As I and others have long documented, the mainstream media can hardly be accused of being home to rabid conservative opinion. Nor can “our” ABC be accused of being a right-wing media outlet. Instead, Australian media is by and large left of centre, as the ABC certainly has been for years on end.
Recent attempts at making our tax-payer funded ABC representative of all Australians, and not just the secular Left, have been slammed by the lefties. They have had things their way for so long, that the slightest move towards genuine impartiality at the ABC has them all flustered. They are now shouting down such much-needed reforms, labelling them as censorship and – in their view – the rights’ ever-enlarging grip on the media.
A good example of this whinging comes from Robert Manne, La Trobe University lecturer and leftwing media commentator. He had an article in the Melbourne Age – he is a regular columnist for them – on April 4, 2007, in which he bewails the moves to make the ABC more accountable, and representative of the whole Australian community.
His basic argument is that the tax-payer funded ABC must be left of centre, to offset what he sees as the conservative bias of the mainstream media, specifically the Murdoch press. At least he admits to his leftwing agenda. He does not deny that the ABC has for decades been a hothouse of leftist ideology. He simply says it should stay that way.
Consider one of its favourite outlets for Leftwing agitprop: Media Watch. Manne admits that “Media Watch was once, unashamedly, a program of the left.” But now he is worried that it is moving too much to the right (in reality, simply moving to the centre!).
And he complains about the new ABC debate show, Difference of Opinion. Most people would expect a title like this would mean that genuine diversity of opinion is featured, not just a one-sided leftwing rant. So it comes as no surprise that Manne dislikes this program as well, seeing it as bland and unexciting.
There are a number of shortcomings to Manne’s position. First, as I and others have argued, the MSM is generally left of centre. And that includes the Murdoch press. Sure, the Australian may feature Janet Albrechtsen, but it also features Phillip Adams. It may have Frank Devine, but it also has Emma Tom, whose obsession with kinky sex and the like makes her a disgrace to the paper.
The Herald Sun may have Andrew Bolt, but it also has Jill Singer. It may have Paul Gray, but it also has Robyn Riley. So the conservative columnists in the Murdoch stable hardly enjoy a monopoly there.
And the editorial line of the Murdoch press on many issues of concern to conservatives, such as pro-life issues or pro-faith issues, is often far from conservative. Consider just one paper: the Australian. Whether it is pushing for cloning and stem-cell research, or featuring rabid atheist op ed pieces, it has many conservatives spitting chips.
And of course consider the Fairfax Press, which Manne has a nice run with. His columns are there, along with a host of other left-wingers. The Melbourne Age had only one mildly conservative columnist, Gerard Henderson, and he was long ago given the boot. So while the Murdoch press at least allows all points of view with its columnists and commentators, the Age and Sydney Morning Herald are monotonously and uniformly way left of centre, with hardly a dissenting voice to be heard.
So the argument that we need a leftist ABC to counter the conservative emphasis of the MSM just does not ring true.
What about Manne’s takes on Media Watch? While it was nice of Manne to admit to what so many other lefties have always denied – that Media Watch is a leftist propaganda piece – he need not lose too much sleep over it becoming in any way even remotely conservative. If we can just get it somewhere closer to the centre, many conservatives would be satisfied. But it has a long way to go yet.
Manne closes his piece bewailing the slight moves toward objectivity and neutrality in Media Watch and elsewhere, asking, “Does this represent the kind of ABC the nation wants?”
Well, yes, actually Robert. It is not meant to be just a hot house for lefties like Manne. It is meant to be the national broadcaster, funded by all Australians. Thus it should reflect all Australians, and all points of view, and not just push one agenda – that of the left, which Manne thinks it is called to do.
The truth is, finally a tad of accountability and across-the-board representation comes to the ABC, and the left starts throwing hissy fits. They too long have had the media in general and the ABC in particular in their leftist pockets. Now that a bit of fairness and balance is coming along, they just don’t like it.
Like school-yard bullies whose turf is finally being challenged, they run screaming from the school yard, claiming it is all too unfair and unjust. It is time for some of these lefties to grow up, and face reality. If the media starts to turn more centrist, it is doing so because most Australians do not want leftist ideology to rule in the roost.