABC services as "middle-class welfare", has advocated the corporation boost its finances by accepting commercials and has often joined the chorus of critics who accuse it of being biased towards the Left.

Neither Duffy nor RN's manager, Mark Collier, attempt to mask the fact that the new program will attempt to balance perceived pro-Left views expressed by Phillip Adams (Late Night Live) and other ABC identities.

Perceived pro-Left views? Anyway, best of luck to Michael -- he’ll need it.

Posted by Tim Blair at May 6, 2004 12:39 PM

Maybe that Imre chap could be persuaded to post the text of his article "My life as Philip Adams" - might give poor Michael Duffy an idea of what he's in for!

Posted by: Pencil at May 6, 2004 at 12:45 PM

Seems like a waste of time to me- the RN audience wants to be fed their steady diet of left-wing platitudes, and won't react well to a change of diet.

Posted by: Scott Wickstein at May 6, 2004 at 12:57 PM

Apart from being the most boring Australian going round in print, Errol Simpleton is an unabashed backer of the ABC status quo. How does he keep his job as a supposedly objective media commentator? Who has he caught at The Oz with their pants down?

Posted by: slatts at May 6, 2004 at 01:03 PM

Congratulations to Radio National.

It's only taken them 8 years to find a right-wing person in a country that has elected a right-wing Government three times in that period!

I'm impressed that RN management have decided to call the new programme 'Counterpoint' - that seems to me to be an admission that they are, in fact, biased and are graciously allowing another view to be put, albeit only once a week.

I think this is the first time ABC management have made such an admission?

Posted by: Aaron Kennedy at May 6, 2004 at 01:34 PM

I think this is the first time ABC management have made such an admission?

Well, Triple J has a show called Restoring the Balance, but I don't think it's quite the same thing.

Posted by: Robert at May 6, 2004 at 01:40 PM

I wonder if anyone heard ' Australia Talks Back' last night.
They talked about the David Flint/Alan Jones issue, with David Marr a guest and a couple of other of the usual suspects. As usual, almost every caller took the standard ABC leftwing line, attacking Jones and Flint and singing the praises of the ever-so-unbiased David Marr.

Somehow a caller got through who pointed out that people like Philip Adams aren't compelled to reveal their membership of the ALP when commenting on issues, and he went on to mention the left wing bias of the ABC. Of course he was promptly put in his place by the presenter and it was made clear that he wasn't welcome....

Posted by: GeoffM at May 6, 2004 at 01:42 PM

The scarcity of quality commentators with a right wing slant is a shame, and I sincerely hope Duffy is the tonic.

"Restoring the Balance" was superb where the Elmer Fudd is it?

And Geoff, way to misrepresent ATB last night - as the presenter explained, Ando would not appear unless conversation was restricted to Telstra's performance in the bush, and Bill Scales from Telstra would not appear because - well, having heard his efforts on 7.30 Report the night prior, I would be surprised to hear him speaking in public again.

rock on,

Posted by: chico o'farrill at May 6, 2004 at 01:56 PM

Two words: Yee. Ha.

I will be e-mailing the ABC to applaud the decision - they've have enough stick, time for carrot.

Perhaps Mediawatch will finally see fit to make mention of Radio National - it's win-win!

Posted by: fidens at May 6, 2004 at 01:59 PM

He's gonna need a co-host: I nominate Professor Bunyip!

Posted by: fidens at May 6, 2004 at 02:07 PM

I have never, ever gotten through an Errol Simper article without falling asleep.

Is this a world record?

Posted by: ilibcc at May 6, 2004 at 02:26 PM

RN is another example of how everyone's ABC is in fact no-one's, because nobody listens to it. So they can safely make this token gesture- who's going to care? The apparachiks in the ABC will all feel nice and complacent about it; that's what it's about:feel-good stuff.

Meanwhile, back in reality, the radio is off and Australia is watching 60 Minutes.

