Yassmin Abdel-Magied, ANZAC Day, The ABC: Get Some Perspective

IN THE brouhaha over a token ABC “celebrity” indulging her proven immaturity and lack of any sense of occasion by posting disrespectful left-wing propaganda on Facebook, one point is clear; this is no question of free speech, much less one of Ms Abdel-Magied’s religious views — this time — but of the ABC’s role as a taxpayer-funded national broadcaster, and what it tolerates in terms of content, balance, and the behaviour of some of its staff.

Some years ago, as the Abbott government contemplated, then shied away from, sorely needed reform of section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act, Attorney-General George Brandis waded into the debate with the inadvisable and cringeworthy observation that “people are entitled to be bigots;” widely slated for this crass (and politically damaging) utterance, Brandis was pilloried across the country, branded — among other things — as “a bigot” himself; I’ve known George for decades, and whilst I haven’t seen him for a while, he never changes. The last thing anyone who knows him would call him is “a bigot.”

Yet Brandis, in the literal sense, was correct; it is not the role of government to legislate thought, and nor should it be the role of government to legislate speech; people must have the right to think and say whatever they like: but the reciprocal obligation is upon the rest of us, whenever and wherever the nutcases show themselves, to shout them down and show their words for the offence to reality they are.

And small point as it might be to note, Brandis wasn’t actually encouraging people to be bigots. Quite the contrary.

At the time, the voices who shout loudest in this country (which emanate almost exclusively from the Left, amplified by such fine institutions as the Fairfax press and the ABC) pronounced with all the finger-shaking pomposity they could muster that not only was Brandis Public Enemy #1, but that his “honesty” amounted to an unrebuttable case as to why S18c should be strengthened, not watered down or (God forbid!) abolished altogether (as it should be).

Fast forward to early this year, and that waste of taxpayer cash, Gillian Triggs, found her way into the public discourse with a diatribe lamenting that it was regrettable that the state was unable to control the “free speech” that occurred around the kitchen tables of family homes around Australia: and if this didn’t frighten the hell out of ordinary good folk, whose only real crime is to have an opinion, then I don’t know what would.

I begin my remarks this morning thus because as a fervent champion of free speech — genuinely free speech — I have watched over the past few years, with increasing dismay, as this issue (which ought to be something Australia as a country is renowned the world over for as a strong, free country) has become little more than a political football and a slogan to be kicked around and used to hurt opponents politically.

And with ANZAC Day having been and gone again for another year, this year’s festivities have been marred by an ugly public spat over a despicable post in social media by someone who should have known better, employed by people who ought to have provided the guidance to stop her.

By now, most people will have heard of the fracas over Muslim ABC identity Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s foolhardy words on Facebook; those who haven’t can check out this article from The Australian (and I am using this, rather than any of the other reports available, as I wanted to include the opinion offered by Graham Richardson on the issue).

“Lest we forget (Nauru, Manus, Syria, Palestine),” she wrote. This reference to the hard-Left agenda of ending offshore detention, withdrawing from the Middle East and its obsession with sticking fingers (or worse) into the eyes of Israel is too blatant to claim as a coincidence, and too tastelessly timed to be anything other than a jab at another object of left-wing hatred: ANZAC Day.

Predictably, the voices of the Right roared. It was obscene, un-Australian, treacherous, disrespectful, blasphemous, an insult to the men and women who fought and died for Australia’s freedom.

It was indeed all of those things.

But the voices of the Left returned fire, claiming that calls for Ms Abdel-Magied to be sacked by the ABC proved that once and for all, the great conservative cause of free speech was nothing but a hoax; here they were, trying to shut down “free speech” from someone on the Left. How dare they! After all, Abdel-Magied was entitled to offer an opinion, wasn’t she? Or was this just because Abdel-Magied is a Muslim, and conservatives are “bigots?”

Yet again, the football that is free speech gets kicked around — and the central point (or in this case, problem) is missed.

This column believes Ms Abdel-Magied should be free to think whatever she likes, turgid and contemptible as some of those sentiments are: and courtesy of her status as one of the ABC’s tokenistic fabricated “celebrities” — who, to be blunt, would be of little interest to anyone, the ABC included, were it not for the fact she hails from a minority community — we are learning more and more about the thoughts of this lamentable excuse for a TV personality.

Such as the ridiculous notion that Islam is “the most feminist religion” in the world, when irrefutable evidence of the savagery and barbarism of fundamentalist Islamic regimes towards women in many parts of the world tells a very different story.

Or the equally fatuous suggestion that Sharia Law is purely concerned with “mercy and kindness,” and that the law of sovereign nations always takes precedence over it — when again, there is ample evidence over many years and from many countries that nothing could be further from the truth.

I think Ms Abdel-Magied is shrewd; she’s been appointed to government taskforces on multiculturalism and domestic violence; she was sent on a tour of Muslim countries by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to “promote Australia;” she was appointed to the board of the Queensland Museum; and she’s been packaged up as a “media identity” by the ABC (possibly as the ABC’s answer to Waleed Aly on The Project, about whom my objection has nothing to do with the fact he’s a Muslim and everything to do with the fact he’s a socialist idiot whose views I vehemently disagree with).

Even in an era where political, social and cultural institutions are dominated by the Left in this country, it still takes a degree of guile to extract and compile that kind of CV — much of it with salary cheques attached to it — especially for a 26-year-old, no less, and it is obvious that guile is not a commodity in which Abdel-Magied is lacking.

But I don’t think her views are in any way representative of the silent majority of Australians; and I think elements of those views are so insidious that it behoves anyone dishing out what can only be described as CV-building items to think long and hard about what kind of national “celebrities” they are creating.

Herein lies the nub of the matter: the culpability of the ABC.

“Their ABC.” The ABC of the finger-shaking Chardonnay drunks of the self-styled “elites” of the Left who would have a clear world view if they could only extract their heads from their rectums.

Too much of what the ABC puts to air — especially where politics and current affairs are concerned, and especially wherever any kind of panel or discussion is involved — is unapologetically misused as a forum to advance the causes of the political Left; whether it’s to omit key details from its coverage (like failing to identify Islamic terrorist acts as being committed by Muslims) or to stack the loathsome #QandA panel every week with a majority of leftist and radical socialist identities, the only time the ABC feigns any pretence of impartiality is when anyone tries to hold it to account.

My point is that for all the (justified) uproar over what Ms Abdel-Magied had to say on Facebook, the ruckus isn’t a question of free speech: Abdel-Magied was free to post what she did, and the rest of us were free to slap it down as the odious rubbish it was. The fact she took the post down (and apologised) is a clue that someone belatedly got through to her that there are some things you just don’t do.

