Category Archives: Our Australian Broadcasting Commission

Who Earns What at Their ABC?

July 24th 2017 print

TONY THOMAS

Unlike its British counterpart, Australia’s national broadcaster insists that a right to privacy shields salary disclosure for the likes of Tony Jones, Barrie Cassidy, Jon Faine and all the well-heeled rest, not to mention their ABC partners, spouses and lovemates living well on the taxpayer dollar. Still, there are clues…

their abcThe country has Pauline Hanson to thank for winkling out some further particulars about how much the ABC’s top-20 on-air stars gets paid. ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie has now provided written replies to Hanson’s written questions from the Senate Estimates hearings of last May.

In a nutshell, she says her five top stars are paid $375,001 to $450,000;  six pocket $300,001 to $375,000, and nine get $225,001 to $300,000.

“The remuneration information of ABC staff amounts to personal information under the Privacy Act,” Guthrie or her spokesperson says. “Responses to requests for information regarding ABC staff remuneration are presented [as pay bands only] to ensure that the Corporation complies with the provisions of the Privacy Act and that any individual’s personal information is not disclosed.”

Happily, we already have a ranking of the ABC’s top-paid as at 2011-12. This  came about thanks to a dim-witted ABC staffer mistakenly providing a salary spreadsheet to SA Family First Senator Robert Brokenshire. One of the senator’s staffers leaked the list to The Australian in late 2013.

Sure, a spot or three on the rankings may have changed. But it’s virtually automatic that those top people now inhabit the current bands disclosed by Guthrie.

Take Tony Jones, uneven-handed host of the ABC’s execrably Left-biased freak show Q&A. In the original list, he was top at $356,000. Surely ex-ABC boss Mark Scott, now running NSW’s school system,  or his successor, Guthrie, haven’t dragged him from the top spot? So he must now be skating close to $450,000. It’s only reasonable to conclude that if he were on only, say, $420k, Guthrie’s upper pay band definition would have been $375-425k .

The No 2 in the  current list has to be 7.30’s  Leigh Sales, in  2011-12 ranked only sixth on $280,000. Given Sales’ far greater exposure, workload and professionalism than Jones’, it would be odd if the ABC weren’t paying her $400,000-plus. Indeed, Sales’ predecessor Kerry O’Brien was paid  more than Jones in 2009-10, namely $365k. But Sales’ experience  doesn’t compare with O’Brien’s history and faux-gravitas, so I don’t think  Sales by now would have displaced Jones as their ABC’s numero uno.

That leaves three people to fill the rest of the $375,000-$450,000 band. If there’s any ABC rationality in relativity, one slot would go to Sarah Henderson, star of Four Corners and, coincidentally, spouse of Tony Jones. It’s one helluva household pay-packet that taxpayers provide this power couple. Ferguson’s Four Corners on the Lindt siege was great viewing, even if she couldn’t bear to mention how the top coppers were fixated about hypothetical backlash against hypothetical Muslims, even while one real Muslim was wielding his real shotgun within the real café.

The last two slots would have to be the ABC’s Sydney and Melbourne radio stars Richard Glover and Jon Faine respectively,  both on near-$300,000 five years ago. Glover does the afternoon Driveand Faine does Mornings and Conversation Hour.

This list requires a de-ranking of 2011-12’s No 2, NSW TV newsreader Juanita Phillips, who was then on an anomalous-looking $316,000. Let the heavens quake, but I’m sure she’s been nudged to the middle band $300,000-375,000.

This middle band of six can be rapidly populated with workaday stars (2011-12 pay in brackets), viz long-time Radio National Breakfast host Fran Kelly ($255k), political editor Chris Uhlmann ($255k) with his new specialty of anti-Trump rants, Insiders Sunday host Barrie Cassidy ($243k) and high-profile Annabel Crabb ($217k), especially with her Kitchen Cabinet.

Numerate readers will note there’s one $300k-plus slot unfilled, and I admit there’s difficulty here. It is probably a toss-up between News Breakfast co-host and Trump clanger-dropper Virginia Trioli ($236k) and Juanita’s Victorian newsreading counterpart Ian Henderson ($188k). Sorry, Ian, but Virginia’s my pick for the taxpayers’ $300k-plus gravy-boat, if only because of her advantages in gender and overt groupthink.

Hendo would thus go down to the ABC  stars’ paupers Band 3 of $225k-300k. The other eight there are the tough ones to sort out. If the ABC pays for hard work rather than show-pony looks, first in would be US bureau chief Zoe Daniel and London-based Europe chief Lisa Millar. From the past list, sports broadcaster Gerard Whateley  ($223k) would have to be in there too.   TV finance presenter Alan Kohler doesn’t come cheap.  On profile, add in Lateline co-host Emma Alberici ($186k). The last three places would have to be drawn from the likes of all-rounder Mike Brissenden, AM and federal politics’ Sabra Lane, Melbourne Drive radio’s Rafael Epstein, Sydney Afternoons radio’s James Valentine, Radio National’s Pat Karvelas, the lovable Waleed Aly ($187k) and Julia Baird, who did last week’s 7.30 about “Christian Women Told to Endure Domestic Abuse”.

To sum up, here’s Michelle Guthrie’s pay-bands, properly populated:

$375,001-450,000

Tony Jones, Leigh Sales, Sarah Ferguson, Jon Faine, and Richard Glover.

$300,001-375,000

Juanita Philips, Fran Kelly, Chris Uhlmann, Barrie Cassidy, Annabel Crabb, and Virginia Trioli

$225,001-300,000

Ian Henderson, Zoe Daniel, Lisa Millar, Gerard Whately, Alan Kohler, and  Emma Alberici, Plus any three of Mike Brissenden, Sabra Lane, Rafael Epstein, James Valentine, Pat Karvelas, Waleed Aly, and Julia Baird.

Of course, in Britain all such stars’ pay levels at the BBC are fully disclosed. If BBC director general Tony Hall so much as claims for a £7 train ticket, it gets disclosed too. But in Australia that would never do!

Tony Thomas’ book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here.

 

At the ABC, Fact Phobia Strikes Again

Race hatred is soaring in the US and Donald Trump is to blame — that was the gist of a 7.30 report which went to air on March 14, two weeks after the perpetrator of one such attack was arrested. No Trump fan, he was a black, left-wing Muslim journalist. The ABC has not bothered to correct the record

pinocchioOn March 14, 7.30 ran a fake-news piece whose intent was to stitch up President Donald Trump for inciting a wave of  anti-Semitic bomb threats and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries in the US. Compere Leigh Sales intoned: “Some people blame Donald Trump’s incendiary rhetoric for unleashing people’s worst impulses, something Trump backers of course dispute.” You can view the report here.

The show’s US correspondent Conor Duffy then interviewed a conga-line of Democrat activists to ramp up the 7.30 narrative which amounted to ‘the disgusting Trump incites cemetery vandalism, race hate and bomb threats’.

On the ABC news website the same day, under the nakedly-propaganda banner “Trump’s America”, Duffy’s story included pictures of desecrated Jewish headstones and the header, “Shootings, bombings, desecrated cemeteries and racist graffiti — minority groups in the United States say the number of race hate crimes are spiking in President Donald Trump’s America.”

On the evening’s 7.30 report, Sales and Duffy proffered no evidence whatsoever connecting Trump to the anti-Semitic  upsurge. As professional journalists, Sales and Duffy must already have been aware that black, Muslim anti-Trumper  Juan M. Thompson, 31, had been arrested at least 10 days earlier and charged with making multiple bomb threats against synagogues. His motive was not anti-Semitism but to frame a white ex-girlfriend for the calls, as revenge because she’d ditched him. If neither knew by that stage about Thompson’s arrest, they are incompetent. If they did know, they are liars by omission. You can read the FBI charge sheet hre, and do notice the date — March 1, almost two weeks before 7.30‘s beatup.

As time passes, others parties are now named and charged over the wave of anti-Semitism. They include Andrew King, 54, a Jewish man in Schenectady, N.Y. King claimed on  Day 21 of the Trump administration that someone defaced his home with three swastikas. He’s now in the slammer, convicted of having sprayed the swastikas himself and making false reports to police.

And last week US police charged Michael Ron Kadar, 18, an American-Israeli Jewish dual citizen living in Israel, with making 245 threats against Jewish institutions in Florida between January and March.[i] The youth, who may be mentally disturbed, allegedly earned $310,000 in the internet currency bitcoin from his worldwide on-line threats and extortions.

