ABC delenda est

Gideon Rozner has a magnificent op-ed in the Australian today (ungated version here).

Media Watch is everything that is wrong with the ABC, squeezed into 15 insufferable minutes.

Smug, elitist and, above all, awash with the misguided idea that commercial media outlets are not to be trusted and that the only place where honest news can be found is in Aunty’s warm, state-sponsored embrace.

That the ABC could complain about a lack of opposing viewpoints is staggering.

Simply magnificent.

Chris Berg and I talk about privatising the ABC here.  We explain why the ABC  is so biased – especially on environmental issues.

This sort of argument is consistent with David Marr’s 2004 observation, “The natural culture of journalism is a kind of vaguely soft left inquiry, sceptical of authority. I mean, that’s just the world out of which journalists come. If they don’t come out of this world, they really can’t be reporters. I mean, if you are not sceptical of authority – find another job.”[1] The problem with Marr’s observation, however, is that there might be more than just “soft-left inquiry” going on. A 2013 survey of journalists revealed a large left-wing bias amongst ABC journalists compared to their colleagues at Fairfax and News and especially compared to the general population.[2] In a survey of over 600 journalists Folker Hanusch – now a senior lecturer in journalism at QUT – asked journalists as to their political beliefs and voting intentions at the 2013 federal election. Table 2.1 summarises his results together with the actual voting results of the 2013 federal election.

Table 2.1: Journalists’ voting intention at the 2013 federal election

Greens Labor Coalition
ABC 41.2 32.4 14.7
Fairfax 19.8 54.7 19.8
News Limited 19.8 46.5 26.7
All Journalists 19.4 43.0 30.2
Senior Media Executives 11.4 34.1 43.2
Electorate at 2013 election (HR) 8.7 33.4 45.6
Electorate at 2013 election (Senate) 8.7 30.1 37.7

Source: Hanusch (2013), Australian Electoral Commission

Consistent with Marr’s observation, journalists are more likely to be soft-left (defined as being a Labor voter) than the general population and less likely to be a Coalition voter. Journalists in general are about twice as likely to be Greens voters as the general population. Consider, however, the ABC – their journalists are nearly 5 times more likely to vote Greens than are the general population and twice as likely to be Greens voters than are journalists in general.

[1] David Marr, ABC Radio National, Big Ideas, 26 September 2004, quoted in http://www.thesydneyinstitute.com.au/media-watch-dog-issue-75/

[2] Folker Hanusch, 2013, Journalists in times of change: evidence from a new survey of Australia’s journalistic workforce, Australian Journalism Review, 35(1) 29 – 41.

The ABC responded to that statistic:

their journalists are nearly 5 times more likely to vote Greens than are the general population and twice as likely to be Greens voters than are journalists in general.

with a hit-job from their so-called RMIT-ABC Fact Check unit.  Luckily journalists don’t understand statistics, because they managed to provide a robustness check to our claim.

Associate Professor Olivier also calculated an odds ratio, using a logistic regression model, which includes all outlets (ABC, Fairfax and News Corp) as well as Newspoll.

Using this model, he calculated that ABC journalists have a 2.9-fold increase in the odds of preferring the Greens over Newspoll respondents, with a 95 per cent confidence interval between 1.6 and 5.2.

The ABC is biased and the Coalition government continues to fund it and indulge it.

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32 Responses to ABC delenda est

  1. stackja

    Would ALP/Greens pass ABC budget cuts in the Senate?

  2. Rafe

    A fine piece that will be widely read. Share on Facebook and any other way you can!

  3. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Australian’s believe that Their ABC is a trustworthy and unbiased institution that should not be touched. Their ABC knows this and can, at the drop of a hat, call upon their loyal fans to protest the slightest proposed change.

    Their ABC is a monoculture, yet no government has the backbone to challenge what’s going on. For some reason they can’t even demand equal representation from all sides of political and social beliefs, which I thought would be their right to do.

