We've been here before with the government's attacks on Emma Alberici and the ABC. It's a replay of the Howard government's assault on the ABC over its Iraq war coverage in 2003/04. There's one key difference: the absence of the ABC chair from the debate.

Richard Alston's catalogue of nearly 70 complaints about the ABC in May 2003 -- which dragged out until Alston left politics -- now looks absurd. Few conservatives can even bring themselves to defend the greatest policy mistake of recent decades anywhere in the world. We now know that the war was based on lives about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, that it would cost hundreds of thousands of Iraq lies, destabilise the entire region and dramatically empower Iran, lead to the formation of Islamic State and dramatically increase the level of terrorist attacks in the West. Even if the ABC coverage was as sneering as Alston claimed -- which it certainly wasn't, and found independently not to be -- that would have been entirely justified by the tragedy that began unfolding from March 2003.