I did an interview with the ABC’s Media Watch show that went to air on the 5th of March 2012 in relation to the Ray Finkelstein’s media inquiry report. It was a surprise that they would call me given the harsh post I did on them in September last year titled “The lies and deception of Media Watch and host Jonathan Holmes in defence of Julia Gillard.” (Click here to read the post)
As I show in this post it seems to be highly likely that the interview was an attempt by the ABC and its management to cover themselves in case I made a complaint to the Australian Communications and Media Authority. I had previously flagged a complaint about Media Watch to ACMA in another post I did where Media Watch and Mr Holmes received a substantial mention in November 2011 titled “The Day the Australian media died.” (Click here to read the post)
In a posting I did on the same day as the interview went to air I did not mention it as there was no guarantee that the interview would be used in Media Watch’s show and I have since not mentioned it as it was not a priority and I knew I would do a post on it.
The reason for doing this post is to address a few issues and if you are new to the story it is worth clicking on the links above to the two previous posts that I have done on this matter. But I will start with the interview of which a video is below.
I received a phone call from Media Watch on Friday the 2nd of March 2012 saying that Ray Finkelstein had made public his media inquiry report and asking if I had any comment as it also related to bloggers.
That was news to me and I had not had a look at the report so it was arranged for them to call me the next day which gave me a chance to look at the report. At this point, given my previous postings on them, I thought maybe they were lining me up for a hatchet job. Interview me then drop the boot into me and my website on their show. Then I thought all advertising is good advertising and did not worry about it.
The interview lasted about ten minutes and they asked me to send a photo in to use on the show. There was no guarantee that my interview would be used at all but it subsequently was.
Below is an edited version of the show, 1.35 minutes, which shows my interview.
If the above video is slow to load click here to watch it on YouTube. If you want to watch the full segment on the Media Watch site click here. It goes for 5.32 minutes. And no it is not my voice on the show.
Now back to my ongoing dispute with Media Watch and their likely reason for interviewing me. Media Watch did a show last year that was extremely biased in favor of Julia Gillard, in relation to her involvement in a $1 million fraud of the AWU, and led to two journalists leaving their employment. Glenn Milne was sacked from a part-time role at the ABC and has not been heard of since at News Ltd which were his main employer. And Mike Smith left Fairfax Media after legal proceedings were commenced by him to stop Fairfax Media sacking him.
One of things that Media Watch and all ABC shows for that matter under the ABC Charter have to do is be fair and balanced and show alternate views. So by doing an interview with me and the screen grab of my website they did last year shows them promoting alternate views. This would obviously undermine any complaint that I made to ACMA as ACMA would say to me that Media Watch had promoted alternate views twice. (click here to watch the screen grab video of this site on a previous post)
I went to the ACMA site to find out how to make a complaint and it said that I need to make a complaint to the network first. So back to the ABC. Below is the email exchange that was also sent to the ABC CEO Mark Scott.
To: Audience & Consumer Affairs
From: Shane Dowling
Subject: Media Watch Bias
Date: 05/10/11 10:20
Below is the result of your feedback form. It was submitted by Shane
ABC program: Media Watch
Response required: true
Date of program: 5th September 2011
Contact type: Complaint
Subject: Media Watch Bias
Comments: Dear Sir/Madam
Media Watch did a show that went to air on the 5th of September 2011. It was extremely biased, deceptive and deceitful. I raised numerous questions with Media Watch directly and the response was not adequate to say the least.
I have done a posting on my website, Kangaroo Court of Australia, that give the details, which I would like to form part of this complaint. It is titled “The lies and deception of Media Watch and host Jonathan Holmes in defence of Julia Gillard.”
And starts off “Media Watch and it?s host Jonathan Holmes have been caught out lying, deceiving and distorting the truth in a recent program that went to air on Monday the 5th of September in relation to the Julia Gillard / Fairfax Media / News Ltd freedom of speech scandal.