  4. Rafe

    Peter Ridd maligned by tax funded science deniers in the ABC.

  5. V

    Another interesting analysis is the results of the ACT seats in the 2019 election compared to the total country average. Very similar outcome to the media spread in this article.

    It’s almost like those who rely on government for their employment support socialism.

  6. The BigBlueCat

    It all started, of course, with “Sanctimonious” Stuart Littlemore … and the sanctimony has continued ever since.

    The latest incarnation of Media Watch has naturally turned the sanctimony dial to 11 – their recent hit pieces on Alan Jones is evidence of that. What we desperately need is an expose of Media Watch and Paul Barry – Bolta tries that from time to time, but he does have a personal axe to grind with Media Watch. We need an independent go at Paul Barry – someone with no axe to grind other than to expose the clear and malignant bias of Media Watch specifically and the ABC in general.

    I do watch Media Watch from time to time – it usually ends up with me screaming at the TV …. a bit like when I watch Q&A (affectionately called “Question & Anger in the BigBlueCat household).

  7. Des Deskperson

    ‘Unfortunately, the vast majority of Australian’s believe that Their ABC is a trustworthy and unbiased institution that should not be touched.’

    The vast majority certainly don’t watch it.

    Over the last month, the main ABC channel – the one that screens, among others, the 7.30 Report, 4 Corners and Media Watch along with a whole bunch of self-consciously earnest ‘Aussie’ drama and comedy made by mates – averaged a daily share of 11.7% of the FTA TV audience.

    I concede that radio, particularly in the regions, might fare better.

  8. Roger

    ‘Unfortunately, the vast majority of Australian’s believe that Their ABC is a trustworthy and unbiased institution that should not be touched.’

    That’s because the vast majority of Australians don’t watch it.

  9. Percy Popinjay

    I do watch Media Watch from time to time – it usually ends up with me screaming at the TV

    Three reasons why I never watch the ALPBC:

    – It dangerously elevates my blood pressure
    – The neighbores will cite it as (yet more) evidence I have rampant Tourette syndrome
    – Punchable TVs have not yet been invented

  10. Snoopy

    Privatise the ABC? Like Australia needs a 24/7 Sunrise?

    Rabzing is the only option.

  11. Percy Popinjay

    Australian’s believe that Their ABC is a trustworthy and unbiased institution that should not be touched

    This is an actual phenomenon – the only people I know who labour under the delusion that the ALPBC is “a trustworthy and unbiased institution that should not be touched” are indeed those that never watch it, or utilise any of its other (taxpayer extorted) “services”.

    All my collectivist comrades who watch/read/listen to it do so because they know it will inevitably reinforce their myopic worldview.

  12. That’s because the vast majority of Australians don’t watch it.

    But the vocal minority do and guess who gets all the attention? But you don’t have to watch or follow something to have an opinion about it and most Australians believe what I said, even if they don’t watch Their ABC.

  13. Frank

    The natural culture of journalism is a kind of vaguely soft left inquiry, sceptical of authority.

    That Marr quote always cracks me up. How does being leftwing–with the implication that you want a greater role for government in everything–sit with being concerned about over reach of authority. ie: the role of government.

  14. Robber Baron

    The short answer is…Dr Martin Parkinson is the real Prime Minister of Australia.

  15. cohenite

    That the abc employs marr tells you all you need to know about the abc. I question those figures. Like the figures q&a gives about voter support at the beginning of each program I believe no one who supports the coalition is the audience of the wretched q&a or works for the abc.

  16. Dr Fred Lenin

    I suppose they are about but I dont know anyone who watches or listens to the communistators on this bourgoise leftist taxpayer funded crap group . Most so called political commentators have been corrupted by narxism these days , thats why I call them communistators ,like the ecommunists who ruin out finances .So a lefty economist becomes an ecommunistator. How do you like that one Sinc? You must know a few ?

