Michelle Grattan is spot on when she accuses the Howard Government of being deliberately provocative in appointing Keith Windschuttle to the ABC board.

It’s hard to think of a more inflammatory move, but it will probably
make no difference to the ABC because there simply aren’t hundreds of
right wing warriors prepared to join Aunty and work for a pittance. The
likes of Andrew Bolt and Piers Akerman are happy to pocket a quick $600
for sitting on the Insiders couch, but they’d never take up a
position hosting a local radio program because the money is woeful,
ratings would plunge and they’d struggle to meet Aunty’s requirements
for balance and fairness.

However, new ABC managing director Mark Scott, a former Liberal Party
staffer, will now be under considerable pressure to tackle alleged left
wing bias of flagship programs like The 7.30 Report and Lateline, both of which are performing strongly under long-time presenters Kerry O’Brien and Tony Jones.

It’s the same issue at Fairfax, where an entirely big-end-of-town board
presides over supposedly left leaning broadsheets like The Age and The SMH.
Former Fairfax director Margaret Jackson privately complained that the
directors sat around moaning about their journalists but she never got
to meet any of them. The same applies to the ABC, which partly explains
why Michael Kroger quit out of frustration after his first five-year

Donald McDonald AC has today been confirmed
as chairman for an extra six months until the end of the year, by which
time Scott’s intentions should be pretty clear. Sadly for the
government, he won’t adopt a Vlad the Impaler approach like Jonathan

Ron Brunton and Windschuttle are the two most provocative ABC directors
because of their incendiary approach to Indigenous issues. Indeed,
Brunton’s commentary for the IPA was so controversial that the right
wing think tank almost went broke because corporate donations dried up.

Windschuttle wouldn’t land a gig with any corporate or not-for-profit,
but John Howard is happy to foist him on the nation’s most prestigious
cultural institution, which speaks volumes about them both.

Meanwhile, the Ku Klux Klan are clearly impressed with the work of
fellow ABC director Janet Albrechtsen – they’ve run one of her columns
on the Cronulla riots on their website. Oh dear, the company we keep!

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey