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:
From: SHANE DOWLING
Sent: 12 November 2020 11:15
To: Media Watch
Subject: Media Watch’s biased reporting on George Pell – Media bites 5th November 2020
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.
Media Watch responded to my above email with:
From: Media Watch
Sent: 12 November 2020 11:36
To: SHANE DOWLING
Subject: RE: Media Watch’s biased reporting on George Pell – Media bites 5th November 2020
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.
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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