Rising above political bias and fake news

Some media commentators seem obsessed with political labels, saying certain issues belong to the left or the right.

Certainly some issues can be characterised that way but such labels are unhelpful in other issues that should be above politics, free of political bias, and understood simply by the facts of the matter.

One of these was highlighted by veteran ABC journalist Kerry O’Brien as he was inducted into the Logies Hall of Fame on Sunday night.  You can see his speech below.

He had a message for journalists and news organisations about climate change.

“40 years after powerful evidence first kicked in that human-caused climate change threatened the world with an existential disaster, we’re still stuck in the mire of drab, dishonest arguments that will come at great cost to future generations and we the journalists have not cut through the fake news effectively. We have not properly held politicians to account,” Kerry said.

Climate change is one of the best examples of an issue that should be science-based and above politics, yet is still bogged in a political cesspit.  Apart from politicians themselves, the issue remains a political football because of conservative journalists and commentators who think they know better than the many thousands of trained scientists who research this stuff.

Kerry also described the failure to reconcile Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia as a “glaring gap in this nation’s story.”

“I was first personally exposed to the awful racism this country is capable of when I visited Alice Springs more than 45 years ago, and sadly you don’t have to go too far to see it still today. A trip to any prison will do it.

“We all have an opportunity together in this term of the federal parliament to understand and support what is embodied in the Uluru Statement From The Heart. A remarkable document, forged in unity by more than 250 Aboriginal and Torres-Strait Islander leaders, representing the oldest surviving culture on the face of the earth.

“A culture that adds a richness that is unique to this continent and yet we other Australians are mostly ignorant of it.

“The Uluru statement represents no threat to a single individual in any corner of this country, and certainly no threat to the integrity of parliament. And if you’re told that, don’t you believe it. On the contrary, it will add much to the integrity of our nation.

“We like to be seen as one nation made up of many parts. Now, it’s time to prove it,” Kerry said in his induction speech.

According to Vote Compass, I am neither left or right in my politics.  In fact, apparently I’m right in the centre.  So from where I sit, I don’t see or hear the left wing bias that the ABC is accused of.  Internal and external investigations couldn’t find it either.

Again it is some of our conservative journalists, commentators and politicians who accuse the ABC of its perceived leftism.

Kerry pointed to this, saying the ABC is being punished because of an “ideological obsession” by way of successive rounds of budget cuts by Coalition governments over the last 20 years.

He told the country “don’t ever again allow politicians to diminish the public broadcaster. It is one of the most precious institutions we have.”

Some news organisations and their high profile journos and commentators have a deliberate bias to the right which they wear as a badge of honour.  Voices like 2GB, the Daily Telegraph and Sky News at night are among the loudest accusers of ABC bias.

It is because reporting has taken this biased turn, and because there is less fearless investigative reporting, that Australia needs a strong, publicly-funded, independent ABC.

“The ABC is still forging its way through strong headwinds, probably never threatened more than it is today by a combination of forces, cash-strapped in a totally disrupted, digitally driven industry, and still confronting the same sad ideological prejudice,” Kerry said.