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The ABC — protecting big government from awkward questions

Posted By JoNova On April 17, 2010 @ 4:34 am In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

Not to state the bleeding obvious, but there is mammoth legislation on the table — you know the drill: it will change the landscape of the economy, affect every purchase, and eventually, affect our weather too – the whole enchilada. Since it’s so big, you’d be forgiven for thinking that our dedicated public funded broadcaster (the ABC) would leave no stone unturned to make sure that this nationally transformative legislation stacked up. After all, the Australian people pay for the ABC?

If, hypothetically, some major foreign financial houses were going to benefit from the proposed legislation, we could be sure that would set off the red alert at the ABC, they’d be searching high and low for potential conflicts of interest. If a Nobel Prize winning physicist, a professor of atmospheric chemistry, and our former head of Australia’s National Climate Center all held grave fears that the legislation was based on out-of-date, inaccurate science, then the ABC would ferret out these independent views, and make sure that the public at least heard their “take” on the situation. We could count on the ABC to find the whistle blowers who are trying to save the nation from wasting trillions of dollars on an exaggerated scam. Sure.

A free media is supposed to be Western Civilizations first line of defense against corruption. But what if our armed guards could be fooled by an enemy dressed in green floral brocades, waving a flag that said “Save The Spotted Quoll”. What if they mistakenly thought they were still working for Australia (albeit for the trees and not the taxpayers). They might end up accidentally defending large government institutes, unnecessary departments, irrelevant ministries and large financial trading houses.

John Styles in the Spectator Australia has exposed how one of the ABC’s leading commentators decided long ago that the Prize winning physicist and other eminent scientific experts were all wrong. Since when was it the role of journalists to decide our government policies?

Maurice Newman is dead right about the ABC

Almost two years ago, ABC1 presenter Tony Jones told Crikey publisher Eric Beecher and a Melbourne audience that between 2001 and 2008 the members of the Lateline team made up their minds about the science of climate change. The sceptics, they’d decided, were wrong.

Jones prefaced the admission by saying he was in favour of scepticism. But not, apparently, about climate change. On 6 April 2008, Jones said: ‘From around the year 2001 on Lateline, we began interviewing everybody we could about this subject; and we interviewed all the main scientific sceptics. And gradually, over a period of time, we resolved in our own minds that the sceptics had it wrong and the vast majority of scientists disagreed with their position, that there was a developing consensus and if we didn’t take it seriously we were in grave danger of moving to a position where [it] would simply be too late to do anything about it. And I’m still not sure right now whether we aren’t in that position as we speak.’

Jones’s claim that Lateline had interviewed all the main sceptical scientists was puzzling. Presumably, by the term ‘interview’ he was referring to those long, one-on-one conversations like the nine he has had with Gaia fan and true believer Tim Flannery.

But a dip into the Lateline transcript archive in search of one-on-one interviews with sceptical scientists conducted between 2001 and April 2008 returned just one — with Russian economic adviser Andrey Illarionov.

Sure, Lateline included a few sceptical climate scientists in some packaged reports. But in-depth, information-seeking chats of the Flannery kind have been scarce. Not so rare were interviews with climate change believers. A trawl through the archive netted more than 20 one-on-one interviews in the same period with experts on the true-believer side of the debate. It is a scandalous scorecard: believers 20+, heretics 1.

[Tim] Flannery’s nine appearances have made the true believer a Lateline regular. But why should Flannery, a mammalogist and palaeontologist, be preferred to an Australian palaeoclimatologist like James Cook University’s Bob Carter, who has never been a guest on Lateline? Could it be because Carter challenges the IPCC climate change orthodoxy?

Bear all this in mind when you recall Maurice Newman’s recent speech to the corporation’s senior staff. The public, the ABC chairman said, should not perceive any ‘ABC view’ on an issue. He pointed to the coverage of climate change as an example of ‘group-think’ that was intolerant of contrary views. ‘Should there be a view that the ABC was sheltering particular beliefs from scrutiny, or failing to question a consensus,’ Newman said, ‘I would consider it to be a dangerous perception that could lead to the public’s trust in us being undermined.’

A few weeks ago, in an interview with resources and energy minister Martin Ferguson, Jones reached for the matches (metaphorically speaking, of course). In a chilling moment, the ABC’s high inquisitor, the corporation’s Torquemada of climate change, fixed on the minister and asked: ‘Do you personally believe in the science that says that human-induced greenhouse gases are the cause of dangerous global warming and climate change? Do you personally believe that?’

You could almost hear the fire crackling. Who had reported Ferguson, one wondered? But the minister was well prepared.

Read the whole article.

James Allen also in the Spectator does a fitting column discussing the pitfalls of people who only listen to those they are likely to “enjoy” listening too. “There is no left-wing conspiracy at Aunty, just a liberal groupthink”

Other posts I’ve written about the ABC

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