Albrechtsen: Marred by private vendettas
to online feedback
In January I was interviewed as a potential candidate
for what was then the proposed two-person Media Watch
panel. I was intrigued. Was the ABC casting its net
to include those on the other side of the political
Simon West, the ABC television executive who interviewed
me, was astounded to hear I was a self-proclaimed
conservative. Shifting uncomfortably in his chair,
West probed a little further. Surely I was just economically
conservative. Surely I was not socially conservative.
Across-the-board conservative, I said. The interview
was not going well.
it got worse. I suggested the new Media Watch should
contribute to journalistic standards by uncovering
how journalists present their opinions as news. I
naively mentioned David Marr as a high-profile culprit.
Interview over. Sure enough, Marr was appointed sole
presenter and is now the Bob Ellis of the airwaves.
gatekeeper of acceptable opinion, Media Watch resorts
to reprehensible means to shut down debate and smear
the reputations of those with opinions it dislikes.
It is a parody of upholding journalistic standards.
worst of all, Media Watch has become a publicly funded
vehicle for Marr to pursue his well-known private
vendettas. His enmity towards Radio 2GB broadcaster
Alan Jones is legendary. Who can forget the Australian
Book Industry Awards Dinner in 1996 where Marr, as
master of ceremonies, spent more time sledging Jones
than talking about books? Marr's private loathing
was aired publicly in episode two when Media Watch
pursued a non-story about a 2GB lottery.
ideological animosity towards Paul Sheehan is part
of Sydney Morning Herald folklore. On September 5
last year, Sheehan wrote in his Herald column about
the high incidence of crime among Sydney's Lebanese
community. Marr sent Sheehan an email that said: "That
is a disgraceful column that reflects poorly on us
all at the Herald. David Marr."
the Media Watch chair, Marr unleashed his loathing
again in episode two. Media Watch attacked a Good
Weekend article by Sheehan exploring the potential
of a mineral-rich water to combat arthritis, fatigue
and osteoporosis. Marr derided Sheehan's story as
a "silly yarn", mocking Sheehan's evidence,
qualifications and research, and lambasted an "uncritical
media". Would Marr have done the same if Richard
Neville had been the author?
I Marr's newest vendetta? That would explain why Media
Watch's Marcus Priest was quietly digging for dirt
at a law firm where I once worked and at The Australian
soon after Media Watch sent me queries about my opinion
on Muslim gang rape. How that sleazy exercise advances
Media Watch's role of upholding journalistic ethics
or is relevant to an opinion piece on gang rapes is
far from clear.
standards were in free fall. In my case, as explained
in detail on The Australian's website, Media Watch
simply lifted allegations against me from the website
of Amir Butler from the Australian Muslim Public Affairs
Committee and repackaged them under the Media Watch
banner. It claimed I invented evidence when it actually
had the evidence before it (because I had provided
it), cut passages from media releases that disproved
its allegations and cropped news articles to suppress
material. Its bias and distortion were transparent.
are the attacks on commentators on the other side
of the political divide Robert Manne, Hugh
Mackay, Phillip Adams, Adele Horin, John Quiggin?
the ever-so-gentle dig at Sydney Morning Herald's
left-wing columnist Margo Kingston on July 1 with
Media Watch's vitriolic but error-laden attack on
Piers Akerman a month earlier.
also reveals Media Watch's bias. It failed to question
the media's crying crusade on behalf of acclaimed
asylum-seeker Ali Bakhtiyari despite The Australian's
expose on August 14 that discredited his refugee claims.
More Media Watch silence on Kingston's scurrilous
manipulation of the truth about the navy and the sinking
of SIEV X. It took The Sydney Morning Herald's Mike
Carlton to expose that.
is on a different mission. And with sweet confluence
it ties in with that basic ABC canon: commerce is
evil. Marr's creed says Rupert Murdoch equals evil
capitalist and US-passport-toting owner of News Limited,
publisher of page three girls, 1975 and all that.
