Category Archives: Our Australian Broadcasting Commission

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 7pmNews 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 comments
  • whitelaughter

    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

    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

    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

    > “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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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.

Fact-checker? What about a bias-checker?

FEATURES AUSTRALIA

8 June 2019

ABC chair Ita Buttrose has got interested in the bias issue. Melbourne ABC 774 Drive host Rafael Epstein fished last week for a ‘no-bias’ endorsement. Ita set him back: ‘Sometimes I think we might be biased, I think sometimes we could do with more diversity of views.’ Check the transcript on Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog.

By coincidence, I’d been checking bias myself by sampling ABC’s flagship Victorian TV  news of Saturday May 25  to Monday May 27.

On Saturday 7pm I sought news of the terror attack in central Lyon, since I’d got back from a Paris holiday on Friday. A bomb packed with shrapnel injured thirteen bystanders. Not a word or picture made the trivia-laden bulletin. On Sunday and Monday’s 7pm, zip. But Monday’s ran a piece about a bomb in Kathmandu that killed four and injured seven. It was blamed on some Mao-ist sect, whereas an Algerian you-know-who is the arrested suspect in Lyon. Take your pick: ABCTV protects its ‘religion of peace’ narrative, or has no idea about news priorities.

Next, how’s this from Sunday’s bulletin on the European elections. Presenter Mary Gearin: ‘Major parties are warning cohesion of the continent is at stake as they battle to defend liberal democracies against a right-wing populist surge.’ So if cheesed-off Europeans vote against borderless immigration, costly renewables and EU stultification, it’s a ‘populist surge’ attacking ‘liberal democracies’? In ABC code, ‘populist’ is ‘bad’ except when the Left becomes popular.

The EU item, by Europe correspondent Linton Besser, focused entirely on Hungary where PM Viktor Orban has spruiked his version of ‘illiberal democracy’. By the way, weren’t Julia Gillard and Stephen Conroy implementing Orban-style ‘illiberal democracy’ in 2012 with their legislation to muzzle the ABC-unfriendly Murdoch press?

On Monday I caught the end of The Drum. The panel, hosted by Kathryn Robinson, was a full-on leftist stack. There was the Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hartcher. He called Boris Johnson, British PM contender, historian, ex-London mayor 2008-16 and ex-minister of state for foreign affairs 2016-18 ‘a buffoon, a funny buffoon’. Kerryn Phelps was there: ‘Good to see you again’ as the host said, ‘again’ being an understatement. Phelps was the anti-Coalition independent who won then lost Malcolm Turnbull’s Wentworth seat. Plus Avril Henry, gender diversity consultant who had previously used the ABC to grieve ‘Oh the inhumanity!’ about asylum seekers. And the obligatory Aboriginal activist, in this case Karen Mundine of Reconciliation Australia. Ita is right about lack of ‘diversity of views’.

Host Robinson addressed Dr Phelps, ‘Kerryn, as a former MP, a leader, was that something that ever crossed your mind about keeping your emotions intact…’. Better would be, ‘Kerryn, as a former MP, a loser…’. Heavens, how would Robinson have addressed Phelps if she’d actually retained Wentworth and helped PM Shorten to puff up ABC funding? ‘Empress of the Universe’?

The trophy item was from the Saturday 7pm bulletin. Fijian coastal villagers are resisting government pressure to move to higher ground to escape the rising seas of climate change, according to foreign affairs (Asia Pacific) reporter Stephen Dziedzic.

‘Here in Kokova traditions linger and the sea gives life,’ Dziedzic intoned. His village spokesman, Mr Paki, claimed they fled from another climate-drowning island 30 years ago – Dziedzic never asked which (mythical) drowning island.

Mr Paki’s brother can certainly talk the climate talk. He tells Dziedzic he hopes the West will help save his village from rising seas ‘by tackling climate change. If the scientists warn us that what we are doing is destroying life on the planet, we should refrain from doing it.’ Dziedzic sums up: ‘People in the Pacific are already grappling with how you plan for rising seas… The people of Korowa remain hopeful.’ Mr Paki book-ends the piece: ‘Somehow the ocean is giving us time.’ Asks Dziedzic, or maybe Paki, ‘But how much time remains?’.

Actually, lots of time. There’s no sea rise around Fiji. Prime Minister Bainimarama was president of the UN’s COP23 climate-fest in Bonn in 2017 and he milked the ‘poor drowning Fiji’ meme for all it’s worth, which is zero. The lowest-lying Pacific nation Tuvalu has actually gained 73 hectares since 1970 – that’s 73 rugby fields worth. Prime Minister Turnbull’s crew, distressed by this drowning-island nonsense, shelled out $21 million in bilateral climate-change aid to Fiji in the three years to 2017-18, plus more via our $300m into Paris’s ludicrous Green Climate Fund that seeks $US100 billion a year from the West. (Turnbull  promised $1 billion). The Fiji funding wasn’t one hundred per cent wasted as some went to cyclone-disaster aid.

Anyway, to help Fiji at Bonn with some data, sea-rise expert Nils-Axel Morner earlier went to Fiji’s Yasawa islands to measure their sea-level history from rock faces undercut and etched by tides. Morner concluded, ‘This documentation implies that there is a total lack of signs indicating a present rise in sea level; on the contrary, our results are indicative of quite stable sea level conditions. Consequently, our records may be taken as reassurance for low-lying coasts and islands that potential for flooding in the near future is unlikely.’ Dziedzic’s sea peril item is a crock.

To relax, job done, I took in Laura Tingle’s 7.30 on Thursday May 30. On her item about Robert Mueller’s Trump comments, Tingle said, ‘I spoke to Republican political strategist, Rick Wilson’. Wilson, who also got an ABC ‘Republican’ graphic, then bagged Trump rotten as Russia’s picked candidate in 2016 and ‘for 2020 they will be behind him 100 per cent once again and the collusion is in plain sight now’.

