ABC’s Media Watch and host Paul Barry try to rebirth the reputation of disgraced Cardinal George Pell

ABC’s Media Watch and host Paul Barry posted a story which was clearly and deliberately biased in favour of Cardinal George Pell and I have no doubt it was an attempt to rebirth Pell’s severely tarnished reputation. I emailed a complaint to Media Watch and received a response as per below and then escalated the issue to a formal complaint to the ABC. 

The story was also in breach of the ABC’s charter which says the ABC is meant to be impartial and present a diversity of perspectives. Below is what it says on the ABC’s website:


The ABC has a statutory duty to ensure that the gathering and presentation of news and information is impartial according to the recognised standards of objective journalism.

Aiming to equip audiences to make up their own minds is consistent with the public service character of the ABC. A democratic society depends on diverse sources of reliable information and contending opinions. A broadcaster operating under statute with public funds is legitimately expected to contribute in ways that may differ from commercial media, which are free to be partial to private interests. (Click here to read more and see on the ABC’s website)

I previously made a complaint about Media Watch in 2012 and they threw the dog a bone and I did an interview with them. (Click here to read more) So when I make a complaint it is not baseless.

The part about George Pell was at the end of the Media Watch post on Thursday the 5th of November 2020 which they call Media Bites and I have edited to the relevant 23 seconds as per the below video.

I emailed a compliant to Media Watch on the 12 of November 2020 as per the below email:

Sent: 12 November 2020 11:15
To: Media Watch 
Subject: Media Watch’s biased reporting on George Pell – Media bites 5th November 2020

Dear Sir/Madam

I would like to make a formal complaint regarding Media Watch’s blatantly biased reporting on George Pell which was broadcast on Twitter and your website in the Media Bites segment on the 5th November 2020.

Media Watch host Paul Barry attacked the ABC for referring to George Pell as a “Disgraced Cardinal” which Mr Barry said the ABC had now apologised given Pell’s convictions were overturned by the High Court of Australia.

But George Pell is a “Disgraced Cardinal” given the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found that George Pell’s evidence in the witness stand under oath was “implausible”, “inconceivable” or “not tenable” in relation to his involvement in covering up paedophile priests and moving them from parish to parish where they abused more children etc.

Given the Royal Commission found George Pell’s evidence in numerous instances was “implausible”, “inconceivable” or “not tenable” it is easily arguable that it means George Pell committed perjury as well.

But Media Watch’s Paul Barry made no mention of the Royal Commission’s findings about Pell which shows Paul Barry was not balanced and is in effect trying to rebirth George Pell’s reputation by deliberately failing to acknowledge the findings of the Royal Commission when discussing Pell’s reputation.

The information on George Pell and the Royal Commission’s finding on him generated widespread media reporting in May 2020 which was also reported widely by the ABC so it is not believable that Paul Barry and staff at Media Watch did not know about it. For example, this article here: History will not be kind to George Pell, as royal commission reveals its secret findings by the ABC’s Louise Milligan.

Many survivors watching the show would have felt disgusted in the blatant bias of Media Watch and Paul Barry.

I publish the anti-corruption website Kangaroo Court of Australia and I have just published a book titled “Australia’s Paedophile Protection Racket” so I am well versed in all the issues surrounding the matter and if the Media Watch segment had been broadcast before I published the book it would have been reported in the book.

It is my understanding that ACMA advises people they should make their complaints to the relevant media organisation first before making a complaint to ACMA. So, on that basis, I have made my complaint to you first.

Please respond ASAP letting me know what action you will take to rectify the matter. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Shane Dowling

Media Watch responded to my above email with:

From: Media Watch 
Sent: 12 November 2020 11:36
Subject: RE: Media Watch’s biased reporting on George Pell – Media bites 5th November 2020

Hi Shane,

Thanks for the feedback.

We’re aware there are a range of views around George Pell, and indeed those royal commission findings.

But the Cardinal has not been convicted of any crime. That is why, I presume, the ABC offered a correction.

The segment was not offering any comment on the character of the Cardinal, good or bad. Our critique was of the use of the descriptor “disgraced” and acknowledging that the ABC had corrected it.

Note, this response is not for publication but a reply to your personal complaint.

If you’re unsatisfied with this response you’re able to file a complaint with the ABC formally where it will be assessed independently of our program.

Thanks again,

End of email

They start off by admitting that “We’re aware there are a range of views around George Pell, and indeed those royal commission findings.” So, why didn’t they put those “range of views” and the “royal commission findings” in the story as they are meant to do as per the ABC charter?

I like how they say “Note, this response is not for publication but a reply to your personal complaint.” I didn’t publish the person’s name who replied on behalf of Media Watch because I am sure they are not the decision-maker but they shouldn’t be responding to other media’s complaints and telling them “this response is not for publication” because as you can see I didn’t comply nor should I.

I took their advice and emailed a formal complaint to the ABC on the same day (12/11/20) and said in part:

The Media Watch response does not deal with the issue of bias and why didn’t Media Watch raise the issue of the Royal Commission findings against George Pell.

