‘No bias’? ABC caught making stuff up again

Caption: “Oopsie, our bad” just isn’t going to wash any more. Australian taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for this kind of bias

Whaleoil readers will be shocked, I am sure, to learn that Australia?s taxpayer-funded broadcaster has been caught out yet again.

The ABC almost never comes clean when it is sprung. Indeed, it has the chutzpah to boast that is ?Australia?s most trusted news source?, which is curious, considering that very few Australians actually pay any attention to ABC news, which consistently ranks a distant last in ratings. The ABC also vehemently denies that it has any bias, despite surveys which show that ABC journalists overwhelmingly lean harder to the left than most Australians.

But a concatenation of recent high-profile errors and subsequent retractions are bursting the bubble of the ABC?s self-righteousness. Quote:

Malcolm Turnbull has considered lodging another formal complaint against the ABC in a new escalation of tensions ?between the ?organisation and the government, raising further questions about editorial oversight at the public broadcaster.

The Prime Minister was left angry and frustrated on Friday by an online story by senior political editor Andrew Probyn headlined ?Donald Trump could be ready to order a strike against Iran, Australian Government figures say?.

The article claimed that unnamed senior figures in the Turnbull government had claimed the US could launch a strike on Iran as early as next month. End of quote.

This is an extraordinary claim. Journalists should, therefore, be required to stump up some pretty extraordinary evidence. But, no: Quote:

The ?exclusive? article quoted unnamed sources?the ABC had not contacted the Prime Minister?s Office, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, ?Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne or their offices before publication. End of quote.

It?s basic journalistic practice that relevant people should be contacted to provide comment before such claims are published. Again, the ABC failed this basic test. The only named official source contacted in fact strongly denied the story. Quote:

ABC reporter Andrew Greene, a joint author of the ?article, con?tacted US charge d?affaires James Caruso, who dismissed the claim.

US Defence Secretary Secretary James Mattis has since dismissed the report as ?fiction?.

?I have no idea where the Australian news people got that information,? General Mattis told reporters in Washington. End of quote.

But as they are wont to do, the ABC are refusing to cop to their transgressions. Quote:

A spokeswoman for the ABC said: ?The ABC stands by the story.? End of quote.

But the ABC?s practise of stonewalling complaints sometimes falls apart, and some recent high-profile embarrassments have resulted. Quote:

There were earlier complaints?over reports by the ABC chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici?resulting in changes made to reports and analyses. End of quote.

Alberici?s article has achieved a kind of legendary status for its fundamental errors, and a line of argument that was about as sophisticated as a teenaged Bernie Sanders fan?s Facebook posts. And this from the ABC?s chief economics correspondent.

But the ABC comedy of errors doesn?t end there. Even worse was the ABC publishing claims that were already known to be completely false. Quote:

Another ABC foray into online commentary has ended in embarrassment and an abject apology, meanwhile, with the ABC withdrawing an article that ?appeared to compare West Australian Premier Mark McGowan to disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein [and]?focused on claims that WA Water Minister Dave Kelly ?feigned a headbutt? motion towards WA Nationals ?leader Mia Davies in parliament last month.

The ?feigned headbutt? claim was made by Nationals MP Vince Catania but was false, according to a ruling by the state?s parliamentary Speaker two days before the article was published. End of quote.

The ABC also falsely claimed that the Turnbull government had timed the recent ?Super Saturday? by-elections to disadvantage Labor. Then there was the hilarious “Alene Composta” episode, where a? senior editor, Jonathan Green, rushed to publish an article by a blogger, which had already been pinged as a complete hoax.

Despite the ABC?s pious denials of bias, there is a conspicuous pattern to their mistakes. Almost without exception, every ?mistake?, misleading opinion or outright falsehood is aimed at conservatives. If the ABC was an equal-opportunity offender, its habit of screw-ups and lies might be (somewhat) forgivable. The 24/7 news cycle is a tough taskmaster, after all.

But when a media organisation consistently sins against only one side of politics, then its claims to impartiality are shredded. The fact that the ABC is required by law to be rigorously impartial only makes its blatant bias even worse.

Australians deserve much, much better for the billion-dollars-plus they shovel every year into the ABC?s maw.

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