When is it OK for our national broadcaster to thumb its nose at its own code of practice? The obvious answer is never, but we know it happens routinely. So what can the common worker-drone do about it? Not much, but we can at least try to use existing legislation to draw attention to the more egregious examples.
One such attempt is described here. Settle back, this is lengthy.
With the ‘splodey-headed ABC-luvvies fairly busy being maximally outraged by the US citizenry’s choice for their highest public office, it seemed a good time to try and sink the slipper into them over their second most-passionately held world view – our unfolding ”climate disaster” – and their deranged reporting of it.
The story begins back in February when I thought to tip TheirABC off about the breaking story of the NOAA whistle blower, Dr John Bates. Here’s what I sent…
G’day ABC news tips department
I read the following article with interest, but can find no reference to it on the ABC. Given the numerous articles featuring NOAA on your website, I wonder if you will feature it soon?
The NOAA whistleblower has been big news across the blogosphere and since the ABC never shows stories that counter the global warming narrative I thought it was time you proved your critics wrong. Here’s another link to it.
It has already broken in the British media, here…
And in the US media here …
… and here …
Everyone has the internet with them everywhere these days, so bias in some issues can be quite visible in terms of non-reporting. Please show your lack of bias so those who feel the ABC should be sold off to private enterprise might be placated for a while.
I look forward to your early response on the matter. You don’t want to wait until after the POTUS tweets on it do you? Really?
Needless to say, they didn’t cover the John Bates story, even though I tipped them off twice more.
The next step was a complaint to TheirABC’s complaints department…
Subject: Failure to cover the NOAA whistleblower reveals the ABC’s refusal to show both sides of the global warming debate
Your Comments: The ABC claims to provide balanced news and editorials – you tell us that all the time! Why then, has there been such a pointed failure to cover the material provided by whistleblower and retired NOAA climate expert John Bates?
John Bates wrote of this on renowned climate scientist Judith Curry’s blog – here – https://judithcurry.com/2017/02/04/climate-scientists-versus-climate-data/ – that
“A NOAA NCEI supervisor remarked how it was eye-opening to watch Karl work the co-authors, mostly subtly but sometimes not, pushing choices to emphasize warming. Gradually, in the months after K15 came out, the evidence kept mounting that Tom Karl constantly had his ‘thumb on the scale’—in the documentation, scientific choices, and release of datasets—in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming hiatus and rush to time the publication of the paper to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy.”
Later John Bates says this, “So, in every aspect of the preparation and release of the datasets leading into K15, we find Tom Karl’s thumb on the scale pushing for, and often insisting on, decisions that maximize warming and minimize documentation.”
He also says, “I also raised concerns about bias; here we apparently see Tom Karl’s thumb on the scale in terms of the methodologies and procedures used in this publication.”
A reasonable person would find it quite newsworthy that such an eminent figure has come forward to accuse the former director of NOAA of “putting his thumb on the scale” but it has not been covered by the ABC… Why?
While climate alarm is last on most people’s list of worries, it sucks up a disproportionate amount of our taxes and your air-time – so why won’t you cover something that helps shed light on what we climate sceptics have been saying for years?
You can’t say you didn’t know because I tipped you off on 7/2, 8/2 and 9/2/16 – and I can provide copies of the acknowledgement emails if you’d like.
I look forward to your early reply.
Naturally the luvvies were having none of that! Here’s their reply…
Thank you for your email.
Your complaint has been considered by Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit which is separate to and independent of content making areas within the ABC. Our role is to review and, where appropriate, investigate complaints alleging that ABC content has breached the ABC’s editorial standards. These standards are explained in our Code of Practice which is available here –http://about.abc.net.au/reports-publications/code-of-practice/.
You have complained that a failure to report recent Dr John Bates’ criticisms of Dr Tom Karl’s 2015 climate study is evidence of ABC bias.
