Sure to stir up a hornet’s nest is today’s effort in The Australian newspaper about Australia’s taxpayer-funded online opinion site. The crux of the matter is this:
The real measure of bias at The Drum is not the range of opinion, it’s the frequency.
Up until the end of April 2011, 98 writers had been published eight or more times at The Drum, producing a total of 1880 articles. Only eight of these contributors (one in 12) would pass muster as being on the right of the political spectrum: Glenn Milne, David Barnett, Chris Berg, Kevin Donnelly, Tom Switzer, John Hewson, Niki Savva, and Sinclair Davidson.
This means, for example, that out of all the writers who are given a regular platform on the ABC website, I can find only four articles that were in some way supportive of Israel, and none in favour of the war in Afghanistan.
By comparison, there are dozens of anti-Israel and anti-Afghan war pieces on our taxpayer-funded website, most of them accusatory and damning. For example, there are at least nine anti-Israel articles by Antony Loewenstein alone; 12 anti-Afghanistan war rants by Kellie Tranter, and many more from Labor Party speechwriter, Bob Ellis scattered among his 110 contributions.
So this is my challenge to any outraged denizens of The Drum who are visiting today to maintain their rage – prove me wrong.
It’s simple. Show me the articles at The Drum about the Afghanistan War that argue the point, like this girl would, that intervening and keeping the Taliban at bay is a good thing for her and millions of women in Afghanistan, or any other general points in favour of the intervention.
Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to look through the hundreds of articles by authors at The Drum and find as many articles in favour of the Afghan War as can be found against it by one author, Kellie Tranter. Here they are:
Now, likewise, see if you can find as many articles that suggest Israel has every right to exist and defend itself from rockets and suicide bombings. Can you find as many pro-Israel stories as there are anti-Israel stories from just one author, Antony Loewenstein?
So instead of the ad-hominems or the nitpicking, I invite all-comers simply to go through the records and prove me wrong on these basic points.
If you cannot find as many pro-Afghan War stories or pro-Israel stories in the whole of The Drum as can be found in the catalogues of these individual authors – I humbly submit that there is something drastically wrong.
* Thanks to the already legendary Alene Composta who first made me think of this way of looking at The Drum.
* Why the cut off of eight or more stories? This was the closest cut-off point to the top 100 contributors. Anyone who thinks this is not fair is welcome to look at the top 5 or top 10 – they will come up with similar results.
UPDATE: Bunyip is on the case.