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"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."But, just like its British equivalent, Australia's public broadcaster exhibits a shameless left-liberal bias.
And, disturbingly, the ABC has recently appointed as its Middle East correspondent, based in Jerusalem, Sophie McNeill, a young woman with a, disturbing history of naive and leftwing pro-Palestinian bias, a young woman who is on record as expressing her admiration for John Pilger (it was reading his Hidden Histories which inspired her to enter journalism) for Robert Fisk.
In the following must-watch (or listen to) video, dating to 2011, Ms McNeill tells her interviewer, inter alia:
"If you just try to frame stories from the point of view of the people who are really suffering in a situation, be it in Lebanon, if you re hanging out in a Palestinian refugee camp, [or] in Gaza you re hanging out, you know, at the children’s cancer ward. One of the saddest things I’ve seen in my whole life is spending some time filming in a children’s cancer ward in Gaza. I just think if you just – if you look at a situation and you just – yeah, I guess just try to spend time with the people who are – who really don t have any power and it is hard, you know, for them to have a voice. Then that’s, yeah, that’s the kind of journalism I want to do.... Everyone knew what was happening in Gaza ... you saw all the horrific videos ... a lot of people died ... there are no excuses any more..."
Ahron Shapiro of the Australia Israel Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) points out (hat tip: Ian):
"Any reporting by an ABC employee, including McNeill, is required to follow the following standards:
4.1 Gather and present news and information with due impartiality.
4.2 Present a diversity of perspectives so that, over time, no significant strand of thought or belief within the community is knowingly excluded or disproportionately represented.
4.4 Do not misrepresent any perspective.
4.5 Do not unduly favour one perspective over another."
He also draws attention to her apparent pro-Palestinian activism.
'[I]n 2013, McNeill, along with prolific pro-Palestinian photographer Richard Wainwright were the only journalists presented to speak at the Human Rights in Palestine Conference at the ANU [Australian National University] ...
[W] hile living in Beirut in 2007, McNeill filed a story with the notorious anti-Israel website Electronic Intifada.
Here, the content of the story she filed, which was about Lebanese mistreatment of Palestinians, was in itself not problematic. What is a problem, however, and what should have given ABC pause when choosing McNeill for her current job, is why McNeill chose to work with a website whose raison d’être is to increase popular support for the elimination of Israel and routinely publishes material justifying Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians.
Finally, in 2009 (see here and here) and again in 2013, McNeill initiated online campaigns to raise money for her “dear friend” and Gaza fixer, Raed Al Athamneh. Raising money to help someone you work with through a crisis is not necessarily inappropriate. But for a journalist to adopt the Palestinian narrative in their pitch for donations most certainly is.
For example, she wrote “most of Gaza’s residents are refugees who used to live inside Israel’s borders, but were forced out when the country was created in 1948″.
This revisionist historical narrative that Israel forced out all the refugees – language used by her mentor Pilger – represents an endorsement of the Palestinian narrative that Israel is entirely responsible for the refugee problem, ignores the fact that the vast majority of Palestinians fled and were not forced out and ignores the war that was launched against Israel by the Arab nations and Palestinians who rejected partition.
In this essay, she also made an allegation that Israel “collectively punished” the Palestinians of Gaza, describing the blockade of Gaza as a means of punishing the Strip’s residents who support Hamas. [Emphasis added]
She initiated a fundraising campaign for Raed again in 2013, according to her friend and Australian Gazan Patrick Abboud and an appeal she posted on ABC Triple J Hack’s Facebook page.'He observes:
"Her reporting does not show a clear record of separating her media career from her activism..
And there is little doubt that her activism continues and influences her reporting in terms of how she frames stories, particularly about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. ...
What makes this matter even more serious is the fact that the Jerusalem bureau is undergoing changes. While until now there were two ABC Middle East reporters (most recently Hayden Cooper and Matt Brown) as well as some support crew, the ABC says that it is making Jerusalem a Video Journalist bureau later this year. That move, it would appear, would give McNeill substantially more autonomy than previous Middle East correspondents have had.
The onus now lies on O’Neill [sic] to demonstrate that ABC management was not irresponsible in making the appointment – given her self-described dedication to frame stories from the point of view of the people who are “really suffering” (in her lexicon, the Palestinians) – and whether she can possibly fulfil the statutory obligation of an ABC correspondent to present news with due impartiality and to be fair to all perspectives.'Read Shapiro's entire detailed piece here
And brilliant Aussie columnist Andrew Bolt's characteristically astute piece here
(Hat tip: The amazing bloodhound Ian)
Sophie McNeill will certainly have to be closely watched.
And any episodes of bias robustly protested.
But is it not outrageous that a person with this level of bias came to be appointed by the ABC in the first place?