Right Man for the Job


Attention: Mark Scott, Managing Director (and Editor-in-Chief), Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

Re: Director of Editorial Policies

Dear Mark,

I see that you have recently advertised for a Director of Editorial Policies at the ABC.

Let me say what an ingenious title this is. It sounds nothing like ‘Chief Censor’ or ‘Bias ‘Monitor’ or even ‘Gerard Henderson’s man on the inside’ (although I do hope we can sneak Gerry onto the selection committee). As you know, titles can make all the difference.

Remember your days running Fairfax, not so long ago, when every second senior journo who decided they had had enough of telephoning contacts, interviewing people and actually writing stories was baptised as an ‘associate editor’?

Anyway, Mark, I think I am the perfect person for the job, the ideal candidate to purge the ABC of its Leftist bias based on the simple principle that it takes one to know one.

You need finely-honed antennae to detect some of the Left’s more insidious techniques.

Firstly, I understand these Leftists will work for next to nothing in exchange for the chance to infect the body politic with their bile. Case in point: how are we ever going to meet Gerry’s demands for ‘balance’ on Media Watch when, according to a recent advertisement, you propose paying the show’s executive producer a mere $82,000?

Mark, as you know, the people we want in such crucial positions people who understand that when Janet Albrechtsen at The Australian and Andrew Bolt at The Herald-Sun quote overseas journals and columnists, they don’t have to quote them in, like, context or anything will never work for such peanuts. We might not be able to stump up the $750,000 that Mark Llewellyn was earning running ‘news and current affairs’ for Channel Nine, but surely we could scratch around for $450,000 to match Seven’s offer to him.

‘Aussie Ray’ Martin might be willing to knock a million or two off his salary to front the new Media Watch, but even if he isn’t, wouldn’t it be worth the cost to have John Howard’s favorite debate moderator on the team? Any man who, after nearly 40 years in the biz, can top and tail a celebrity funeral Kerry Packer, Steve Irwin like ‘Aussie Ray’ can, is worth his weight in taxpayer-funded gold.

Thanks to Paul Batey

Secondly, I understand that beneath their visage of professionalism, ABC journalists are unreconstructed enemies of capitalism. Rudi Michelson, a corporate public relations man and former Liberal Party candidate, nailed it when he described Four Corners as an ‘anti-corporate dogma factory’ on Crikey recently.

Don’t be fooled, Mark. When Four Corners, The 7.30 Report, or even Lateline Business for that matter, do stories on poor returns to shareholders, Australian Securities and Investment Commission investigations, or hostile company takeovers, they’re not actually reporting the cut and thrust of the business world as it is. They’re chipping away, in their own sneaky fashion, at the very edifice of divinely ordained capitalism.

We need a Director of Editorial Policies who shares Janet Albrechtsen’s view elucidated so passionately back in the early 1990s when she was a struggling trainee on the SMH‘s business section that the media should be supporting big business, not tearing it down with all this trifling stuff about corporate malfeasance.

Thirdly, we need someone who won’t get sucked in by the journalists’ claims of ‘relevance’ or ‘timeliness’ when defending their bias. I learned my lesson back in the 1980s, as a rookie reporter on The Northern Herald, when a Macquarie University law professor would write to the paper insisting that every reference to apartheid in South Africa be balanced by a reference to Stalin and the persecution of Cardinal Mindszenty in Hungary. I now see the obvious connection. emocracy for the Black majority clearly meant sympathy for the gulag.

We must insist that today’s Middle East correspondents follow every mention of the escalating insurgency in Iraq with a standard catalogue of references to Saddam’s gassing of the Kurds, routing of the Marsh Arabs, invasion of Kuwait, subsidies to suicide bombers and corruption of the United Nations Oil for Food program. (Perhaps even a sly reference to the son of UN chief Kofi Annan, for good measure.) You can squeeze a lot into one minute and 40 seconds, if you speak quickly enough. (We might not, however, want them to be so expansive as to mention Saddam’s arms trade with the West or his years as a key US ally against the Iranians, let’s leave that up to our mates on the Board.)

Finally, we need someone who will fulfil your vision of an ABC that covers the stories the punters want to see and hear. As you know, story selection is the most insidious form of bias. Oh, sure, those stories about sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities and global warming may seem straightforward and professional but really, they’re designed to make us feel guilty about the blackfellas and owning four-wheel-drives.

The easiest way to cut the bias is to go head to head with Nine and Seven on the stories that matter depilatory creams, tummy tucks and native kids being nicely fattened up for lunch. Imagine what Chris Masters could have done with Wa-Wa!

Mark, I am the obvious candidate for Director of Editorial Policies. I’m the right man for the job of sniffing out, then stamping out, the Red Menace. After all, I’ve been there, done that. I know how they think.

Yours in the struggle,

Andrew West

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.