This is from a ‘Republican strategist’? It’d be like calling today’s Turnbull ‘a Liberal strategist’. I was googling Wilson before Tingle had even finished. His last job for Republicans was in 2000. In 2016 he called Trump’s base ‘Neo-Nazis’ and ‘Frog Meme Idiots’. His book last year was, Everything Trump Touches Dies. Last week he tweeted regarding a different Trump expose, ‘It is without question that @realDonaldTrump is the most petty, thin-skinned, trifling no-account sh-tbird to ever hold the office of President. What a weak-dick move.’

7.30 did a false-flag job with its ‘Republican strategist’. How did Ms Tingle expect to get away with this? We’re not all witless out here.

Over to you, Ita, fellow bias-checker.

Four Corners‘ March-Hare Climatology

Four Corners‘ March-Hare Climatology

The ABC has jumped yet again through the climate alarmists’ looking glass.

The recent Four Corners  episode on global warming, Climate of Change,  reminded me of physicist Wolfgang Pauli. He described a paper as so bad “it was not even wrong.” The ABC’s presenter  was Stephanie March, a veteran ABC reporter and foreign correspondent in India and North America. I’ll first discuss the background of March’s main guest on the program, Dr Bill Hare, then run through some of the Four Corners content.

Dr Hare scored ten appearances — 620 words out of the 8100 — during 45 minutes, plus the final words on the episode. So who’s Dr Bill Hare? Just “the best climate lobbyist in the world”, as cited by Murdoch University.

For starters, and unmentioned by Four Corners, his main 16-year career (1992-2008) was as climate policy director and spokesman for Greenpeace International. To the Greenpeace fanatics, he was a “legend” in global climate politics,[1]  penning fiery Greenpeace polemics such as warning the top 100 US companies to reject President Bush’s climate policies within a week or “face the consequences” globally. He also accused Australia of behaving like “an international selfish brat”.  In 2002, he helped Greenpeace and similar groups start the Exxon Secrets website, described as “a chronicle of ExxonMobil’s efforts to corrupt the debate on global warming.” Greenpeace managed to dredge up $US30.9 million in donations by the company to alleged sceptic groups over 16 years, i.e. $US2m a year. The renewables industry currently involves investments of  $US1.5 trillion a year. 

As a Greenpeace activist, he didn’t seem to fit the specs for the supposedly science-neutral, objective work of the IPCC authors (“humourless people in white coats” was how then PM Kevin Rudd described them). Well, whatever. Greenpeace boss Hare was author/reviewer and/or writer for the IPCC reports of 1995, 2001 and 2007, helping draft the latter’s key Summary for Policymakers. For the 2013 report he wore his hat from Potsdam’s   Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).

To add some spice, the IPCC crowd are the “gold standard” for science, as the ex-IPCC chair and now  accused sex-crimes perpetrator Rajendra Pachauri used to say. The Guardian also refers to “Dr Bill Hare” as a “top climate scientist”. So let’s check.  On his bio at his Climate Analytics business website, he’s described as “Dr (h.c.) Bill Hare”. The coy “h.c.” stands for “honoris causa”, and refers to an honorary doctorate  awarded in 2008 from his alma mater Murdoch University in WA. At his Linked In entryhe lists a matriculation and leaving certificate from Kent Street Senior High, Perth, a  Murdoch  Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and Physics (Double Major), and an Honors Degree in Physics (1979-82). His B.Sc (Hons) is also cited at his Potsdam site.

For his Climate Analytics a year ago, he  co-authored a paper   called “Western Australia’s Gas Gamble”. He describes himself there as “Dr Bill Hare”.

The UK Carbon Brief warmist information website refers to “Dr Bill Hare” as “bill-hare-hero”. There seems no end to his talents. In the book, The Winning of the Climate War by UK green-energy businessman Jeremy Leggett,[2] he gets a paean as a world-respected economics whizz:

Dr Bill Hare, an old colleague at Greenpeace, is the single most talented technical expert I have met in all my quarter century of climate campaigning. This is because he is both an accomplished atmospheric physicist and also expert enough in economics to engage the world authorities at that strange discipline and earn their respect…

The ABC’s Laura Tingle, like Stephanie March, doesn’t distinguish between honorary and earned Ph.Ds, interviewing Hare on 7.30 last October as “senior scientist Dr Bill Hare”. I suppose, going by the ABC’s “Dr Bill Hare” precedent, we should be more deferential to “Dr Kerry O’Brien”, “Dr Phillip Adams” and “Dr Robyn Williams”, not to mention other floppy-hat wearers such as the disgraced “Dr Rolf Harris”, cartoonist “Dr Michael Leunig” and purported comedian “Dr Yahoo Serious” (Newcastle University, 1996).

Of course, one can be a great modern scientist without a Ph.D. ticket. Physicist/mathematician Freeman Dyson, with his Max Planck Medal, Enrico Fermi Award and showers of honorary doctorates, never earned a Ph.D. But Dyson has never described himself as Dr (h.c.) Freeman Dyson, let alone Dr Freeman Dyson.

Come to think of it, why was this Four Cornersepisode also a 97 per cent male bastion? Five anonymous women accounted for just 100 words out of 8100, plus March cited a thirty-word quote to trash-talk Coalition environment minister Melissa Price. Of twenty-seven named interviewees, Price was the only female. Hasn’t March heard of female climateers Dr Lesley Hughes, Dr Joelle Gergis or the Climate Council’s silver-tongued Amanda McKenzie? So much for ABC diversity policy.[3]

March was astute not to invite the intrepid Judith Sloan, whose smarts, if not edited out, would have punctured the entire episode. The other sceptic on the program, The Australian’s Chris Kenny, was allowed a total ten words and seven seconds. (That’s what I call tight editing). He managed to point out, just, that nothing Australia does will alter the global climate.