The Royal Commission’s finding do make George Pell a “disgraced cardinal” and Media Watch had an obligation to mention that which they didn’t. The average person watching the Media Watch story would be under the impression that George Pell had been cleared of all negative findings against him which he hasn’t.

Media Watch mentioned the High Court judgment so why didn’t they mention the Royal Commission findings? It was clear bias by Media Watch, Paul Barry and the ABC.

Above is only part of the story as Media Watch and Paul Barry have previous form and I have saved plenty of firepower in case I need to escalate the complaint to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). While most media companies are not very concerned by complaints going to ACMA the ABC and its journalists generally are. I will do a follow-up post when I have a response from the ABC.

With the Senate Media Inquiry in motion, I might even send them a copy of this article as a submission.

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27 replies »

  1. George Pell committed a crime when he was in a position of power, informed of the disgracefull acts committed by those he could hold to account and failed to act. Those people then went onto destroy other peoples lives and the lives of their families. The ABC along with Australia`s major media businesses fail to publish the truth and systematically distort it.
    When corresponding with these operatives in Australia whether they are Government agencies, politicians, or other responsible entities it appears to me that they simply do not care for the people and families who live in Australia and this is all just a game of Ring a ring a roses, round and round the garden goes the teddy bear or just plain old Australian Rules Handball.

    • Another example of how a person or body of people in a position of authority is allowed to commit crimes and is then condoned hailed a hero.

      What would happen if you or I did the same?
      Why is a person in a position of power allowed to but the rest of would be severely punished and ostracized for life?

      Are there two sets of laws?

      Can we abuse fiduciary then return to high-ranking seats as reward?

      Scum. Hypocrites.

  2. The descriptor “disgraced” is not the same as the proper word the ABC should be using which is “acquitted”. Just because Pell was acquitted does not exempt him from his disgraceful behaviours as highlighted by the Royal Commission. I reckon the ABC should purchase a thesaurus before blabbering on about correct grammar.

    I should also point out his acquittal was not based upon his criminal guilt but on legal technicality. His guilt was determined by a jury and was not brought into question by the Australian High Court. The High Court only determined a legal principle was applied incorrectly in the Victorian Court of Appeals. His guilt clearly still stands, just without conviction because of a botched process.

    In my eyes it was a double botched process, by the Victorian Court of Appeals and the Australian High Court.

    The ABC needs to be held to a higher standard if they want to start being “grammar Nazi’s”.

  3. I also understand that the High Court Judges only viewed the transcript of the trail and did not listen to the audio or video evidence provided to the jury. A somewhat flawed and biased process when it comes to making a decision as critical as this one?

    • As I said his guilt of the crimes committed were not weighed by the Australian High Court. At the very least you could argue that without due process Pell‘s guilt is indeterminate on that single issue, that does not mean he is not guilty.

      They should have had a retrial but we have spineless back slappers in the wrong places in this country.

      Though I agree with Shane‘s premise against the ABC. The word „disgraced“ is more akin to someone’s moral standing, The assumption by the ABC to infer a person’s moral standing based upon a technical legal acquittal of a single accusation from many is egregiously naive, and outrightly biased.

      The courts do not determine the moral compasses of men, they only apply law.

      Pell is disgraceful for putting his church first before it’s child victims. There is no doubt about it. Pell painted his own „saintless“ picture by his own actions. The Royal Commission has it in black and white by self admission.

      The ABC should only point out what is and not make biased determinations.

    • The lie”couldn’t get it out” should have awakened “ the magnificent seven “ to falseness of Pell’s solicitors and excepting the excuses as to where he was or wasn’t from fool Catholic zombies is very questionable!

  4. No media organisation has done more to help uncover Pell’s activities than the ABC. But Media Watch is right, you can’t use the term ‘disgraced’ when referring to someone who’s been acquitted. And hardly the media’s fault he won his appeal.

    • Sorry Jacqueline but you can still refer someone is disgraced even if someone is acquitted from a legal prosecution. The word „disgraced“ doesn’t have to be bound to a single legal acquittal. Go ask the victims of child sex abuse how they were treated by Pell‘s „Towards Healing“ scheme. Or more directly how he instructed his lawyers in the John Ellis case. Showing grace has clearly not been one of George‘s strong points.

    • HOW can you possibly argue that Pell doesn’t qualify as being disgraced? Even if you don’t believe that he was guilty of the charges that he beat on appeal he is clearly guilty of covering over pedophile activities of other employees of the Catholic church and has obviously done so for many years. What kind of a monster do you have to be to qualify for that descriptor? If many people haven’t been guilty of child abuse associated with the Catholic church (and other institutions of course) why is the Catholic church now paying out substantial sums of money to its victims? There was no need for Media Watch to make a retraction of the word ‘disgraced’ but ‘acquitted’ would probably have been less controversial.

      • ‘Acquitted’ would be more appropriate. However, in terms of clergy being disrobed, ‘disgraced’ would be more appropriate, but Pell hasnot been disrobed.