The program was deliberately and highly defamatory of at least Michael Smith who is a presenter on the Fairfax Media owned radio station 2ue and also Bob Kernohan.”
I would like a formal response and the appropriate action taken. If I do not get a satisfactory resolution I will take the matter further.
If you any further information please contact me.
Network – ABC Television
Recipient Name – Audience & Consumer Affairs Referer – Complaint
From: ABC Corporate_Affairs
Sent: Thursday, 6 October 2011 2:31 PM
To: Shane Dowling
Subject: Re: Media Watch Bias
Dear Mr Dowling
Thank you for your email regarding Media Watch.
Your correspondence has been referred to Audience & Consumer Affairs, a unit which is separate to and independent of program making areas within the ABC.
The role of Audience & Consumer Affairs is to investigate complaints alleging that ABC content has breached the ABC’s editorial standards.
I have reviewed your blog post ‘The lies and deception of Media Watch and host Jonathan Holmes in defence of Julia Gillard’. It is clear that you were concerned by the content of the episode of Media Watch broadcast on 5 September. However, your blog post is abusive in tone. Furthermore, it appears to focus on aspects of the program which you believe were inaccurate, whereas your email appears to focus on the issue of bias. The blog post does not substantiate your concerns of bias.
The editorial standards relating to accuracy and bias are set out in sections 2 and 4 of the ABC Editorial Policies (available here: http://www.abc.net.au/corp/pubs/edpols.htm), headed ‘Accuracy’ and ‘Impartiality and diversity of perspectives’ respectively. If you believe the program breached these standards, and would like Audience & Consumer Affairs to consider your concerns, you are welcome to briefly outline them by return email, with reference to the standards you believe were breached. Should you choose to do so, we ask that you please refrain from personal abuse and exercise the same level of civility you would expect to receive from the ABC.
In any event, please be assured that your comments are noted and your email has been brought to the attention of the producers of Media Watch.
ABC Audience & Consumer Affairs
From: Shane Dowling
Sent: Sunday, 30 October 2011 11:16 PM
To: ‘ABC Corporate_Affairs7’; ‘Mark.Scott@abc.net.au’
Subject: RE: Media Watch Bias
Dear Mr Melkman and Mr Scott
In response to your below email Mr Melkman.
For starters Section 5.3 of the ABC Editorial Policies have clearly been breached as I am sure that you are well aware. That is why I have sent this email to Mr Scott as well, so it saves time if I need to take the matter further.
Section 5.3 says:
Opportunity to respond
5.3 Where allegations are made about a person or organisation, make reasonable efforts in the circumstances to provide a fair opportunity to respond.
In my post that you say you read it says:
“But the most scandalous part of Jonathan Holmes story is that he also implies that the Bob Kernohan Statutory Declaration is defamatory. By doing this Mr Holmes is implying that Bob Kernohan is a criminal, because lying in a statutory declaration is a criminal offence. This is a big call by Jonathan Holmes and it is one he has gone to ground on and is refusing to answer questions that I have sent him.”
“Jonathan Holmes then says “In the circumstances, News Ltd had little option but to cave in to the Prime Minister’s demands, take down the column, apologise – and take down Andrew Bolt’s posts too.”
“Well this is straight out lies and deception by Jonathan Holmes and he knows it. He is meant to be an expert in media laws and protocol. By saying that he is also implying that the Bob Kernohan Statutory Declaration is full of lies and Mr Kernohan has committed the criminal offence of making a false statutory declaration.”
“It is lies by Mr Holmes as he would be well aware that when a word or part of an online published article is disputed or incorrect then the part in dispute is taken down not the full article. Given most of the Glenn Milne article was old news and had previously been published the first question Mr Holmes should have asked was why did the whole article come down. By saying “News Ltd had little option but to cave in to the Prime Minister’s demands, take down the column, apologise – and take down Andrew Bolt’s posts too.” he is implying the whole article and Andrew Bolts and Mr Kernohan’s affidavit are defamatory lies.”
