The ABC has buckled to concerns of bias made by a federal parliamentarian.
But the gripes have come from a Labor member, Melbourne Ports’ Michael Danby, not the Government that pushed for the appointment of a bias watchdog at the ABC.
ABC managing director Mark Scott will meet Mr Danby after the MP’s complaints about an intemperate email from current affairs reporter Emma Alberici and the inclusion of Israel critic Anthony Lowenstein on the new ABC TV panel discussion show, Difference of Opinion.
Mr Danby complained about Mr Lowenstein’s inclusion as a Jewish representative in a discussion on “Australian and Islam: a collision course?”, which aired on April 2.
Mr Danby said Jeff McMullen, the program’s host, had written “an extensive and quite polite letter” in response to Mr Danby’s concerns that Mr Lowenstein did not represent Jewish Australians.
Mr Scott has also sent a conciliatory email to Mr Danby.
“He said he was looking into the issue of representation on the program and he’s agreed to meet with me and we’ll talk about this at some time when it’s convenient,” Mr Danby said.
Sandy Culkoff, an ABC Corporate spokeswoman, told The Weekend Australian: “Anthony Loewenstein was not included on the panel as a representative of the Australian Jewish community. He is a journalist and author who holds positions at Macquarie University relevant to the topics being discussed on this episode.”
Mr Danby’s ire at the ABC was first provoked in March during a story by Alberici on ABC radio’s AM about a petition, calling for more open debate on Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, signed by a group called Independent Australian Jewish Voices, which included barrister Robert Richter QC and publisher Louise Adler.
After suggesting to the reporter that he and other members deserved air time to offer a counter view, Mr Danby received an email from Alberici.
It said: “The fact that you want to complain about a group of people who signed a petition calling for a more wholesome debate about the issues facing Israel is not what we would necessarily count as news. What it is you are complaining about exactly is unclear.”
Mr Danby filed a complaint to ABC radio’s editor of network news Gordon Lavery, who replied that Mr Danby’s views did not warrant further coverage.
Ultimately, ABC director of corporate strategy and governance Murray Green apologised to Mr Danby. The matter is under investigation by ABC director of editorial policies Paul Chadwick.
Ms Culkoff said: “The ABC takes complaints about its programs very seriously and it is being assessed against the ABC’s editorial guidelines.”
It would be nice if the Murdoch organ actually discovered how to spell my name.
Otherwise, this story is now really beyond parody. Take a bullying and clueless Labor MP with little else to spend taxpayer’s dollars on than slamming a legitimate point of view, and you’ve got the making of a parochial wet dream.
Danby and his Zionist ilk can’t stand the fact that their tired and aggressive ideology is increasingly loathed the world over, so what do they do? Hassle any media outlets that give space to a humane Judaism, rather than militancy. As I’ve said many times before, their tactics only increase anti-Semitism, not decrease it.
In a democracy, Michael and friends, alternative views can exist harmoniously with your failed ideas. It’s called a free press. Perhaps you should go North Korea and learn about it.
Being in New York, and meeting the wealth of alternative, challenging and dissenting Jewish perspectives, watching the goings-on back in Australia is decidedly depressing. On the other hand, I feel great support here for the message I’m putting forward. I don’t feel so alone.