  17. stackja

    Des Deskperson
    #3148110, posted on September 5, 2019 at 1:00 pm
    ‘Unfortunately, the vast majority of Australian’s believe that Their ABC is a trustworthy and unbiased institution that should not be touched.’

    The vast majority certainly don’t watch it.

    How many people who answer the question about the ABC only remember James Dibble?

  18. Rex Mango

    Told a friend that I would privatise the ABC. He replied that he wouldn’t, as he doesn’t agree with economic rationalism. I said it’s nothing to do with economics, rather I don’t like paying for religious radio stations.

  19. Mother Lode

    The natural culture of journalism is a kind of vaguely soft left inquiry, sceptical of authority.

    That Marr quote always cracks me up.

    When he speaks of j’ismists ‘soft left inquiry’ he isn’t talking about the inquiry from a ‘soft left’ perspective, he means inquiry by the left (which is invariably sought from other leftists) which is therefore soft (since mates).

    When anything happens they go to Labour or the Greens first, when they are neither in a position of power or knowledge of the considerations of those in power.

    With boaties they would always seek out Bob Brown, or Sarah Two-Dads.

    Anyway, it is inaccurate to describe what they do as ‘inquiry’. It is confirmation they seek.

    Oh, and they studiously conflate ‘impartial’, which is how they are meant to serve taxpayers, with ‘independent’, which is about serving themselves.

    They are not required to be independent (and they are not – and they know the government holds the purse strings), they are required to be impartial.

  20. Mother Lode

    Oh, and they studiously conflate ‘impartial’, which is how they are meant to serve taxpayers, with ‘independent’, which is about serving themselves.

    More correctly, ‘impartial’ is about how they are supposed to treat the taxpayers, ‘independent’ is about how the ABC Demands it is to be treated.

    We not only give it our money, but they consider that puts us uneducated an obligation to them.

    Yet is there really anyone who believes that this hopelessly provincial, technically inept, bland amateur and expensive organisation is in anyway world class? Do anyone other than Australians suffer the appalling dross they serve up? And even then a very few of them.

  21. Squirrel

    “…the ABC receives $1.1 billion of our money each year for news coverage that, by law, must be balanced”

    That is the crucial point in this, and every other exasperating episode involving one-eyed coverage of issues by the ABC. They aren’t balanced at all – they have an established, usually reflexive, position on just about every issue, and cover things accordingly, with intelligence-insulting, tokenistic balance at best (but often not even that). The ABC’s obsession about climate change is now pathological.

    Funding should be cut back to no more than is truly necessary to provide a basic service, particularly for areas of the country not well-served by commercial media, with anything beyond that on a user pays basis. The latter could be a subscription service, or people who actually submit a tax return could be given the option of ticking a box to make a voluntary (i.e. additional) donation to an ABC fund as part of their return.

  22. Chris M

    soft-left (defined as being a Labor voter)

    Haha Labor is left, Liberal is soft-left.

  23. Lee

    For the ABC/Age/SMH mob to accuse others of “lacking balance” is the supreme irony.

  24. Old Lefty

    The ABC represents the full spectrum of what it sees as respectable political opinion: from Lee Rhiannon on the soft centre-left to Bob Brown on the hard right.

  25. Old Lefty

    As it is mostly a propaganda organs for the Stalinist wing of the Green party, we could outsource it to them. Or to the Year 9C Marxism collective at Betoota High.

  26. Bad Samaritan

    bemused
    #3148065, posted on September 5, 2019 at 11:52 am………..and several others.

    The ABC gets SFA viewers. It only gets listeners because of it’s vast coverage, which means that when driving anywhere away from the big smoke it’s a constant battle to stick with non-ABC radio, as some interesting stuff disappears into static every 40 ks or so on the non-ABC stations.

    In all my visits to offices and shops and during work being done by tradies etc I have never seen or heard anyone tuned to the ABC., So what the f*ck is this endless repetition of leftist propaganda that the ABC is highly thought of?

