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May 22nd 2011 print

John Izzard

Leftland is angry

The extraordinary thing about the venomous attack on Chris Uhlmann and the ABC’s 7.30 program, was that the critics were absolutely right. The old Kerry O’Brien 7.30 Report is well and truly buried. 


Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 19, United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights


In Australia the task of ensuring human rights has been given to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. You would imagine that this “universal right” would be high on the commission’s list of things to watch out for, and indeed to safeguard.

You would imagine that this ancient right would be perhaps the prime consideration of the commission, because, unlike violations against the rights of individuals, freedom of expression and opinion can affect the entire reading, listening and viewing of a vast majority of the nation’s population.

You would also imagine that when any attempt to violate Article 19 occurred, the guardian angels at the HREOC of Australia would be the first to identify the violation and would be the first to act in defense of the UN charter. Well think again!

When Andrew Bolt wrote about the perplexing issue of Aboriginal identity and the legal and moral issues involved, he was taken to court for expressing his opinion. Instead of defending Andrew Bolt’s universal right to “hold opinions without interference” the HREOC sided with those who would abuse Article 19.

One of the things missing from the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) is the right to make a complete fool of yourself. This omission was very much reinforced in the past week as various groups and individuals managed hissy fist when the ABC’s Chris Uhlmann asked Greens leader, Bob Brown, an awkward question.

Uhlmann’s audacity sent a shudder through Leftland. That a member of the ABC would dare ask a question that wasn’t in the left song-book, and that actually held the leader of the Green/ALP government, Bob Brown, to account for his statement that he wanted to shut down the nation’s coal industry, just wasn’t on. Screeches of “the ABC’s turning Right” filled the airwaves and Blogistan. The Green/ALP attack-dog GetUp! ran a wildly hysterical “jihad against freedom of speech” with a “petition for the ABC to return to its Charter”. Talk about crazy-brave!

The perplexed of the nation might have wondered which charter GetUp! was referring to?

The Charter-of-the-Left or the dust-covered Charter that demands of the ABC that it actually engage in non-ideological and non-politically, unbiased broadcasting. In one of those rare and delicious moments poor old GetUp! only managed to get 1294 votes on its petition and a pathetic 548 comments. One comment they got on the forum was from a blogger called Incredulous:

This is a joke surely? Finally a journalist asks some tough questions of the Greens and the luvvies think the ABC is biased to the right! What strange alternate dimension do you people live in?

From the perspective of those who actually believe in Article 19 the political landscape is interesting to examine — when considering media bias. Take television and radio. Without doubt the standard bearer is the ABC. ABC1 news and current affairs is generally skewed to the left with slavish attention to the perspective of the Greens and the ALP. Most ABC television programs like ABC1 News, Q&A, Lateline, ABC News 24, ABC Breakfast News and The Insiders are biased, with the political slant of the presenters and reporters self-evident. When the political bent of the ABC staff isn’t obvious, the choice of the people they interview, is.

Squeezing out opposing views is violating freedom of expression and opinion. When have you seen anyone interviewed about climate-change who wasn’t a believer. When more that half of the Australian population is sceptical — when is their side heard? When is the audience mob on Q&A ever balanced? Why is the panel always majority-left?

ABC Radio is the other compound of left-leaning thought. Then there is the ABC’s The Drum — a sort of after-hours watering-hole for lefty hand-wringers. It is here that they gather to exchange their left-wing views, unrestricted by the ABC Charter (which they ignore anyway). As Gavin Atkins recently pointed out in an article, published by The Australian, about the bias on The Drum:

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 twelve) 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 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 non 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 Anthony Loewenstein alone; 12 anti-Afghanistan war rants by Kellie Tranter, and many more from Labor Party speechwriter, bob Ellis scattered among his 110 contributions.

When weighing up the ABC’s impact on political thought and opinion in Australia it must be done by considering all of it’s media activities—three adult TV channels, all the radio stations in every state, its on-line activity such as The Drum, and other websites, as well as the flow-on effect to other media outlets from the ABC’s left-wing thrust.

The extraordinary thing about the venomous attack on Chris Uhlmann and the ABC’s 7.30 program, was that the critics were absolutely right. The old Kerry O’Brien 7.30 Report is well and truly buried. There is a fresh look at 7.30 and the left doesn’t like it.

Leigh Sales and Chris Uhlmann are doing fine. Viewers I’ve spoken too report the nightly yelling at the telly at 7.30 has stopped. O’Brien’s rudeness has gone. Dignified TV dinners at 7.30 are back in vogue — and the left is feeling threatened.

In Australia the Green/ALP nexus has benefited by support from the ABC, SBS, the Fairfax press plus online sites such as Crikey and GetUp! The odd thing about all this bias business is that the Green/Labor government is doing so badly. A few years ago a left-leaning English-teaching academic lamented as to why, with all the socialist teaching taking place in Australian schools, young adults were voting for John Howard.

So, with all of this media bias, why are Bob and Julia doing so badly? Aren’t ABC audiences paying attention?

Just a thought.