We note that this story received relatively little coverage in major media in Australia. According to a report published by Associated Press, Dr Bates subsequently stated in an interview that there was ‘no data tampering, no data changing, nothing malicious’; another study has since confirmed the Karl calculations; and the journal that originally published the Karl research has rejected the allegation that it was rushed to print. In our view, the ABC’s lack of coverage of this story does not demonstrate a lack of impartiality, but rather a fair and reasonable assessment of its news value.
The ABC has provided extensive and ongoing coverage of issues relating to climate change across a range of programs and genres, presenting a range of different perspectives. Overall, the ABC’s coverage reflects the weight of scientific opinion in this area, which favours the view that global warming is happening and that human activity contributes to this warming. This approach does not, of itself, indicate an undue favouritism for a particular perspective. Rather, it is consistent with the concept of ‘a balance that follows the weight of evidence’, which is identified in the ABC’s editorial standards as one of the hallmarks of impartiality.
Thank you for giving the ABC the opportunity to respond to your concerns.
Because I work to a system of creating maximum cognitive dissonance in the minds of leftarded journalists, the next step was a formal complaint to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). Leaving out the somewhat tedious detail, ACMA ruled that I can’t complain about something that didn’t happen. Who knew?
Fair enough, then, obviously it was time to complain about articles that did get published. The first complaint was about a News24 interview.
Complaint re interview on ABC TV News24 – Breach of code of practice
Program time 0951 and again at 1044 (Queensland time, not fake time)
Program date 16/03/2017
Subject Alarming story about coral bleaching being caused by CO2 emissions
Interviewee – Prof Andrew Baird from JCU
Interviewer – Kathryn Robinson
This morning Kathryn Robinson interviewed a coral scientist whose livelihood depends on him finding alarming stories about the reef.
Every question and comment from your interviewer fed into the global warming alarmist narrative and not one single remark referenced the sceptical side of this issue.
JCU’s pompously named “ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies” have never been able to answer quite simple questions from the sceptical side. See Julian Tomlinson’s editorial from today’s Cairns Post – attached – to support this.
Kathryn might have asked how the claimed process of man-made carbon dioxide emissions suspended in the atmosphere and emitting down-welling long-wave infrared back-radiation are able to heat the micro-millimetre-thin surface layer of the sea without the phase change of water immediately re-releasing that heat energy as water vapour – but she didn’t.
Kathryn didn’t ask Professor Baird if he was aware that infrared radiation will not penetrate water – (which is why infrared firefighting cameras are useless in searching a waterway for a submerged person). It would’ve have been informative to be aware of the limitations of a marine ecologist’s knowledge of physics.
Kathryn didn’t ask what other sources of heat may have warmed water in the Coral Sea other than the alleged CO2 greenhouse effect – for which zero empirical evidence has ever been put forward.
Kathryn didn’t ask about the influence of the recent El Nino event on Coral Sea temperatures – an entirely natural cycle with no connection to humans burning fossil fuels.
The bleached areas of the GBR are bathed by the South Equatorial Current, which is heated by sea-floor volcanicity in the Vanuatu-Solomons region – which has some of the world’s most active and spectacular volcanoes. But Kathryn didn’t ask about heat from that source.
The Vanuatu-Solomons volcanic zone has many sea-floor hydrothermal vents that release sulphur compounds that are toxic to the microorganisms that are the basis of the reef’s food chain; but Kathryn didn’t ask about those compounds affecting the coral.
Oxybenzone, an ingredient in many sunscreens worn by reef researchers and tourists alike, is highly toxic to coral, even in minute quantities. But Kathryn didn’t ask about its effect on coral either.
Coral is the ultimate survivor from the past 400 million years of ever-changing climate, but Kathryn didn’t ask why it should suddenly be so sensitive to minor water temperature changes.
The ability of coral to expel and replace symbionts is an evolutionary superpower that other species can only dream of, but Kathryn didn’t ask about that.