    Anyhow….facts are that a billion a year and endless BS has still lost their mates at Greens/AP HQ eight of the last nine Federal elections.

    Cut out the crap that most Aussies are stupid; drop the elitists “We Cats are the smartest humans of the lot” and get real.
    . So long as the ABC is totally over-the top in their bias and bigotry they are not swaying the masses.

    Of course best would be to eradicate the vermin, but why cede ground to them that they do not hold?

  27. Zatara

    Unfortunately, the vast majority of Australian’s believe that Their ABC is a trustworthy and unbiased institution that should not be touched.

    While that view isn’t specifically addressed in the table Sinc provided above it does quite definitely indicate that the ABC are predominantly of the left and the public is not.

    So unless one believes that the sainted journalists of the ABC write articles or report news in a manner unslanted by their personal agendas those members of the public who don’t share that leftist agenda/viewpoint would seem very unlikely to trust an institution which consistently pumps out information they feel to be biased or incorrect.

    Perhaps the only way to know for sure would be to put it to a vote. Naturally the ABC wouldn’t try to influence the results in any way…. being a trustworthy and unbiased institution and all.

  28. egg_

    Over the last month, the main ABC channel… averaged a daily share of 11.7% of the FTA TV audience.

    Dwindling on the vine?

  29. Mother Lode

    A Liberal government would gain more by abolishing the ABC in terms of media presentation (with the undergraduate political prism giving everything a red-shift) than it would cost them.

    Who will be affected? A clutch of ex-ABC employees suddenly seeking refuge with only the shrinking dominion of Fauxfacts accepting the boats (blithely unaware that they are making their financial situation as well as Channel Nein’s more parlous than it already is) – but these are people who were never going to vote for them anyway.

    Their sandal shod and cardigan clod viewers – denizens of the social equivalence of the Kentucky Caves – blind, pallid, freakish, but specialised to that single niche which moves within an entirely different kind of time than the hustle and bustle in the real world outside. Again, they weren’t going to vote Liberal anyway.

    The last ones to consider are the ones who don’t watch the ABC but out of sheer habit – and more than a little osmotic absorption of the ‘Pride of Australia – Your ABC’ propaganda from the ABC itself – they will fret a little, but not for long. They won’t be actually impacted, merely be convinced that they somehow are. And it comes down to how it is presented. Accompany the decision with an exposure of just what they have done – lives and industries ruined, truths omitted, errors perpetuated, and all this with their own political agenda at heart. Let people feel that they have been victimised by the ABC. Because they have. Then with better news being reported (thanks to the removal of the ABC) people will soon be more grateful that things are going well than grieving over a network they didn’t watch.

    And from this vast cohort you might find people deciding that, although they thought it unimaginable a few years ago, they actually like you.

  30. Richard Standley

    I found much the same thing when I worked for ABC news around 2009, when a memo went out to all staff advising us that we were no longer to broadcast/publish news that gave an alternative view to Global Warming…
    I recall walking into the Sydney newsroom once, to find a senior journalist wearing his “Young Labor” T shirt…

  31. Old Lefty

    In the meantime, I suggest some internal awards for ABC staff to boost the poor little petals’ morale and to build on the (what seems like) twenty trillion reports on abuse by enemies of the revolution such as the churches, private schools, ADF:

    -the Richard Neville award for reporting that promotes the welfare of twelve year old boys in Darlinghurst

    -the Richard Neville award for promoting the welfare of cherubic fourteen year old girls encountered in their uniform outside the school gate (remember that Mark Scott thinks Neville was a great humanist)

    – the Richard Neville award for all-round excellence in meeting the ABC’ objective of lancing the conservative boil

    – the Jon Stephens award for nurturing young performing talent

    – the Dorothy Hewitt award for progressive, politically and socially aware, s3xually liberated parenting

    – the Bob Ellis award for support for such parenting

  32. Old Lefty

    I neglected to mention the Elsternwick award for promoting the welfare of pubescent female rock fans.

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