But organisations like the ABC, which are responsible for providing people like Abdel-Magied a national platform from which to disseminate fringe opinions, also bear some responsibility for what their media creations subsequently say or do: if Yassmin Abdel-Magied was just a nameless resident of Brisbane — irrespective of her religious convictions — who posted something like she did on ANZAC Day, it’s doubtful anyone would have noticed, let alone cause the fuss we’ve seen over the past two days.

No big media profile, no public interest in social media profiles. One follows the other. The ABC made her a “star.” Its curt dismissal of her post, or the callous claim that deleting it was “acceptable,” simply isn’t good enough.

If you create the monster, you own its handiwork. The ABC can’t have it both ways.

Nobody doubts Ms Abdel-Magied’s ability; and nobody could criticise the daughter of migrants trying to carve out a niche for herself. It is her judgement that is in question.

Whilst she should be free to think (and indeed, say) whatever she likes, trying to misappropriate the national spotlight for herself on what is tantamount to a sacred day in Australia, with opinions that are offensive drivel to most Australians, is not the way to go about it.

Through her public utterances on #QandA and this week through her deleted Facebook post, whatever else you might think of her, Ms Abdel-Magied has exhibited a distinct lack of maturity: and if she can’t or won’t behave like a grown-up, then those who dish out the dough — like her employers at “Their ABC” — ought to think twice about providing her with taxpayer-funded junkets and/or platforms to spruik her wares.

Where the ABC is concerned, the notion of being “independent” is too easily distorted into an excuse to propagate blatantly biased left-wing propaganda, using carefully selected messengers (such as Ms Abdel-Magied) to enable dissent to be portrayed as a racist/sexist/homophobic/Islamophobic (insert your favourite lefty taunt here) attack on nice people with “valid insights.”

Sorry Aunty. You created her and if you can’t control her, piss her off. The rest of us don’t need to be lectured, and especially not by a kid who apparently doesn’t even value the traditions of the country that has given her a better life than her homeland ever would have.

 

 

Less Outrageous, But #QandA Still Doesn’t Get It

SCANDALISED YET DEFIANT after its outrageous disregard for social and editorial standards last week, the ABC’s #QandA roared back onto screens across the country last night; after a week in which the broadcaster has come under heavy criticism for providing a platform for a convicted criminal, terror suspect, and advocate of the pack-rape of female journalists on national television, it remains stoutly but implausibly insistent it did no wrong.

First things first: for those who’ve been under a rock somewhere, my midweek article — a follow-up to the disgusting farce perpetrated by #QandA last Monday — can be accessed here, and this piece also provides a link back to an earlier piece which features a link to that episode.

Those who did not see last night’s follow-up episode of #QandA can watch it here.

And for a slightly different perspective, I am also including a link to this article today from conservative journalist (and former ABC board member) Janet Albrechtsen, which paints an accurate picture of the ingrained left-wing bias of the national broadcaster and a compelling portrait of its systemic refusal to meet its obligations in terms of political balance and impartiality.

Senior Liberal Party figures Nick Cater and MP Alan Tudge drew the ire of the broad Left yesterday for refusing to appear on #QandA last night, and I made the point during the show on Twitter that a “line in the sand” drawn by Liberal Party figures refusing to appear is understandable, given the almost explicit anti-Liberal, anti-Abbott government agenda this programme — and by extension, the publicly funded broadcaster itself — is wont to pursue.

As we argued during the week and as Albrechtsen points out, there is no “free speech” defence to what transpired last Monday night, and whilst ABC figures from #QandA host Tony Jones down were yesterday claiming that had they known the criminal they featured, Zaky Mallah, had also championed the gang rape of journalists Miranda Devine and Rita Panahi on national television they would never have invited him to appear, the claim is as hollow as it is disingenuous.

For one thing, even without the gang rape incitement, Mallah still represented an unsuitable person to whom to  provide a platform of national airtime at public expense; and for another — as last-minute #QandA panel member Paul Kelly, Editor-at-Large of The Australian, noted — there is no “free speech” defence when Mallah’s appearance was a deliberately contrived “gotcha” ambush against a government MP, and that much at least was established during the week as well.

The final word on Mallah’s suitability to appear on a national programme like #QandA, ironically enough,  came from Mallah himself; a heavy user of social media to spread his opinions, I noticed last night he had tweeted that Liberal MP Steve Ciobo was “society’s cum stain (sic)” for having the temerity to stand up to him last week and suggest he should be thrown out of the country.

There is a stain at the centre of these discussions, to be sure. But it is not Steve Ciobo.

I think the ABC and its key personnel know they overstepped the mark — badly — last week, and I equally think they couldn’t give a shit about it; the whole point of its diatribes about “free” speech to justify its actions is to send the message that the ABC will say and do whatever it likes — and if that means demonising the Australian Right in order to advance the interests and positions of the Left, then so be it.

After all, host Tony Jones’ cheery declaration at the start of last night’s episode that over time, #QandA would leave no strand of opinion out of the programme is disingenuous: “over time” gives ABC staff more than enough scope to manipulate and abuse its execution of that promise.

Does a solo #QandA performance by, say, Joe Hockey after a federal budget count as “coverage” of conservatism or as a sop to the Liberal Party? If it does, that frees up more “space” at other times for stacked panels of pinkos taking aim at everything they despise.

To that end, conservatives are too often included on #QandA as either “tick-a-box” token inclusions (so the ABC can claim not to have left the Right out, even if the discussion has been fixed and sabotaged beforehand) or as targets for abuse, ridicule, humiliation, or downright bullying.

Former Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella was regularly invited onto #QandA, only to face vicious onslaught from her fellow panelists — Jones included. NSW conservative Christian MP Fred Nile was recently invited onto a “special” #QandA show on marriage where he was outnumbered five to one. There have been plenty of other examples.

The voice of reason last night belonged to Kelly, who — graciously, patiently and eloquently — made the case that the ABC had engaged in an endeavour last week to ambush Ciobo in pursuit of a “gotcha” moment with the specific objective of embarrassing the Abbott government, and that in so doing, it provided a national platform for an individual whose presence on any ABC production is and was unjustifiable.

The real message of the ABC’s “contrition” came from the persistence of panellists to defend Mallah; one even suggested getting him media training so he would be more “media savvy” in future.

Spare us!

But none of the panellists from the Left were having a bar of Kelly’s admonition; and his fellow last-minute ring-in replacement — Human Rights commissioner Tim Wilson — probably delivered the line of the night, bluntly telling Jones that he and his colleagues should have been ashamed of themselves over last week’s effort.

But defiant to the end, the insistence that editorial independence and a right to free speech contrived to dictate no fault on the ABC’s part for including Mallah last week tells the story; these people are not sorry, and the apologies they have offered should be sneered at with the same contempt with which the ABC itself dismisses anyone who disagrees with it.