Returning now to Bill Hare B.Sc. (Hons), he transitioned in 2009 from Greenpeace to set up and run his non-profit Climate Analytics, which started with funding from the German federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Safety. The same department also funded Hare’s global warming  “PREVENT” lobbying unit at his Climate Analytics and PIK.

Hare is half of a double act with wife Dr Ursula Fuentes-Hutfilter  (Ph.D atmospheric science, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich). She has been a key player for decades within the German Government’s climate negotiations and now-faltering energy-transition to renewables. They met at the Kyoto IPCC meeting in 1997. Her main job has been with the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. She was an author/reviewer for the fifth IPCC report. Currently, they are both adjunct professors[4] at Murdoch University, where she works on Asia-Pacific energy transformation policy. Hare maintains his links as visiting scientist with Potsdam (PIK).

Dr. Fuentes-Hutfilter is also leading a project under the Australian-German Energy Transition Research Hub, which aims to have sixty researchers. It is backed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the German Education Ministry, plus Melbourne University and ANU, PIK and several other institutions. The Hub’s goals are energy market changes, low-carbon investment policies, negative emission technology and new trade and exports. “The global shift to a net-zero emissions economy presents genuine opportunities for Australia and Germany,” it claims.

One can see how entrenched the Potsdam (PIK) group now is in the Australian energy scene. PIK has its share of warming revolutionaries. Its loopy founder/director Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber in 2011 was boasting about his “plan for a  transformation of society” and “a new basis of our coexistence”. He advocated $US135 billion per year climate funding from the West to developing countries, compared with Paris’s modest   current prescription of only $US100 billion p.a. His deputy Ottmar Edenhofer a little earlier got a bit too frank and said that climate policy “has almost nothing to do any more with environmental protection” and “we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy.” An economist, Edenhofer says his master plan for 75% renewables globally by 2050 would only cost “a mere twelve thousand billion dollars by 2030”.[5]

As for the content of the Four Corners program, it’s great if you still believe the planet faces by 2100 an existential crisis of scorchiness caused by human-caused CO2. A problem, however, is that in the past 20 years, global temperatures have barely risen[6]while CO2 emissions since 1998 (110b tonnes) were equivalent to nearly a third of all the human-caused CO2 emissions ever. Please explain.

The past 40 years’ warming rate, as measured by satellite, is equivalent to only 1.34degC per century.[7]  And the supposed “proof” of CO2 causation derives from comparisons of unvalidated crude climate models run with and without the purported CO2 impact. Reporter Stephanie March also seems oblivious that the all-important feedback effects from rising CO2 are lately estimated at about 1.7 timesrather than the IPCC’s range of up to 4.5 times and the 31 CMIP5 models’ average of 3.1. If confirmed, the low CO2 sensitivity would scuttle the whole warming scare.

March built her  program around how Australia should meet its (voluntary) Paris pledges to cut emissions. She trots out with a straight face a plan for our 26 million belching cattle to live on low-methane seaweed.  In her innocence, she refers to CO2 throughout as “pollution”. Fact: Added CO2 has greened the planet to an area extent of 2.5 Australias and contributed to unparalleled and on-going agricultural productivity which continues to outpace population growth.

March’s talking head Professor Frank Jotzo (ANU) fretted that “the international community” will look down their noses at us if we don’t meet our Paris pledges, or get there only via Kyoto credits. Let me see: China, responsible for about 30 per cent of  global emissions, intends to keep raising them to 2030. India pledged nothing about its emission levels, only ‘emissions intensity’. Trump has pulled the US out of Paris while the US actually cuts emissions by switching to fracked gas. France relies on nuclear. German and British households are suffering hugely (a la South Australia) from their crazed energy policies and prices.[8] So who’s going to censure us? The Maldives? Gabon?[9] And even if all Paris signatories delivered on their toughest emission pledges costing multi-trillions, what would that do to global temperatures by 2100? According to Bjorn Lomborg, who used the IPCC’s own formulae, the temperature difference would be around 0.05 to 0.17degC cooler. Great!

Much of the episode involved renewable energy investors demanding more secure government targets, incentives and subsidies, i.e. risk-free profit. Climate virtue and bags of money make a heady mix. Steph March also badgered working-class guys at Oberon NSW about their V8 utes. (Why not badger greenies in Double Bay about their SUVs?). But bricklayer Brett was not easily patronised:

March: Do you see yourself ever buying an electric car?
Brett: No, no way in the world 
March: Why not? 
Brett: I couldn’t do it. I like me fuel. It would be weird. I’d have to have long hair and a man bun. I’ll pass. 

Unmentioned by March was any estimate of the cost of Australia’s renewables “transition”. Former government scientist Dr Brian Fisher puts the Coalition’s plan for a 27 per cent emissions cut at a total $293 billion by 2030, and Labor’s 45 per cent cut at $1.2 trillion. Also unmentioned by March was the West’s Paris pledge to a half-trillion handout to the Third World from 2020-25. Such a disclosure would have  switched the audience to more realistic shows like Married at First Sight.

Forcing people to buy electric cars, stuffing cows with seaweed, making Tathra NSW (pop. 1700) 100% renewable-powered by 2030,  electric buses humming around Canberra  (pop, 350,000), warming increasing extreme weather[10]Four Corners went  the full stupid on April Fools Day.

UPDATE: Four Corners’ Sally Neighbour responds to Tony Thomas:

Dear Mr Thomas,
Thank you for your email regarding the recent Four Corners program on climate policy. I apologise for the delay in responding.
I am advised that Bill Hare has an Honorary Doctorate of Science awarded to him in 2008 Murdoch University for his work on climate change science and policy. Murdoch University itself refers to Bill Hare as ‘Dr’ in some of its publications.
 
It is not uncommon practice to refer to people with Honorary Doctorates as ‘Dr’. I understand this is often qualified with the reference (h.c). For the purpose of our program, we did not feel this was necessary as most viewers or readers would not be familiar with the term. I am happy to take your comments onboard should we interview Bill Hare again on Four Corners. I will also convey your comments to Laura Tingle.
 
