America Observed With an ABC Squint

The BBC is facing a citizens’ crowd-funded lawsuit against its left-biased reporting, while the ABC is still forgetful that half of its funders are centre-right taxpayers. The latest ABC annual report trumpets Leisa Bacon, director ABC audiences, on its second page proclaiming, “The ABC is unique in its ability to
 unite the nation … we are here for every Australian”.

The ABC’s online surveys and Roy Morgan polls show massive trust in the ABC, but why do fewer than 20 per cent of the polled actually tune in? For 2017-18, by the way, ABC 7pm News audience fell 5-8 per cent.

The most naked bias at the moment is in the ABC’s pro-Democrat US reporting, since few Australians cross-check the material. So let’s sample ABC bureau’s July 4 Independence Day coverage in Washington DC.[1] The reporter is Conor Duffy, mocker-in-chief of President Trump.

For his print piece, falsely labeled “analysis”, the ABC gave us a choice of three headlines. “Trump dreamed of pomp and ceremony. Instead he got soggy tanks”. Maybe that was too deranged, even for the ABC, so a second version went: “ANALYSIS: Wild weather, small crowds and protesters rain on Trump’s parade.” The third top read: “Donald Trump hoped for a parade to rival Bastille Day, instead he got small crowds and soggy tanks”.

For starters, there were no tanks on the Mall, especially not soggy ones. The 25mm chain gun on the two parked Bradley Fighting Vehicles is a pet compared to an Abrams tank’s 5.3m smoothbore of 120mm calibre.

Small crowd? Duffy estimated it as “thousands or tens of thousands” (live TV) or “in the thousands, rather than the hundreds of thousands promised by Mr Trump” (Analysis).  Maybe he picked up about “likely attendance woes” from Politico’s blog that week, piled on by the other liberal media with their history of 90 per cent anti-Trump pieces.

Politico had claimed, via the usual anonymous sources, that “heads are spinning at the White House as Trump’s July Fourth crowd shapes up to be another Inauguration-level disaster.” Trump was even, allegedly, handing pals freebie tickets in multiples of ten. It was double-fake news as the turnout for Trump’s inauguration “disaster” was 500,000 or more, according to Wiki’s experts.

On the day, the Twitterati claimed the official July 4 pics had been PhotoShopped by the device of pasting in a giant crowd from a previous event. This meme died suddenly as leftists recognised their own-goal.

Remarkably, Duffy’s story embeds a video showing, for two seconds anyway, a glimpse of the enormous crowd. On each side of the Mall’s ponds is a packed mass stretching to the high horizon. No-one these days attempts a count. But you can eye-ball it based on an MCG finals crowd of 100,000. There’s at least one MCG unit lengthways (3km) on each side and another unit filling in to the Capitol. Maybe Duffy could visit an optician.

The lead-in to Duffy’s July 5 news report at 7pm was that Trump had “politicised” the holiday. But on Saturday, ABC TV news had another of its US team, James Glenday, saying, “There was actually almost no politicisation of the event at all, despite what his opponents had said.” Bravo, Glenday. But watch your back there.

Duffy didn’t “analyse” why a president shouldn’t do a “Salute to America”. Anyone who takes in Trump’s address can get the full sense of partisan-free American pride. Here’s a sample:

From our earliest days, Americans of faith have uplifted our nation. This evening, we are joined by Sister Deirdre Byrne. Sister Byrne is a retired Army surgeon who served for nearly 30 years. On September 11th, 2001, the sister raced to Ground Zero. Through smoke and debris, she administered first aid and comfort to all. Today, Sister Byrne runs a medical clinic serving the poor in our nation’s capital. Sister, thank you for your lifetime of service. Thank you.”

Pity our schoolkids won’t ever be shown this first-class speech, or encouraged to read its full text, as counter to the customary classroom bashing of America and capitalism).[2]

Speaking for myself, Duffy can be cringe-inducing: “But like a handshake with French President Emmanuel Macron, the American leader was once again left crushed.” Duffy’s link shows Macron taking Trump unawares with a wraparound handshake. I doubt that Trump, who is twice Macron’s build, felt “crushed” then or “crushed” by the size of his Mall crowd. Rasmussen polls a few days later put his approval rating at a 50 per cent high.