The ABC simply doesn’t get it, and the fact anyone from the national broadcaster is defending last week’s episode at all proves the point: in its own world view the ABC is above criticism, beyond reproach and immune to the consequences of its actions, and I would go so far as to suggest that those responsible for #QandA really don’t care for the damage they have done to the ABC’s reputation, and to political discourse in Australia more generally.

Those who doubt this contention need look no further than the fig leaf Jones tried to appropriate as an excuse for Mallah’s presence at all: as I pointed out at the outset, he claimed that had ABC types known of Mallah’s advocacy for the gang rape of Devine and Panahi on breakfast television, then Mallah would not have been allowed into the audience or onto the ABC’s premises at Ultimo in Sydney.

In the final analysis, that the ABC has used feigned ignorance of the threat of pack rape against prominent female identities as its excuse for allowing last week’s outrage to happen is a damning indictment on those people at the national broadcaster who were involved.

Distilled to the essence, it is disgraceful that a public broadcaster would use something as tawdry to rationalise away its culpability.

Last night’s episode might have been nowhere near as bad as the one that preceded it, but the events of the past week — culminating in last night’s broadcast — show the ABC to not only stand behind its inappropriate actions last week, but that it offers no real apology or contrition for them at all.

At a cost of $1.1 billion dollars to the taxpayer each year, it is not a situation that can be permitted to continue, and the lawless ABC needs to be held rigorously to account.

 

Their ABC: No Free Speech Defence Exists For #QandA Outrage

WITH INQUIRIES afoot into Monday’s despicable episode of #QandA and the furore over giving airtime to a violent thug and gang rape advocate refusing to abate, apologists from ABC Managing Director Mark Scott down have sought to defend the show based on free speech. No “right” to free speech features taxpayer-funded airtime for criminals. If it did, questions of bias and decency are separate issues Scott’s “defence” fails to address.

In the wake of the reprehensible episode of #QandA broadcast on Monday night — an outrage unapologetically compounded as the ABC repeated the broadcast, unedited, on Wednesday — the most disgusting (but not unexpected) aspect of the saga to date has been the parade of various left-wing sympathisers in the press and elsewhere lining up to defend “their ABC” on the basis that convicted criminal, gang rape advocate and former accused terrorist Zaky Mallah was not only entitled to appear on the programme, but to proclaim that the fact he did was evidence of free speech at work and of the ABC’s fine record in empowering the powerless, and of giving them a voice.

What absolute bullshit.

At best, those who have been trotted out to fly the flag on the ABC’s behalf — from its Managing Director Mark Scott down — have spoken of freedom of speech without any appropriate sense of context for it; at worst, this was an unforgivable exercise in providing a national platform for a dangerous criminal that was contrived to either poke the hated Abbott government in the collective eye, or to publicly signal (yet again) the ABC’s solidarity with elements obsessed with undermining the national interest and bald in their hatred of our society.

In Scott’s case, he has also confused the difference between a “state broadcaster” and a “public broadcaster” and exhibited an intolerable ignorance of what is acceptable for broadcast by a media outlet entirely funded by taxpayer money.

The merit or otherwise of providing access to a vehicle for mass broadcast to a known terrorist sympathiser and would-be murderer of law enforcement officers has, coincidentally, been exposed with deadly effect tonight, as news of yet another murder attributed to Islamic State insurgents — this time in Grenoble in France — filters out of Europe, and given Mallah’s past support for radical Islamic terrorism and his intended travel to Syria to join jihadis (to “observe” them, he claims), those who now defend the wisdom of putting Mallah in front of a national audience of some 1,000,000 viewers should take a hard look at themselves.

Anybody who pays even the most cursory attention to the news of the world knows that Islamic terrorist groups maintain worldwide communication networks, and what happens in one location can well influence what happens in another. The attention the ABC has openly drawn to a known sympathiser of these groups could have sent a signal to allied cells in France.

On Monday, Islamic State begins a week of high-profile controversial publicity in Australia, aided and abetted by the national broadcaster; on Friday, it perpetuates its dominance of news media worldwide by murdering someone in France in the name of its cause. This is not a long bow to draw. The ABC is potentially very heavily culpable for its role in the sequence of events, however innocuous it proclaims its motives on Monday were.

But let’s come back to #QandA in its domestic context, for this is the main focus of my article tonight.

When the debate over ultimately unsuccessful attempts to modify S18c of the Racial Discrimination Act began, the Left in this country was apoplectic with fury over remarks by Attorney-General George Brandis to the effect that free speech meant people have the right to be bigots, whilst others have the right to ridicule, ignore, or rebut them; in the most strictly literal sense he was right, of course, but it wasn’t the first time that the astonishingly intelligent Brandis miscommunicated his message in such a ham-fisted fashion as to render the entire debate pointless.

But if Brandis had instead issued forth an assertion that people should have the right to mouth off like murderous lunatics, to threaten members of Parliament, and to advocate the pack-rape of female journalists on national TV, would the Left have been any less enraged or strident in its denunciation? Of course not.

Yet that formulation, in effect, is precisely what those who now seek to defend Monday night’s episode of #QandA are in fact defending.

Not a syllable has been uttered publicly by any prominent mouthpiece from the Left to denounce Mallah over the tweet he posted in January — republished and widely circulated this week — in which he argued conservative commentators Miranda Devine and Rita Panahi should be gang-raped on national television on the Seven network’s Sunrise programme, and for all the bluster about “misogyny” that has seeped from the Left ever since it decided playing the gender card might cut Julia Gillard some slack and divert voters’ attention from the woefully inept government she presided over, it is a neat little illustration of just how hypocritical the Left is when it comes to “values.”

My bet is that if it had been two women from the Left, rather than female identities from the Right, there would have been no end of condemnation from Labor and the Greens instead of the silence they have met the matter with.

And only a fool claims that putting a known terrorist sympathiser, who has threatened to kill ASIO officers, on a national television show is a shining example of free speech in action, or defends such an idiocy after the event. But again, as far as the apologists from the Left are concerned, there’s no problem with having Mallah beamed into hundreds of thousands of living rooms across Australia.

If Mallah is to enjoy the right to freely peddle his odious views, let him do it at the pub (where he could have the shit beaten out of him for insulting the women present) or in his social media accounts, where people can report him for God-knows-what, block him, or simply ignore him.

Someone like Mallah neither warrants nor deserves a spot on a national forum to air such antisocial and offensive viewpoints.

Labor “leader” and seemingly incorrigible dickhead Bill Shorten has, as usual, sought to have his cake and eat it too, using the storm that has erupted over #QandA to claim the ABC is “not a propaganda arm of the government” but — surprise, surprise — nonetheless “condemning” the ABC for having Mallah on the show in the first place.

Really, any utterance from Shorten is best ignored.