Kathryn didn’t ask how come coral can live in waters much hotter than ours, such as the Middle-East, and much colder as well, like New Zealand. Not even how coral seem to be OK in blazing hot sun at low tide, either in shallow, easily-heated pools or exposed to the air. Nor how the same species thrive in slightly deeper water where it’s colder.
The interview didn’t stray to water quality, but the ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies were completely unaware a coral reef could live happily under the permanent mud-plume of the Amazon River…
Kathryn and the ABC have failed to comply with these parts of their code of practice. In fact, Kathryn and the ABC have aided and abetted the promulgation of scandalously weak claims as if they were somehow supported by empirical evidence and were to be accepted as fact.
4.1 Gather and present news and information with due impartiality.
4.2 Present a diversity of perspectives so that, over time, no significant strand of thought
or belief within the community is knowingly excluded or disproportionately represented.
4.4 Do not misrepresent any perspective.
4.5 Do not unduly favour one perspective over another.
The Robinson-Baird interview demonstrates that:
- The ABC are only showing one side of the “man-made global warming killing coral” argument, they don’t gather news and information or present views with due impartiality.
- The ABC knowingly excludes a significant perspective, the one that rejects the nonsense “97% consensus”. To be sceptical of the man-made global warming alarmists’ claims is a perfectly valid and significant strand of thought; – scepticism belongs in science – consensus only has a place in politics. The ABC disproportionately represent the alarmist side, to the extent that the sceptical side is never, ever presented.
- The ABC misrepresent the sceptical side by failing to provide us with fair and equal opportunity, or, indeed, any opportunity, to present counter-arguments to the alarmists’ scare stories. This ABC misrepresentation robs the sceptical side of the credibility they so generously offer the alarmist side. Sceptics contend that the human influence on climate is negligible, ultimately beneficial and in no way catastrophic, but the typical ABC viewer wouldn’t know that.
- The ABC unduly favour the alarmist side of the climate debate over the sceptical side ion two ways; by providing the alarmist side with seemingly unlimited platform space and never, ever asking any hard-to-answer questions and by refusing any space on any platform whatsoever to the sceptical side.
These are gross and serious breaches of the ABC’s code of practice that lead to erroneous beliefs amongst our political and bureaucratic classes who then spend billions of our dollars on a problem that doesn’t need fixing while many more serious and pressing environmental and societal issues are ignored.
If the ABC was true to its own rules people like me wouldn’t need to write to Senators asking for it to be sold off to private enterprise. Conservative views are rarely heard on the ABC – I feel excluded in viewing almost all ABC News products. My voice is never heard on the ABC. It’s like the ABC has evolved into the Alinsky Brainwashing Corp.
Now you’ll be wondering how TheirABC could fob off such logic. Here’s how they did it.
Thank you for your email regarding an interview with Professor Andrew Baird on ABC News 24 on 16 March 2017.
Your email has been considered by Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit which is separate to and independent of content making areas within the ABC.
Our role is to review and, where appropriate, investigate complaints alleging that ABC content has breached the ABC’s editorial standards. These standards are explained in the ABC Code of Practice which is available here – http://about.abc.net.au/reports-publications/code-of-practice/.
We have reviewed the interview. The presenter introduced the interview stating that new research from scientists at James Cook University had examined three major coral bleaching events over the past 20 years and found that the mix of species in the northern parts of the reef have changed forever, with some reefs losing 80% of their corals.
She said that the researchers had concluded that parts of the reef would never fully recover from repeated bleaching of its corals, and the researchers were calling for immediate action to curb climate change to limit further damage to the reef.
Professor Baird was introduced as a co-author of the study and he was asked a number of questions on the topics mentioned in the introduction.
There was nothing in the interviewer’s questioning which indicated an undue favouritism for a particular perspective, or a lack of due impartiality.
As advised in my previous reply to you, the ABC’s coverage reflects the weight of scientific opinion in this area which favours the view that global warming is happening and that human activity contributes to this warming.
