Wednesday, May 22, 2013

James Allan, a poor judge of Aunty's poor judge of bias ...

(Above: more Steve Bell here)

Apparently English premier David Cameron - he has no claim on Scotland or the Celts - has emailed a personal note to members saying he would never work with anyone who 'sneered' at activists.

Oh those wicked sneering metropolitan elites.

It occurred to the pond that there could be a whole swag of Bell cartoons on similar themes.

Like climate science believers, the greatest threat to swiveleyesation since gay marriage. Like metropolitan elites, the greatest threat to swiveleyesation since climate science. And boat people, the greatest threat to swiveleysation since metropolitan elites.

And so on and so forth, with players of the game able to make up endless variations, with an ample supply of examples rife in Murdoch la la land.

But what do we understand as the grandest heights of swiveleyesation down under? Why surely it has to the right to piss money against the wall on poker machines and Tom Waterhouse while downing plenty of piss in a western suburbs club of your choice, a Taj Mahal of grog and gambling.

Oh dear that sounded suspiciously like a sneer - cross off the pond Mr. Cameron - and let's see who else we can sneer at.

Come on down James Allan, sneering away, another lizard in the pack of reptiles at the lizard Oz who routinely sneer at the ABC, this time under the header Aunty a poor judge of bias (inside the paywall, so you don't have to care)

Now here's a simple enough question. When was the last time you ever read a detailed, lengthy tract complaining, moaning and whingeing about the bias inherent in Murdoch la la land ... and not published in a blog or a boutique publication, but actually published in The Australian?

When was the last time you read anyone in The Australian denouncing the inherent bias of its editor Chris Mitchell?

Or the kool aid drinking culture? The sparrows all whirling and farting in unison, their opinions relentlessly the same?

Now we're not talking about criticisms you might find in the wild, as in Chris Mitchell v Robert Manne: The Australian editor to sue, we're not talking of sniping from the sidelines, as in Payback: The Bullying Tactics of the Murdoch Press.

No, we're talking a relentless, incessant, monotonous, repetitious set of columns culled from all over the place and featured at least weekly in The Australian, raving and ranting and complaining about the bias in the rag.

It's a dream of course, beyond the valley of delusion, but it comes in handy when it comes to contemplating the ranting about bias presented by James Allan, who proposes that he is a professor of law at the University of Queensland.

Let's see how it might have worked out in practice.

First Allan:

Does it really matter if every host of the ABC's Media Watch since its inception has left-of-centre sympathies? 

And now what he might have added:

And does it really matter if every member of the commentariat Murdoch pack, since Chairman Rupert instructed his rags to go feral right wing, has ratbag raving rightwing climate denying sympathies?


Or if all the ABC political programs, not least Insiders, show an unmistakable tilt towards having more left-of-centre participants than right-of-centre ones, sometimes by a factor of 3:1?

And since he seems to have forgotten his self-proclaimed notion of balance:

Or, since we strive for balance and fairness, if all the reptiles at the lizard Oz and feral rags, not least the Daily Terror, show an unmistakable tilt towards having more right of centre and right of Gengis Khan participants than remotely sensible ones, sometimes by a factor of 99.99:1?

You could go on playing this game all day, because the rest of Allan's tirade is singularly unbalanced and remarkably one-sided, while supposedly pleading for the ABC to display a lack of bias.

The out clause?

Remember, this is not a private broadcaster that relies on advertisers and in a market economy decides for itself what views it wishes to appeal to. This is a publicly funded broadcaster with a statutory obligation to be even-handed. It spends billions of taxpayer dollars in a way that millions of Australians think is biased (when it comes to current affairs).

But hang on, the lizard Oz doesn't rely on advertisers in a market economy to make a profit.

The Australian doesn't make a profit, or at least that's a best guess about its financial situation, because its books have about as much transparency as the IPA disclosing details of its patrons and its sources of funding:

It's very hard to find out whether, or how much The Australian loses every year. Everyone seems to think it loses a great deal. But I talked to experts about the finances of newspapers, and they didn't know the exact profitability or in fact loss-making of The Australian because many of its finances are tied up with the other News Limited papers. The printing presses are shared, distribution is shared, and so on. So the finances are opaque. But on the other hand, everyone thinks it loses a lot of money, and I think most people see that it continues mainly because Rupert Murdoch sees it with pride, as the vehicle he can use to influence the trajectory of Australian life. So whether anyone has the will to keep it going with so much loss after Murdoch passes or loses his grip we don't know. I think it might be a fifty-fifty bet as to whether it would be able to continue. It presumably could be bought by someone else who might try and make a go of it, but whether it could ever be even vaguely profitable is unclear I think. (here)

Indeed. However you cut it, the rag is the personal plaything of a man who uses political influence to maintain his position in the marketplace.

Why no profit? Or at best a very marginal one? Well, this is a rag which routinely alienates a substantial part of what might otherwise become its subscriber base, so that it can keep drinking the kool aid and pursuing its assorted agendas, which incidentally inter alia involves the wittering and twittering of James Allan about the ABC,  with - it has to be noted - Allan just one in a very long line of conga dancers ...

