06 September 2010

No independence on Independents at the ABC

During this intriguing inter-regnum as Australia waits to see if a minority government can be cobbled together in Canberra between one or two of the major parties and the independents, we have again been shown the brazen double reporting standards of Fairfax and the government media.

As occurred throughout the Rudd Government, these influential news agencies have seen their primary self appointed role as holding the Opposition to account. As they see it, the Government is so clearly on track with their urban latte sippers' approved policy and clever news management systems, that independent press scrutiny can be focused on the easy sport of picking at the Opposition's failings, rather than the substance of holding the Government's actual performance to account. And some people still seem to wonder aloud why Australia was caught by surprise when the Labor party killed off their own Prime Minister late in his first term. The ALP, unlike their journalistic fan clubs in the ABC and Fairfax, could actually see that the electorate was going to punish them for their incompetence in government. But the fellow travellers of the ALP in the press corps apparently still haven't figured out that their failure to report on this government let the Australian public down badly then and it continues even now. The ABC and Fairfax  failure of competence as independent reporters on the Government's performance remains a disgrace.

Last night I watched the ABC1's 7 pm evening TV news broadcast. The lead item was an allegation (unspecified) that the Coalition was "intimidating the Independents".  I can't link to the story today because the dishonest weasels at that taxpayer funded news organisation have now substituted a link to a new and different story that will not be run on the broadcast evening TV news. The ABC  now reports on its website that the independents do not feel intimidated. And check the time stamp on the story, 17.52 Sunday. So how come the Sunday 7 pm news didn't report  this? Is it balanced of the ABC to continue to run with their "intimidation of the Independents" story even though the Independents denied being intimidated before the report went to air?  Somebody should investigate this derogation of duty and manipulation of the media narrative by the ABC. But who has the authority? The ALP government or the ABC who are helping to put them in office?

As we moved from the newsreader's tele-promptings on this lead item on the Sunday evening 7 pm ABC1 TV news, to the accompanying visuals it became apparent that this "news" item was derived from a statement by ALP government minister, Anthony Albanese, some time earlier on Sunday declaring something to the effect that the Opposition were "clearly getting desperate and that they were almost resorting to intimidating the Independents". So this was just some tactical political trash talking of opponents by a government lackey. Only someone without an editor and/or without an independent bone in their body could decide such a piece of fluff would be "newsworthy" enough to run it as an item on the main 7 pm ABC 1 broadcast, let alone be a lead. I suppose it might conceivably have had some minor legs if an "Independent" had said he felt intimidated. But from the ALP's Anthony Albanese? This is just the ABC doing some convenient water carrying for the ALP by passing on the ALP government's preferred line on the state of play in the negotiations. How can the ABC credibly justify this act of doing the partisan bidding of the caretaker government of the day whilst that government is in the midst of negotiating for its survival? It seems neither fair nor independent.  Maybe the ABC's Media Watch will tell us. Ha.

It's not like this has been an isolated event either. Tony Jones was disgracefully rude and dismissive of Opposition finance spokesman Andrew Robb when interviewing him on Lateline last Thursday evening about the dispute between the Coalition and Treasury over costings and independent, Andrew Wilkie's highly ethical betrayal of his negotiating tactics in coming out in support of the ALP. Let's see him do that with Treasurer Wayne Swan or Lindsay Tanner's replacement ( How about Adam Bandt Julia?).

As for Fairfax. Check out this morning's offering from the ALP's defacto communication spokesman at  the Sydney Morning Herald, Phil Coorey. Abbott losing his grip on an Independent ? Abbott's the leader of the Liberal/National parties in Opposition. He's not in power. He doesn't have a grip on Independent, Tony Windsor to lose.  That's why we have a hung parliament. We know that Fairfax journalists, along with their ABC brethren, cannot seem to adjust to the fact that the Coalition lost office three years ago. And even today they continue to seek to hold the Coalition to account, leaving the Government unmolested by inquiry or speculation as to its motives. After all such reporting might imperil their preferred team's chances of securing a majority on the floor of the House. Independence? That's for Independents. Not journalists.

Have we had a single prominent report from either Fairfax or the ABC critical of Julia Gillard's negotiating tactics with the Independents (without the usual inevitable weasel words also equally critical of the Coalition for the same purported offence) or which might have impaired her negotiating position with the Independents since the weekend of the election? Show me.

If, as increasingly seems likely, Prime Minister Gillard can do a deal with the rural Independents sufficient to get the confidence of the House, will we then predictably see an orgy of reporting in Fairfax and the ABC on Abbott's failure to win government? Or will they finally report to us adequately on the grubby compromises, inducements and attacks on the Opposition that this already deeply compromised Prime Minister has had to engage in to secure her pyrrhic victory to obtain a fragile and unstable government.

Will the ABC and Fairfax ever be able to report adequately or fairly on the manifest failures of their much loved, gender preferred, unreligious, unmarried and childless, Prime Minister Gillard in Government, rather than the unliked, wrong gendered, faith-bound and married parent, powerless Abbott in Opposition? It seems highly unlikely whilst they continue to recruit and retain the vast majority of their journalists from the inner urban hordes of fashion affected zeitgiest sniffers and sanctimonious academic crusaders for amorality. Can they change so as to report the news more accurately and reliably in future? Only if the light bulb wants to change.

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