Where and when did Media Watch contact Bob Kernohan for a response. The fact is they did not.
For Mr Scott’s benefit the link to my post that is here: http://kangaroocourtofaustralia.com/2011/09/19/the-lies-and-deception-of-media-watch-and-host-jonathan-holmes-in-defence-of-julia-gillard/
That is for starters but may I suggest you read the whole post again and you can see where I have pointed out the clear bias or distortion of facts.
4.5 Do not unduly favour one perspective over another.
Media Watch took Julia Gillard’s denials as statement of fact and in effect stated that the Bob Kernohan statutory declaration was full of lies. On what basis did Media Watch do this? What a lawyer will tell you is that a statutory declaration carries more weight than anything someone says verbally.
Then I say in my post:
“Jonathon Holmes then goes on to talk about Michael Smith and his attempt to play an interview with Bob Kernohan. I will get to Michael Smith part in a minute but there is one key part where Jonathan Holmes implies that the Bob Kernohan Statutory Declaration is defamatory lies which again implies that Bob Kernohan committed a criminal offence making a false statutory declaration.”
“Mr Holmes says in the show that “2UE management have told Media Watch” “we do not have sufficient evidence at this time to support the interview.” Well that is 2ue sitting on the fence.”
“But from that Mr Holmes makes the statement “See Michael, that’s how defamation law works. However honourable your source, if you make defamatory allegations in this country you have to be able to prove that they’re true.”
Where does Mr Holmes get the defamation part from? All 2ue said was “”we do not have sufficient evidence at this time to support the interview.” From that Mr Holmes decides that Bob Kernohan’s affidavit is defamatory”
The above is for starters. My whole post points out all the failings, lies and bias etc., so take that as the full compliant, which I have attached a copy to this email.
You are meant to be the expert Mr Melkman but you want me to point out what sections of the ABC Editorial Policies have been breached. You should have seen that straight away, given that you claim you did not, you may want to hand the matter to someone else, let’s say more experienced than you.
Mr Scott I would expect you to send word down the line to have this matter investigated and dealt with properly. I have plenty of experience in dealing with people who want to sweep matters under the carpet and Mr Melkman’s email I find rather disturbing to say the least.
I do note with interest that the Chairman of the ABC has recently made public comments about bias at the ABC.
From: ABC Corporate_Affairs7
Sent: Tuesday, 15 November 2011 5:06 PM
To: ‘Shane Dowling’
Subject: Re: Media Watch Bias
Dear Mr Dowling
Thank you for your emails.
Audience & Consumer Affairs has investigated several aspects of your complaint, as outlined in your emails. Specifically, we have assessed whether standard 5.3 was met in relation to allegations about Bob Kernohan; whether the Media Watch story adhered to standard 4.5; and whether the accuracy standards (2.1 and 2.2) were met in relation to Jonathan Holmes’ statement “In the circumstances, News Limited had little option but to cave in to the Prime Minister’s demands, take down the column, apologise – and take down Andrew Bolt’s posts too”.
Opportunity to respond (standard 5.3)
The story examined several aspects of the media coverage of allegations about Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s relationship with union official Bruce Wilson in the 1990s.
