Pauline Hanson

Seven is cementing itself as Australia’s most racist television network, this time by providing talking points for One Nation’s Pauline Hanson with a Facebook poll. Shortly after the Australian Senate only narrowly voted down Hanson’s motion denouncing “anti-white racism”, Seven News Sydney’s Facebook account posted a poll calling for opinions on whether such a thing was “on the rise”.

A week after the government scrambled to correct its “mistake” in voting for the motion, Hanson tweeted a screenshot and link to the poll on Tuesday, saying it suggested that “many Australians believe that anti-white racism is on the rise”:

The motion also acknowledged “that it’s OK to be white” — a phrase with a history in the white supremacist movement.

Seven declined to respond to Crikey’s questions about the poll, and whether its producers had accessed any research about actual evidence of “anti-white racism”, and whether the network has been intending to appeal to racist sentiments in its content.

Last month, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which regulates TV broadcasters, found that Seven’s breakfast program Sunrise had incited contempt on the basis of race in a segment where it discussed the neglect of Indigenous children and the Stolen Generations. Seven has rejected ACMA’s finding, saying it was a “form of censorship”.

In that segment, commentator Prue MacSween suggested that some children taking from their families as part of the Stolen Generations were taken for their own wellbeing. The segment was based on a headline from The Courier-Mail, which Sunrise did not fact check before quoting from. ACMA also found the segment breached its accuracy guidelines.

Sunrise, of course, also provided Hanson with a platform in the public eye in the lead-up to her return to political life in her campaign and election as a senator in 2016. She was paid for regular appearances as a weekly commentator.

In July, Seven’s Sunday Night program came under fire (including from Crikey) for a story about “African gangs” in Melbourne. In that story, reporter Alex Cullen said police denied there were gangs because “we live in such politically correct times”, despite Victoria Police having acknowledged a higher-than-average crime rate within the South Sudanese community.

The network’s Melbourne newsroom in January boasted of its “exclusive” access to a United Patriots Front meeting, attended by Blair Cottrell, the violent convicted criminal and neo-Nazi who’s since been banned entirely from Sky News. In that report, as part of coverage on the “African gang crisis”, Seven failed to mention Cottrell’s convictions — including under Victoria’s racial vilification laws — or pro-Nazi views.

Peter Fray

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