Has Gerard Henderson answered, in
his
column
for today’s Sydney Morning Herald, one of the complaints he
made about the ABC in Crikey feedback yesterday? There Henderson said
that “there are still few – if any – conservatives” at the ABC. Not just at the
ABC, but few anywhere, it seems.

Today Henderson bemoans the fact that
most of the “few articulate political conservatives in Australia” are already on
the ABC board, and are thus precluded from belting up on the corporation. He
also says that “battle of ideas is invariably won from the bottom up, not from
the top down”.

If all of this be true, what is the ABC meant to do? Put
some inarticulate conservative mumblers to air? Press-gang tongue-tied
right-wingers off the street to work for the pittance the ABC offers by
commercial standards?

Henderson also said yesterday “the ABC (is) less
balanced than it was a decade ago” and that he will document this claim in a forthcoming
speech. About time – “the ABC is biased” is the laziest and most
unsubstantiated whinge in Australian public life. Surely Henderson’s
intellectual integrity will not allow him to cherry pick a few isolated islands
from the oceans of rural, regional, online, digital, radio and television
content that the ABC puts out each day? Henderson will be balanced in making
comments about balance, yes?

And he won’t forget that the ABC is charter
bound to serve all sections of the Australian community, which means Balmain
basket weavers as well as monarchists (recent documentary on the Queen), cow
cockies (Landline etc), sports fans (netball and bowls) and those interested in
our military history (live coverage of the Anzac Day march etc). And hopefully
Henderson also will not forget that journalists everywhere should be sceptical
and questioning.

Some of my own experiences of the ABC include being
given a gun and camping magazine by a news journalist on my first day at The
7.30 Report
, open on a column about the dangers of political correctness;
working with Catherine Job (later press secretary to Federal Liberal David
Kemp); listening to News Limited journalist and columnist Madonna King
presenting the Local Radio Morning Program; and overhearing Ian McNamara
interrupt his Australiana for some worried comments about the language and music
sometimes heard on Triple J.

Bias. In the eye of the
beholder?

Peter Fray

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