ABC Foreign Correspondent reporter Eric Campbell took great offence at The Australian's foreign editor Greg Sheridan and his suggestion that "many in the ABC support totalitarianism". In the unlikely event The Oz doesn't publish it, we produce his letter in response ... Dear Greg, As you are probably aware, I have taken extreme offence to your article accusing "many in the ABC" of being admirers of totalitarianism. I have no problem with critical opinions. Indeed, I frequently criticise your paper, for example, for its lamentable failure to cover the News International criminal scandal until forced to and for its execrable and dishonest coverage of climate science. But my criticism in based on evidence and I am happy to cite it. Your article was a series of libels for which I believe you have no evidence. As such, you are honour bound to retract your libels and apologise, or be exposed as an empty propagandist. I have issued this challenge publicly under the Twitter hashtag #sheridanchallenged which many thousands are following. I have worked at the ABC almost continuously since 1986 and have been a foreign correspondent since 1996. I have never once heard a single ABC employee express any of the sentiments you allege. Either I am extremely dim-witted or you've just made it all up. And I contend you've just made it all up. I therefore challenge you to substantiate your allegations with concrete examples or admit your error. By concrete, I mean specific details of statements, articles or broadcasts you relied on to make these extraordinarily defamatory and offensive claims. Merely citing a perceived "vibe" will be an obvious fail and a professional embarrassment. While you stated "many", I am prepared to be gracious and apply the debating rule of just three examples per question. Specifically:
  • Which ABC employees praised the Soviet Union and belittled people expressing concern over human rights for Soviet citizens?
  • Which ABC employees praised Pol Pot apologists as "progressive intellectuals"?
  •  Which ABC employees vilified Catholicism? (The third question does not include people criticising the institution of the Catholic Church, as that is legitimate and standard journalism. The ABC does indeed share a basic human "groupthink" that covering up child r-pe is a bad thing, as I trust does News Ltd.)
I am sure that if such examples existed, you would have them readily at hand, for no credible commentator would make such sweeping statements without them. Sincerely, Eric Campbell