There goes another irony detection meter . . .

15 08 2006


On ABC Radio National’s Counterpoint, Bettina Arndt has a column complaining about (drum roll, please) ABC bias. While the import of that previous sentence sinks in, let’s go straight to the nub of her whinge. According to Arndt, the ABC is biased because of the following:

Tune into ABC news or their major current affairs programs you’ll hear the endless drum roll of stories banging on about aboriginal issues, the environment, or their latest obsession – banning junk food – plus feminist priorities like domestic violence and sexual abuse.

(They also bang on about federal politics, conflict in the Middle East, trade and other economic issues, education and other public policy issues, and so on and so forth–but let’s not allow the facts to get in the way of good strawman.) The bias lies in the notion that these are issues that are of greater concern to ABC newsroom and current affairs journalists than they are to The Australian People. (*cough* ad populum fallacy *cough*.) Arndt reckons that the ABC should cover issues closer to the heart of the man in the street. (It should model itself on John Howard, in other words, and be “for all of us.”) Like unwed mothers in defacto relationships. Most of these, according to Ardnt, are in relationships so unstable that they invariably end up becoming single mothers. The sluts. And let’s not forget unwed dads. Like Pat Rafter. Why didn’t the ABC raise the completely impartial and objective question “about whether this unmarried father was really displaying values we want young people to emulate?” Bias, that’s why.

And you know what? She’s right. I took a look around the ABC website, and there’s heaps of stuff they cover that would obviously be of absolutely no concern whatsoever to The Australian People. Take The Science Show, for instance. Science! Bo-ring. The Book Show? Who reads books? Bush Telegraph? How un-Australian can you get? The Religion Report? For what does it profit a man to listen to “The Religion Report,” if he should lose on the share market? Big Ideas? Instead of getting “ideas,” how about getting a job?

Need we imagine the kinds of stories The 7.30 Report should cover in future, if the ABC is to rid itself of this charge of bias?

And need we lose sight of the curious happenstance that Ardnt’s accusation of “ABC bias” appears on Counterpoint, a programme that–unlike other ABC topical issues programmes, from Insiders to Late Night Live, which canvass a range of views–contains nary an opinion from outside the Right of the political spectrum? Ardnt owes me an irony detection meter.

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