Trump, when condemning the anti-Semitic upsurge, suggested that there could be false-flag elements: “Sometimes it’s the reverse, to make people – or to make others – look bad,” he said. This comment set off leftist and media hysteria that Trump wasn’t taking anti-Semitism seriously.[ii] For example, The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, an anti-discrimination non-profit with a record of anti-Trumpism[iii], said:

Mr. President, have you no decency? To cast doubt on the authenticity of Anti-Semitic hate crimes in America constitutes Anti-Semitism in itself, and that’s something none of us ever dreamed would disgrace our nation from the White House… you owe the American Jewish community an apology.”

Well, Trump was right and his accusers, including Sales and her 7.30 report, are wrong. The scorecard of those arrested for the anti-Semitic upsurge now reads: Anti-Trump elements, 1; Jews, 2; Trump supporters, zero.

In view of the ABC’s statutory charter for impartiality, I hope Leigh Sales, Conor Duffy and 7.30 are  preparing an update and apology for their March 14 slander of the US President.

Tony Thomas’s book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here.


[i] Israeli police last week also accused him  of making nearly 600 threats of violence against Australian schools, hospitals, airlines and the Sydney Jewish Museum during the past year. On a single day he allegedly disrupted 64 schools.

[ii] Trump has a daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren who are all Jewish

[iii] “The anti-Semitism coming out of this administration is the worst we have ever seen from any administration,” Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, complained in February. He also said Trump’s allegedly weak condemnations were “a Band-Aid on the cancer of Anti-semitism that has infected his own Administration.”

COMMENTS [8]

  1. Bran Dee

    Tony Thomas has caught out the ABC doing its obnoxious smears from its Green Left government funded security. Pauline Hanson wants to cut millions from the ABC budget and must therefore force the hand of the government’s principal friend of the ABC, our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

  2. Bill Martin

    “In view of the ABC’s statutory charter for impartiality, I hope Leigh Sales, Conor Duffy and 7.30 are preparing an update and apology for their March 14 slander of the US President.” Dream on Tony.

  3. Warty

    The ABC are not in the habit of apologising: it is simply not part of their mandate: I don’t know where Tony got such an idea. Their statutory charter for impartiality was in full operation with regard to the Don Dale youth detention centre, as you all well know. Their objectivity reemerged when they got their lawyers to prevent a report, besmirching the ABC over their gross lack of impartiality, from being published. Their attempts obviously failed, because their attempts were discussed on the Bolt Report, revealing a failure to report the fact that most of the incidents had been investigated long before the report came out; that significant changes had been made; that sordid details regarding Dylan Voller’s lengthy criminal record, were entirely covered up; and that Malcolm Turnbull revealed his centre left credentials by calling a Royal Commission within 10 hours of the report. This was mischief making on the part of the ABC that would warrant the defunding of our tax payer funded institution, one that ought to be representing the voices of all Australians, not just those living in inner city Sydney and Melbourne.

  4. Jody

    Just don’t watch or listen to the ABC. I gave that up some time ago and certainly feel much better. Instead I read “The Australian”, The IPA Review, “Quadrant”, “Spiked”, “The Spectator” and occasionally “The Conversation” when I want to find out about institutionalized delusion.

    I agree with Sam Crosby who said the other night on “Paul Murray Live”..”if Peta Credlin decided to run for parliament she’d provide a significant threat to the Labor Party”. The ABC would then have plenty to fear from this straight-talking woman. It will happen, sooner rather than later.

  5. gardner.peter.d

    Just out of interest as the ACMA ever been known to up hold a complaint against the ABC for this sort of biased reporting? Anyone know?

  6. Doubting Thomas

    Jody, your reading list matches mine pretty closely, at least for the Australian bits. I also browse the New York Times for comic relief, like the story in today’s or yesterday’s issue that effectively makes Ann Coulter the villain of the Berkeley farce. I like the Christian Science Monitor and, for deeper analysis, Commentary magazine, the New Criterion, and City Journal are excellent. There are a wealth of American blogs worth reading and anyone even slightly interested in the climate debate, Anthony Watts’ “Wattsupwiththat” is a must read as are his links. Our own JoNova is peerless. Just for fun, and for serious comment on foreign affairs, the Diplomad 2 is priceless.

  7. Doubting Thomas

    Further to my last, I disagree about Credlin going into parliament. She’s much too valuable where she is. Sensible, informed, conservative political commentary is very rare in this country, and I’d much rather have her as a loose cannon than bound by party discipline. She’s the conservative equivalent of Mark Latham, Graham Richardson (in his current persona) and the too rarely heard Michael Costa. Can anyone think of an equivalent Liberal ex-politician worth listening to? I can’t.

Aunty’s Spoiled Nephews and Nieces

There is no surprise that Q&A stacked its panel with groupthink luvvies going the big spit on Bill Leak’s grave. It is the pay, retirement packages and perks the national broadcaster lavishes on the wretches responsible that is both shocking and, to the detriment of taxpayers, all too typical

their abcABC boss Michelle Guthrie is a whimsical lady. Last October she was  throwing comfort money at her minions — 2% p.a. compound pay rises for 2016-19, plus extra perks contrary to government guidelines. These included back-dated pay rises to July 1,  seven days “domestic violence leave” (huh?), and an extra fortnight on maternity leave (now 16 weeks) and two-to-four weeks partner leave.

But now she’s throwing between 150 and 200 management types out the door by July 1 to generate $50 million to spend on content-making.

That’s ta-ta to about 20% of ABC managers, with considerably more than 20% departing from “support areas”.

It’s high time the ABC’s make-work  management is culled. The ABC spends only half its budget on programs, compared with 80% plus spent by Sky News, for example.

But I’m a caring soul and my first reaction was human sympathy for those to be culled – their mortgages, their grocery bills, their repayments on the Prius and weekly direct debits to GetUp and the Climate Council.

But then I remembered something about the ABC’s uber-generous redundancy payout regime and my welfare concerns for these guys  evaporated.

The   2016-19 Enterprise Bargaining Agreement  says there’ll be a severance payment of four weeks’ pay for each of the first five years’ service, and then three weeks’ pay per year’s service up to a maximum of 24 years. So a 20-year manager would get a total 65 weeks pay.

In addition, there’s the issue of notice. Guthrie wants everything clinched by July 1, so she may well pay out the stipulated five-to-six weeks notice in cash. That would take our 20-year exec’s cheque to 70 weeks’ pay.

The redundancy calculator is unchanged from the ABC’s 2013-16 enterprise deal. The ABC’s union negotiators stuffed up by campaigning (successfully) for family violence leave in the EBA, instead of trying to improve the redundancy clauses. But maybe ABC staffers are plagued at home by spouse-bashers.

So what sort of screw are ABC management types on? We need that data to assess redundancy payouts. Naturally, the ABC is loathe to disclose. But in the case of the BBC, which might give us some guidance here, it is a simple exercise to discover individual managers’ pay. I’ll go into a little detail just to show how far out of line the ABC is with transparency and open governance. The BBC:

Listed below are staff whose salaries and remuneration are published quarterly by the BBC. In 2009 it was agreed with the BBC Trust that the BBC would publish the salaries, total remuneration, Declaration of Personal Interests, expenses, gifts and hospitality for all senior managers who have a full time equivalent salary £150,000 or more or who sit on a major divisional board.” [That’s about $A245,000 equivalent].

These BBC people are listed by name, about 140 of them. Just click the name and up comes the pay, the job description, the biography and most amazing of all, the expense claims and justifications thereof, along with gifts and hospitality accepted and outside roles accepted.

Here’s the first BBC chap on the list, Gavin Allen, Controller, Daily News Programmes.

Total remuneration: £144,500 ($A234,000) at September 30, 2016.

Mr Allen, despite his high pay and onerous responsibilities,[1]  always finds time to put in a  claim for the equivalent of a tram ticket. On March 3, 2016, for example, he successfully claimed a £3.10 train ride, and on March 24, he had a £4.10 “drink on flight” at the expense of BBC licence payers. His tiniest claim (Feb 25) was £2.8 for a taxi (it must have travelled all of 200 yards). But for half the month, his tummy was operating at subsistence levels – he put in 15 claims that quarter for ‘subsistence’ at about £9 a time, after having worked more than five hours, presumably in a state of meal-less famishment. As for gifts, Mr Allen lists in one quarter a dinner hosted by the Barclays chairman, another freebie dinner at the Garrick Club, and tickets to the soccer at Wembley.

The disclosures even extend to “personal interests” of managers, such as outside company roles, shareholdings and “external business interests or relationships with customers/suppliers/direct competitors of the BBC.”  It’s a wicked thought,  but in the ABC context such a clause might force disclosure of the lavish speaker fees ($5000-10,000 a time) showered on ABC talent like Tony Jones, Emma Alberici, Fran Kelly and Barrie Cassidy.