But the sobering facts that have emerged during the week are that ABC staff admitted they knew of Mallah’s background and selected him to ask an audience question (or even be in the #QandA audience at all) anyway; the show’s producers reviewed and helped draft the question he asked, and it is reasonable to infer they would have also had a fair idea of which direction discussion on the show would take immediately thereafter; production staff declined to provide a discretionary but standard briefing to the Coalition MP who got into an altercation with Mallah, Steve Ciobo, which inevitably suggests the intended effect was to ambush Ciobo; and just to make sure Mallah attended at all, and played the part carefully planned out for him, the ABC saw to it that he was transported from his base in western Sydney to the ABC studio in Ultimo and back again at no cost.

I’m sorry, but which aspect of any of this speaks to an inherent “right” to free speech on Mallah’s part? The whole thing was a planned stunt.

Scott is right that there is a difference between a “state broadcaster” and a “public broadcaster;” a “state broadcaster” spews ruling party propaganda out of every conceivable media orifice (TV, radio, online) whereas the ABC’s purpose, it seems, is to spew the propaganda of the government’s opponents. It’s a very straightforward arrangement.

Nobody is asking the ABC to become some mouthpiece for conservative politics or its practitioners.

But some balance — and the abandonment of partisanship altogether — would befit a public broadcaster whose role, funded by the taxpayer, is not to engage in ideological crusades and partisan brainwashing.

It’s one thing to put what in essence is a political propaganda forum on television every week and for the Left and the Right to argue about its (indisputable) bias. But Monday’s episode was something else altogether, and enough is enough.

Piers Akerman has published an excellent piece in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph that runs as a complement to the points I have made this evening. I urge readers to take the time to peruse it, for this is one occasion when the Left are seeking to defend the indefensible, and it is time those who preside over the farce that is #QandA — at the expense of the taxpayer, just to labour the point — are held to account.

The simple fact is the ABC had no right putting a piece of shit like Mallah over the national airwaves in the first place, reaching a million viewers, much less trying to justify itself after the event as encouraging “diversity” of opinion and “free” speech.

Yet again, #QandA has gone far too far in offending the limits of fairness and decency in the drivel it purports to facilitate as fearless debate.

And to put not too fine a point on it, I reiterate that I think it should be axed: for a format that promises so much, this show has been abused as a propaganda tool one time too many, and if it returns to the air next week,* it will only be because saner and wiser heads have not yet managed to prevail.

*AND ANOTHER THING: As readers would expect, my strident criticism of #QandA has also been extensive on Twitter; to this end, I suggested yesterday that the program canvass mainstream issues rather than the standard diet of indigenous issues, climate change, gay marriage, “disadvantage,” and other matters peripheral to sound governance that it is already promoting in relation to next Monday night.

I received a curt response from someone monitoring the #QandA feed inviting me to submit a video question on “one of these mainstream issues” and I have indicated that over the weekend, I will record and send them exactly that.

Stay tuned. In the highly unlikely event they use the question I am going to send them — if #QandA even proceeds next week, that is — I will let readers know how things went.

But I won’t hold my breath. Neither should you.

Their ABC: #QandA Broadcasts Incitement To Terror

THE ANTI-AUSTRALIAN “Adventure in Democracy” charade that is the ABC’s #QandA show has done it again this week; not content to merely steer debate away from anything that could turn a blowtorch on the woeful record of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government — although it did that too — last night’s episode provided a platform for an accused jihadi who admitted threatening to kill ASIO personnel. Perhaps it is time for #QandA to face the axe.

Readers know I have a real issue with #QandA: it is not, despite the exciting catchphrase, an “adventure in democracy” or anything remotely approaching it; it is, simply distilled, a free weekly one-hour slot for the airing of the ideological and political whims of the Left, and for the slapping down of any common sense and/or sanity that emerges from the token one to two participants included in the invariably stacked panel of six (although I will give credit where it is due, and concede Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon made a bit of sense last night too — which is perhaps why his invitations to appear on #QandA are very intermittent indeed).

Anyhow, first things first: anyone who didn’t see last night’s shocker can watch it here, and a word to the wise: as tempted as you might be to reach for No-Doz (and/or something to throw at your computer screen) be sure to be alert in the last 15 minutes of the programme even if the rest of it has worked you into a state of unbridled pique.

Anyone who has ever either tried to get a question into #QandA‘s running sheet and/or taken part in its audience — and I have done both, to no avail on the former count and successfully earlier this year on the latter — knows everything about this show is carefully and tightly vetted, scripted and prepared well in advance.

When it comes to getting a question included, discretion over what makes it into the programme and what doesn’t is held by the ABC producers and editorial staff responsible for the show, and one of the biggest bugbears about #QandA from the Right is that episodes are invariably set up to provide free airtime and a forum for the Left to indulge its ideas and thought bubbles on a national, publicly funded platform.

Questions — and who asks them — are so carefully planned in advance that when you arrive at the auditorium as an audience participant on #QandA, microphones have been strategically placed throughout the room and selected “questioners” assigned to those seats: there is nothing spontaneous, or random, or left to chance insofar as who asks what is concerned.

Before you get as far as being selected to ask a question, it must be submitted for vetting, in writing, to ABC production staff: and if you end up being chosen (as others I know have been) those staff will have corresponded with and/or actually spoken to you several times before the episode of the programme is filmed.

And as ever, even then, the direction these “adventures in democracy” take is controlled with an iron fist.

Indeed, last night the discussion on #QandA meandered very close to a debate over the incompetence of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government — a foray immediately shut down by host Tony Jones, who chided participants for straying off topic and returned proceedings to this week’s version of the standard #QandA fare of socialist diatribes and kick-the-rich, shame-the-nation, class-envious bleeding heart fantasies that this programme is infamous for.

The reason I am speaking so generally thus far is because I am relying on readers to watch the episode, and where I am headed with this concerns a questioner who appeared toward the end of the episode — and readers can learn a little more about him from this article in today’s edition of The Age.

In the interests of giving credit where it is due, Fairfax deserves acknowledgement for reporting the fact such an odious individual was provided with a platform at the expense of the taxpayer.

For Zaky Mallah — charged with planning a terrorist attack in Sydney more than a decade ago, and the first Australian detained under the Howard government’s anti-terrorism laws — was not only selected by ABC producers last night as a #QandA participant, but used the opportunity to declare that Muslims who disagree with the Liberal Party are “justified” in going to Syria and joining the jihadis at Islamic State.

Whilst acquitted in 2005 of terror-related charges (because, as Liberal MP and panel member Steve Ciobo pointed out, the laws were not retrospective), Mallah did admit last night to pleading guilty to threatening to kill officials from ASIO.