Yours sincerely,
Sally Neighbour

Tony Thomas’s new book, The West: An insider’s tale – A romping reporter in Perth’s innocent ’60s is available from Boffins Books, Perth, the Royal WA Historical Society (Nedlands) and online here . Hat-tip Dennis Ambler for his unpublished research on Hare.

 

[1]  Before Greenpeace he was a member of the Campaign Against Nuclear Energy, set up by Friends of the Earth, and  a research director for Australian Conservation Foundation.

[2] Crux Publishing, 2018

[3] Four Corners also gave Dr John Hewson a slot.  I understand it is compulsory to feature Hewson on all ABC programs.

[4] Fuentes is ‘adjunct associate professor’

[5] Such views were no barrier to his role from 2008 to 2015 as co-chair of IPCC Working Group III “Mitigation of Climate Change”.

[6] Notwithstanding two large temperature spikes from natural El Nino warmings

[7] Temperatures have fallen by 0.5degC in the past three years

[8] Last year 5 million Germans were in strife with power bills, with 344,000 households cut off. Germany gets nearly a third of power from wind and sun.

[9] The only countries with  national plans matching their Paris pledges are Algeria, Canada, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Japan, FYR Macedonia, Malaysia, Montenegro, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Samoa, Singapore and Tonga.

[10] The IPCC says the opposite

5 comments
  • Blair

    “It is not uncommon (sic) practice to refer to people with Honorary Doctorates as ‘Dr’.”
    So it is a common practice to refer to people with Honorary Doctorates as ‘Dr.?

  • en passant

    Orwell predicted these globalist, warmist, catastrophist people in “1984” & “Animal Farm”, but that was fiction. Orlov recounted the real-life amoral, cruel, anti-human monsters in “The Crimes of Stalin”, which appears to be the future our Greenfools long for as the Climate Con is about hating humans and destroying civilisation – using the excuse that CO2 is a pollutant.
    It is factual reality that most plant species show optimal growth characteristics when CO2 is well above current levels, a proven, repeatable case up to 2,700 ppm. Plant life appears optimized for atmospheric CO2 levels of around 1,200 ppm.
    Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations at the current 410 ppm level are dangerously low for life on Earth. Plants and therefore most life will die if CO2 falls below 180 ppm, but will thrive at 1,200 ppm. Can the catastrophists join the dots, or don’t they care, so long as people die?
    http://notrickszone.com/2013/05/17/atmospheric-co2-concentrations-at-400-ppm-are-still-dangerously-low-for-life-on-earth/
    Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have often exceeded 7,000 ppm, yet currently we are barely above the Earth’s record extreme low threshold for survival. At atmospheric CO2 Concentrations below 500 ppm plants struggle for growth, as they are today.
    Watch the following time lapse video over 42 days of growing Cowpea at CO2 concentrations of 450 ppm and 1,270 ppm with the higher CO2 producing a 44 % total biomass gain. What’s not to like if you prefer people having enough food to eat?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2qVNK6zFgE

    A CO2 level of 150 ppm would result in the death of plants due to CO2 starvation.
    Are Climate Change alarmists ignorant of this or do they just want to create a global depopulation by their hoax alarms. Without CO2, we would all die of starvation because every ecosystem on the planet would almost instantly collapse. If CO2 were dropped to zero, Earth would become a barren global desert of death entirely incapable of supporting human life at all. It is worth noting that Mars has 96% CO2, yet is frigid. Venus with 97% is frying. As the song almost goes: “What a difference a 1% makes …”
    As CO2 levels are raised by 1,000 ppm photosynthesis increases proportionately resulting in more sugars and carbohydrates creating greater plant growth and more food.
    Plant growth requires a tremendous amount of CO2. At the centre of every plant cell is an atom of Carbon, which the plant has absorbed from the surrounding air. When all other growing conditions are kept ideal, Carbon Dioxide becomes the growth limiting factor. This means, as you increase the CO2 in your garden area, you will also increase the plant growth rates – and your food yields.
    Get out of Paris now and send all these pseudo-science priestly charlatans to the scrap heap along with the alchemists, astrologists and phrenologists as this current crop are even more dangerous.

  • Salome

    It is highly bad form to use the doctor title where the doctorate is honorary.

  • Biggles

    en passant

    Another benefit to us by increasing the amount of CO^2 available to plants is that their water requirement decreases.

    “Without CO^2 we would all die of starvation…”. The fact is that if, by some magic we were able to take all the CO^2 out of your body, regardless of the atmospheric content, you would be dead in about 2-3 minutes. CO^2 is not just the gas of life for plants, it is also the gas of life for animals, See the paper on which Dr. Christian Bohr won the 1904 Nobel Prize for Medicine if in doubt.

  • Tezza

    Four Corners is very wearying on this line. When I last complained (futilely, of course) to ABC’s Audience and Consumer Affairs, and then to ACMA (also futilely) about a ridiculous Four Corners climate episode (‘Power to the People’), the ABC’s defence was that no one program was long enough to permit extended treatment of conflicting views, but that the ABC sought to achieve balance ‘over time’.
    The Four Corners on-line archive of its programs give the lie to that proposition. One can tabulate every episode the ABC has ever done on climate-related topics, and find the same line repeated about every 18 months for the last decade.

Useful idiots at the ABC

6 April 2019

9:00 AM

ABC’s Four Corners remains proud of Sarah Ferguson’s three-part nothingburger last June about President Trump’s Russia collusion – its ‘story of the century’. The episodes expire on the ABC website at 8.30pm Sunday June 18, 2033 when I’m 93 and mumbling my rusk.