I then had a thought: surely the BBC isn’t disclosing all the intimate pay and expenses details about their very  Director General, Tony Hall? Yes indeedy, the BBC does just that! Apart from being paid £450,000, he claimed in the first quarter, 2016-17 items including a £7 train ticket, and £85 worth of whatever at the Sheraton,  Edinburgh. He takes very few gifts, but in April, 2015, accepted two tickets to a play, The Vote. He lists  close to 20 outside positions, including the House of Lords  and something called Go ON UK.[2]

So Go ON, Michelle Guthrie! Total disclosure is good enough for the BBC Director-General, let’s see you lead from the front at the ABC on manager pay and perks disclosure.

Perusing the 2016 ABC annual report rewards with only thin gruel. [3]

About 320 ABC types were all on higher than $145,000 pay. The ABC has 2856 “content makers” who are somehow looked after by 632 admin/professional helpers and no fewer than 325 “senior executives”.

We learn the bare names and titles of about 85 executives. Elsewhere the report provides the useless aggregate detail that 16 directors and officers got $4 million.

We once did get an indication of management pay from the ABC’s infamous own goal  when a staffer accidentally leaked a spreadsheet of top ABC pay in 2011-12 to Family First Senator Robert Brokenshire. Rikki Lambert, one of Brokenshire’s staffers, in turn leaked the data to The Australian in late 2013. The media’s focus then was on the ABC talent like Tony Jones ($356,000 in 20011-12) and the commercial types were ignored. So let’s take a look at a sample of them. Actually a high proportion of persons listed with those roles have since quit or retired from the ABC so I’ll delete the names.

Assuming a compound rate of increase of 2.5% p.a. for the following five years, the positions today would be paying 13% more.[4] This  list showed

  • “Director ABC International”,  on $301,000 (adding 13%, $340,000).
  • “Director Business Services”   on $260,000 ($294,000)
  • “Director ABC Resources”   on $234,000 ($264,000)
  • “General Manager Sales & Distribution” on $221,000 ($250,000)
  • “Head Entertainment”   on $219,000 ($247,000)
  • Director People and Learning, $255,000 ($288,000).

The median pay on the top 100 list was about $200,000, so let us use that figure for our redundancy doodling. In addition, we’ll assume the main ABC EBA applies, and that the person’s tenure at the ABC was (a) 10 years or (b) 20 years.

Applying our EBA formula, the redundancy payout is 35 weeks for a ten-year veteran, or $135,000; and for 20 years, $250,000. Plus, possibly, $20,000 in lieu of notice.

To further keep the wolf from the door, there’s the gorgeous super deals that ABC types wallow in. The most generous of the schemes involves an effective 20% annual contribution from our ABC, more than double the private-sector norm of 9.5 %.

The gold-plated schemes, closed off to new entrants in 2005, are the   defined-benefit schemes paying lifetime indexed pensions with reversion to spouse on death for the remainder of his or her lifetime. This generosity to the public service in general led to an abyss of a funding shortfall, hence ex-Treasurer Peter Costello’s Future Fund requiring $140 billion by 2020 to finance future payouts.

The ABC makes its own provision for the liabilities. Last year the ABC’s bill for straight salaries was $366 million. To this was added $34 million for the defined benefit liability and $33 million for the defined contribution liability. A defined-benefit employee would need to have at least a dozen years tenure, so a small number  of staffers seem to be racking up what represent very large liabilities.

From the government’s super ready reckoner, our $200,000 discharged exec, aged say 50 with 15 years service, goes out on a lifetime indexed pension of 18% ie., $36,000. On death the spouse continues the lifetime benefit, at the rate of $24,000 to $31,000 (67-85%).

The sacked guy or gal’s pension figures are supplemented by  a payout  based on his or her own contributions (5-10% of salary), plus an employer top-up of a 3% annual “productivity component” (don’t laugh!) for all CSS  super members, plus earnings.[5] That separate payout can involve combinations of  lump sum and non-indexed pension.

Despite super like that, ABC execs also enjoy the special tax breaks for government, non-profit and charity workers, via the ABC’s  flexible salary packaging arrangements.

The ABC directs its employees to  “Smart Salary”, which handles the ABC packaging. Inputting myself as a hypothetical $200,000 ABC person, I discover eligibility for a juicy array of tax-reduced goodies, including novated car leases, child care and airport lounge membership. Inputting $10,000 for child care and $510 for Qantas lounge, I find myself $4974 better off.  It’s a mystery why an ABCer deserves special tax benefits denied to private sector toilers.

As with all the public service, ABC enterprise bargains have lots of minor perks too, though even the ABC has nothing to equal the “DECA Day” leave provision at the Defence Department, “to enable an employee to be absent for a non-specified reason”.

I must say you’ve read a lot by now but aren’t much the wiser about payouts to axed ABC types. That  of course is how the ABC wants it.

Tony Thomas’s book of Quadrant essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here.


[1] Gavin oversees all of the daily radio and television news programmes, including Radio 4′s Today programme, World at OneVictoria Derbyshire, as well as the News at Six and Ten.

[2] The BBC is also committed to disclosing the pay of its on-air stars from this year.  Theresa May’s government is amending the BBC’s charter to force the BBC to reveal the pay of all on-air talent getting more than £150,000 ($A240,000). There are about 110 of these high-fliers whose pay will  have to be disclosed in £50,000 bands; after that the bands will narrow.

[3] I was momentarily distracted by the half page glamour pic (page 116) of staffer Marieke Hardy. Ms Hardy earlier wrote in a hate-speech exercise on the ABC’s The Drum that Liberal Minister Chris Pyne was Australia’s most-loathed person globally. She opined that his appearance on Q&A  had caused the nation to “silently pray for him to get attacked by a large and libidinous dog”. After an indecent delay, the ABC (Charter: Impartial) pulled the article off The Drum and apologized to Pyne. Marieke is now not merely forgiven but lauded in the annual report.

[4] The 2013 EBA provided for pay rises of 2.5-2.6% compound p.a.

[5]  In terms of that ABC employer “Productivity Component” of 3% per annum, try this ABC slice of life from Louise Evans about the cadre of ‘lifers’ there in 2013:

“a pocket of predominantly middle-aged, Anglo-Saxon staff … who were impervious to change, unaccountable, untouchable and who harboured a deep sense of entitlement.

They didn’t have a 9-5 mentality. They had a 10-3 mentality. They planned their work day around their afternoon yoga class. They wore thongs and shorts to work, occasionally had a snooze on the couch after lunch and popped out to Paddy’s Market to buy fresh produce for dinner before going home.

They were like free-range chickens, wandering around at will, pecking at this and that, content that laying one egg constituted a hard day’s work…

 Taxi dockets were left in unlocked drawers for the taking and elephantine leave balances had been allowed to accumulate. When programs shut down for Christmas, staff would get approval from their executive producers to hang around for a week or two “to tidy things up”. One editor asked for his leave to be cut back by a week because he’d need to pop into work during the holidays to “check emails”.That constituted work.”

An interesting practice in 2016-17 is the ABC Media Watch team of nine departing for their holidays on November 21 last and the program not returning until February 6. The team comprises Presenter, Executive Producer, Director, Story Editor, Supervising  Producer, three researchers, and a coordinator.

Facts? They’d Ruin the Best ABC Stories

Work for our unsupervised national broadcaster and it seems you can peddle any politically twisted falsehood that strikes your fancy. Case in point: 7.30’s shock! horror! reporting on the wave of hate crimes Donald Trump is said to have unleashed. It’s all rubbish, total and unmitigated nonsense

lies r usThe ABC’s daily campaign to discredit the Trump presidency is swinging along, but could I suggest that you ABC people be a bit more subtle about it?

The ABC’s statutory charter of impartiality is of course a dead letter. But I just think that your Trump-hate would be more effective were it  based on even a skerrick of fact  and logic.

Take, for example, the item on last Tuesday night’s ABC TV 7.30, presented by Leigh Sales and compiled by US-based Conor Duffy (the ABC’s former environment correspondent). Unidentified persons in Pennsylvania damaged 100 tombstones at Mt Carmel Jewish cemetery last month. There have also been a spate of bomb hoaxes to Jewish institutions. These were the salient facts in the 7.30 item.

But as Leigh Sales unctuously introduced the segment: “Some people blame Donald Trump’s incendiary rhetoric for unleashing people’s worst impulses, something Trump backers of course dispute.”