        You cannot say of a person acquitted of murder, for example, that they are a murderer, without there being legal consequences. Similarly, Pell’s case.

        He was going to walk, from the start, but to have the entire Vatican wrap protective arms around him, hardly seems fair. One needs to consider those of the same ilk, who are in a position to further self-interest. The unseen ‘influencers’ working away behind the scenes.

        ABC lawyers move with media.

        ABC like other media, are in a damned if I do, damned if I don’t position.

      • Stop mincing words. Use acquitted to describe someone let go from legal proceedings. Use disrobed for someone being booted from the church. Use disgraceful for someone who had a moral obligation to show compassion towards victims (children) of an institution in which he had authority. His behaviour was disgraceful and in the eyes of the public he is, and always will be, a disgrace for such heinous lack of moral substance.

        In contrast to their religious teachings that they preach the Roman Catholic Church has shown time and again that they are unwilling to show the sacrifice that they ask of others. The entire institution is a morally compromised sham. Disgraceful.

    • Jacqueline, I agree.But to rebirth…? I need to think about this term to define.

      At the same time, Media Watch knows that something must be done, in the way of being seen to balance the books. So this is a middle way, if you like.

      It’s a bit of a juggling act.
      Some might agree while others might not.

      I asked myself,”What if it was me? What if it was me who, for some reason, was charged with a crime I didn’t do and acquitted, only to have police records and the public still treating me as guilty?” etc.

      What if, behind the scenes, they were still advancing guilt?

      We’d all need good lawyers, to be sure.

      Then again, what if the guilty go free?

  5. I am an ex-roman catholic atheist septuagenarian now, but when I was in my late teens or early twenties I remember us young lads would laugh and snigger at the stories of sexual deviancy carried out at by George Pell et al at catholic retreat-house(?) at Phillip Island. It seemed like common knowledge at the time, and little did we realize then of the lifetime of damage being done to the hapless victims. If those tales were true, then George et al have been at it for a hell of a long time.

  6. The entire Catholic pedophile issue shows only one objective: protect the Catholic Church. No attempt has been made to apologise or compensate to the victims. The police officer Peter Fox gave up his career to convict this criminal. As has been said, Pell was found guilty. A higher court found there was a technical issue, not that Pell was not guilty.

  7. Missed that episode of Media Watch Paul Barry whom held some admiration has now sunk a number of rungs. An ex-priest whom was under Pell was not surprised that the man received a conviction. The Law is an Ass and the High Court a greater one ! One only has to look at the exposed corrupt judiciary that this webiste cites.

  8. Surprise, surprise, our ABC “posted a story which was clearly and deliberately biased”. Have they done anything else over the last few years? They have cost us, the tax payer, millions in inquiries and commissions of late and we are still paying to keep them employed pumping out garbage. Their impartiality went out some years ago to the extent that they are now not worth TV watching or radio listening.

  9. Paul Barry as a reporter, as all reporters attached to media outlets are there to serve the public with news and current affairs for the interest of the general public.
    Paul Barry and his ilk can have their own opinion on all facets of the job they are paid to do but they are not paid to spread their own opinions among the Australian, and possibly the world’s public.

  10. Fake Corrupt Media always tries to rewrite history to protect their friends, while others who are “birds of a feather flock together;” and believe the public to be forgetful and gullible; especially if certain high profile persons say it often enough!

    • I wouldn’t be so quick to assert the American GOP propaganda “Fake Corrupt Media”. Let us only call a duck a duck when it is a duck. Grossly exaggerating the entire media landscape would make us no better than the few exaggerators within it. We are Australian’s not Americans, call bullshit only when you step in it.

    • Though off-topic, you are right. Why are we not taxing religious institutions? We currently treat them as charities for their for-profit franchise enterprises.

      $AUD 18000-40000+ /pa private school fees are not unheard of, even more more for non-resident students (up to $68000)

      Then we give them government funding support to operate those schools.
      Then there are the religious based: private hospitals, private aged care homes.
      Then they have their diverse investment portfolios: properties, stocks.
      Why do churches hold assets of pastoral land in Australia?

      It is estimated that the Catholic Church holds in excess of 177 million acres globally. That is excluding land for churches, schools and hospitals.

      That is only a single church, all the others own acreage as well.

      It is a racket. Those are not charities, they are a private “Club Med” for the rich.

      There is nothing in the Australian Constitution that says they cannot be taxed. And I am not talking about “Church taxes” of the members of a religious institution, like they do in European countries. ( I am suggesting regular business tax on the institutions themselves.

      • Certainly agree with you here! Can’t wait for the day when churches have to start paying tax.

  11. Why is anyone surprised by ABC bias. This has been the subject of controversy for many, many years past. We taxpayers have contributed billions of dollars and expect impartiality from our national Government broadcaster but the ABC made many biased programs over the years to the chagrin of the viewing public. I personally NEVER watch the ABC & prefer to view the commercial channels & sometimes SBS, due to its left-leaning bias.
    On the second subject, can someone please explain why religious organisations are exempt from paying taxes. It’s not specified in our constitution.

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