Nonetheless, he had the nerve to use the forum to lament that during his incarceration he was treated “like a convicted terrorist” and I have to say that frankly, the bastard ought to consider himself to have gotten off lightly.

And Mallah isn’t just a highly dubious character who is an embarrassment to the Muslim community and a disgrace to Australia, but a filthy misogynist pig who has incited gang rape against prominent female conservative journalists in the past.

I am indebted to Daily Telegraph columnist Rita Panahi, who kept a screen shot of a particularly insidious tweet from Mallah that was posted back in January — and like any coward, Mallah subsequently deleted everything in his Twitter feed prior to and including that post, presumably to try to falsely claim the cover of deniability.

But I think it is relevant today, as it goes to the heart of ABC values, how the broadcaster operates in light of its expenditure of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars each year, and the kind of individual #QandA production personnel deemed suitable to showcase last night.

Rita Panahi Terrorist Gang Rape Screen Shot

My apologies to the lovely Miranda Devine (whom I would never deliberately offend or upset) and to Panahi (a lady of razor-sharp, ordinary common sense and decency if ever there was one) in republishing it now, but people have a right to know exactly what this piece of shit — the ABC’s newest star and its latest carefully chosen #QandA insurgent against the Liberal Party — really stands for.

Yes, Jones ruled the question “out of order” (but not before it had shanghaied debate down its disgusting anti-social tangent) and yes, ABC TV director Richard Finlayson said in a statement this morning that #QandA made an “error of judgement” in including Mallah, but the damage is done.

The ABC cannot have it both ways: on the one hand, claiming it was all a mistake and that things got out of hand, and on the other exercising a command-and-control regime over what gets into this God-forsaken show that is so stifling as to render any denial now of its culpability over Mallah completely pointless.

Certainly, given Mallah’s past, it should have known his was a presence to be avoided at all costs; if it didn’t know this, it only serves to exacerbate the outrage over the waste of public money on such drivel.

It is inconceivable that #QandA staff were unaware of Mallah’s background prior to last night’s broadcast; given one of the publicised themes of last night’s episode was “Terror” and given the ABC’s trenchant opposition to the Abbott government’s proposed changes to citizenship laws where Australians going overseas to fight jihads is concerned, one has to conclude that Mallah would have been gleefully leapt upon by those staff as just the hand grenade to detonate over the subject.

And if it did know about Mallah, what he has been accused of in the past and what he has admitted to, then those people at the ABC responsible for his inclusion in last night’s show ought to be contemplating an involuntary job change this morning.

On Mallah, can I simply say he is a filthy piece of shit whose relevance and value to this country is non-existent: and to this end, Ciobo’s remark that Mallah would make a good candidate for deportation under government moves to strip dual citizens of their Australian citizenship is an astute one, and a matter for commendation.

I also note that once again, decent members of the Muslim community are likely to be tarred, by the less reasonable in our community, with the same brush as this odious individual whose television career should have concluded when the coverage of his trial and incarceration finished a decade ago.

But where the ABC and its #QandA programme are concerned, this kind of thing happens far too often; and whenever it oversteps the boundaries of public decency and acceptable standards, it is simply not good enough for it to pull its head in for the proverbial five minutes before ramping things back up.

This column has spent far too much time over the pst four years tearing into the ABC over this show, and whilst doing so is justified, the fact is that this programme is unfit for broadcast on any objective criteria — not least in light of the ABC’s charter, and specifically where it relates to requirements of taste, decency and balance.

I have this morning sent a message to Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull — in his capacity as the minister responsible for the ABC — asking him to either publicly rebuke the ABC over last night’s programme and/or to engineer the show’s axing, and I encourage anyone who shares my sentiments to follow suit.

After all, #QandA adds very little that is meaningful to political debate in Australia, and virtually nothing when its biases and prejudices and blatant favour of the political Left are taken into account.

Surely, enough is enough.

 

UPDATED: Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced today that an “external review” of #QandA is to take place — and that it has already commenced. We will follow this with great interest. It is to be hoped this “review” has teeth.

 

#QandA: Malcolm Turnbull’s Audition As Prime Minister

MALCOLM TURNBULL — whether by design or otherwise — put in a performance on the ABC’s #QandA programme last night that amounted to a public audition for the Prime Ministership; using a national platform provided by a public instrumentality answerable to himself as Communications minister, Turnbull left most commentators in agreement that his latest appearance constituted little more than a pitch to the public for the top job.

I am on the hop this morning, so there is little to say; in any case it is the opinion of readers I am most interested in today, for my position is pretty simple: Malcolm Turnbull, appearing on the ABC’s #QandA programme last night, turned in a performance that seemed calibrated as an explicit attempt to win public support for himself as Prime Minister.

Right from the beginning, every utterance — every polished, clipped sentence of it — gave the impression that Turnbull is simply biding his time until the Liberal leadership falls to him.

In the meantime, it appears Malcolm was content to use the latest of his regular #QandA slots to flaunt his “credentials” for the role before a sympathetic audience.

Those who did not watch #QandA last night are strongly encouraged to take the hour to do so via this link.

From the outset — with Turnbull quite obviously addressing some early remarks on the imminent execution of two Bali Nine drug traffickers toward Indonesian government figures, staring almost regally down the camera — it was obvious that this was an audition for Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s job, and a pretty blatant one at that.

And to be sure, Turnbull put in a good performance: probably one of the best performances I have seen him give anywhere, be it on #QandA, in Parliament, or anywhere else.

But even then, as high-profile ABC journalist Latika Bourke noted on Twitter during the show, there were two problems Turnbull might have caused for himself: one, that this was a very blatant audition (which ran the implied risk of enraging some Liberal MPs and others opposed to him within the Liberal Party) and two, that the grand old man reminded everyone of his penchant to waffle, and waffle badly.

Indeed, as he more or less summed up his evening’s remarks at the end of the show (in what I characterised on Twitter as his “closing remarks in his pitch for the Prime Ministership”), Turnbull went on and on and on to such a degree I remarked to Bourke that it was getting nauseating.

To bluntly restate my position, I’m prepared to support Turnbull to the hilt should he replace Treasurer Joe Hockey; I could even be persuaded he should be elevated to the deputy leadership of the Liberal Party, such is the race against time for Turnbull — 61 later this year — to realise his ambitions now or not at all; to miss out on the leadership at the next change (whenever it is) would virtually ensure he advances no further.

But if Liberal MPs elect Turnbull as leader — and he is nominally the Prime Minister at the coming federal election as a result — then in the absence of any change of heart in the interim, I will go to the polling booth, collect my ballot paper, and shred it on the way back to my car.

Have a look at the #QandA episode from last night through the link provided; as I said, I’m against the clock today and in any case, people know my views when it comes to Turnbull — and last night’s performance did nothing to change the positive or negative aspects of those views, nor shift my disinclination to support him as a potential Prime Minister by so much as an inch.