Some  people also blame Leigh Sales for  bayonetting new-born kittens, something Leigh Sales backers of course dispute.

The same Trump-trashing material was published on the ABC website the same day, under the banner “Trump’s America”. A lead para states that “race hate crimes are spiking in President Donald Trump’s America.” (Obama’s America, by contrast, involved unicorns grazing on coast-to-coast flower-beds).

Somehow the inflammatory rhetoric spewing from the Democrat camp is not on the ABC’s radar. On March 4, Obama’s former Attorney General, African-American Loretta Lynch, made an impassioned video plea for more marching, blood and death on the streets – a video that was later posted on the Facebook page of Senate Democrats as “words of inspiration.” Maybe I need to repeat this – Obama’s former Attorney-General wants anti-Trump rioting, blood and death on the streets.[1]

In her video Lynch says people are experiencing “great fear and uncertainty” over Trump.

“I know it’s a time of concern for people, who see our rights being assailed, being trampled on and even being rolled back. I know that this is difficult, but I remind you that this has never been easy.   It has been people, individuals who have banded together, ordinary people who simply saw what needed to be done and came together and supported those ideals who have made the difference. They’ve marched, they’ve bled and yes, some of them died. This is hard. Every good thing is. We have done this before. We can do this again.”

But Leigh Sales and Conor Duffy know that Trump, not Obama’s henchpeople, is responsible for any and all hate crimes in the US, because he’s used inflammatory rhetoric.  The TV presenters don’t want to say so themselves, because they’re such professionally-objective journalists. But they seek out third-party talking heads to deliver their message. Here’s their line-up:

  • Allen Hornblum,  whose dead relatives suffered tombstone damage. Hornblum blames Trump hot and strong. A quick check reveals that Hornblum is a “political organiser” who thinks George W. Bush escaped jail for invading Iraq because of his money and power. Hornblum is  ex-executive director of Americans for Democratic Action, a Democrat-oriented think-tank.

Omitting to mention Hornblum’s affiliations, the ABC’s Duffy lets him say, “I think some of this (desecration)  can probably be tied to the national political scene and some of the statements by Donald Trump.”

  • Pennsylvania Attorney-General Josh Shapiro, who according to Duffy is  touted as a potential leader of the Democrat Party. Well, Shapiro would relish a free kick at Trump, wouldn’t he.
  • Tarek El-Messidi, a nice Muslim cooperating with Jews to get the damage repaired. He sounds off about “the rhetoric of the campaign” and “an eco-system of hate”.

The item did show Trump’s spokesman Sean Spicer condemning the incidents.

The stuff about Trump being responsible for all race hate is Left-liberal media derangement. For example, the FBI has caught one of the alleged anti-Semitic bomb hoaxers in St Louis, Missouri. He’s Juan Thompson, 31, an African-American journalist and anti-white racist alleged to have made at least eight of the threats. Was he inflamed by the toxic campaign rhetoric of evil Donald Trump? Er, no. Thompson had been allegedly stalking a  former white girlfriend. From January he was making bomb threats in her name and concocting other threats to make it look as though she was trying to frame him.  He went to some lengths to defame her as anti-Semitic (and a VD-infected user of child porn etc) but so far there is no evidence that he is personally anti-Semitic. The SMH to its credit reported on his arrest on March 4.

Sales and Duffy knew about Thompson’s arrest and background but didn’t mention it on 7.30. It would have spoilt their Trump race-hate  narrative.[2]

Next, let’s look at Trump’s “inflammatory rhetoric”. The 7.30 report re-played two Trumpisms. The first, from last June, was that Mexican illegal immigrants include criminals and rapists. Typically,  7.30 played that but snipped off his (non-inflammatory) words, “And some, I assume, are good people.”  In the second clip, from December, he called for blocking all Muslims from US entry pending full assessment of the security threat they pose.[3] Almost immediately, he began walking back from that position. He now seeks a temporary ban on immigrants from seven terror-infested countries while US authorities work out better security measures.

I don’t know why the ABC thinks that such comments should set off a wave of anti-Semitic threats. The fake-news brigade wants to stitch up Trump as an anti-Semite, notwithstanding that, for example,  his daughter, Ivanka, converted to Orthodox Judaism on marrying Jared Kushner, currently a key Trump adviser. The feeble evidence proffered of the anti-Semite Trump is that he was a day or two slow off the mark in condemning the cemetery attacks – but he has remedied that in full measure.

These fake-news narratives depend on withholding from the public relevant material, e.g. about Loretta Lynch’s call for riots and death and Obama’s manifest anti-Semitism. Here’s  items putting the Trump-as-anti-Semite narrative into a more balanced context.

  • One of President Obama’s last and most spiteful betrayals was to ensure the passing in the Security Council last December of   Resolution 2334, calling on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.” This means prima facie that the Jewish state  has no claim on the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, indeed the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, all of which the UN now says belong to Palestine. Israeli officials described Obama’s action as a ‘tailwind for terror and boycotts’.
  • On January 9, 2015, two days after the Charlie  Hebdo massacre, Islamic terrorist Amedy Coulibaly shot and killed four Jews in a kosher grocery. Obama insisted that this was  just a “random” attack on a bunch of “folks” in a “deli”. White House spokesman Josh Earnest maintained Obama’s charade at a press conference soon after, saying the Jews just had the bad luck to be in a Jewish deli when the terrorist began randomly killing people.  Obama dropped this inexplicable farce soon after.

Now it’s true that 7.30 does good work from time to time. But Tuesday’s segment illustrates, yet again, how the ABC’s Left-liberal line-up and groupthink dictate the handling of important political news.

Tony Thomas’s book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here.


[1] I could find no reference to this on the ABC.

[2] Incidentally, The Intercept, from which Thompson was fired for inventing literally fake news stories, happens to specialize in anti-Trump material, e.g. today’s headline, “Women and children in Yemeni village recall horror of Trump’s ‘highly successful’ SEAL raid.”

[3] While the ABC carries on about Trump race-hate, a 2015 poll of 600 US Muslims by the Center for Security Policy showed “25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad” and 51% of those polled, “agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah.” For similar results from polling of Muslims in the UK and Europe, see here.

COMMENTS [18]

  1. Doubting Thomas

    We can prattle on as much as we like seeking to hold their ABC and other left-colonised instrumentalities to account for their outrageously biassed behaviour, but it’s unlikrly to change anything. People like Leigh Sales, Jon Faine, and other ABC talking heads, Gillian Triggs and her henchpeople, university academics and the entire fly-blown steaming pile of intellectual ordure are immune to criticism. Why? Simply because they never see or hear it inside their hermetically sealed bubble. There they relax, even wallow, secure in the fulsome praise of their like-minded mates. Anyone outside that bubble is a non-person far beneath their notice.

    The only thing that might change them is for their dung-heaps to be comprehensively destroyed. Trump is setting out to do that in the US. It will need politicians of similar determination to privatise or defund the ABC and to defund the universities forcing them to compete in the marketplace for students who will soon demand something other than the PC pap they are currently being fed. Pigs might fly.

  2. Patrick McCauley

    Direct action – Take Ultimo first – send in the homeless to lie about and prevent activity – send in the unemployed and under-employed to demand jobs and housing – send in the misogynists and racists and homophobes to send out socially engineered statements to the people … ” we cannot change gender any more than we can change the climate’ … “The stolen generation were saved” etc. Once we have Sydney and Melbourne secured … move on the the HRC headquarters to build the ash foundations for the proposed Bill Leak sculpture. After that – the Universities must fall.

    • LBLoveday

      I was looking for an hour+ reading matter from a limited selection in a small newsagency and saw Time magazine’s cover “Beyond ‘He’ or ‘She’. The changing meaning of Gender and Sexuality”, and was reminded of why I stopped buying Time years ago. Bought Reader’s Digest thinking that should be safe enough – jokes, short stories, diet/medical fads – but no, even there I suffered an article on changing the climate, written as if there is no question change is due to man and man alone. One suggestion was to cut down all the trees in Siberia so the exposed snow would reflect more of the sun’s rays and cool the earth.

    • Warty

      I don’t see anything changing in Australia any time soon. The Coalition is as ideologically divided as ever it has been, and no amount of platitudes about it being a ‘broad church’ will hide the fact that they are white anting themselves even more rapidly than little Billy Shorten can outwit them on penalty rates; a Royal Commission into banking; the energy crisis; and a parliamentary vote on SSM.
      Shorten’s policies have nothing going for them, but he has energised union support combined with the CFMEU foot soldiers: GetUp and a few bikie gangs. So the ABC and the equally awful SBS can continue doing what they are doing (or not doing) with impunity, because they know the senate won’t lift a finger to help the Coalition, but even better, there are enough of the PC brigade within the Coalition itself to blow any hostile moves towards our beloved Aunty, before such thoughts even filter up towards the mythical light of day. There is no longer any light of day registering in the darkened recesses of their party room though processes.
      The non functioning Coalition somehow brings to mind the Monty Python skit about Polly, the deceased Norwegian parrot.

