Think closed secret societies and what do you come up with – the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta, even more closed and secretive than the Mafia, the Freemasons, the legendary Knights Templars, sworn to chastity and the protection of travellers on the road to the Holy Land?
Well, add the ABC to the list – secretive, sure, closed, most definitely, at the highest echelons, members communicating with others from long-standing relationships, including marrying and cohabiting with other members of the club, links and connections that go back to when they were all (mainly) boys together, setting out to win fame and fortune in Australia’s brave new television land.
You got a glimpse of this last Sunday on yes, the unironically named Insiders, when Barrie Cassidy was the honoured guest of the program, introduced, not by host David Speers, that comparative newcomer to the club, but veteran photojournalist ‘Bluey’ Bowers.
Bluey and Barrie had worked together a long, long time ago and what’s more natural that they should look after each other every step of the way. Cassidy of course is married to another ABC star journalist Heather Ewart, host of the very popular Back Roads program that visits various country towns and locations throughout the country. Google the names of ABC journalists and you find most have – or had — a connection, romantic or otherwise with another ABC employee.
It’s the kind of dating service that gives Tinder a run for its money but -more important- these are some of the most highly paid people in the country and this begs the question – do they earn their super salaries through their brilliance or because of their connections, the friends in high places?
Recently the ABC has become, for those in the club, a way to publicise a newly-published book or a new business venture, but does the taxpayer, get any advantage from book sales from ABC employees or those great and good friends (Julia Banks had a dream run flogging her ‘Power Play’ on both ABC TV and radio.)
Worse, unfriend the ABC in word or deed and you’re cast out, untouchable. Look what happened to Gerard Henderson and Piers Akerman the only conservatives invited to grace the Insiders couch.
Chris Uhlmann, now with Nine, suffered a similar disenfranchisement when he was marked out as a ‘conservative’.
Worse, ABC insiders often band together to influence politics; it was recently revealed that ABC journalists banded together to promote the Palestinian cause in every way possible. OK, so that’s each person’s personal choice, but why should they do it under the security net of the national broadcaster?
Last weekend, George Megalogenis, another favourite and freshly published author (don’t get me wrong, he’s a fine writer and good at pinpointing the tears in the social rubric) said, interviewed on the ABC, that young Australians coming out of university would almost certainly vote Labour or Green, no matter if their middle-class parents voted conservative.
George was right, of course. English universities of the 1930s produced spies, Australian universities of the 2020s produce Greens. But what was interesting was that no conservative voices were invited to challenge or interrogate this view. If so, they may well have agreed with George. Or not.
But the point was, conservative voices are simply cancelled out; as with the new Annabel Crabb ‘Ms Represented’ when young, up-coming women on the non-Labour side might have been invited onto the program.
They weren’t. Because of course, that would have been against ABC closed club rules.
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