For Marr, who is on leave from The Sydney Morning
Herald, that paper is a purveyor of all that is good
in the world. With that obvious ideological objection
tucked under his arm, Marr has unleashed a steady
stream of tawdry attacks on News Limited newspapers.
ingrained biases are legendary. His sorry news reporting
reveals he is congenitally unable to distinguish fact
from opinion. His antipathy to the political views
of Peter Costello and Tony Abbott meant he was unable
to report news of their defamation case against Random
House without repeating ad nauseam his opinion that
the "couple of born scrappers" were just
that news or opinion?
ideological affiliation with Ellis, author of the
offending book Goodbye Jerusalem, meant Ellis became
"everyone's punching bag" and days in court
became "get-Ellis days". Again, news or
opinion? This might be acceptable on an opinion page
but to present it as news simply illustrated Marr's
conviction that his opinions are news.
the problem with bias goes beyond Marr. A survey of
Media Watch reveals a constant diet of left-wing opinion.
The federal Government behaved reprehensibly on Tampa
and "children overboard" (MW, April 22)
and resembles North Korea in its conduct at Woomera
(MW, July 8). And neither heroin injecting rooms (MW,
June 3) nor Muslim gang rapists are to be criticised
(MW September 9). And don't mention the ABC's anti-Israel
bias (MW, May 6). You won't hear the other side of
these issues on Media Watch.
evidence is in. And the ABC board has failed in its
duty under section 8(1)(c) of the ABC Act to "ensure
that the gathering and presentation . . . of news
and information is accurate and impartial according
to the recognised standards of objective journalism".
it time for an inquiry into that board failure? It's
certainly time to get serious about free speech. This
public asset has been hijacked.
Albrechtsen responds to Media Watch
fact remains Ms Albrechtsen: you misquoted people,
I being one of them. And you trivialised the plight
of Australian youth by misquoting me. What gives you
the right to misquote others? What gives you the right
to criticise those who point out to you the injustices
that your pen has wreaked? I do not care what ideology
drives you; I care for truth, fairness and accuracy.
The misquotes you wrote have hurt too many people.
Media Watch's approach to free speech in this case
can again be questioned, Janet has successfully played
the scapegoat "lame game that goes on in
the debate about whether race was an issue
in this horrific rape case.
her litany of protestations and defences, my question
to Janet is this: Why haven't you and other commentators
taken the opportunity to educate young men of any
ethnic group that rape is a cowardly act of control
and domination perpetrated by any members of society
- whether women were of one race or another.
a social conservative, is Janet taking
seriously the potential for the individual (these
criminals) not to take ultimate responsibility for
his own behaviour, because "my social and ethnic
background led me to it"?
young men are individuals who behaved as a pack. The
pack mentality displayed by these young men are behaviours
young men in packs display when baying for control
and domination of women. These behaviours seem to
be displayed by male members of all cultures, not
just young Australian Muslims.
the provision of an environment of safety for all
women must be the goal, not racial and religious vilification
of the many from the criminal behaviour of the few?
surprises me to see Jane Albrechtsen address the allegations
made against her by Media Watch by personally attacking
David Marr, rather than refuting the evidence that
charge was simple - deliberate distortion and misquoting
of primary sources. This has since been backed up
by the primary source itself (Professor Rassial).
is surprising is that now the facts are known, a reputable
paper such as The Australian continues to run her
Surry Hills, NSW
has created a wonderful snowstorm in her column in
an attempt to hide the key issue of the Media Watch
argument. That is, that she doctored somebody else's
work to try justify her attack on muslims.
should go to the Media Watch website to see what the
author of the "doctored" work thinks of
ALSO IN THIS SECTION
Janet Albrechtsen responds to Media Watch
Albrechtsen responds to Media Watch
to online feedback
Media Watch was a great idea. Some of its early work
advanced standards of Australian journalism. Sadly,
like many things at the ABC, it has been hijacked
by sectional interests.
from upholding journalistic standards in order to
stimulate high-quality free speech, the current Media
Watch is devoted to suppressing speech with which
it disagrees, and uses highly dubious techniques to
My own recent experiences prove the point.
Wednesday 4 September Media Watch executive producer
Peter McEvoy sent facsimiles to a number of commentators,
including Piers Akerman, Miranda Devine, Paul Sheehan,
Michael Duffy, Alan Jones and myself seeking our views
on recent gang rapes by Muslim youth.
facsimile exposed Media Watch's bias early. It was
not concerned with journalistic standards. It was
concerned with opinions. That ours did not conform
to the left-wing ABC ideology on these matters meant
we were targets.
