It occurred to me yesterday while Roger Franklin and I ran through a list of recent ‘mistakes’ at the ABC – speaking on ABC radio – that the ABC faces the same problem the Rudd-Gillard government faced.
A lack of adult supervision.
People who might say, “Yes, Chaser boys, your photoshopping skills are excellent and we all hate Chris Kenny but we’re not going to air with that picture”. Or they might say, “Let’s actually check the claims being made against those fascist brutes in the Navy even though we desperately want them to be true”. And so on.
This morning Mark Scott is in The Australian demonstrating that he isn’t going to provide adult supervision:
An investigation by The Australian in Kupang, West Timor, has found the ABC reports cannot be corroborated and that several of the asylum-seekers who originally claimed their hands had been severely burned as a direct result of abuse from navy personnel have now changed their stories.
Mr Scott defended the ABC reporting, however, and said ABC journalists “have pursued that story in an attempt to ascertain, to answer the questions of whether people in the care of the Australian military somehow came under some harm. I think the pursuit of that story and the raising of those allegations was in the public interest.
“I don’t think there should be any attempt to somehow suggest that because the ABC raises those allegations, the ABC are advocates for those allegations — that the ABC has acted as judge and jury on those allegations. We have raised them because they are serious, they are important and they raise questions that need to be answered, and we have put those questions.”
Here is the great Paddy McGuinness explaining why Mark Scott was never going to be that adult:
Scott is one of those who, in the old phrase, have risen without trace. And he is a guarantee of one thing. While he is at the helm, the ABC will not change its editorial culture. In fact, he is very much like a younger and taller clone of McDonald, who throughout his tenure — coextensive with that of the Howard Government — has played a purely emollient role in that organisation, carefully avoiding change and deflecting the continual assaults from those who find the ABC culture narrow and heavily biased.
The feminists, the gay-rights advocates, the ecunemical searches for the meaning of life, the anti-Catholics, the advocates of Papuan independence, the supporters of Fidel Castro and similar Third World dictators and murderers, the America haters can rest secure. So can the Howard haters, long protected by McDonald at the ABC.
Some of McGuinness’ predictions have come to pass:
ABC TV will continue to invent a need for yet more channels. The ABC octopus will grow and grow.
The ABC has a profound corporate governance problem. The management of the ABC are not accountable to the board of the ABC. In the private sector this wouldn’t be too much of a problem – the ABC would simply go broke. The ABC, however, won’t go broke for as long as the government pumps in billions of taxpayer funds. Now if there is no reason to prop up failing private sector firms, why is the government propping up the ABC – and on that topic lets have a look at their EBA.