A review of stories that have appeared on the ABC site this year appears to show that it is rapidly becoming a taxpayer-funded left wing gossip/opinion website – more or less, a re-branded Crikey.
Would there be any evidence to support this assertion? You betcha…
In just the past seven weeks we have seen columns from crikey darlings, Scott Bridges, Greg Barns, Simon Chapman, Jeff Sparrow, Melissa Sweet, Mungo Maccallum, John Quiggin, Clive Hamilton, Ben Sandilands, Pamela Curr and Ben Pobjie. Every one of these people is a left-wing mate of Green’s from his days at Crikey, and each of them is filling lots of column inches at the taxpayer-funded website.
But it doesn’t stop there.
In case any of us are unsure what to think, Green has started up a special Twitter round-up on ABC online while Question Time is on in the House of Representatives.
Those who took part in a recent twitter event included former Crikey editor, Jonathan Green; Crikey’s Canberra correspondent, Bernard Keane; Crikey cartoonist, First Dog On The Moon; and Crikey blogger, Possum Comitatus. Nominally, other media representatives were to be involved (none identifiable conservatives), but in any case, the discussion usually appeared to be dominated by Green’s left-wing mates from Crikey.
But can we demonstrate that this has otherwise affected the content at ABC online?
Let’s have a look at one hot issue, for example – anthropogenic global warming. This is a useful bellwether issue because the coalition have opposed an Emissions Trading Scheme, while the Government supports it and polls also demonstrate that Australians have a diverse range of opinions. Especially during an election year, it’s important that the ABC gets the balance right for an issue that will help to decide the outcome.
During January and February, we have been treated to columns on ABC online by Alex Cook, John Hewson, David Horton, Christine Milne, David Shearman, Clive Hamilton (soon to be a set of five articles over five days), Arek Sinanian, Kellie Tranter and Malcolm Turnbull – that’s 13 articles with very similar points of view about global warming.
Over the same period there have been precisely no articles by anthropogenic global warming sceptics.
(This, incidently, does not include articles by ABC journalists, including one by Media Watch host, Jonathan Holmes who, despite having his own television show and website, used the platform to attack Piers Akerman of the Daily Telegraph about his reporting of climate change.)
Another side effect of the new appointment is that the work of conservative columnist, Tom Switzer has stopped appearing at the ABC site. This is perhaps not so surprising considering the regular attacks made against him at crikey.com.
All of which makes us think the ABC must have a tenuous hold of clause 4.3 of the ABC’s Code of Practice:
“The ABC is committed to impartiality and must demonstrate this through the presentation of a diversity of perspectives across a network or platform in an appropriate timeframe.”
This information, incidentally, could prove to be useful for anyone choosing to visit this alternative ABC website.