The ABC boasted, ‘Four Corners investigates the central allegations that members of the Trump team, including possibly the President himself, actively colluded with Russia to subvert American democracy.’ Heedless of grammar, the ABC continued, ‘Months in the making, filmed across the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia, Sarah Ferguson charts the extraordinary allegations, interrogating the evidence and interviewing central characters in this unfolding story that could be lifted from the pages of a blockbuster spy novel.’ Indeed, since the Mueller report has found no Trump collusion after grilling 500 witnesses and documents by the thousand.

Ferguson, now tapped to run ABC’s China office, finished her ‘extraordinary saga’ on a delicious note: ‘News of the infamous meeting [with a Russian woman lawyer] in Trump Tower at the height of the Presidential election campaign, created a firestorm which has yet to be extinguished. [It’s extinguished]. As Trump has come under mounting pressure in the second year of the Mueller investigation his public outbursts have become even more aggressive.” [Trump’s first tweet after Mueller’s report landed was ‘Good Morning, Have A Great Day!’]. The Kremlin’s puppet master now has America dancing to his discordant tune. He couldn’t have planned it better. [Yes he could].’ Lacking action footage, Four Corners treated us to the expense of travelogue shots. I loved Ferguson mooning about Putin at dusk on Westminster Bridge. Luckily no Islamic assassins distracted her reverie. I foresee her being played by Nicole Kidman in Collusion: the Movie.

In common with the ‘progressive’ media, her dog-whistle was that Trump stole the election through collusion with the Kremlin. Hence Trump’s tenure was illegitimate and he would be ousted when his evil-doings are exposed by Mueller.

At least weekly for three long years Hillary’s media shills promoted ‘bombshell’ revelations leaked by anti-Trumpers, typically members/alumni of US intelligence agencies. Ferguson gave James Clapper, director of National Intelligence from 2010 to ‘17, the series’ first, middle and last hyperbolics. (Clapper’s also the darling of Gareth Evans’ leftist ANU). Ferguson omitted that Clapper lied under oath to Congress in 2013, saying that NSA did not illicitly harvest data from multi-million American citizens. Documents leaked by traitor Edward Snowden proved NSA did. Clapper fed his hype to any and all gullible reporters. He told Ferguson that Russia-gate made Watergate pale by comparison.

Ferguson (aghast): ‘So, these are dangerous times?’ Clapper: ‘They are.’ Even after 50 years dealing with spies, he found Putin’s election-meddling ways ‘viscerally disturbing… you know, made me ill.’ Ferguson (aghast): ‘It made you ill?’ Clapper: ‘Yeah.’ Ferguson: ‘Did you share that with your colleagues?’ Clapper: ‘Yes. I think it affected all of you that way.’

So a roomful of US spook-masters goes green-faced if not projectile vomiting on learning that Russia does bad things.  Ferguson harvested ‘allegations’ galore about Trump. He might have pledged favors to Putin to assist his business deals in Moscow. Trump denied it. Ferguson: ‘Questions about collusion with Russia have swirled around Trump ever since.’ Trump’s ‘long winter of discontent [Ferguson majored in English lit] continued through spring with the steady drip of allegations and a widening investigation by the special prosecutor into the business affairs of the Trump organisation. Among the dozens of questions Mueller now wants to put to the President: what dealings did he have about the Moscow project during the campaign?’

Ferguson enjoyed assisting Mueller. ‘For the special prosecutor looking for evidence of collusion this piece of the puzzle could prove to be critical,’ she suggested, interviewing the wife of hapless Downer informant George Papadopolous. Contrary views are pro forma and they flash by in seconds (the series totalled 2 hours 18 minutes). In passing she mentions the notorious Christopher Steele Moscow pee-dossier. ‘The most salacious allegation in Trump’s scandal plagued Presidency’ was ‘put together for the Democrats’, a minor detail. Secretly put together. She didn’t mention the spooks’ corrupt use of it in FISA court to permit them to spy on the Trump campaign.

Her go-to on the pee-dossier was Michael Isikoff, an anti-Trump author, who opined that Trump’s kinks opened him up to Russian blackmail. He admitted the pee-bit was unconfirmed (it still is). Ferguson says the pee-bits ‘have coloured the reception of Steele’s claims of collusion’, whatever that means. She did include a denial by Trump aide Roger Stone. As for Isikoff, he was the Newsweek reporter who co-wrote inaccurately on May 1, 2005 that US guards at Guantanamo prison had flushed a Koran down the toilet. In the predictable anti-American riots by Muslim mobs, at least 17 people died. Isikoff’s boss extended a correction and sympathies to bereaved families and hard-pressed US soldiers.

Ferguson’s ‘extraordinary saga’ never touched the real scandals – deep state agencies spying on Trump’s election campaign and then seeking to depose the elected president. Don’t believe that? The disgraced and fired acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe acknowledged the conspiracy last February on 60 Minutes. As the New York Times headlined, ‘McCabe says Justice Department had discussions about pushing Trump out.’ The media immediately lost interest.

Former CIA director John Brennan accused Trump literally of treason for Russia. He had 22,000 spooks and assistants to informally consult. After Mueller cleared Trump, Brennan told TV off-handedly, ‘Well, I don’t know if I received bad information but I think I suspected there was more than there actually was. I am relieved that it’s been determined there was not a criminal conspiracy with the Russian government over our election.’ Trump responded that ‘To be honest, it’s a shame that your president has had to go through this. It began illegally, and hopefully, somebody is going to look at the other side. This was an illegal take-down that failed.”

Hey Four Corners, that’s a ‘story of the century’ for you to investigate. Ferguson dubbed an episode ‘Secrets, spies and useful idiots.’ Were there extra ‘Useful Idiots’ in that tawdry ABC mis-hit job?

A Green-Letter Day for Corrections at Their ABC


I get along great with Reena Rihan, of ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs. She handles my complaints about ABCTV News’ green-Left bias and stuff-ups, and she deals with them quite promptly. I win some. I lose some. For Quadrant Online readers, this must sound like heresy. But I insist; the ABC complaints process is not all bad. Try this shapshot of the past month.