Make no mistake though: Malcolm is coming; he thinks he is, at any rate, and I think last night’s effort was designed to give that eventuality an air of inevitability.

I would question, however, whether a left-leaning forum on the ABC — a public broadcaster answerable to him as the minister for Communications — is an appropriate place for Turnbull to be brandishing his leadership “credentials” to garner the approval of an audience that might vote for him, but mostly rusted onto the ALP and the Communist Party Greens, will never vote for him in a pink fit, no matter how much they might protest otherwise.

And what current Prime Minister Tony Abbott, his deputy (and prospective leadership rival) Julie Bishop, or anyone else in the Liberal inner sanctum who have accepted Turnbull’s repeated but nuanced pledges of loyalty might make of his performance last night remains to be seen.

What do people think?

 

 

Their ABC: Shameful #QandA Farce Deserves To Be Axed

IT MAY BE INDELICATE to be so blunt, given that I am — once again — ripping into a sinecure of the Left that the Left itself tries to protect by painting the ABC as a favourite whipping post for conservatives across the country; but the nihilistic farce of “Adventures in Democracy” that is the #QandA programme is a national disgrace. The public broadcaster has no moral or intellectual right to propagate its insidious agenda. #QandA should be axed.

At first, it’s amusing, because no rational person can believe other rational people could possibly spout such drivel.

But if you watch the ABC’s #QandA programme often enough, and for long enough, it becomes all too clear that the villains in this particular drama are in deadly earnest: their pronouncements, forged on the lunatic Left and utterly divorced from any meaningful basis in reality, are enacted in a heavily biased forum and served up by the taxpayer-funded broadcaster as factual content.

(And if you don’t believe the ABC categorises #QandA as “factual” rather than “entertainment,” click here).

Readers know that I watch #QandA religiously every week; not because I agree with it, but because it’s a useful window on the matters presently occupying the thought leaders of the Left, although the longer you watch it the angrier it should make you — unless, of course, you’re one of the slavering left-wing sycophants who finds common ground with a stacked panel of imbeciles, most of whom have their heads wedged so far up their own backsides that they mistake the reverse view of their tonsils for reality.

Since the presentation of yet more mindless twaddle on Monday night — in essence, one hour of attempts to rationalise away the unbridled outrages of Islamic State, the very real and heightened threat of terrorist attacks in Australia, and a stultifying attempt to assert the case that Muslims have absolutely nothing to do with either — I have been stewing, I will confess, and getting very angry that yet more of this bullshit is being funded and disseminated from the taxes paid by ordinary and hard-working Australians.

For those who missed the latest episode of #QandA, knock yourselves out: you can view it here.

This is now the fourth time I have been moved to tear into #QandA in this column in as many weeks, and it’s something I am acutely conscious of; the purpose of The Red And The Blue is not to simply belt the can over a narrow set of issues at every opportunity, but to comment on as broad a selection of political matters as possible, and in a way that enables those who don’t share the highly detailed and intricate love of politics that I do to participate in discussion on rather less complicated ground.

Four articles on one TV show in four weeks tells me there’s a problem.

And so I want to share an article appearing in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph today; it’s by one of my favourite conservative commentators, Miranda Devine, and I think Miranda’s perspective — approached from a different angle to the way I handle these things, but essentially arriving at the same conclusions — says most of what I would say about Monday’s episode myself, and I strongly urge readers to check it out.

(Anyone who wants to review the material I have previously written about #QandA can do so by clicking the #QandA tag in the list to the right of their screen, and a vignette of the articles will open — including this on another unmitigated outrage the ABC permitted #QandA to commit on the taxpayer dollar).

With Miranda dissecting Monday’s show (and an article from The Australian has also appeared online, literally as I’m checking this in readiness to hit “publish”), I want to talk about #QandA in more general terms.

I think the time has come for this indecent piece of idiocy to be axed.

There are those who will defend #QandA on the basis that free speech should be heard, and that the ABC — as a “national” broadcaster — is the ideal place for non-mainstream views to be given the airtime that would otherwise be unforthcoming in more commercially based media (which really means, with this defence usually coming from the Left, that the Murdoch press would not publish them).

It’s the kind of attempted wedge designed to back people like me, and Miranda, and every other conservative, liberal and/or libertarian voice in the country into a corner: we cherish free speech! How can we possibly champion the silencing of different views? Didn’t we advocate the abolition of section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act to allow the airing of views we now seek to silence?

This type of approach — contemptible as it is — is emblematic of the hypocrisy of the Left, which itself made so much noise in friendly media (including the ABC) that it was virtually impossible to proceed with the repeal of S18c. But at the same time it is working to stifle the views of anyone or anything it disagrees with, it demands airtime and exposure as a right from the ABC that it simply refuses should be granted to those with a different outlook.

And in any case, my view of “their ABC” where free speech is concerned is very simple: either everyone’s opinions and beliefs are given airtime in equal measure, or nobody’s are; I acknowledge that in a democratic country a state-run broadcaster has a role to play in facilitating quality discussion and debate, but it is this critical point on which the entire thing falls down.

#QandA makes the most tokenistic attempt imaginable at giving some semblance of impartiality; every week — at the commencement of each episode — it flashes a statement to screen asserting that the composition of the audience correlates with the present standing of the major political parties in current opinion polling. Nobody has any way of verifying this claim. But even if the methodology is followed, what is served up during the programme illustrates just how pointless the exercise is.

The #QandA panels — invariably skewed at least 4-2 in favour of the Left, and usually by a margin of 5-1 — spend an hour each week examining topics that never have anything to do with a conservative agenda, or any other agenda aside from that of the Left.

Its panellists (and host Tony Jones is no “impartial” moderator) routinely slap down, bully, drown out or otherwise obscure anything the token presence from the Right might have to say; this week it was Justice minister Michael Keenan. Famously, it was once former Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella as regularly as the ABC could get her on before she lost her seat in Parliament, and the Twitter gnomes of the Left would revel in the siege she would invariably face. But whoever attends from the Right — with the exception of Malcolm Turnbull, if he counts as being from “the Right” — the treatment is always the same.

Nothing — aside from the sanctimonious edicts of the Left — is allowed to stand unchallenged.

And even the questions featured are tainted, with an ABC producer vetting public submissions of these to ensure “a fit” with the planned theme for each episode. Unsurprisingly, virtually every question is framed either from a position sympathetic to the Left or with a get-the-Right slant attached to it.

The simple fact is that #QandA is nothing more than a free, 60 minute open platform provided every week by the ABC to the hard Left of Australian politics.