You see, you can't just let the rag off the hook with a wave of the hand and a mutter about advertising and the market economy and let them publish whatever views they like in order to make a profit. Not when in reality the rag is published in order to present a biased dog whistling view of the world subsidised by other parts of Murdoch la la land, such that even a humble viewer of The Simpsons once upon a time might have been helping out ...

But okay, how to deal with the complete fatuity and stupidity of Allan. Here we go. First he leads with the notion that what we need is even-handed impartiality, and not just impartiality, but the appearance of impartiality:

... imagine that the Wallabies had yearly Tests against the All Blacks but that nine years out of 10 the referee was from New Zealand. Of course, the referee has an obligation to be even-handed. But because of those debatable little calls (which in rugby union can encompass just about everything), we want not just someone assuring us of his impartiality, we want the appearance of impartiality (which is why the referee in real life will come from some third country).

Uh huh. So what does Allan propose for the ABC?

And that's where Scott and the ABC let us down so badly. When it comes to appearances the track record at the ABC looks appalling. 
Personally, I think there is real bias at the ABC. But let's say I'm wrong. Why not at least improve the awful appearances and pick, say, at least one conservative host of Media Watch (ever) or make sure that exactly half of those who appear on Insiders have a lineage on each side of politics?

Yes, for the one program dealing with all forms and all aspects of the media, he proposes appointing a referee from one, biased side of politics ... a conservative host.

Which is why Allan and the lizard Oz let us down so badly. When it comes to appearances his track record - favouring conservatives - would look appalling. You see, you don't correct bias by appointing a biased host to a show which above all cries out for balance and the appearance of impartiality.

The whole point of Media Watch is that it assail transgressions in all forms of the media, not rule on them from either a liberal or a conservative point of view.

After waffling and warbling about the need for a referee to hail from Wales (oops, that's Gillard country, let's say South Africa), he's suddenly proposing that the referee be the Bolter or that prattling Polonius bore, Gerard Henderson.

To what avail?

Now at other times the pond would simply call Allan a blithering idiot, just another nattering member of  swiveleyesation, and walk on by, but it has to be noted that for a professor of law, it's seriously troubling that he fails logic 101.

But that's the trouble when you refract everything through the wrong end of the telescope and apply ideology to everything:

There's an easy way to show how pathetically unpersuasive are the ABC's arguments. Imagine every appointment to the top ABC news shows is given only to a right-of-centre person with Coalition links (as so many present ones have Labor links). 
How long do you think it would be before there would be howls of protest from the other side of politics?

Actually it's pathetically easy to show how pathetically unpersuasive and how typically lizard Oz Allan's arguments are.

Way back when, the Howard government decided it would transform the ABC, and appointed Jonathan Shier to do the hatchet job. Shier fucked the ABC comprehensively and made such a hash of it that he only lasted in the job for a year and nine months.

Because in the end you can't run a broadcaster as an ideological machine ... just as you can't run an ideological rag like The Australian and expect to make a profit.

Allan spends an enormous amount of energy featuring a couple of programs - Media Watch is 15 minutes on a Monday night, The Insiders is an hour in the dead zone on Sunday at 9 am.

Why? Only the long absent lord knows, because a much bigger issue for the ABC is the way the BBC has done the dirty on it and cosied up to Foxtel and the Murdoch empire ...

But wait, it gets worse, because it turns out that judges aren't impartial, they are ideologically driven. Yep, the next time you head off to court, understand that you're in the hands of a judge driven not by a desire for impartiality and balance and justice, but driven instead by a hotbed of political ratbaggery:

...all of us bring to the table certain core beliefs that influence how we see and decide the borderline cases. Probably not the clear-cut ones. But the debatable ones, such as which political news to emphasise and discuss, which stories to focus on and which aspects of polls to lead with. 
So the way the ABC selects its top hosts and participants for its big-ticket current affairs shows, choosing them overwhelmingly from one side of the political spectrum, means that we end up with less balance than if they were picked the way top judges are, with both sides of politics getting about even input.

Which is of course a nonsense, since by definition if you're a lawyer, or a judge, you are inherently conservative, already in a game played by winners who might affect to take certain stances but who are supposed to be above all even-handed, impartial and apolitical ...

And these days the ABC, which is in reality a relatively conservative institution, is routinely demonised as a haven of socialism, full of commie pinko perverts, but only if you look at from the perspective of the clan of kool aid drinkers at the lizard Oz, who strangely never seem to listen to Alan Jones and the rest of the shock jocks, or rail at the infinite stupidity of commercial television and their unwatchable alleged current affairs shows ...

Which is why Allan manages to sound both smug and other-worldly:

Unless you think journalists are inherently more even-handed, impartial and apolitical than judges. But who aside from Scott could say that with a straight face? (Hint: If you can you should move to Los Angeles and look for acting work.)

Yes indeed. Who could ever imagine the lizard Oz as the home for even-handed, impartial and apolitical journalists ...