I was watching the Victorian 7pm flagship TV news on February 16, when it ran an item about President Donald Trump declaring a state of emergency to fund his border wall. The two-line opening graphic by the ABC comprised the words, “Border Wall – Abuse of Power”. OK, so the taxpayer-funded impartial ABCTV News claims Trump is abusing his powers. I wrote to the ABC on February 18,

The item included Democratic claims of an abuse of power by Trump over his wall emergency measures.

The ABC graphic must mean that the ABC endorses that  Trump is involved in an “Abuse of Power”. This cannot be correct as US courts are yet to rule on the issue. The graphic is  a violation of ABC  impartiality guidelines.

Normal practice would be to put quote marks on, as per “Abuse of Power” Claims. Or “Alleged Abuse of Power”.

Can ABC TV please put a correction on its website about this?

In the remarkably efficient turnaround time of two days, Ms Rihan wrote back: 

Audience and Consumer Affairs have (sic) reviewed the segment and assessed the contents against the ABC’s editorial standards for impartiality which states, relevantly, in part 4.1: Gather and present news and information with due impartiality…

The standards are underpinned by the principles which states that assessments of impartiality due in given circumstances requires consideration in context of relevant factors including the nature of the content, the circumstances the content is presented, and the likely audience expectations.

As such we have considered the introductory graphic within the context of the full report.

Having reviewed the report, Audience and Consumer Affairs is satisfied that the full context was provided in the report. In fact, the introduction explicitly stated:

“Donald Trump has been accused of abusing his presidential powers after declaring a national emergency to fund his border wall. Mr Trump says the barrier is needed to stop crime by illegal immigrants, but the Democrats have vowed to fight it, all the way to the Supreme Court.”

The report also featured comments from the Democratic Leadership statement and comments from the California Attorney General Xavier Becerra [Democrat] regarding Donald Trump’s actions.

Audience and Consumer Affairs consider (sic) that viewers would be aware that the background graphic would only provide a very limited summary of the report and would be aware that the graphic cannot contain the full detail of the report or all the nuance contained in the full report. Audience and Consumer Affairs further consider (sic) that audience expectations for the graphic in isolation would not be as high for the report and in this circumstance where the report fully explains the story, we are satisfied that the single graphic which was visible only for the brief introduction to the story was not a breach of the ABC’s impartiality standards.

So I lost that one. Maybe ABC journos and producers are unfamiliar with the word “alleged”. Or maybe they don’t consider “alleged” to be necessary when Trump is accused of any crime, such as colluding with Russia to steal the 2016 election (or torturing puppies). I did look up the ABC charter, which includes,

The ABC has a statutory duty to ensure that the gathering and presentation of news and information is impartial according to the recognised standards of objective journalism.

Aiming to equip audiences to make up their own minds is consistent with the public service character of the ABC.

Fast forward to lunchtime today, and Ms Rihan’s response to my next complaint hits my inbox. Wow! Only seven days’ turnaround. And wow again … a humiliating backdown, corrections and grovel by Their ABC.

On March 17, flagship Victorian 7pm News had one of those mini-features designed to show off its reporters’ story-telling skills, in this instance Victorian political reporter Stephanie Anderson did a piece about  Yarra Valley Water running a plant at Wollert to convert 33,000 tonnes a year of food waste to energy for water treatment and electricity for the grid. All well and good, I mused, settling back with dog Natasha on my lap. But then Ms Anderson had me bolt upright and Natasha sprawling. This plant, she alleged, “creates enough energy to power nearly 750,000 homes.”

My first check with Dr Google showed that 750,000 homes is about a third of all Victorian households, of which there were 2.2 million at last census. So to solve our electricity woes, Victorians would seem to need just two more plants munching food scraps from Victoria Market.

So here’s my grouch to Ms Rihan, after googling for Yarra Valley Water’s own figures:

Wrong data: The figure is wrong by orders of magnitude… Making such claims exaggerates the impact of renewable energy and requires correction. See below 

“Yarra Valley Water is also looking at investing in another generator at its existing Wollert facility, in order to scale up its current operation, which currently produces 8000 megawatts of energy per annum, enough to power about 2000 homes. 

And:

The facility can produce one megawatt per hour, which according to manager Damien Bassett is enough power for 1500 homes.

Here’s Ms Rihan’s response:

ABC News have advised (sic) that unfortunately, as you have noted, an error was made in the report. As soon as this error came to the attention of ABC News the associated ABC News Digital article was amended and an Editor’s Note was appended to clarify this change:

A correction has also been added to the ABC’s Corrections and Clarifications page to correct the error as it aired on the 7pm News report:

On 17 March ABC News Victoria reported that the number of homes that could be powered by a waste-to-energy plant at Wollert was nearly 750,000. That figure is not correct and has been amended to the correct figure of about 2,000.

Please accept our apologies for the error and any concern caused. Please also be assured this matter has been brought to the attention of the staff involved by ABC News management who have taken this opportunity to remind staff of the need to thoroughly check information before publication.

My heart went out (as they say) to reporter Anderson for getting that 750,000 number wrong by a factor of nearly 400. At a similar stage in my career, I suffered for publishing a few howlers myself. Anderson did BA majors in French and German, and started with the ABC as a cadet in 2012. I ran a check of her print and tweet output in the past few months and didn’t notice any bias.

On the other hand, the ABC is not short of managers and supervisors. None of them, before the piece aired, saw anything odd about a small recycling plant powering up those lucky 750,000 homes. If that figure went unquestioned, how much other data in the ABC’s green propaganda pieces is also rubbish?

Ah well, it’s all been thoroughly corrected. Who says the ABC never admits an error?

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

Leftist wonderland

OKS AUSTRALIA

Leftist wonderland

26 January 2019

9:00 AM

Kerry O’Brien in his mammoth memoir argues that his decades of ABC TV presenting were not Left-biased. It’s an easy accusation as he was press secretary to Gough Whitlam and Lionel Bowen, and wanted the same role with Bill Hayden. But he says no-one has yet demonstrated a Labor bias in his interviewing.