I don’t have a problem with the Left having its own 60 minute broadcasts, mind you. But to have them, the Left should pay for them; or at the very least, in #QandA‘s case, they should be moved onto SBS where they can be made conditional on the selling of advertising revenue and commercial sponsorships to fully cover the costs involved: no money, no soapbox from which to spruik their odious propaganda.

It’s true that #QandA has broadcast some episodes worthy of merit; its deployment of a studio filled with school students to hold Kevin Rudd to account in early 2010 over his government’s perceived betrayal of the youngest voters who bought into the mania of his “Kevin ’07” campaign was one, although a cynic might have subsequently believed it part of a careful strategy to orchestrate Rudd’s overthrow in favour of Julia Gillard, the Labor MP held to be the spiritual leader of the “true” Left at that time.

Throwing Treasurer Joe Hockey to the #QandA wolves over his federal budget, ironically, was another, as Hockey turned in his best (and to date only) effective performance selling the measures in the budget, the rationale for their inclusion, and debunking some of the myths spread and allowed to take root by irresponsible Labor and Greens MPs who ought to have known better.

And some of its pre-election programmes, one-on-one with individual senior MPs on both sides, have been worthwhile.

But these — to use the Ford Fairlane analogy — are mere islands of reality in an ocean of diarrhoea whose waves and undercurrents are almost invariably fouled by the rank partisanship, hatred of conservatism, and — dare I say it — the sheer anti-Australianism of the hard Left.

If a #QandA programme was convened featuring Andrew Bolt as a moderator, Miranda Devine and Piers Akerman as press panellists, with (say) Kevin Andrews and Eric Abetz facing down Christine Milne in a “themed” discussion around the importance of traditional social values, competent governance and the benefits of international trade, does anyone seriously think that the resulting brutalisation of the views offered up by the token panellist from the Left would spark anything other than a national political outrage?

Of course it would, and so it should when it comes to #QandA.

This reprehensible programme is not an “Adventure in Democracy,” as it bills itself: it has nothing to do with democracy at all.

And it’s paid for by ordinary Australians who expect decency and balance from a broadcaster they rightfully expect to be able to trust.

In this sense, #QandA represents a dereliction on the ABC’s part of its responsibility to its shareholders: the Australian public.

The problem is getting worse, and whilst it’s amusing to get on Twitter under the auspices of “Leftie baiting” and spend an hour each week poking the trolls of the Left in the eye over the ridiculous and patently unrealistic nonsense it represents, #QandA does not merit its place on the national broadcaster’s slate of content.

It is a shameful and despicable misappropriation of public money for the blatant advantage of the Left in both its political and social formulations, and it has gone on for long enough.

The time has come for #QandA to be axed. Australian democracy will be none the worse for its absence.

As Kerry Packer once famously said — of a dubious programme on his own network that, on balance, was intellectually superior to #QandA — it is time to get that shit off the air.

 

“Their ABC” Is Vital To Democracy? God Help Us

ARGUMENTS THAT SUGGEST the ABC is “vital” to democracy in Australia are hard to take seriously; whilst some ABC products merit praise, its news and current affairs offerings leave everything to be desired — unless you sit on the hard Left, that is. A cynical article by board member Dr Fiona Stanley, appearing in Fairfax papers today and making that ridiculous claim, is really just a pot shot at the Murdoch press that damns the ABC by omission.

Dr Fiona Stanley is a brilliant and accomplished — and deservedly decorated — scientist, whose work has improved and saved lives both here in Australia and internationally.

But as a board member of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and, specifically, as a defender of any crucial role the ABC plays in Australian democracy, she makes a very good doctor indeed.

I have been reading an article this morning in The Age that is also being carried in other Fairfax mastheads, and it surprises me that anyone — even an ABC board member — would actually put their name to such a vapid, misleading piece that blatantly seeks to bamboozle its reader with bullshit, but which in fact simply substantiates the very problem it attempts to claim is a fiction.

The fact anyone or anything associated with the ABC would lash out at the Murdoch press, however, comes as no surprise; and it’s something of an oxymoron that an article purporting to show the ABC as “vital” to democracy in this country should appear in the pages of once-revered and formerly robustly independent Fairfax titles that, as descendants of their past selves in name only, often provide little more than a PR channel for Australia’s Left.

I actually had to look twice at the headline on Dr Stanley’s article — once to check it actually said what I thought it said, and once because I couldn’t believe who had written it — and to be blunt, it reinforces just about every criticism levelled at the ABC by those who take an interest in the public affairs of this country and who do not sit on the Left.

And those criticisms are valid: after all, it is rare for the ABC to have anything favourable to say about anyone from the Right (with the exception of Malcolm Turnbull, unilaterally adored by the Left) or to pursue any of the Right’s causes at all, let alone with the vigour it seems to commit to the agenda of the Left.

Before I go through Dr Stanley’s article in some detail, I should point out that the ABC’s board — funnily enough, just like that of Fairfax Media — is bereft of actual, hands-on media experience: with the exceptions of its Chairman, Mark Scott (ironically, a Fairfax man) and the staff-elected director, Matt Peacock, the other six who sit on it can hardly be said to be senior media industry figures, or even media industry figures at all.

It’s an important point; certainly, some diversity in the make-up of the board of a statutory authority such as the ABC is a good thing. But the ABC is a media organisation first and foremost — an assertion entirely compatible with its charter — and whilst I don’t suggest for a moment that the skew toward career corporate executives is responsible for the abrogation of the ABC’s duty to be impartial, or any moral imperative to exercise balance in its handling and presentation of national events, it is noteworthy given the same criticisms have been levelled at Fairfax for the same reasons: and Fairfax isn’t the national broadcaster at all.

(Thank goodness for that).

But I digress.

Dr Stanley singles out The Australian very early in her article as the villain of the piece; of all of the critics she alludes to — journalists and politicians, all dumb and delusional, of course — it is the only one she actually identifies, and does so three times (although she does single out “the government” — meaning Tony Abbott’s government — for abolishing the ABC’s international Australia Network indulgence).

Her “before” and “after” exercise, designed to show just how good the hard done-by ABC is despite the affront of the miserly conditions under which it is forced to operate, can only hold sway with those who have no idea of how a media organisation actually functions: and the first point I would make is that for the ABC to deliver everything it does today, by Dr Stanley’s own admission with 1,500-odd fewer staff and $80 million less than it did in 1986, merely shows how bloated and inefficient the broadcaster was and probably still is.

So the ABC runs four channels now instead of just the one in 1986: so what? A vast proportion of the content these channels broadcast is outsourced (and I’m talking about production, not necessarily whether they are Australian programmes or not) and it only takes a well-organised and efficient traffic manager to load the content into the cart — literally hit “enter” — and the broadcast of that material, barring technical issues, simply happens.

(For the uninitiated, and to put it very simply, a traffic manager at a TV or radio station — whilst an integral job with a big workload and usually a salary that’s less than it should be — is basically an administrative function that requires some knowledge of production specifications).