Watch also played the man, not the ball, early when
they started digging for dirt. Researcher, Marcus
Priest rang a partner at the Sydney law firm where
I once worked to check my employment history.
these tactics advanced Media Watch's role in upholding
journalistic ethics is yet to be explained.
Watch then forwarded me a series of questions taken
virtually verbatim from a website of Amir Butler whom
Media Watch describe as from the Australian Muslim
Public Affairs Committee (AMPAC).
website included descriptions of me as "that
disgraceful Janet Albrechtsen" and "that
shrieking Janet Albrechtsen". Butler announced
on 18 July that "It [sic] time to take off the
gloves and deal with Janet Albrechtsen". Untroubled
by the partisan position of AMPAC and Butler, no doubt
because they shared it, Media Watch soon stepped into
the ring using Butler's shoddy ammunition.
sent Media Watch detailed rebuttals of their first
set of allegations but on their program Media Watch
refused to air those rebuttals. Instead their program
adopted completely the views put by Butler, added
a few dirty tricks of their own and relegated my response
to their website.
was unable to respond to their second set of allegations
in time for Media Watch's deadline as I was leaving
for a previously arranged conference in Melbourne.
So Media Watch went ahead and republished the second
set of Butler allegations without hearing the other
side of the story, using techniques they would pillory
accurate was their story?
first allegation, which Media Watch plagiarised from
Butler's website was, ironically enough, that I had
"lifted" the idea that some young Muslim
boys were torn between Islamic and Western values
from a piece by Adam Sage in The Times.
gave Media Watch a number of sources for this problem
facing some Muslim boys but Media Watch chose not
to tell viewers that. Reporting it would not advance
their agenda of shutting down debate on the issue
of gang rapes.
Media Watch needed further evidence that the view
I expressed is widely held, they would only need to
consult the views of Sheik Hilali reported by Greg
Callaghan in The Weekend Australian last Saturday.
to Callaghan, the spiritual leader of Australia's
Muslims told him "these mostly first-generation
Australian citizens find themselves shipwrecked between
the strict Arab culture of their parents and a laissez-faire
Australian society that does not fully accept them".
Watch next accused me of inventing the findings of
French and Danish experts that pack rape of white
girls by young Muslim men was an emerging phenomenon.
Watch knew their accusation was false.
is what Media Watch did not tell viewers: I had already
referred them to comments of Connie Bjornholm, a spokeswoman
for the immigrant information service in the Danish
city of Aarhus who described the growing problems.
referred them to an AFP news story about La Squale,
the confronting French movie about "tournante"
(take your turn), which French magistrate Sylvie Lotteau
described as where one member of the gang would "pick
up a young girl a white girl and once
she had become the girlfriend of one of the members,
he would allow his mates to make use of her".
Monday night they repeated that lie by claiming I
misrepresented psychotherapist Jean Jacques Rassial's
comments about the problem of gang rape in France.
they failed to tell viewers the facts: Rassial's comments
appeared in a Times piece by Sage which dealt with
that same movie and that same issue of tournante.
And Sage discussed the clash between Islamic values
and French social values.
as Media Watch claims, Rassial feels he has been misrepresented,
then he should take that up with The Times. If Rassial
has retracted his views, then he has some explaining
Media Watch simply ignored Lotteau's comments about
"white girls" and that context of Rassial's
remarks in Sage's piece.
I pointed Media Watch to even more evidence: comments
by a police commander in Northern Paris and Rachel
Paul from Norway's Centre for Gender Equality to the
same effect. These were more inconvenient facts so
Media Watch ignored them describing my response simply
as "a long and unhappy exchange".
long and unhappy about it. It was a presentation of
fact. And that they chose to ignore it reveals their
bias and dishonesty.
Watch's political agenda was to say I had taken evidence
and comments about immigrant youth generally in Denmark
and France and invented the "white girl"
and "Muslim boy" bits. No evidence I gave
them prevented them from pursuing that agenda.
Media Watch also said I misrepresented comments by
Dr Flemming Balvig. I had already pointed out the
original source from the Copenhagen Post (which confirmed
precisely what I said) and two further articles in
Berlingske Tidende quoting Balvig where he acknowledged
that ethnicity is part of the pattern of gang rape.