Here, for example, is his opening question to Prime Minister Rudd, mid-2010:

O’Brien: Can you clear up a puzzle for me first…

Rudd: I’ll try, mate.

O’Brien: … You’ve spent the best part of two years building up your political capital. How have you managed to damage brand Rudd so comprehensively in such a short time this year?

Interviewing Paul Keating, O’Brien, who had interrupted, got this back: Why don’t you have this interview by yourself? You could talk for the whole program… Maybe I could just sit here and you could carry on with a monologue. (Amusingly, O’Brien’s Keating biography is only 816 pages long, shorter than his own.)

O’Brien 73, fronted Lateline for six years, 7.30 Report for 15 years and Four Corners for 5 years, collecting six Walkley Awards. For decades political tragics followed federal events and elections as filtered through O’Brien. His memoir covers (excessively) his family ancestry, his own life story (plenty of revelations), political history and my-best-interview transcripts from Obama and Mandela down. He finishes with a slab of his own political views which will have any conservative retching.

He was educated in a Catholic school in Brisbane with class sizes of 80-110. One kid in Grade 7 got 17 cuts in a single day.

After a delayed start he learned fast by job-hopping between print, radio and TV. He has some macabre stories such as watching his TV station’s coverage of the  Viscount airliner crash near Winton in 1966, with 24 fatalities. The director rolled in the next scheduled ad break. Up came an advertisement for Viscount cigarettes, accompanied by a jingle: ‘Light up a Viscount, a Viscount, a Viscount, light up a Viscount, and light up your day.’ We all just looked on, incredulous.

Even worse reading today: At the 1971 State Labor Conference at Surfers Paradise, the young politician Bill Hayden moved two resolutions: one to ban professional boxing, and the other to legalise homosexuality. His state president, Jack Egerton, calling for a count on the second, remarked: ‘Gawd, I can’t follow delegate Hayden. He’s opposed to a bloke getting a punch on the nose but doesn’t mind if he gets a punch in the bum. Those supporting the chairman to the right, poofters to the left.’

On joining Opposition Leader Whitlam as press secretary in 1977, he dropped in to the next-door office of Whitlam’s deputy Tom Uren to say hi. He was ushered out with the advice that Uren and Whitlam weren’t on speaking terms and Uren’s chief of staff had banned all contact with Whitlam’s staff, as stunning an illustration of dysfunction as you could imagine.

As for the current crop, he blasts Bill Shorten as a weak leader installed by the same faction that despatched Rudd and Gillard, and as one respected senior Labor figure told me recently, has now stacked the Labor side of the Senate with party hacks. He loathes Tony Abbott and implores the Liberal party to return from the right to the Menzian centre. He writes, It is still startling to contemplate how Malcolm Turnbull built the nation’s hopes so high with his manifesto for a better nation when he challenged the Popeye of Australian politics, Tony Abbott; and how quickly he destroyed those hopes because he wasn’t a strong enough leader. Popeye ate spinach, not raw onions, and if O’Brien thinks Turnbull embodied the nation’s hopes, he needs to get out more.

Another whom O’Brien likes is John Hewson, Liberal opposition leader 1990-94: relaxed, personable, broad-thinking and today, potentially, a much more attractive proposition for the electorate. No wonder the ABC has Hewson on every five minutes.

O’Brien offers the government an even more poisoned chalice. Oozing compassion for ‘refugees’ – no mention of drowned ones – he pleads for a bi-partisan solution team led by our best-credentialed, most respected international elder statesman – to wit, Labor’s one-time foreign minister Gareth ‘Biggles’ Evans. O’Brien suggests, That would show intent. That would be leadership. Perhaps a truly bi-partisan effort with another ex-Foreign minister, Julie Bishop.

O’Brien’s an encyclopaedia of Leftist clichés and memes. He even seems equivocal about the fall of the Soviet Union which left capitalism exposed. It no longer had an enemy to point at and say, there’s an ism that’s worse than us… He had wondered if capitalism would get even nastier because of its baser instincts and hunger for profits.

Trump derangement? You bet. Mr Mueller can wrap up his inquiry – O’Brien has confirmed Russian collusion.

He quotes an obscure third party, a ‘Fintan O’Toole of the Irish Times’, to warn that fascism is now a clear and present danger with the pre-fascist Trump giving it a trial run assisted by an advanced propaganda machine: One of the basic tools of fascism is the rigging of elections—we’ve seen that trialled in the election of Trump. Says O’Brien, I hope your interest is piqued enough to read the rest on-line, but you get the idea.

He also suffers derangement about that supposed extreme ideologist Rupert Murdoch and he laments the moral decline of the Australian, which loves to shut down important policy debates. The Age and SMH, by contrast, sit vaguely around the centre in their political coverage.

O’Brien almost flew high. He writes that in the early ‘90s, he declined one offer to become editor-in-chief of the SMH, and another to become 2IC at the ABC as head of news and current affairs.  When David Hill departed as ABC managing director in 1995, O’Brien made his run. He figured management involved mainly informed common-sense and anyway, he had interviewed a lot of managers and management theorists. I felt I understood the ABC implicitly and, like any good manager, would organise the talent around me to fill in the gaps. Brian Johns won the tussle, with O’Brien believing he placed third or fourth out of 11. An ABC under O’Brien would be a Leftist Wonderland to behold. He hopes in retirement to become a gentler character. Journalists, he concludes, should not only bear truthful witness but ask what society might aspire to be. I’m not sure your aspirations would suit everyone, Kerry.