      • Jody

        I don’t know whether you’ve noticed the increasing numbers of gay MPs now in the Coalition. Quite a lot of them have more recently acquired seats, some of them very safe seats like Berowra and North Sydney. My own family tells me 50% of those in parliament house are gay now. That, or anything like it, is a staggering statistic and the opportunity to ‘progress’ their own agenda is now a living reality.

        • Warty

          Hmm, yes, living in Berowra as I do, I’m lumbered with one of them. Leeser is also opposed to changing s.18C. No matter, I abandoned ship way before the July election.

  3. gary@erko

    It’s such a relief for leftist progressives to finally have some good ole fashioned desecration of Synagoges and Jewish graves to hide behind, masking their own blatant antisemitism and racist identity politics.

  4. en passant

    Drain the Oz Swamp, but do not attempt it with pumps requiring wind or uphill hydro.

  5. Don A. Veitch

    Why does the ABC need to lie? Why make up facts? President Trump is, in fact, doing enough to discredit himself:
    backsliding on election pledges to Israel on Jerusalem;
    backsliding on détente with Russia;
    warmongering, expanding the war in Yemen, boots on the ground in Syria;
    sucking up to the dark ages government in Saudi Arabia;
    retreating on infrastructure promises;
    insults Germany (and Australia);
    bringing down a horror budget that betrays his core constituency;
    failing to drain the swamp;
    cowardly on Flynn versus ‘deep state’.

    President Trump aka ‘The Snowman’, he melts away when the heat is turned up.

    • Jody

      Have to agree with this and it was all totally predictable. Didn’t need the lefty media to tell us any of this.

    • Warty

      I suppose it’d be a bit much asking for evidence of his backsliding on opening up communications with Russia; going back on his promise to be a friend to Israel, or backing down on his promise to drain the swamp. Memory serves me he was inaugurated in January, just a couple of months ago, not four years ago. I’m impressed you feel he ought to have moved mountains in that short short time, but truth is he is only superhuman, not Christ. But you will of course support your accusations, won’t you, Don?
      Now, I may be wrong, but I don’t recall his ever promising to suck up Saudi Arabia (I certainly wouldn’t want them in my digestive system), nor do I remembering him promising ‘boots on the ground’ in Syria.
      I must say I was disappointed he went ahead with the dismissal of Flynn on a point of honour, because he was outmanoeuvred on that one.

  6. Keith Kennelly

    All this negative about Trump was reported in the unbiased leftie elite media of course.

    I heard one report on 4bc that showed Trump’s popularity is still very strong among those who voted for him and they think he was wired tapped and he’s doing what they want.

    Jody if you say he’s undermining himself then that’s most likely wrong. You’re always wrong about Trump.

    Recall your over excited ranting that he’d be ‘gone in days folks’.

    And you still haven’t given those odds for that bet.

  7. padraic

    One good thing arising from the ABC’s obsession on Trump and spouting the US “swamp’s” view of him on their radio and tv news outlets is that it reduces the amount of time they can devote to promoting their favourite activist themes and bashing the present federal government. However, they still manage to fit in those two local obsessions – for example – the daily TV program that appears in newspapers recently showed the following: “8.30 – Newton’s Law – Josephine defends a woman accused of smuggling an asylum seeker out of a local hospital” I think that says it all. The other morning on News Radio a political “commentator” had a crack at Bill Leak, condemning him with faint praise. When they are on an activist-themed roll they often accompany the story with music that suits the victim mentality. These offerings are usually accompanied by a commentary expressed in unctuous, patronising tones.

  8. Keith Kennelly

    There you go again name calling.

    Wrong again.

    I run three business. Two are marginal at present. The other is my retirement and my family’s legacy.

    I have a very balanced life and have sufficient power in my own not to have to put others down.

    You could learn from me.

  9. Keith Kennelly

    What? Don’t you like your ‘facts’ challenged?

    You are behaving like the educated elites … again.

    Name call and abuse the messenger when you are challenged on the things you say?

    You could really learn from me.

    First lesson.

    Be self critical.

  10. Keith Kennelly

    Second lesson: something I read in a quadrant article about truth, right and rationality.

    ‘Complete liberty of contradicting and disproving our opinion is the very condition which justifies us in assuming its truth for action: and on no other terms can a being with human faculties have any rational assurance of being right.’

    Robert Menzies.

    This is the very best explanation of why it so necessary to challenge opinions of those who express and think ‘fake news’ is fact.

Life is Good at Their ABC

What can taxpayers expect for the billion dollars a year that underwrites the ABC? Not much over the Christmas season, which begins when shows go on hiatus at some point in November and very often doesn’t end until March, when rested leftists return to preach the goat-cheese gospel

paul barryWhy is Media Watch presenter Paul Barry so sad?  He’s sad because he and his ABC mates get a huge paid break over Christmas — but he’d rather be working, of course. Barry signed off on his November  21 episode, “But for now until next year, we’re sad to say that’s all from us. Goodbye.” 

He didn’t say when next year his show would deign to reappear. Such disclosure might be embarrassing.  On recent years’ precedents, we’re talking February 6.[1]

The obvious way to make Paul Barry and his mates happy again is for the ABC to schedule a couple more Media Watch episodes this month or cut short the January furlough. It wouldn’t cost much since salaries are being paid anyway and facilities are lying around unused.

But the ABC prefers to wave an early bye-bye to most of its ABC current affairs gurus and their milling teams of helpers. It then fills the vacated slots with overseas rubbish like the aptly-named UK quiz show Pointless (currently at Series 10, Episode 70. On December 19 Pointless will screen twice – both times as repeats).

ABC people should be doubly happy to forego some of their excessive Christmas break because they’ve just negotiated that wonderful new enterprise agreement. It includes a one-off $500 payment[2] in addition to three annual 2% pay rises (the first back-paid to July 1), seven days paid “domestic violence leave” and an increase in maternity and spousal leave.[3]

There are plenty of other ABC perks too, like 15.4% employer-paid super  or well over 20% for those on the old super scheme.  The norm in the private sector is the obligatory 9.5%. The ABC also has a flexible salary-packaging arrangements   “allowing you to effectively salary sacrifice to suit your individual financial requirements. Options available include superannuation, cars, childcare and laptops.” As with all the public service, ABC enterprise bargains have lots of minor perks too, though even the ABC has nothing to equal the “DECA Day” leave provision at the Defence Department, “to enable an employee to be absent for a non-specified reason”.

A little ABC perk I did notice in the current EBA is that you can get a $20 tax-free meal allowanceafter working eight hours (on 6am or 11am starts. I suspect that 2.01 and 7.01 pm are popular knock-off times at Ultimo and Southbank). In ABC parlance, disappearing for a sixth of a year is called “taking a break”. It used to be self-described as “taking a well-earned break” but this phrase, abbreviated to WEB, attracted undue satire.

On the same November 21 evening, Q&A’s Tony Jones signed off, “Now, this is the final Q&A of 2016.”[4] And on  the website, he says, “Thank you for watching Q&A. We will return in February 2017 and hope you will also come back to ask the questions and join the conversation…” When in February, exactly, Tony? On last year’s precedent, QandA might reappear as early as February 6, but who knows?.

I can’t pretend to be an admirer of Q&A but it’s odd that Jones hasn’t told his fans why he’s deserting them for so long. After all, he’s not underpaid. When ABC stars’ salaries were accidentally leaked by an ABC staffer in 2012, Tony Jones topped the list on $355,789. Guessing that he’s improved his pay by 3% a year, that would put his current taxpayer-funded paypacket at a $412,456.[5]

Jones is also billed as co-host of Lateline. His last appearance there was November 23,  interviewing King Abdullah of Jordan. His contribution to Lateline since November 23 consists of his mugshot at the top of the Lateline web page.

Some ABC TV programs disappear but their presenter soldiers on in a different role. An example is Geraldine Doogue’s Compass. It began its Christmas break on November 6, with Doogue signing off, “Well, I hope you enjoyed that program, and especially so, because it’s the last program for the year. Have a wonderful holiday season when you get to it and we look forward to offering you a brand-new season of Compass in 2017. But goodbye for now.”