Duffy’s sensibilities are also affronted by the Salute’s minor military elements. His so-called “tanks” are not just soggy but “a little sad”, “awkward”, “jarring”, “inelegant” and with “autocratic undertones”. In a linked piece, they’re “grotesque”. He likens the show “to the crass displays of North Korea and China“, albeit by quoting “critics”, a standard ABC deceit to inject bias. I’m surprised he didn’t run an interview with Laurence Tribe, a Harvard Law Professor, who said that the “tanks” were a chilling presage to a possible Tiananmen-style massacre. Not to be outdone, New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow tweeted, “Let this sink in: There are tanks in the nation’s capital and concentration camps at its border. The drift toward the unimaginable is unmistakable”.

 OK, Prof Tribe and Mr Blow, fret and fulminate all you like. But Democrat President Kennedy paraded nuclear missiles down Pennsylvania Avenue, as pictured below. The tank-horror media spin collapsed anyway because half a dozen real tanks (not to mention a Patriot missile launcher) are featured at Washington’s army expo each October.

I saw more tanks and cannon parked at Victoria’s modest Avalon Airshow last March than there were at Trump’s Mall. When I was at the Mall for an Obama-era Independence parade in 2012, the only weapons were rifles of a few small services contingents and wooden facsimiles carried by costumed schoolkids. Nice, but maybe the Obama era was a little too dovish. Three years later, Obama refused to bomb Turkey-bound ISIS oil tankers to avoid “environmental damage”.

Duffy’s 7pm News report also featured the giant (6m tall) Baby Trump balloon and its 10-20 supporters — maybe those were the “protestors” in his ABC headline. Duffy’s report included a loving 33-second clip of the tethered balloon being turned around, plus a sidebar linking to the ABC’s  850-word balloon backgrounder ( “The Museum of London is even working to acquire it”). Surely our unbiased ABC did angry-nappy-baby-Trump to death during his London visit?[3]

Duffy finished his to-air piece with a smattering of vox pops — quotes from supposedly random individuals. The first two (as I recall) were Trump-negative, and then there came a couple of Trump supporters, presumably in the name of balance. The overall impression, though, at least on me, was that rational souls correctly regard Trump as “the worst president in history” (“a criminal”, “corrupt”, “incompetent”).

 Careful, Duffy’s ABC. You do have a charter for impartiality. Maybe one day you’ll look it up.

Tony Thomas’s new book, The West: An insider’s tale – A romping reporter in Perth’s innocent ’60sis available from Boffins Books, Perth, the Royal WA Historical Society (Nedlands) and online here


[1] No longer available on iview – 7pm news pieces disappear after 3-4 days.

[2] I concede Trump mangled his script and referred to revolutionary-war “airports”. He claimed the heavy rain had shorted his teleprompter at that point.

[3] Here’s just a sampling of ABC News headlines on its myriads of baby-balloon stories:

Giant ‘Baby’ Donald Trump balloon is inflated in London
The ‘Trump Baby’ blimp is inflated in Parliament Square
‘Trump Baby’ balloon takes flight in London
Opponents of Donald Trump inflate a balloon depicting him as an orange, snarling baby
‘Trump Baby’ balloon set to take flight during July 4th
The ‘Trump Baby’ balloon dominated headlines” [how did that happen? TT]
‘Baby Trump’ balloon flies over London
A giant balloon portraying the U.S. president as a baby was flown
Activists plan giant ‘Trump Baby’ balloon
Protesters fly “Trump baby” blimp in London’s Parliament

We’re in London, as protesters prepare to fly “Trump baby” blimp…

12 thoughts on “America Observed With an ABC Squint

  • whitelaughter says:

    None of this surprises. And worth noting that when people tune into the Absolutely Biased Collective it is to watch shows from overseas, not the drivel they produce themselves.

  • rod.stuart says:

    IMHO the ABC is not getting better; it is getting worse.
    However, I have to rely on pieces such as this since I completely ignore the ABC and SBS.

