Emotional Nonsense from the Australian ABC

Emotional Nonsense from the Australian ABC. By Greg Sheridan.

Making emotion dominant in politics and discourse is always a bad move. It leads to dreadful, needless destruction and bitter polarisations. At the moment, the left dominates politics and culture throughout the West. It spends its energies not on the old-fashioned issues of working-class living standards, increased social opportunity or even enhanced racial equality. Rather, they live and breathe in the toxic swamplands of identity politics, centred on gender, sexuality and a critical race theory view of race.

Peter Dutton’s parliamentary speech opposing a constitutionally enshrined voice was the best of his leadership. Calm and sensible, it made the key point in principle: the Voice will “re-racialise” society. Anyone with a speck of wisdom would recognise the gravity of that charge and pause to think long and hard over whether any of the alleged benefits of the constitutional change was worth this cost.

But because the issue is prosecuted so emotionally, as a test of your emotional decency, Dutton’s speech is neither evaluated on its merits nor properly answered. Instead he is condemned because merely to make that argument is to outrage the emotions of the voice advocates.

Don’t get me wrong. Emotions are a wonderful part of the human condition and rightly play a role in politics. But emotion must serve reason and morality, must be tempered by prudence. Emotion on its own is a terrible guide. …

The ABC has clearly made a series of mistakes. It’s running the voice debate as an inflamed emotional crusade. Visiting British journalist Andrew Neil, on a recent episode of Q+A, questioned why there was no opponent of the voice on the panel. …

Personal examples of awful behavior from the ABC:

A couple of years ago I criticised the Australian National University for rejecting a grant from the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. In response, the ABC ran a piece on its religion and ethics website that was the editor’s choice as the best piece of the day. It claimed I was guilty of conservative hysteria and that I followed the views of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, who killed nearly 80 people in a monstrous rampage.

After people made a fuss, the ABC finally cut out the Breivik reference but kept me as guilty of hysteria and claimed, wholly falsely, that I shared the views of Donald Trump’s associate Steve Bannon, arising from his opposition to non-white immigration.

In 44 years of journalism I’ve relentlessly campaigned in favour of a big, racially non-discriminatory immigration program. So the facts were all wrong, the malice extreme and the rhetoric insane. And the ABC lectures the rest of us on being kinder and gentler?

Once I was on the Drum and the host taxed me over some economics story in The Australian she claimed illustrated News Corp wickedness. I responded by pointing out the vast journalistic superiority of our then economics correspondent, the brilliant Adam Creighton, over the ABC’s then economics correspondent, Emma Alberici. I was forbidden from pursuing this line of argument and the host then asked every other panellist to please criticise The Australian. And the ABC lectures us about vendettas?

Or consider it ran no campaign against the foul sexualised abuse that drove Nicolle Flint from politics. But then Flint is a conservative. And what about its relentless, personal, savage and ultimately forensically wrong persecution of the innocent Cardinal George Pell over years of TV programming? No one could credibly claim that was balanced or fair.

None of us is perfect. But the ABC is at least as guilty of the crimes it charges others with as any media organisation. And in making so much of its output so emotional, while ruling out mainstream lines of debate that contradict those emotions, it does the nation a grave disservice.

The ABC interviewed me once, and spliced together two half-sentences uttered an hour apart in the interview to make it appear on air as if I said something I would never have said. So dishonest.