Far from dazzling her readers with the giddy-headed infinitude of the ABC’s audience and reach, all Dr Stanley is really telling her readers is how pitifully inadequate these measures are: of 10 the million people are reached by ABC1, for example, this means just 40% of the population tunes in for at least 15 minutes per week, which is hardly a success to scream from the rooftops.

20 million plays per month from iView doesn’t equate to much to be proud of either; I watch #QandA on iView every week and I only watch it to keep an eye on the open forum the ABC provides the Left. There are plenty of people who only ever go onto ABC portals to “see for themselves” the latest outrage they have heard about on the national broadcaster.

And trying to brag about the likes of Radio National and Classic FM, which barely rate better than community radio, is like bragging about a couple of hundred people showing up to a suburban football match the same day 90,000 people are at the MCG watching Carlton maul Essendon.

So yes, Dr Stanley is right on that count: so much for quantity, as she says herself.

This brings us to Dr Stanley’s next question. What about quality? What indeed.

Whilst Dr Stanley relies on an “independent Newspoll” that isn’t even referenced (perhaps because Newspoll appears in The Australian) to support her case, and waxes lyrical about data the board receives showing how much citizens value its content, and how “impressed” board members are with reviews penned by obvious sycophants and fellow travellers, the key flaw in her entire defence of the ABC — indeed, the key offence committed by the ABC against its charter — follows soon after.

Talking of a list of “wicked problems” that includes climate change, environmental degradation and “inequality” — bedrock issues of the Left — Dr Stanley says, in a direct answer to her own question of why the ABC is “so important” for Australian democracy, that “citizens need to be informed about these issues to support appropriate political and whole of government policy solutions.” (My emphasis and underlining).

Who the hell is the ABC to be the arbiter of what political solutions to anything are “appropriate?”

We could simply stop there; that sentence, if representative of the ABC’s philosophy from the top down — and there is absolutely no reason to believe that it isn’t — encapsulates everything that is wrong with the ABC, and neatly validates the trenchant criticism it attracts from those who regard it as little more than a propaganda service of the Left that is (outrageously) funded by taxpayers.

Read a little further, and the real agenda emerges; this article is a backdoor attempt to advance the climate change theories of the rabid Left by re-emphasising the “science.” I’m sure, as Stanley claims, that the ABC’s reporting accurately reflects the “science” on coal, coal seam gas, and the other things she mentions.

The problem is that the “science” on climate change is not settled; there are differences of opinion held in respected quarters within the scientific community that organisations like the ABC simply fail to mention, Or if they do, they call it “bad science” as Dr Stanley has, or something similar. It’s hardly the kind or rigorous approach you’d expect from someone of her calibre.

It’s all a campaign; an enterprise designed to ensure one position prevails over the other. There is nothing objective about it. At the very minimum, if the ABC were all the good things Dr Stanley claims of it, the broadcaster would spend a considerable amount of time presenting both sides to allow its viewers to form their own opinions. But remember, folks, it can do no such thing: Dr Stanley has also said, in writing, that the ABC’s efforts are designed to persuade its viewers to support appropriate political solutions — appropriate as the broadcaster sees fit.

I tend to rattle on, with increasing frequency, about the ABC’s #QandA programme; billed as “Adventures in Democracy,” this weekly one-hour programme is just about the most blatantly biased brainwashing exercise ever conducted in this country.

Those who haven’t seen it will understand, when they do, that host Tony Jones has to be counted as a panellist: he is no simple moderator; featuring a panel of six that routinely splits 4-2 (and usually 5-1) in the favour of the Left, ordinary weekly shows see a barrage of pre-screened questions directed to panel members, and the questions themselves generally either raise the pet issues of the Left or seek to put the token panel presence of the Right under as much pressure as possible.

The beaten Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella was a favourite #QandA target in this regard; the hapless Mirabella would invariably find herself under siege from both the audience and the rest of the panel.

And to cap it, Jones exhibits a disturbing tendency to simply cut off any audience participant showing any pro-Liberal sentiment.

A recent innovation, which the ABC apparently prides itself on, is to vary the “weekly issues” focus with a series of “special” #QandA programmes built around set themes; this week it was “Science,” and more specifically a bitching session about what nasty arseholes Tony Abbott and his mates are for their “attack” on universities. A few weeks ago it was “Dangerous Ideas” from an all-female panel spouting unbridled left-wing drivel. The prospects of one of these “special” programmes ever investigating labour market deregulation, or taxation reform, or “welfare vs work,” or anything else that is remotely connected to competent governance, are zero.

So much for balanced and unbiased content from the ABC.

I make the point that so many voices on the Left who rail against the outrageous conservative bias of the Murdoch press (and especially those, like Dr Stanley, who sit in their ABC or Fairfax citadels) conveniently ignore that fact that Rupert Murdoch made it his mission, for example, to get their hero Gough Whitlam elected in 1972. Or that his papers turned on the best Prime Minister this country has ever had to see the contemptible Kevin Rudd swept to power in 2007.

I remember watching #QandA one night in a Hobart hotel room back in early 2010 — when an audience full of school students ripped Rudd to pieces — and thinking the ABC had finally turned over a new leaf. But silly me; all it was doing was the bidding of those who wanted Julia Gillard made Prime Minister, although in a macabre way I agree that helping to tear Rudd down must at least have made many people at the ABC feel good about themselves.

But for ABC types like Stanley to hit out at the Murdoch press, and The Australian in particular, is disingenuous; to the extent the Murdoch editorial position endorses or favours anyone or any side of a given issue, that position evolves and changes with the flux of events.

As a commercial enterprise boasting market-leading products that deliver a return to their shareholders, it is perfectly entitled to do so: and I would challenge Dr Stanley, or any of her cohorts at the ABC, to nominate which news journalists at The Australian are such embarrassments to their profession as to either warrant or deserve the grubby little attack she has launched at them from the glassy confines of Fairfax’s Media House.

The simple truth — and it’s an unpalatable one for those who think they are entitled to sinecures from which to propagate the drivel of the Left and/or to commit the sin of omission by simply ignoring anything they dislike — is that the ABC is a failure as an entity.

It is a failure as a media outlet; it is a failure as a reputable purveyor of news and current affairs content; and it is a failure weighed against the clear mandate its charter imposes upon it.

How anyone can seriously claim the ABC is “vital” to Australian democracy in its current state beggars belief, but there you are — Dr Stanley believes it; but with the exception of the slavering Left and those whose trust at face value in the ABC to deliver balanced content is systematically abused, a growing number of Australians rightly question the value of “their ABC:” irrespective of what the latest “independent Newspoll,” or distorted and misrepresented ratings statistics, might suggest to the contrary.