It included several references to Bob Kernohan, his 2010 statutory declaration, and 2UE presenter Michael Smith’s unaired interview with him. These references were as follows:
– The story quoted a blog post by Andrew Bolt in which he stated, “On Monday, I’m tipping, a witness with a statutory declaration will come forward and implicate Julia Gillard directly in another scandal involving the misuse of union funds”;
– The story quoted an update to the same blog post, in which Mr Bolt stated, “Michael Smith of 2UE has read out from this statutory declaration, drawn up by Bob Kernohan, the former President of the Australian Workers Union, in August last year”;
– Presenter Jonathan Holmes, in part of a description of the updated blog post, stated, “The new post showed extracts from the stat dec and a long passage from Glenn Milne’s 2007 story”
– Mr Holmes stated, in relation to 2UE presenter Michael Smith, “And the Friday before last, he launched into readings from Bob Kernohan’s year-old stat dec. Smith either didn’t know, or didn’t care, that every allegation in it has been aired, and dealt with publicly by Julia Gillard, multiple times”;
– Mr Holmes stated, “Over the previous weekend, Smith had interviewed Bob Kernohan” and explained that 2UE’s lawyers had stopped him from airing it;
– The story then quoted Mr Smith’s on-air response to 2UE not allowing him to broadcast the interview, “I think it impugns his integrity to suggest that there is something that he has to say that should not be heard”;
– The story quoted 2UE management’s response to Media Watch, which stated in part, “we do not have sufficient evidence at this time to support the interview”;
– Mr Holmes stated, “See Michael, that’s how defamation law works. However honourable your source, if you make defamatory allegations in this country you have to be able to prove that they’re true. It’s a tough hurdle, but it’s been that way for a very long time”;
– The story quoted Mr Smith’s response to Media Watch, in which he stated (referring to Mr Kernohan), “I just want to help a good bloke who wants to get his union members their money back”.
On review of these statements and quotations in context, Audience & Consumer Affairs does not believe they constituted allegations about Mr Kernohan for the purposes of standard 5.3.
Mr Holmes’ statement that every allegation in the statutory declaration had been aired and dealt with publicly by Ms Gillard was not an allegation about Mr Kernohan and was not an assertion that the statutory declaration was defamatory.
Furthermore, Mr Holmes’ statement “if you make defamatory allegations in this country you have to be able to prove that they’re true” did not imply that the statutory declaration was either defamatory or false; rather, it implied that the interview contained defamatory allegations and that 2UE did not believe it had sufficient evidence to prove that they were true. This was not an allegation about Mr Kernohan.
Accordingly, as the story did not include allegations about Mr Kernohan, standard 5.3 imposed no requirement to offer him an opportunity to respond. Audience & Consumer Affairs therefore finds no breach of standard 5.3.
Favouring one perspective over another (standard 4.5)
I understand this aspect of your complaint to be that the story unduly favoured Ms Gillard’s perspective over that of Mr Kernohan as, in your view, Media Watch accepted Ms Gillard’s denials in favour of accepting the allegations in Mr Kernohan’s statutory declaration.
Media Watch is a program of comment, analysis and criticism. Audience & Consumer Affairs considers that the Media Watch audience is likely to be familiar with the program’s established format and the fact that the host expresses a viewpoint on the matters covered.
Consistent with this established format, the primary perspective put forward in the story was that of Mr Holmes. His opinions were expressed throughout the story. In addition, the story presented a range of other viewpoints in the form of quotations from responses Media Watch had received, quotations from online and print publications, and excerpts of radio and television broadcasts. One such viewpoint was that of Ms Gillard; this was presented in the form of quotes and paraphrases of her responses to the allegations made about her.
On review of the story, Audience & Consumer Affairs does not agree with your suggestion that it unduly favoured Ms Gillard’s perspective. Her responses were relevant to include and were not presented in an unduly prominent or privileged manner. We consider that the only perspective favoured in the story was that of Mr Holmes, and given the format of the program, this favouring was not undue. Accordingly, we are satisfied that the story adhered to standard 4.5.
Accuracy of statement about News Limited’s options (standards 2.1 and 2.2)
I understand you believe Mr Holmes’ statement “In the circumstances, News Limited had little option but to cave in to the Prime Minister’s demands, take down the column, apologise – and take down Andrew Bolt’s posts too” constituted “lies and deception”. We have considered whether the statement adhered to the accuracy standards in section 2 of the Editorial Policies.
On review of the statement in context, Audience & Consumer Affairs considers that it represented Mr Holmes’ opinion of News Limited’s position after Glenn Milne’s column was published on 29 August. The statement conveyed that it was his view, having regard for the circumstances, that News Limited had little option but to take down the relevant column and posts and apologise. He expanded on this view shortly thereafter, stating, “I reckon News Ltd was in a pretty weak position because of some spectacular own-goals”.