More inconvenient facts.
Watch then said Balvig had confirmed my misrepresentation
direct to them. However, the words they put in Balvig's
mouth ("The citation is completely wrong. What
I have said is, that the main explanation of gang
rape probably is social, and not cultural or religious.")
were taken verbatim from Butler's website where nearly
all of Media Watch's "research" was derived.
No doubt another happy coincidence.
that I play "fast and loose with my sources"
Media Watch next claimed that I misrepresented the
Canadian Islamic Congress. I had said the CIC's complaint
about Canada's National Post (that the newspaper was
a "benchmark of what a newspaper should not be")
concerned the National Post's use of "anti-Islam
a section of the CIC's media release, Media Watch
claimed the CIC's complaint was that the National
Post did not belong to a recognised press council
and was not about anti-Islam language.
Media Watch did not tell viewers was that they omitted
all the passages immediately preceding the "benchmark"
comment. These passages made it clear that the CIC's
main concern was the National Post's anti-Islam language.
Watch concealed from viewers that the CIC media release
was headed "Islamic Congress's Anti-Islam Media
Research Again Finds National Post Worst Offender".
they suppressed the press release's lead comments
which showed the priority of CIC's concerns: "by
excessively and persistently using anti-Islam language,
the National Post is stirring up hatred against an
identifiable group of Canadians. And by refusing to
join a Press Council, it sends the message that it
chooses not to be publicly accountable for its policies."
Media Watch were misled because Butler's website,
on which Media Watch relied for its "research,"
was grossly misleading. That was the risk Media Watch
ran in acting as mouthpiece for Butler's website.
Media Watch complained I misrepresented the views
of Keysar Trad, a Sydney Muslim spokesman expressed
in the Sydney Morning Herald on 1-2 September 2001
when I quoted him as saying "these boys were
screaming for help".
said the SMH's piece and Trad's views concerned crime
generally (as if rape was not a crime). To prove their
point, Media Watch flashed the SMH piece on the screen
under the heading "Young Guns Hooked on Coke
quality of that report, and of Media Watch's work
generally, was revealed however not in what they flashed
on the screen but what they suppressed from view.
You see, Media Watch had very carefully and very deliberately
cropped from that SMH piece the sidebar headed "Ethnic
time bomb with a slow-burning fuse". That piece
dealt with gang rape by Muslim youth.
was excusing Muslims who commit crime just as he recently
excused Osama bin Laden's from those atrocities on
September 11. Last Saturday The Weekend Australian
Magazine's Greg Callaghan reported Trad as saying:
"Osama bin Laden would have trouble teaching
someone to drive a car. How could a man living in
a backward country mastermind the hijacking of several
planes . . . I just don't want to believe Muslims
were behind it."
seems Trad and Media Watch do not want to believe
Media Watch then remember, what they do not tell you
is likely to be more important than what they do tell
publicly shaming Media Watch, I will, no doubt, become
the newest Media Watch vendetta. Never mind.
time to get serious about the bigger issue
free speech. As a public broadcaster, the ABC ought
to be about promoting free speech. To date, this public
asset has been hijacked by sectional interests acting
as gatekeeper on acceptable opinion.
Albrechtsen: Marred by private vendettas
why don't you take this further and expose the purse-lipped
little David Marr (who has sychophantic posterings
with the tribe of left wing urban elites)
in court for simply misrepresenting the truth. Sue
him, and the ABC, for as much as you can.
- well done. This is a first-rate expose on the ABC's
cozy left-wing elite that diverts public money to
private agendas. The ABC's ongoing violation of its
own charter is a national disgrace.
Albrechtsen reveals the entrenched and blind bias
in the ABC very well indeed. It's a very sad story,
especially about a program that claims the high journalistic
ethics ground without fear or favour.
defenders of the ABC claim that it compensates for
right wing commentators such as Alan Jones, thereby
admitting the endemic bias of everyone's ABC.
yesterday I almost fell over when I heard a US conservative
commentator on The World at Noon on Iraq. The ABC
must have been desperate - though the anchor did point
out that this commentator's views on Iraq needed to
be understood in the context that he was a conservative.
I don't hear such caveats when left wing commentators
it up, Janet!
Dr Douglas Kirsner