She doesn’t tell us when Compass will resume, and its historical track record is erratic, to put it mildly. In 2015, she finished on November 29 and Compass belatedly returned on February 28, 2016. But actually, that program and the next on March 6 were about Pope Francis, syndicated from overseas and already more than a year old. (Compass’s motto could well echo Nellie Melba’s – “Sing ‘em muck; it’s all they can understand”). Doogue herself didn’t run  an interview program  until March 13, 2016.

However, Doogue has her substantial slot on ABC Radio with Saturday Extra at 7.30am. She kept that going through November and also last weekend. I don’t know if it’s on again next Saturday (10/12/16).

It’s not her “breaks” I’m cranky about but how she’s turned Compass into yet another ABC loudspeaker for Leftist elitism and moral superiority. She called her September 4 Compass program, “The Moral Compass – Capitalism Under Pressure”. The website summary opens with  this crushing non-sequitur:

“Are the Brexit vote, the Trump phenomenon and the resurgence of One Nation all signs that democracy and capitalism are under pressure and failing to deliver? If so, what can we do to build a fairer more equitable system?”  

She quizzed her panel,

“Tonight, are our democratic values falling short of our current needs? And if so, how can we redeem our system? … Now, I’d like to ask you all, is the democracy and the capitalism that we have known failing us, really?” (By “we” and “us”, I assume Doogue means “my kind”.)

To paraphrase, she’s saying that if Leftists don’t win a democratic vote, it’s a failure of democracy and democracy should be replaced by a “fairer” political system where only Leftists can win.[6] She hasn’t twigged that the hoi polloi are now  in successful revolt  against her kind.

Doogue also had harsh words to say about the top 1% wealthy Americans, suggesting they should share their money around more.[7] Doogue was on a $182,013 paypacket in 2011-12 (current guestimate, $211,002) and  is well and truly in among Australia’s top 1% wealthiest. If you’d like Doogue to share her money with you, drop her  a line.

Getting back to ABC holidays, I marveled at the final November 20 episode of Foreign Correspondentfor 2016, where “impartial” presenter Emma Alberici ran a mickey-mouse poll proving that Donald Trump was only half as popular as lice, and about as popular as cockroaches and haemorrhoids. Last year Foreign Correspondent closed on December 21 – a good effort – but didn’t resume until March 15 , 2016. Wow, quite a break! The ABC archives page shows that  in 2014, Foreign Correspondentclosed on October 14 and didn’t reappear until April 14, 2015!  The Foreign Correspondent team must have been captured and eventually released by aliens.

Alberici, like Tony Jones, is notionally co-host of Lateline. Since November 20 she’s appeared there three times, on November 28, 29, and 30, interviewing Labor’s Penny Wong and Brendan O’Connor and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. Will she appear again in December? Time will tell, as TV journos put it with gravitas.

Four Corners had its final episode on December 2. Unlike the other programs, it has announced it will resume on February 6, 2017.

ABC Insiders with Barry Cassidy finished up on December 4. On last year’s precedent, it will probably return on February 5, 2017.

Science and climate-alarm show Catalyst finished up on November 15. Presenter Dr Graham Phillips, “sad” like Paul Barry, signed off, “Well, that’s the last Catalyst for this year, so from all the Catalyst team, thank you for watching…Thank you for coming with us on this incredible journey”. Well, Catalyst’s climate doom-mongering was certainly incredible.

Phillips might have added that the brutes like Michelle Guthrie running the ABC have axed Catalystaltogether, along with up to nine staff who will queue at the cashier’s counter for the ABC’s particularly generous redundancy payouts.[8]

In 2015, Catalyst finished on December 9 and re-started on February 2 this year. That was better than its peer programs at the ABC.

It is perfectly possible for resource-intensive ABC current affairs programs to run through the Christmas period almost without a break. ABC-TV 7.30 last year had its final program on December 30, and was back on deck on January 4, 2016. Two years earlier, it did considerably better, finishing on December 30, 2013 and amazingly, re-starting on January 1, 2014.

You may be wondering how the hordes of ABC lower-level people involved with Q&AFour CornersCompassForeign Correspondent etc will occupy themselves during the long hot summer.[9]ABC journos get six weeks paid leave a year, to make up for their working on various public holidays. But the non-journos involved with programs get (theoretically) only four weeks paid holidays.

Those involved in the November 20 episode of Foreign Correspondent included Producer (1 person); Camera (2); Editors (5); Research (2); Archives (2); Titles (1); Graphics (1); Production Managers (2); Associate Producer (1);  and Executive Producer (1). Four Corners has a senior crew of close to 20. Heavens know how many supernumeraries inhabit QandA.

I suppose if these people have got no programs to work on from late November to February, they  just  bustle around, public service-fashion. Happy holiday, one and all!

This Quadrant Online survey has been an “incredible journey”, as ABC people would say, into journalism and holidays as practised by a statutory authority. I’d witter on about it some more, but it’s time to collect my meal allowance from my spouse and then go on a well-earned break (from housework).

Tony Thomas’ book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here

 


[1] The last time Media Watch started earlier than February was in 2012

[2] The ABC’s EBA 2013-16 also involved a $500 one-off payment.

[3] All the gory details are not yet public.

[4] Jones’ final show ended with a musical skit by three Left “comedians” satirizing Pauline Hanson (“Youse have changed the color of the seats”) the Liberals’ George Brandis, and climate sceptic Malcolm Roberts (“This bloke is perversely ignorant, a climate change denying, unrepresentative flake”). QandA of course saw no reason to satirise any  Green or Labor senator.

[5] Maybe the ABC could give a conservative a turn as QandA presenter. The Australian’s columnist Janet Albrechtsen would be great.

[6]  I have no idea why a non-Left voting result says anything about a “failure of capitalism”.

[7] Doogue: “If we could get that money moving around so that there was more of a sense that it was shared.”

[8] An ABC staffer is entitled under the current enterprise bargaining agreement to four weeks salary for each year’s service up to five years, and three weeks salary for each year thereafter, to a maximum of 24 years service.

[9] Tim Flannery’s Climate Council would describe it as an “angry” summer, the scientific term for above-average heat.

Alberici and Their ABC, At It Again

The latest episode of Foreign Correspondent says so much about the spigot of bias that is our national broadcaster it is difficult to know where to begin. Let us start, though, with the show’s inherent dishonesty — and then wonder why an allegedly conservative government funds a billion-dollar disgrace

alberici subway IIABC TV’s Emma Alberici wants us to believe that lice are twice as popular as US president-elect Donald Trump. In her 34-minute Foreign Correspondent special on Sunday night (20/11) she splices in (at 29mins) polling data showing 54% of respondent voters favored lice over Trump, while only 28% favored Trump over lice.

This doubtless had Alberici’s luvvie pals squirming with pleasure. It did nothing for the credibility of herself, Foreign Correspondent or the ABC. Nor did she see any  inconsistency worth explaining between the lice “finding” and Trump getting 61 million votes in the election.

She provided no context for the lice poll, merely lifting the factoid in from a youtube clip. In fact, the poll involved 1222 respondents nationally last May, and generated a raft of other crazy memes like Trump being slightly more popular than haemorrhoids and cockroaches.

Needless to say, the pollsters never sought views  on whether Hillary Clinton was more popular than lice, cockroaches or haemorrhoids, or whether Trump supporters hung up the phone  rather than take any more anti-Trump insults. But it was good enough for Alberici as part of Foreign Correspondent’s juvenile stitch-up of Trump and his supporters.