Fear and loathing in Ultimo

29 September 2018

Apropos Michelle Guthrie’s sacking, and the bitchy tweet ‘Excellent decision’ by Four Corner’s Sally Neighbour, the ABC has always been a snakepit for management-staff relations and the sisterhood. Science Show guy Robyn Williams in his just-out memoir Turmoilsays he’s called a couple of senior managers ‘vermin’ in internal emails, and others ‘galloping mediocrities’. He writes, ‘I am usually in deep loathing of someone in the ABC and it’s usually someone in charge.’ And later, ‘Hatred…invariably consumes the hater. But I still want to murder that smug bastard in TV management.’

Sadly, Williams has bowel cancer and his memoir deals with that unflinchingly. He snaps that the ABC’s HR minions are all over him about cutting resources, but no chums from the ‘ABC People’ department have ever in 47 years come downstairs to ask about his health.

Managers are also mean to managers. Williams still mourns one of Guthrie’s predecessors, Talbot Duckmanton, general manager from 1965-82. Well-regarded by staff when they weren’t on strike, he was consigned by management post-retirement ‘to the ash can of history’ for his last 13 years, not even beng sent an  annual report.

Williams’ history reads like a caricature of an ABC presenter. His Welsh coal-mining father and union executive Gwyn Williams was not just a Stalinist but a 1950s Vienna-based communist spy, albeit ‘amateur in the extreme’. The family’s sumptuous Russian-zone top flat  (marble staircases and chandeliers) came with two servants. His father’s spy career was ‘brief and, apparently, ineffectual. I’d love to see his files from MI5,’  Robyn Williams writes.

He spent his youth on left-anarchist adventures but then turned his back on Reds, their dull meetings and Stalin’s nuclear fist. Like Media Watch’s Jonathan Holmes, he affirms that the ABC crowd are left-leaners, but says that so are ‘most tertiary-educated folk one comes across. This does not constitute a conspiracy. It constitutes a cultural mix and intellectuals (don’t panic – I mean those who work with their minds) more commonly sound like Reds than do manual workers. It used to be the other way around.’

Leftists are akin to Christ, actually. ‘It is traditional for the Left to have an over-optimistic regard for humanity, as Jesus did, oddly enough, and the right, let’s call him Nigel [Farage?] or Osama [bin Laden?], to think we’re all a step away from villainy and must be thwarted.’

He was a bully at his 1950s London state-grammar school, but we can allow that he was only 15. ‘We learned our Stalinism young,’ he writes. Just to show off, he beat up a ‘weak’ and ‘hopeless’ boy, who was ‘as pugilistic as Bambi’. Williams ‘hit him hard in the face. He turned without resistance and so I pummeled his kidneys as if to break his back, simulating a cold frenzy.’ Williams’ pals, initially gloating, got frightened and intervened at last to rescue the collapsed and coughing student. Williams never apologised to his ‘miserable, crushed victim’ but did resolve to eschew such shameful violence henceforth.

He may have dumped Red dogma, substituting ‘science marches’ for ‘peace marches’, but not the attitudes. He nominates as ‘evil’ the US Tea Party small-government lobby (along with ‘men who beat women’) and Trump for being nasty to climate doomsters. Saying Margaret Thatcher was wrong, he needs to ask, ‘But was she evil?’ – ‘Not ultimately.’ But he is in no doubt Republicans were ‘evil’ to thwart the agenda of Obama, whom he describes as charming and naive. The cohort not called ‘evil’ is Islamist terrorists, who are  just called ‘truck drivers’, ‘zealots’ or ‘fanatics with a purpose’.

His rants must go down a treat in the ABC staff canteen. ‘The newspapers are little more than propaganda sheets and words like “left-wing”, “taxpayer funded”, “elites” and “expert” are constant insults. Even now “inner-city type” as disparagement reminds me very much of the way “international type” was once used as code for “dirty Semite” in Der Stürmer.’

Nations must shun war, he says. ‘Otherwise we shall simply have to take out our babies and line them up to be killed before taking our turn to do likewise to the enemy. Otherwise we shall inherit a whirlwind.’ (A stylist with gravitas, he ain’t).

In his world upside-down, he believes that Rights have captured the Internet via search algorithms (Google chiefs would be amused) and Trump wants to ‘invade North Korea’.

Williams doesn’t come across in Turmoil as a nice guy, but his Science Show of 42 years duration has fostered young scientists and educated the community on the joy of science affairs, give or take its warming-catastrophe hysteria. On Williams’ show a year ago, UNSW Professor Andy Pitman predicted 55 degree Celsius for Sydney-siders. Williams claims that some ABC departments are abjectly downplaying the warming threat to avoid ‘offending financial interests’. Wow.

He frets that blue-collars, jobless factory workers and ‘Mr and Mrs Ordinary’ are tilting to Trump, Nigel Farage and Pauline Hanson out of innate stupidity. He brackets them alongside Neanderthals.

Williams likes to humble-brag. ‘Yes, I have seven doctorates, but if you live long enough most people in public life get lucky, they get doctored…’.  At a Boston ‘dinner of the stars’, he felt embarrassed at being the only one ‘without a Nobel Prize or a book selling more than 5 million copies.’ His real degree is a BSc (Hons) from London University, but we discover that he cut lab work and his BSc was ‘a pretty ordinary one, a gentleman’s degree’.

He’s quirky, retaining his post-Vienna poverty habits. This is notwithstanding annual ABC pay for the Williams couple for decades at maybe $300,000 in total in today’s money, and I presume dual membership of the ABC’s gold-plated defined-benefit super.

But Williams has no car or mobile phone, still uses a typewriter and scrap paper, has a house 3.6m wide and hasn’t bought any clothes for ten years, preferring hand-me-downs. He likes to budget $15 for three days’ food, such as two chicken drumsticks for 80c and a $4 loaf. (He sheepishly admits to buying wine from a separate account).

Instead, he has spent up on his 30-40 global flights, mainly to Greece and Balliol, Oxford. He evinces no sympathy for those hit by green-energy price rises – turn unused devices off, he says, instead of ‘whingeing about the hefty bills’.

I dunno, Guthrie may be well out of the ABC snakepit. #