Andrew Landeryou, who I’ve faithfully promised not to call a “bovver boy”, makes the following colourful observation on another Troppo comment thread:
It honestly matters very little who they put on the ABC Board, it’s the culture of the place that’s the problem. It is stacked to the rafters with inner urban leftists who regard the left of the ALP as compromising sell outs.
There is little hope for them, even with good people like Janet on the board.
It should be sold off to the slowly bleeding to death leftist publisher Fairfax, with one slowly strangling the other so that our nation may be free of both.
I doubt that Andrew really desires the demise of the ABC in his heart of hearts. Most Tories of my acquaintance actually watch ABC and SBS news and current affairs most of the time, for the simple reason that all the commercial alternatives are shallow, puerile crap and an insult to anyone’s intelligence irrespective of their political orientation. That’s especially true since Eddie Everywhere started gutting Channel Nine’s Sunday program, which was the only commercial TV current affairs program worth watching.
But that isn’t the main point of this post.
I’m more interested in Andrew’s observation about the inherent “inner urban leftist” culture of the ABC. It’s a point also made in The Australian opinion pages this morning by Paul Gray:
Clearly some taxpayer-funded staffers still have trouble deciding who’s the most evil person in world affairs today – the Pope or George W. Bush. And clearly some still think that presenting “both sides” of a case means getting one interview with the ALP Left and another with the Greens.
It’s a point I made to Jen only last night when I found myself thumping the table and fulminating over a 7:30 Report story about tertiary education. Red Kezza happily ran an unadulterated ALP/NUS line on the unmitigated evils of HECS fees and the abolition of compulsory student unionism, and then tried this miserable gambit to excuse the complete lack of any attempt at presenting both sides of the argument:
Just to reiterate we would have liked to have given the Government’s position in that story, but the minister was unavailable.
But support for HECS and voluntary student unionism is hardly confined to the Howard government. There are plenty of commentators they could have found to present the case, Andrew Norton just for a start. In fact, support for HECS is a fairly mainstream idea. Even left-leaning economists like John Quiggin agree with the concept (albeit no doubt with heavy qualifications) as does yours truly rather more whole-heartedly.
Paul Gray sees some hopeful signs that ABC journos might finally be beginning to exercise some restraint and balance both in their story selection and the internal balance of those stories, even if under the weight of the express or implied threat of a Tory-stacked Board and new and more aggresssive management. I mostly agree with Gray’s take on this issue, although obviously scrupulous political balance within every single story is an impossible goal. I do think ABC news and current affairs has persistently exhibited an excessive left-leaning bias and that it flows directly from the ingrained “latte left” perspectives of journalistic staff in Sydney and Melbourne, and I don’t think that degree of lack of balance is acceptable in a publicly-funded broadcaster.
The trick will be to bludgeon the Newtown/Carlton trendoids into recognising that different tastes and viewpoints than their own really do exist and are not held only by brain-damaged, inbred One Nation-voting yokels, without simultaneously squashing the sceptical, fearless, investigative mindset that is indispensible to serious journalism (and that has never existed in the commercial media except at Sunday).
Interestingly, it appears that the political perspectives of journos at regional ABC stations are already changing for the better. I have a fair bit to do from time to time with some local Darwin ABC types, and as far as I can see the Darwin newsroom is anything but a hotbed of latte leftism these days. It appears that the same may be true of ABC Adelaide, at least judging by this story about what former ALP senator Nick Bolkus thinks of it.