It is clear that you hold a different view to that expressed by Mr Holmes; specifically, I understand that in your view News Limited could (or should) have taken down the problematic parts of the column and posts rather than removing them in their entirety.
Expressions of opinion are value judgements or conclusions which cannot be found to be accurate or inaccurate in the way that facts can. In this case, as the relevant statement was an expression of Mr Holmes’ opinion rather than an assertion of fact, it was not subject to the accuracy standards. Its inclusion in the story therefore did not breach these standards.
For the reasons outlined above, Audience & Consumer Affairs is satisfied that the relevant editorial standards were met in relation to the aspects of your complaint which we have investigated. Nonetheless, please be assured that your comments have been noted and conveyed to the producers of Media Watch and ABC Television management.
Should you be dissatisfied with this response, you may be able to pursue these aspects of your complaint with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (http://www.acma.gov.au)
ABC Audience & Consumer Affairs
From: Shane Dowling
Sent: Tuesday, 29 November 2011 1:05 AM
Subject: RE: Media Watch Bias
Dear Mr Scott
I have received a response from the ABC in relation to a complaint I made against Media Watch and Jonathan Holmes which you are aware of. The response leaves on very disturbed and there is an admission in the response which is extremely disconcerting to say the least.
Based on that admission Michael Smith and/or Robert Kernohan have an open and shut case for defamation against the ABC and Jonathan Holmes.
The admission is “Furthermore, Mr Holmes’ statement “if you make defamatory allegations in this country you have to be able to prove that they’re true” did not imply that the statutory declaration was either defamatory or false; rather, it implied that the interview contained defamatory allegations and that 2UE did not believe it had sufficient evidence to prove that they were true. This was not an allegation about Mr Kernohan.”
Well if it was not an allegation against Mr Kernohan then it must be an allegation against Mr Smith. But that does not make sense as Mr Smith was the one doing the interview and Mr Kernohan was the one supplying the information. And where is the evidence of the defamatory allegations in the interview? Media Watch did not supply or refer to what was said in the interview. And where is the legal advice that it was defamatory and who gave the advice?
I could spend substantial time dissecting the rest but no need as I am sure you are aware that the below response to my complaint is a hatchet job.
Based on the above admission alone the ABC should take the appropriate action and rectify the matter.
I also request that you review my complaint and the below response in full.
This will not go away until it is resolved in a professional manner and the wrongs righted.
Your reputation is right on the line on this matter Mr Scott. Given Mr Melkman’s response and given that he knew you were aware of the complaint, one has to surmise he gave his response with your full blessing and on your direction.
Please respond ASAP.
I never did hear back from Mark Scott. It is very clear that Bob Kernohan and probably Mike Smith have an open and shut case for defamation. At the very least if I was them I would be sending the ABC a Concerns Notice. A Concerns Notice is the first step in defamation proceedings where you send the other party a letter outlining how you believed you have been defamed and what action you what them to take. Fore example you might want them to publish an apology.
I watched the show and was totally left with the viewpoint that Media Watch had clearly implied that the Bob Kernohan statutory declaration was defamatory of Julia Gillard. (Click here to read a copy of Bob Kernohan’s statutory declaration) Their cop-out above where they say that it was in fact the interview Bob Kernohan did with Mike Smith was defamatory does not add up for anyone who watched the show and does not stack up against the evidence.
I have moved on and will not be making a complaint to ACMA as I only do this site in my spare time at the moment and need to focus on other things and believe that I have driven it to a point that has achieved a substantial result all things considered.
I thought this post was important as a number of people have put comments on this site that either say or imply that we are helpless to do anything about corruption. Well even a site as small as this one is able to rattle people as the above shows. This website is fairly new but as it grows we will be able to achieve a lot more than just rattle people, we will be in a position to really start to hold people to account. Obviously this site needs your continued support to do that.
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