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February 02nd 2014 print

Geoffrey Luck

The ABC, Rotten To Its Red-Raggin’ Core

Picking through the ABC's books to ascertain where some $1.2 billion was spent last year is a good start, but only a start. To restore the national broadcaster's standards and reputation we need root-and-branch reforms

abcIn American Betrayal, one of the most important – and terrifying – books published in the last few months, Diana West details the extent of Russian penetration of the U.S. Government from Depression years to today, and its consequent influence on policy and culture.

Drawing on a wide range of sources, West claims Franklin Delano Roosevelt – New Deal hero and wartime champion – was in thrall to Harry Hopkins, a Russian secret agent, who spirited secret papers and even uranium to Moscow via the Lend Lease programme. At the very least, FDR was indifferent to concerns about Communist infiltration of American institutions. He had already fallen under the influence of intellectuals of the American Left – Rexford Tugwell, Stuart Chase, James Maurer, Paul Douglas and Roger Baldwin – all of whom returned from Moscow visits determined to direct the expansionist policies of the New Deal. Amity Shlaes detailed their exploits in her Great Depression story The Forgotten Man.

The penetration continued and intensified after the war. J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI wiretaps had tabulated its extent, but its gathered intelligence was never allowed to be used. Russian defectors and turncoats filled in the details of the treason – KGB agent Gordievsky; spymaster Ashkak Akhmerov; Whittaker Chambers and Elizabeth Bentley. The Venona Project and the Mitrokhin Archive proved that top-level policymakers were formal Soviet operatives: Harry Dexter White in Treasury, Alger Hiss in the State Department and Lauchlin Currie in the White House.

But the efforts of the House Committee on Un-American Activities and even Senator McCarthy’s hearings were neutralised by the virulent attacks by Marxists in Hollywood and the media, and ultimately by official indifference.

Naturally, West has copped a barrage from the Marxist left in America. She’s been called “deranged”, “right-wing loopy” and “McCarthy’s heiress.”  But she hasn’t been making it all up. She documents the allegations impressively, and draws on acknowledged authorities such as M. Stanton Evans’ book on Joseph McCarthy, Blacklisted by History.

The sinking feeling that comes from reading American Betrayal is not due only to the enormity of the treachery by Marxists, fellow travellers and social democrat sympathisers, but the fact that it has been whitewashed, excused and forgotten, while those who stood up to expose the villains have been vilified, lampooned and marginalised.

If that can happen to paralyse policy in the most powerful democracy in the world, it is not at all difficult to believe, and understand the steady march of Marxist influence that has transformed the ABC. Keith Windschuttle’s essay, and the detailed road-map of the penetration by Anthony McAdam, republished by Quadrant Online today, some 30 years after it first appeared in print, should shake the government, and indeed all Australians concerned for democracy.

Till now, the identifiable sickness that pervades the ABC has been too politely termed ‘cultural group-think.’  Now it should be called for what it is – Marxist corruption and circumvention of the ABC Charter, the Code of Practice and Editorial Policies.

During the 1960s and 1970s, as Allan Ashbolt built his influence and trained his acolytes, management and the then-Commission (it now goes by ‘Corporation’) could have acted but were paralysed by fear of public reaction. They were too busy fighting spot fires with individual crises in Four Corners, This Day Tonight and other topical and current affairs programmes to realise they were linking up into a blaze fanned by a Marxist wind that would destroy the ABC’s reputation for impartiality.

Foolishly, they believed that the News Division’s disciplined objectivity and truthfulness could hold the fort against the mounting forces of postmodern relativism. Together, the ABC and its general manager refused to impose the news training, values and discipline on the wayward broadcasters. When News and Current Affairs were merged, News Division values, its in-house “style notes”, editorial controls and training were sublimated into the loose undefined mix of fact, interpretation and comment permissible in Current Affairs.

In April last year, Nick Cater wrote an article for the Australian, The Radicalisation of the ABC, trying to get to grips with the problem in News and Current Affairs. Subsequently, I wrote a complementary piece for Quadrant Online going back to the roots of the issues he identified. Nothing has changed.

In the last seven years, Mark Scott has been presiding over an organisation clearly not under his control. As others have shown, he has not exercised the role of Editor in Chief he claims for himself; he has welshed on the undertakings he gave in his inaugural speech to the Sydney Institute. It’s time for those who claim to believe in a national broadcaster to stop chanting irrelevant and untrue slogans about public confidence, negligible complaints, and bias being in the eye of the beholder. The core is rotten. Nothing less than a complete revision of the ABC Act can start to break the insidious grip of broadcasters determined to change society itself.