Other gems from the episode:

  • Alberici verbals Trump as boasting about “sexually assaulting” women. She edited the covert 2005 recording to delete his comment that the women consented to his advances
  • She takes seriously supposition from  New York Times Trump-hater Tim O’Brien, author of Trump biography TrumpNation, that if and when Trump family members work with him in the White House, they will plunder government money to corruptly enrich themselves. She even relays the hypothetical criminality to Republican congressman and  budget executive Tom Cole for comment, asking, “How will you make sure he puts the American people first and not his businesses?”
  • She lards her Trump “analysis” with further abuse from O’Brien:“His entire life has been short-term money-grubbing. That is the single biggest animating force, other than his need for attention” and “You mean you’re surprised that Donald Trump lies? He’s a serial fabulist to the point of almost being pathological. He will not hesitate to lie if he sees it in his short-term interest.”
  • Another Alberici talking head, a comedian apparently, likens Trump to a tame chimpanzee “who seems fun but someday Coco is going to tear your f—g limbs off.”
  • With cavalier imprecision, Alberici inserts grabs of Trump taking extreme positions, such as banning Muslim immigrants, without mentioning that Trump has already toned-down his policy to “extreme vetting” of those from terror-prone countries.
  • Alberici mocks Breitbart News  for a headline “Political Correctness Protects Muslim Rape Culture”. Alberici, bless her, has never heard of the recent rape epidemic by Muslim immigrants in Western Europe or  the 2012 conviction of nine Pakistani Muslims for gang rapes of scores of women over many year in Greater Manchester, while authorities looked the other way rather than ruffle the multicultural harmony thery prefer to believe is the normal state of affairs.
  • Her Main Street interviews with Trump supporters all happen to be white, fat. ageing, and working class.
  • She produces a New York Times reporter, Tim Rutenberg, as sage and oracle about Trump, as if the NYT had covered itself in glory with prescient coverage of the Trump/Clinton contest. In fact, the NYT publisher  issued a post-election apology and pledged to ‘re-dedicate  ourselves” to good  journalism.
  • Alberici, post-election, gets on a New York subway carriage where, surprise, other passengers are staring out the window or accessing their cell-phones. “I feel like a ghost at a funeral,” Alberici says, as if people on the subway there normally engage in merry japes and  folk dancing.
  • She ends the program with a protester waving a sign, “Not Mein Fuhrer”, and a factory churning out hideous face-mask caricatures of Trump.

At least twice in the 34 minutes, Alberici asks her interview subjects how they feel about Trump “boasting about sexual assaults” in the Access Hollywood tape.

To  black female Trump staffer Omarosa Manigault: “How did you feel when you saw that Access Hollywood tape with Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women?” (She plays her interview with Manigault with a straight bat, given that Manigualt seems to have triple Alberici’s IQ).

To two Trump-supporting women in a hair salon:  “What about what Trump said about women when he was caught on the tape  boasting about sexual assault?”

Alberici knew that Trump’s relevant words were:

“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” (My emphasis. I’m not saying Trump’s words were tasteful).

So the context is that Trump, when he was an insanely rich media star, boasted that he had women groupies around him who would trade sex favors for access and relationship. To demonstrate her false point, Alberici aired the “pussy” bit of the tape while snipping off the key sentence, “When you’re a star they let you do it.” I’ve put in a complaint about this to the ABC, we’ll see how they (eventually) respond.[i]

In yet another tired “gotcha”, Alberici recycles Hillary’s debate claim about Trump calling women “pigs, slobs and dogs.”  Trump in fact acknowledged calling TV host Rosie O’Donnell fat and a loser. In 2013, O’Donnell shed 50lbs after surgery. The pair had been insulting each other for a decade, with O’Donnell falsely calling him a bankrupt. O’Donnell followed up “snake oil salesman” with “[He] left the first wife — had an affair. [He] had kids both times, but he’s the moral compass for 20-year-olds in America. Donald, sit and spin, my friend.” The link, however, also shows Trump treating his foe O’Donnell with surprising courtesy and compassion during one of her illnesses.

Alberici is particularly respectful when interviewing some of the “tens of thousands” of post-election protesters on the streets, panning to snuggly signs like “Take Care of Each Other”. She apparently failed to notice that pre-election, the Clinton team had a field day predicting that Trump supporters would not accept his imminent electoral defeat.

To sum up, the ABC is and will remain clueless about how and why Trump won the election. It will continue to serve its public with mindless sneers about Trump in lieu of analysis, as seen in Foreign Correspondent.

As a public educator, Alberici is a disgrace. As a source of information, Foreign Correspondent is a disgrace. For tolerating and promoting both of them, the ABC is a disgrace. But we knew all that, of course. What we don’t know is why the purportedly conservative government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull disgraces itself by doing to nothing to clean out the national broadcaster’s billion-dollar stable.

Tony Thomas’ book of Quadrant essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here


[i] Alberici also verballed Tony Abbott when Prime Minister, causing the ABC to publish a correction.

COMMENTS [5]

  1. ianl

    > “… why the purportedly conservative government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull disgraces itself by doing to nothing to clean out the national broadcaster’s billion-dollar stable”

    Thank you for the amusement, Tony, but the answer to your hypothetical question is that if Waffle dares to point an analytical question towards the ABC, why, then the banana will get it (or perhaps the pyjamas) – right between the eyes.

    And just you see what that does to your poll ratings, Waffle.

    • Tony Thomas

      I got a reply to my ABC complaint, with surprising alacrity:

      Thank you for your note about our story “President Trump” and in particular how it dealt with Mr Trump’s recorded statements about groping women.

      Given that sexual assault includes the sexual touching of another person without prior consent, I have no issue with the framing of Emma Alberici’s questions. I also note that Mr Trump’s staffer and the women Trump supporters in the hairdressing salon did not dispute the phrasing when the questions you mentioned were put to them.

      Kind regards

      ABC
      Michael Doyle
      Associate Producer, Foreign Correspondent

  2. Bran Dee

    Presently we have in Communications Minister Mitch Fifield one of the least effective in that office, apart from the former incumbent who was the preoccupied appointee of Tony Abbott, and was referred to in The Australian 21/11 as the Homer Simpson of the Turnbull government.

    Is Alberici not the spouse of another at the ABC, one who was given a make work position in the ‘Fact check’department?

  3. Patrick McCauley

    Alberici is particularly annoying because she holds herself in such high esteem. She seems to imagine herself not only a global citizen but also a member of the European (Italian) royalty which created the enlightened new political correctness. So Trump, for her, is a special insult. Her cultured fragilities have been doubly offended … more so than your ordinary couch feminist . She works and thinks ( and looks) more like a seductress than a journalist. More movie star than interviewer. She is the haircut the ABC wants for itself. However she may struggle to keep that under thirty ragamuffin look for much longer … as age settles her precocious bigotry into its rightful place.

  4. Keith Kennelly

    Drain the ABC swamp!

A BBC Program the ABC Won’t Like

Britain’s national broadcaster, much against its will, must soon reveal the gold-plated salaries of top stars and lesser lights. Given the ultra-comfy pay deal our ABC collectivists have just awarded themselves, PM Turnbull will want something similar here. Yeah, right

their abcThe BBC is now committed to disclosing the pay of its on-air stars from next year. So can our ABC continue to claim that the pay of Tony Jones, Phillip Adams et al is a state secret? It sure can, until we have conservative politicians with the will and the Senate numbers to bring ABC pay levels into the daylight.

In the UK, Theresa May’s government is amending the BBC’s charter to force the BBC to reveal the pay of all on-air talent getting more than £150,000 ($A240,000). There are about 110 of these high-fliers whose pay will  have to be disclosed in £50,000 bands; after that the bands will narrow. The BBC is funded to the tune oif £3.7 billion a year by licence fees of £145.50 ($A235) per household. The ABC is funded directly by taxes.

The BBC previously won a disclosure battle with the limp-wristed David Cameron government, which wanted a £150,000 trigger for disclosure, but the BBC managed to increase it to  £450,000 ($A722,000). This caught only seven  BBC presenters, the most familiar to Australian viewers being the winsome Fiona Bruce of Antiques Roadshow , whose modest remuneration runs to around £500,000 ($A811,000).

Theresa May’s culture secretary, Karen Bradley, says broader disclosure will make the BBC “more open and transparent about its operations”, explaining that  “licence fee payers have a right to know where their money goes. By making the BBC more transparent it will help deliver savings that can then be invested in even more great programs.”

The pay of senior BBC executives is already disclosed. The UK government says the secrecy around talents’ pay is an anomaly. Some BBC talent will continue to evade pay disclosure because they are packaged in production companies that sell shows to the BBC.  A local equivalent is The Chaser on the ABC, which is made by production company Giant Dwarf.[i]

BBC Director General Tony Hall bleats that the forced disclosure will lower the BBC‘s  competitiveness  “and this will not make it easier for the BBC to retain the talent the public love.”

In Australia, the ABC staff are a well-heeled bunch, even before their controversial new enterprise bargaining agreement, with its 2% annual pay rises, one-off $500 gift, and various leave increases. According to the ABC’s 2016 annual report[ii], three in ten staffers (29%) are pulling salaries of more than $100,000, and that is before all the add-ons (such as super). Last year, 176 executives also received performance bonuses, which averaged close to $9200. It is hardly surprising that the ABC is rated Australia’s fifth most attractive employer by the Randstad survey.