Actually, here's a hint for James Allan. Why not move to Los Angeles and look for acting work. Well you can't go looking in Canada, because truly there's not a duller film industry in the world ...

Why not take an interest in scientology?  Because you simply don't have the first clue about how to run a broadcaster, but clearly you have every notion of how to be a biased exponent of the law and show an enormous capacity to swallow the kool aid that flows from the water coolers at the lizard Oz ...

Meanwhile, the pond continues to be exposed to ABC ratbaggery of a real and tangible kind.

How many more times will the pond have to endure Scott Stephens turning up and discussing the world with Waleed Aly, as he did yesterday, blathering on about Kevin Rudd and gay marriage?

Here's a deal Prof Allan.

You can go on listening to Alan Jones and reading Murdoch rags, and the pond will go on demanding that the ABC should at last get around to displaying some of the liberal bias it's routinely accused of possessing.

How about we  start with RN Drive, as hapless people are gadding about in cars, expecting a decent display of left-leaning liberal thought?

And instead they cop Scott Stephens ... and even worse he's demonising former chairman Rudd on the most obscure theological grounds imaginable, and carrying on about how wonderful Mehdi Hasan is for scribbling As a Muslim, I struggle with the idea of homosexuality - but I oppose homophobia.

It turns out that Hasan has repented. His idea of humility? Why he's absolutely opposed to homophobia, provided of course that poofters stay well clear of .mosques, because after all, they're just not Islamic...

You really don't have much of a clue Prof Allan, do you? Do you know anything of the suffering of ABC listeners and viewers in search of genuine left-liberal-secular bias? No, you clearly don't ...



  1. Of course the ABC is biased Dorothy; how else do you explain the regular appearances of Murdoch hacks such as Dame Slap, Greg Sheridan, Miranda Devine et al on Q&A, or the ramblings of Amanda Vanstone weekly on RN or the fetid scrawlings of Peter Reith on the Drum? Or the Independent thoughts of Chris Berg, John Roskram etc on rotation on ABC 24?
    And he's failed to note that when you are sooo far right (I'm thinking of Bolt, Akerman) you need at least 2 slighlty left of centre folk to counterbalance them.

  2. Given that these sort of claims of bias focus almost always on Media Watch and Insiders, it might be a good strategy for the ABC to stack them with rightwing ratbags. Nobody watches Insiders these days- we're all just waiting for the footy round up, and I'd almost like to seee Bolt attack himself on Media Watch.

  3. insiders is not worth watching any more and if it's biased to the left so is tony abbott.
    each week we get a repeat of the anti gov. rantings of the murdoch press read out as "what the papers say".
    every week there perched on the right hand chair we have those well know "balanced" commmentators, the bloated piers akermaman, gerard henderson giving his impression of a dr. who dalect trying to smile,or the snide cat like nikki savas, all repeating the one mantra, labor bad, the coalition perfect.
    i contacted insiders re this bias and they said they also have a left wing voice in david marr.
    i said rubbish, marr attacks wrong wherever he says it, handing out serves to both parties.
    the drum is used by the likes of peter reith, assorted australian and other murdoch hacks and clowns from the i.p.a to beat their drum loudly,berating the other panelists with their far right bullshit.
    the abc is biased, but not towards the labor party.

  4. Spot-on rf.

    Sully, as arch-PIA Mark Scott is pleasured by the dalek extended continuum so we must suffer by his, and that of IPA ilk at the ABC.

    Stop the rot Scott.

    'During his appearance on the program Mr Scott was quick to point out that despite a new deal struck between the BBC and Foxtel, the ABC would still be bringing television viewers great content.'

    '"A number of the shows that are very popular for [ABC viewers] like Grand Designs and Mid Summer Murders - they're not BBC shows."' Groan. But hey! this is the guy that's delivered plenty for religion. A rising tide that drowns, pervasive now, that lifts not at all.

    "Mr Scott said Dr Who fans can sleep sound knowing they can still watch the program on ABC1."

    I recall he also reiterated there yet again his wonky argument that balance and a lack of partisan bias in the ABC is supposedly demonstrated in an equal number of complaint calls received from both sides of the 'divide' following certain programs. This is supposed to demonstrate that the ABC is doing it's job, which apparently is being 'balanced', blah, blah. Phooey on such wonkiness, and phooey on the continuing decline in ABC journalistic, programming, and public service provision integrity. Dear DP, what's to be done? Leave RN after two score years for the 4ZZZ alternative for sanity's sake, for peace and tranquillity,,, for fuck's sake. Great Scott! Is that the plan?

    Stop the Scott rot.

  5. Now rf the pond is going to have to be picky with your maths.

    Only two slightly left of centre folk to balance one Bolter or Akker Dakker?

    By the pond's calculation, you need an AFL team to balance the Bolter and one team of rugger buggers to balance Akker Dakker. And as for the IPA, you'd need to fill the Opera House to overflowing ...

    There's probably a good thesis in this, but at the least it's ample evidence that when it comes to the reptiles in News Ltd, a geometric progression of rampant offensiveness is at work in the world and in the ABC ...


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