  • Stephen Due says:

    What is the rationale for a government-funded broadcaster in this day and age? Given its small audience, comprising people who presumably want to consume its Left/Green perspective, why should the taxpayer support it? It is not just anti-Trump, but provides a seemingly endless stream of programs featuring feminism, domestic violence by men, LBGT, socialism, the environment, climate change and issues of race. It is anti-Christian, pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia, and in favour of Political Correctness. I will give the ABC credit for its ongoing effort to expose human rights abuses in China. But really the ABC should be radically reformed or else privatised. User pays is a good principle in a democracy.

  • ianl says:

    > “The ABC’s online surveys and Roy Morgan polls show massive trust in the ABC …”

    Rail all one wishes, and there are times I feel like joining the howling, but the above quote is the reason the ABC survives as it is.

    It is not the ABC, it is a majority of the people. That most don’t watch or listen is irrelevant; it is (misplaced) national pride.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    Those of us who recall World War II, if only dimly, remember when the ABC really was a class act with impeccable standards. No doubt Geoffrey Luck will know when, why and how the rot set in, but my own gut feeling is that it was the advent of television in 1956 that was the start of the rot.
    Back in the pre-TV era, we in the rural areas depended on the ABC for our news, weather forecasts, market reports, and high class entertainment, and we got it in spades. Complaints about ABC bias were never heard, and we couldn’t have cared less whether the newsreaders were photogenic as long as they pronounced the names of our country towns correctly. (One exception to the usual high quality was Jimmy Gussey’s ABC Dance Band which, in the dawn of the Rock and Roll era, was excruciatingly awful to our ears as it tried to cover the current hits. I still cringe at the memory some 60 years later.)
    But when the rot set in (Ashbolt?), the collapse of the ABC as a credible organisation was as complete as it was rapid.
    Nobody in our extended family watches the ABC anymore, and has not done so for decades.

  • Mr Johnson says:

    Just as well the SBS is better balanced – oh wait, there hasn’t been a pro, or even balanced, report on SBS since Trump came to power. Might as well merge them with the ABC. We’ll still get biased reporting, but at least it’ll be cheaper for the taxpayer.

  • Greg Williams says:

    Last year, one hundred and eighty nine employees of the ABC on executive pay-grades were awarded a total of about $2.2 million in bonuses. A further 190 non-executive employees of the same taxpayer-funded organisation were awarded bonuses totalling $385 000. This is on top of their already bloated taxpayer-funded salaries and generous superannuation schemes.

    I could understand bonuses being awarded if the ABC was making a profit, or ratings were soaring, but the reality is that the ABC does the opposite of make a profit and is actually bleeding the taxpayer dry. Its ratings, if it were a commercial organisation, would be heading it towards liquidation.

    So what are these employees of the ABC being awarded bonuses for, one might ask? It appears that it is for merely doing their job.

    The sooner this anachronistic, money-guzzling organisation is privatised, so that the hordes of Australians who supposedly love it can pay for it themselves, all the better!

  • whitelaughter says:

    ianl – that an inhouse survey by the ABC says what the ABC wants it to say should not surprise, and means nothing.
    If the majority of Aussies trusted the ABC, then the ABC news would get a majority of viewers. It does not; ergo, the majority of us do not trust the ABC more than the other channels (and that’s a very low bar).

  • T B LYNCH says:

    The Scullin Labor Government of 1929 set up the ABC to be the Voice of the Left. The ABC is performing this left propaganda mission to a tee. It is crazy trying to “reform” the ABC. Get it over with. Sell it to Getup, and let them pay for it.

  • T B LYNCH says:

    The ABC claim to be essential in the Bush. The Bega Valley in southern NSW was well served with news, agricultural market reports, stock reports, weather reports and forecasts etc right through the depression, WWII and the post war years, by privately owned 2BE.
    The ABC metastasised to the Bega Valey in 1960. This “Essential to the Bush” propaganda deceives even the elect, as shown by a comment above.

  • Lawriewal says:

    Doubting Thomas:
    You got it with:”But when the rot set in (Ashbolt?)”

    There has to be a Hell for the likes of it.

  • John Reid says:

    Although I agree with all of the above I would like to remind people that it applies largely to News and Current Affairs. Don’t forget that the ABC is also a major promoter of classical music with several symphony orchestras under its wing. For a classical music buff, ABC Classic FM is the best radio broadcast station of its type I have heard anywhere. No doubt in any clean-up of the ABC these will be the first to go.

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