In Australia the only facts about ABC staff salaries relates to 2011-12 pay levels for  some 100 Individuals in on-air roles and in the bureaucracy, all earning more than $170,000. The big names included Tony Jones, Q&A, $355,789; Juanita Phillips, newsreader, $316,454; Richard Glover, 702 Drive host, $290,000; Jon Faine, 774 Mornings host, $285,249; Leigh Sales, 7.30 host, $280,400; Chris Uhlmann, 7.30 political editor, $255,400; Fran Kelly, Radio National Breakfast host, $255,000; Barrie Cassidy, Insiders and Offsiders host, $243,478; and Virginia Trioli, ABC News Breakfast host, $235,664. Note that they have all stuck to the ABC like fleas to a dog, notwithstanding that the pay disclosures allegedly made them prime targets for poachers from commercial TV.

The pay disclosure was anything but deliberate: the ABC for years had fought off freedom-of-information requests about pay. But an Adelaide ABC  pay office staffer in October, 2012, sent SA Family First MLC Robert Brokenshire some harmless data on regional staff numbers, overlooking that sensitive payroll data was embedded in the same spreadsheet. This data found its way to The Australian.

ABC  stars like Tony Jones, Emma Alberici, Fran Kelly and Barrie Cassidy top up their pay with speaking gigs for external parties at $5000-$15,000 a time. Google shows Tony Jones listed with Celebrity Speakers and with Saxton, Platinum, ICMI and Ovations bureaus. Alberici is with Platinum, Claxton and Celebrity. Cassidy is with Saxton, Claxton,  CMIC and Celebrity. Holmes is shown with Saxton, ICMI, and Catalyst. Leigh Sales is with Claxton, Salesforce and Platinum. Amounts paid are not public but FOI has elicited that presenter Dr Karl Kruszelnicki got $10,800 for a single speech in mid-2014. Alberici got $14,300 for hosting an awards night for Austrade in 2013, and $15,000 for a two-day Wesfarmers conference in 2012.

Apart from their comfy salaries, long-standing ABC staff are also aboard the gold-plated public-service super scheme for federal public servants. This gives them an indexed life pension. For someone retiring at 61 and with 33 years service, the indexed pension is 47% of salary, say $70,000 for someone finishing with a $150,000 paypacket.  When you die, your spouse/partner picks up the lifetime indexed pension at a reduced rate of 67% – 85% of the original pension. The spouse continues getting the lifetime pension whether or not he/she remarries. The cost of this largesse to the ABC, and hence to taxpayers, is about 20% of a staffer’s salary.

Although the two gold-plated defined-benefit schemes closed to new entrants in 1995-05, they are still costing the ABC more than the  successor “accumulation” scheme paying earnings pro-rata with contributions. The numbers are $34m liability in 2015-16 for defined benefit schemes, vs $33m for accumulation schemes.

A special lurk involves an anomaly in the system enabling ABC staffers to retire at 54 years and 11 months and still get a better lifetime payout than if they kept working to 60 or 65. If you notice that  a retiree at the tennis club seems strangely youthful, you can bet he/she has pulled this age-55 trick, which can propagate an extra benefit of up to $200,000 from the taxpayers.

It is well-nigh impossible to terminate an ABC staffer for non-performance or bad behavior. Under the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act (1983), there is not only tenure for staff but a “Tenure Appeal Board” (s57) consisting of a paid chairperson and one rep each from the commission and the staff. Thus sacking a tenured ABC worker would precipitate a bureaucratic battle. For a successful sacking, the ABC would need grounds such as a jail sentence for child pornography, as was handed in 2012 to a leading ABC personality in Tasmania. Some observers claim the protections against dismissal for ABC workers are even better than in the federal public service.

Staff made redundant have the consolation of uber-generous payouts. An ABC staffer is entitled under the previous (and presumably the new) enterprise bargaining agreement to four weeks salary for each year’s service up to five years, and three weeks salary for each year thereafter, to a maximum of 24 years service. Thus a 15-year staffer would get 20 + 30 + 5 weeks notice = 55 weeks pay. Nice!

Another perk is the talents’ extensive  “well earned break” for one sixth of the year, when high-profile programs    take long holidays. Media Watch folded its tent last November 23 and didn’t return till  February 1 – a handsome nine-week furlough. Q&A went to the beach on November 25 last year and didn’t reappear till February 1. Lateline went on hols last December 4 and re-appeared February 1. Compass did the same from November 29 to February 28.

So come on, Malcolm Turnbull, start the ball rolling and let’s all see what our taxes are paying for at the ABC.

Footnote: The chore of reading ABC annual reports did elicit that it’s well-paid work writing post-mortems for the ABC board on ABC stuff-ups. For example, TV ex-star Ray Martin and SBS ex-managing director Shaun Brown trousered $98,400 for their 108-page report into Q&A impartiality last year, according to some fine print. For some reason the pay was split $30,000 to Martin and $68,400 to Brown. The inquiry followed the notorious invitation to ex-gaol bird Zaky Mallah to join the live audience and ambush federal minister Steve Ciobo with a question. Martin summed up the notoriously left-leaning Q&A as “mostly excellent… balanced, entertaining and informative”.

The pair looked at 23 episodes and reported that all was well on the impartiality front. But they were able to pad this nothingburger with recommendations for more women and more ethnic and geographic perspectives.

Pay for other consulting reports included

  • Ex-Age and ex-Herald editor Steve Harris: $30,000 for a review of the ABC’s coverage of the Higher Education Research Bill (2014).
  • Journalist Kerry Blackburn (assisted by former ANZ CEO Mike Smith), $60,470  for a review of impartiality of ABC business coverage, with more work in progress this fiscal year.
  • Freelance writer Mark Skulley, $21,600 for a review of ABC coverage of the proposed Shenhau coal mine during 2015-16, with more work in progress this fiscal year.
  • Ex-journalist Peter Cavanagh: $25,000 for a review of the ABC’s coverage of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreeement

However, the 2014-15 report did not disclose the amount paid to ex-AFR editor Colleen Ryan for her review of the ABC’s 2015 federal budget coverage.

Tony Thomas’ new book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here


 [i]  About 15% of the ABC’s commissioned broadcast hours go to independent productions.  Shows include We Can Be Heroes, Summer Heights High, Angry Boys, 
Enough Rope,
 Year Of The Dogs,
 Kath & Kim, The Slap, 
Sea Change, Hungry Beast,
 Lawrence Leung’s Unbelievable,
 Two Men In a Tinnie,
 On Trial,
 Gruen Nation,
 Lawrence Leung’s Choose Your Own Adventure, Two In The Top End,
 and Three Boys Dreaming. 

[ii] It is jaw-dropping to also read in that report that

The ABC’s commitment to impartiality and diversity of perspectives reflects the need for a democratic society to deliver diverse sources of reliable information and contending opinions. Aiming to equip audiences to make up their own minds is consistent with the public service character of the ABC.”

 

COMMENTS [5]

  1. en passant

    Tony,
    You mention that the ABC is resisting the transparency they insist / inflict upon others although you: “Note that they have all stuck to the ABC like fleas to a dog, notwithstanding that the pay disclosures allegedly made them prime targets for poachers from commercial TV.”
    This is the key and we should not be holding them back from being paid their true worth.
    Get rid of the ABC as just another cankerous government dysfunctional make-work sore that has long outlived its role.

    • nfw

      Absolutely. Let them make us an offer for it we can’t refuse. Then we’ll see how long Their ALPBC lasts without taxpayers forking out the dosh. Alternatively, to save bucks, move the Sydney studios to say Macquarie Fields and the Melbourne studios to Craigieburn. Then “the talent” and all the staff, who need to have domestic violence leave (can’t wait for HR to start reporting that), can work and play amongst those they claim to rule, er, represent and care so much about.

      • whitelaughter

        It has potential. Or even better, have every presenter who has bleated about Islam being a religion of peace transferred to Saudi Arabia, so they can experience that peace first hand. Given the demographics of the ABC, this will be to die for – literally.

    • ianl

      > … the ABC is resisting the transparency they insist / inflict upon others …

      Yes. Their rank hypocrisy stems from the envy within them that they fear so in others. But it isn’t the envy of the hoi-polloi they fear (after all, the hoi-polloi lurrvve meeja stars); rather, they fear the envy of each other, since ratings are supposed to be beneath their dignity and there is no other way of determining “virtue” beyond scratchy cat fighting. They much prefer not doing that in public …

  2. Bran Dee

    The chairman of the ABC board Jim Spigelman is an historic Labor figure who 44 years after after purging conservatives from the ABC is there to reject the government’s workplace bargaining limits. From 1972 to 1975 Spigelman served as Senior Adviser and Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. In 1975 he was appointed the Secretary of the Department of the Media.
    In 1976 Malcolm Fraser tried but was unable to undo the Labor purge. Now Whitlam and Fraser are gone but Spigelman is allowed to lead and uphold the Whitlam ABC legacy.