This approach does not, of itself, indicate an undue favouritism for a particular perspective. Rather, it is consistent with the concept of ‘a balance that follows the weight of evidence’, which is identified in the ABC’s editorial standards as one of the hallmarks of impartiality.
Should you be dissatisfied with this response, you may be able to pursue your complaint with the Australian Communications and Media Authority, www.acma.gov.au.
The next step was to take the complaint to ACMA.
You’ll recall I recently complained to you about the bias of Their ABC. You told me I had to use specific examples of bias that had been broadcast, as opposed to sweeping failures to abide by their code of practice as demonstrated by newsworthy events the ABC has failed to cover.
Fair enough, those are your rules. This complaint is the first that I hope fits your rules.
First please read my first attachment “2017-03-16 Complaint re interview on ABC TV News24.pdf”.
Somewhat surprisingly, Their ABC responded promptly. Please read my second attachment “2017-03-17 ABC email reply – coral complaint dismissed.pdf”.
You will note the ABC defends their bias with appeals to authority and consensus.
First, on ‘consensus’, the Cook et al “97% consensus” paper was junk science at its worst and has been thoroughly and extensively debunked. Only the alarmist community subscribe to it now.
Second, on ‘appeals to authority’, if Their ABC are so big on authorities they don’t come much bigger than the United States Government. Here’s what Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget said last week,
“As to climate change, I think the President was fairly straightforward saying we’re not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that. So that is a specific tie to his campaign.”
Their ABC said their approach is “…consistent with the concept of ‘a balance that follows the weight of evidence’… but it isn’t. It is consistent only with the memes of the alarmist community – all of whom are dependent on the continuation of climate alarm for their ongoing incomes.
It is a reasonable expectation that for 1.6 billion taxpayer dollars the ABC will carefully examine all sides of every argument and conform to their code of practice. But it doesn’t and it isn’t. Since I started writing this I’ve learned that the G20 are dropping reference to “climate change”, too, in response to the changed White House position. World events have well and truly overtaken the ideological slaves at Their ABC.
My recommendation is that the ABC needs to be stripped back and rebuilt with much stricter guidelines requiring journalists and presenters to separate their personal ideology from their professional role and to resume proper investigative journalism that fully informs the viewer of ALL sides of EVERY argument.
Now you’re wondering how the ACMA-luvvies batted such devastating reason away. Here’s how they did it.
RE: Your complaint about ABC News 24 broadcast on ABC News 24 on 16 March 2017
Thank you for your complaint about ABC News 24, referred to in your correspondence received on 20 March 2017.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) considers all complaints to be important and your concerns have been logged in our database to help identify potential recurring or systemic compliance issues with legislation, Codes of Practice and Standards.
When deciding whether to investigate a particular matter, the ACMA considers a range of public interest factors including the specifics and/or merits of the matter, the nature and seriousness of the issue raised, the matter’s potential to affect the community at large and its priority in relation to other matters of public interest.
We acknowledge that this matter has given you cause for concern, however, the ACMA has decided not to proceed with an investigation into your complaint because:
- ABC programs are not obliged to ensure that every perspective on an issue receives equal time or that every facet of every argument is presented within a particular broadcast.
- the ABC has extensively covered the issues of coral bleaching and climate change on its platforms, following the weight of scientific evidence.
- the ACMA has conducted a number of investigations which explain the impartiality standard in the ABC code, for example BI-270 and BI-257.
For more information about the ACMA’s broadcasting investigations, including its approach to opening an investigation, please refer to the information here:
If you have concerns about the way the ACMA has treated your complaint, you may make a complaint to the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman or seek independent advice about avenues for review. The Ombudsman can investigate complaints about the administrative actions and decisions of Commonwealth government agencies. More information can be found on the Ombudsman’s website at: www.ombudsman.gov.auor you can call 1300 362 072.
