Political consultant and ex-greens adviser Ben Oquist writes:



Given Christian Kerr’s seeming distaste
for anything green, his support of the logging industry’s campaign against the
ABC won’t surprise many. But it is interesting to look at what happens when the
shoe is on the other foot. When there is clear bias on the ABC against
environmentalists or the Greens the topic seems off limits.

It’s true that after mega-bucks were spent
by woodchipping industry lawyers, the Australian Communications and Media
Authority criticised
the 2004 ABC Four Corners program for using “emotive” language. Gosh, if
journalism that used emotive language was banned there wouldn’t be much left.
The ABC issued some corrections here including the earth-shattering realisation that the
national broadcaster had inadvertently labelled Huon pine a hardwood when it
should have been classified a softwood. Got ’em!

But when right wing
columnist Michael Duffy’s ABC radio program Counterpoint allowed more
than a dozen factual errors ( see Bob
Brown’s original complaint
) in favour of the logging industry to go to air a
year later in April 2005, no action was taken.

This wasn’t a question of emotive language
(although there was plenty of that) – basic facts were wrong. What’s more, there
wasn’t even an attempt at balance on Duffy’s show. In over 2000 words on the topic, no view other than that of the
loggers was put to air. Compare that to the acres of airtime given to the
logging industry in the Four Corners special.

After a complaint made to the
ABC, Duffy was forced to put one correction on his website – which simply
repeated his error. All other mistakes and biases in the program
were allowed to remain uncorrected. The complaint was dismissed out of hand by
the ABC, despite the glaring one-sided nature of Duffy’s program.

So when one ABC program uses some “emotive”
language all hell breaks lose, yet when another is completely biased, makes
grubby unsubstantiated attacks on environmentalists and gets facts wrong,
no-one, including Christian Kerr, says boo.

Peter Fray

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