Flat White

The ABC does a Billy Snedden

2 June 2021

12:21 PM

2 June 2021

12:21 PM

The late Liberal leader Billy Snedden is well-known for his declaration after the 1974 election “We were not beaten. We didn’t win enough seats to form a government, but I do not believe what has occurred was in any sense a defeat”

It’s not that dissimilar to the dissembling that has followed the conclusion of Christian Porter’s defamation action against the ABC.

Alas, though, Sir Billy, as he became, is even better-known for the Truth headline that followed his departure from this mortal coil, “Snedden ‘died on the job'”.

And the national broadcaster is killing itself with the bias and bullying that characterise its reporting and any attempt to make it accountable. It is dying on the (appallingly done) job.

The addendum added earlier this week to the story that sparked Porter’s litigation is a statement of overweening arrogance:

The ABC did not intend to suggest that Mr Porter had committed the criminal offences alleged. The ABC did not contend that the serious accusations could be substantiated to the applicable legal standard – criminal or civil. However, both parties accept that some readers misinterpreted the article as an accusation of guilt against Mr Porter. That reading, which was not intended by the ABC, is regretted.

That simple “however” is loaded with significance. The rest of the paragraph is a grovelling apology, no matter how the ABC, its defenders and Porter’s enemies might try to spin it.

This somewhat repetitive paragraph from the ABC’S statement is of interest, too:

The ABC stands by our investigative and public interest journalism, which is always pursued in the interests of the Australian community.

“Public interest journalism”? It’s an expression The Guardian Australia likes to talk about too, as opposed to just plain journalism. Presumably, it’s a euphemism for “journalism with a semi-hysterical and deeply entrenched left-wing bias”.

But perhaps the clearest evidence of how the ABC is dying on the job is how staff involved in the Porter matter conducted themselves earlier this week.

The Australian reports today:

Within hours of Christian Porter discontinuing his defamation case against the ABC on Monday, the broadcaster’s lawyers were forced to hurriedly draft an apology to the Federal Court for an ill-timed — and inaccurate — tweet by Four Corners executive producer Sally Neighbour.

“BREAKING NOW! Christian Porter is dropping his defamation case against the ABC. No money was paid. We stand by our stories. #4 Corners #auspol,” Neighbour posted on the social media platform.

In her eagerness to claim the upper hand in the battle to control the public narrative, Neighbour had jumped the gun.

Judge Jayne Jagot had not yet formally finalised the matter, and the ABC’s lawyers had to issue an apology for Neighbour’s premature triumphalism.

“We regret that a statement about the settlement in this matter has been issued by the ABC before Her Honour had an opportunity to consider and make the consent orders,” read the note to the court.

It was an embarrassing postscript to the legal saga for the ABC, which had publicly pledged, as recently as last week, that it would conduct itself as a “model litigant” throughout the matter; that is, as a government body engaged in litigation, it should not be “out to get” people…

There’s more. Much more. But this Twitter triumphalism — gloating to the converted — is apparently all part of “public interesting journalism”.

No wonder the ABC is dying on the job.

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