Obviously ACMA are heavy green Kool-aid drinkers, too. To be sure I went through the whole ABC complaint-ACMA complaint process a second time (reporter Anna Salleh interviewing serial alarmist Terry Hughes from JCU) with the same result. I’ll spare you the tedious (4000-word) details of that transaction.
This brings the narrative to the FOI request, dated 20/04/2017.
FOI Contact Officer, Corporate Affairs, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Written FOI request and ‘sufficient information’
This written request is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act.
The document I seek is a list of links to articles related to “global-warming”, “climate-change”, “CO2” and “coral bleaching” that represent the sceptical view of those respective debates – as presented by the ABC on all its platforms.
I have listened, viewed and searched for years and I’ve not found any sceptical articles on the ABC’s platforms. There are plenty of articles that represent the alarmist view of these debates, but no sceptical ones. (Sceptical and alarmist for the purpose of this application are defined below.)
I will be satisfied with a list of the last twelve months sceptical articles – unless there are none in the last twelve months. In that event I will be satisfied with a list of the last ten years of sceptical articles.
Your search is likely to be more effective than mine. If after a reasonable amount of searching you can find no ABC articles representing scepticalviews that have been published in the last ten years then please just say so.
Form of the document/s
I have no way of knowing the form of the document/s. It could be one or more schedules or data-base search runs or program lists or staff instructions or minutes of meetings or emails between staff – only you could reasonably know.
It could even be emails between members of the ABC Corporate Affairs unit and others in relation to my non-FOI request for such a list two weeks ago. That would be a good place to start – check and see if anyone did work up a list but just hasn’t been given the nod to send it to me yet.
Definition of Sceptical and Alarmist for the purpose of this application
Articles on “global-warming”, “climate-change”, “CO2”, and “coral bleaching” can be sorted into Sceptical or Alarmist views by comparing their message themes with these general definitions;
Global warming – Sceptical view
The present gentle global warming is natural and similar to the Minoan Warm Period, the Roman Warm Period and the Medieval Warm Period (about 3000,2000 and 1000 years ago respectively). This warming is entirely beneficial to all life on Earth.
Global warming – Alarmist view
The present alarming global warming is unnatural and in no way similar to the Minoan, Roman or Medieval Warm Periods. This warming represents a serious threat to all life on Earth at some point in the future.
Climate change – Sceptical view
The climate has always changed and is changing now. Changes are primarily driven by solar cycles, orbital variations, planetary albedo, ocean currents and the laws of thermodynamics.
Climate change – Alarmist view
The climate has changed naturally in the past but it is changing now in a way it shouldn’t be. These changes are directly attributable to humanity’s use of fossil fuels.
CO2 – Sceptical view
The planet was nearing a low-CO2 extinction event and humanity’s use of fossil fuels returns much-needed sequestered carbon dioxide to the biosphere and is generally beneficial. The benefits of carbon dioxide far outweigh any negatives put forward by its detractors. The additional warming effect of humanity’s CO2 emissions is largely insignificant.
CO2 – Alarmist view
The planet has a natural CO2 steady-state that is far lower than present levels and the human contribution to raising them is highly damaging. The costs of carbon dioxide far outweigh any positives put forward by its supporters. The additional warming effects of humanity’s CO2 emissions are highly likely to result in catastrophic consequences for the climate.
Coral bleaching – Sceptical view
Coral bleaching is caused by a range of natural cycles working separately or together in a way not yet fully understood by the science community. Reef ecosystems in general are quite poorly understood by the science community. Bleaching appears to have no connection to humans mining or burning coal. Ocean temperatures are not significantly influenced by atmospheric CO2 levels. Great Barrier Reef coral ecosystems generally appear to be in robust good health.
Coral bleaching – Alarmist view
Coral bleaching is caused by humans and is well understood by the science community. Reef ecosystems in general are very well understood by the science community. Bleaching is caused by humans mining and burning coal and releasing other CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The oceans are warming up due to increasing atmospheric CO2 levels and that is harmful to coral. Great Barrier Reef coral ecosystems generally appear to be in catastrophically-declining health.
