Insights from Quadrant

A missing word:

Transfixed by the ABC’s coverage of the High Court’s ruling in the matter of Cardinal George Pell, Quadrant contributor Tony Thomas, a genuine journalist, was appalled by the mockery the ABC’s operatives made of dutiful, thorough, professional reporting. A hopeless optimist, he dashed off the observation below and sent it to the the national broadcaster’s pseudo journalists.

To: Audience & Consumer Affairs
Subject: Material omission in Pell judgment by High Court

In the entire item on the High Court’s freeing of Pell, flagship ABC TV News 7pm did not once say the seven High Court judges’ decision was “unanimous”.

I am sure that if the decision was 4-3 the News would have mentioned it. But because the unanimity of the decision is severely damaging to the ABC’s long-standing crusade against Pell, it was deliberately omitted that the decision was unanimous.

It is impossible to believe that the word “unanimous” was omitted for any other reason than bias.

The ABC charter says or implies that material facts should not be omitted.
—  TT

Don’t hold your breath, Tony.

As the ABC’s most recent annual report states, starting on page 147, fewer than 4 per cent of complaints are judged valid. Need it be said that the ABC is responsible for determining if the ABC is upholding the ABC Charter? Honestly, you’d get a fairer hearing in a Victorian appeals court, which isn’t saying much. From the annual report:

During 2018 -19, 50 editorial complaint issues (3.3% of all investigated issues) were upheld. A matter is upheld in cases where A&CA determine that ABC editorial standards have not been met…

… Summaries of upheld and resolved complaints are published on as individual complaints are finalised, providing timely access to complaint decisions. The ABC also publishes a quarterly statistical overview of audience contacts on its corporate website.

To learn what sort of complaints the ABC deigns to acknowledge, go here.  Only three of the upheld and published complaints since 2008 include the word “Pell”. Two protest that he had been incorrectly identified as the head of the Catholic Church in Australia, and the third complains of “explicit descriptions in a report on Cardinal George Pell’s handling of allegations against a priest accused of sexual abuse.”

If the ABC received complaints about its tireless slagging and smearing of Pell (and who can doubt that it did, lots of them) not a single one was rated worthy of action. Like the omission of “unanimous” in last night’s broadcast, it is what the ABC leaves out that is most telling.

UPDATE: Amazing! Unlike standard complaints, Tony’s note received an apologetic next-day response. Why, it’s almost as if there has been a synaptic flash in the national broadcaster’s reptilian cortex to suggest that this time it has gone way too far. The letter of response is below:

Dear Tony,
I am writing in response to your complaint regarding ABC News.
I agree, the fact the decision was unanimous should have been in the top story on the 7PM News on Tuesday.  It was reported across other ABC platforms throughout the day and was included in last night’s 7PM coverage.
I have spoken to the reporter and producer and they have assured me the omission was not in any way intentional.
Kind regards 
Georgia Spokes
Victorian News Editor

–roger franklin

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