Posted by: freddyboy at May 6, 2004 at 02:51 PM

Restoring The Balance?
If they wanted to "restore the balance" of the Australian Bolshevik Collective, given that it employs Phillip Adams et al, they would need to employ Ronald Reagan, George Dubya, Tony Abbott, John Howard, Michael Howard, Charlton Heston, Piers Akerman and Greg Sheridan before they came remotely close to having some sort of "balance"
Michael Duffy will be like trying to shoot a conservative pea shooter at a socialist freight train.

Oooohh looky here, arent we balanced now!!!!

Posted by: RhikoR at May 6, 2004 at 03:44 PM

Surely there are a few words of encouragement for Ismail Zayer and friends, and their quest for objectivity.

Posted by: Sincerity Slips at May 6, 2004 at 03:46 PM

Dunno if one could tag Michael Duffy as consistently "right-wing" these days. His weekly columns in the Saturday Courier-Mail have occasionally (mildly) criticised Howard and Bush. He's certainly not as pro-party-line as Phaddams.

Posted by: Uncle Milk at May 6, 2004 at 03:56 PM

You can rock on if you like, Chico, but on Australia Talks Left, with David Marr a 'guest', they talked about Alan Jones, David Flint, how Davo would reform the ABA, the problems of regulating the industry etc. To suggest that the session was confined to Telstra in the bush is fanciful.
Like I said, this one guy obviously didn't know better, didn't know the rules of ATB, and he was promptly put in his place for daring to question the received wisdom.
Of course, Davo and his mob had just been singing the praises of diversity of opinion....

Posted by: GeoffM at May 6, 2004 at 08:04 PM

and as for Michael Duffy's occasional lapses into howard-bashing, he has probably learnt well from Gerard Henderson: back when I used to subscribe to Henderson's magazine, 'Media Watch', he relentlessly pointed out the limitations of our glorious ABC. When the ABC learnt that he could always be relied upon to bash John Howard, they started having him on as a guest more and more; they could of course then claim to have invited a conservative to comment.

As for Henderson, I think he finally realised that it was really fun to hang out with the cool kids.

I must say, Michael Duffy seems to have a greater intellectual ability than Hendo, so I am hopeful that he will not fall for the same trap.

Posted by: GeoffM at May 6, 2004 at 08:08 PM


my point, unimportant as it may well be, was that on the ATB to which you refer, it was lop-sided specifically because people with interests directly pertinent to the discussion - government ministers (unless discussion was on his terms), or the telstra spin doctor - who in the real world would have been put out to pasture after his effort 25 hours previous.

i dislike having to hear two voices singing the same sanctimonious song as much as the next person, but on this occasion

a) differing voices would not appear
b) they're on a damn good thing.


Posted by: chico o'farrill at May 6, 2004 at 11:08 PM

Michael Duffy is not exclusively right leaning, his championing of public education but one example of flexibility. What he has got though is form - one night I watched him do an absolute demolition job on a frothing, spitting Margo. It was beautiful. Bring him on.

Posted by: jafa at May 7, 2004 at 04:14 AM

Umm, the demolition job was on ABC TV Lateline.

Posted by: jafa at May 7, 2004 at 04:18 AM

Hey jafa, you got a link to a transcript or something? That would be beautiful to see.

Posted by: RhikoR at May 7, 2004 at 12:42 PM

With any luck he'll be more successful than the previous two clowns who had a shot at the title of "right wing Phillip Adams(ii)". What an embarrassment predicament they were . I wonder what they are doing now ; eh ? who cares .Their program was sort of like a half hour version of "The Panel" gone wrong with unfunny people. As for Flintie and Jonesie , you are tring to defend the indenfencable there buddy .

Posted by: Bill "Log" O'Slatter at May 7, 2004 at 07:07 PM

And how generous of the ABC to put in the prime 4pm Monday slot (no repeats), instead of the blockbuster 9pm Friday slot (no repeats).

Posted by: Clem Snide at May 7, 2004 at 07:30 PM