Signature and address
Here’s TheirABC’s official response – dated 15/05/2017….
FOI REQUEST – REFERENCE NUMBER 2017-011
I refer to your request for access to documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) in your email of 20 April 2017. Specifically, you have sought access to the following:
“A document with a list of links to articles related to ‘global warming’, ‘climate change’, ‘CO2’ and ‘coral bleaching’ that represent the sceptical view of those respective debates—as presented by the ABC on all its platforms from 21 April 2016 to 20 April 2017.
If there are no articles from the last 12 months, [you] will be satisfied with a list of the last 10 years of sceptical articles.”
I note that in our acknowledgement letter to you on 4 May 2017, we stated that for the purposes of FOI we would assume that by “articles” you were not only referring to written pieces, but to broadcast news and current affairs content on ABC television, radio and online services.
I am authorised by the Managing Director under section 23 of the FOI Act to make decisions in respect of requests made under that Act. Following is my decision in relation to your request.
Locating and identifying documents
I have taken reasonable steps to identify and locate all relevant documents. My search for these documents involved contacting the following relevant people, who in turn consulted with relevant managers and staff within their respective teams:
- Director News
- Manager Editorial Policies, News.
I requested that searches be conducted of all hard and soft copy records for documents which fall within the scope of your request. As a result of those searches, no documents were identified.
Under section 24A of the FOI Act, the ABC may refuse a request for access if all reasonable steps have been taken to find a document and the ABC is satisfied that the document does not exist. In the present case, I consider that all reasonable steps have been taken to locate relevant documents. I am further satisfied that the requested documents do not exist and therefore access to them is refused pursuant to section 24A of the FOI Act.
If you are dissatisfied with this decision you can apply for Internal or Information Commissioner (IC) Review. You do not have to apply for Internal Review before seeking IC Review. Information about your review rights is attached.
Next consider this extract from TheirABC’s code of practice….
Impartiality and diversity of perspectives
4.1 Gather and present news and information with due impartiality.
4.2 Present a diversity of perspectives so that, over time, no significant strand of thought or belief within the community is knowingly excluded or disproportionately represented.
4.3 Do not state or imply that any perspective is the editorial opinion of the ABC. The ABC takes no editorial stance other than its commitment to fundamental democratic principles including the rule of law, freedom of speech and religion, parliamentary democracy and equality of opportunity.
4.4 Do not misrepresent any perspective.
4.5 Do not unduly favour one perspective over another.
If TheirABC were meeting those standards we would be seeing articles representing views from both sides of the climate debate. But we don’t. We only ever see alarmist articles. Those people who only take news from the ABC may well be unaware that a “diversity of perspectives” even exists in the climate debate.
The purpose of this exercise was, as noted, primarily to trigger cognitive dissonance amongst all the worker-luvvies who now know for a certainty deep in the backs of their minds that they are not meeting their own corporate standards. They may never acknowledge their bias publicly, but that seed of self-doubt is planted.
The secondary reasons included forming the basis of a Ministerial missive requesting Senators Fifield and Nash to sell TheirABC – which has been submitted. It included this para….
“It is time the ABC sank or swam on its own merits. Please sell it. Right now. Yes, the left will scream. But they can put their money where their mouths are and buy it. That way they’ll at least be its legitimate owners rather than the occupying force they are today. That way I and other conservatives won’t be funding the left’s propaganda machine.”
There’ll also be a formal complaint about the breach of the code of practice to the luvvies at ACMA – when I get to it.
This not a goal-oriented mission, it’s more a system-oriented activity in line with Dilbert creator Scott Adams’ philosophies. That way there’s no disappointments when the luvvies pretend they have done nothing wrong.
All right, Cats. Long story complete. Any suggestions?