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Do you think the ABC should support "the home team" or report the news?

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has stirred up the ABC bias debate.

In case you’ve missed it, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has criticised the ABC, saying that the national broadcaster takes “everyone’s side but Australia’s”.

The Prime Minister’s comments are in reference to criticism of the ABC last year, who, along with The Guardian’s Australian website broke a story about Australia spying on Indonesia causing a diplomatic skirmish with our biggest neighbour and more recently, a story about alleged navy misconduct when intercepting asylum seekers.

Here’s what (non-ABC) journalist Wendy Squires thinks about the accusation:

The only surprise in regards to Tony Abbott’s complaint of ABC bias this week for me is was what took him so long.

Like death and taxes, nothing is more certain in this life than a Liberal leader bleating that our national broadcaster is left wing.  John Howard did it and decimated the ABC’s budgets as a result. And so, on Ray Hadley’s Macquarie Radio show Wednesday morning, our latest Liberal Prime Minister also let rip.

”You would like the national broadcaster to have a rigorous commitment to truth and at least some basic affection for the home team,’‘ Mr Abbott complained to Hadley who, if any further right, would fall off the edge.

‘It dismays Australians when the national broadcaster appears to take everybody’s side but our own’, he added. ”I think that is a problem”.

Is the ABC being ‘unAustralian’?

Well, with all due respect Mr Abbott,  get a grip. Because, quite frankly, you are talking rubbish.

I do not understand why Mr Abbott would believe there is “basic affection” for his “home team” government considering the broken promises we have all been served ever since he was sworn in to office.

Heaven forbid I should be accused of bias in pointing out that the gag orders placed on his ministers, who seem unable to release information we tax payers have every right to know (Boats? What boats?), are as indefensible as they are reprehensible.

And it is beyond all comprehension that a man who has made it to the top office in this country should be so naïve to think that by winning the last election the public is “on his side”.

Mr Abbott, this is not Wimbledon. The work doesn’t stop once you’ve lobbed the winning serve. You have a long way to go to prove a legacy worthy of affection. You are a politician not a football player. There is no “home team” to cheer for here. And even if there was, the playing field would be far from even.

Because here is the most hypocritical aspect of Mr Abbott’s bleating re media bias. Yes, the majority of the media is one-sided. No doubt about it. However, it is profoundly pro Team Abbott.

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Take a look at the Murdoch media last election and it was blatantly obvious whose team they were on. Little seems to have changed since Abbott became Prime Minister. Co-incidentally, the Murdoch press are avidly anti-ABC as they challenge their commercial interests on TV and online.

Look at the only media identities and organisations Mr Abbott deems to talk to and they are all cheerleaders for his Liberal government. Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt, Ray Hadley and their right wing, climate change denying ilk may as well don short skirts and pom poms and chant “give us a T” for Tony in sycophantic sync for Mr Abbott’s “home team”.

Wendy Squires: “The only surprise in regards to Tony Abbott’s complaint this week for me is was what took him so long.”

I mean, when was the last time Mr Abbott appeared on the ABC’s Q&A program? I can’t recall a time even though he has an open invitation to appear solo. Or what about talking directly to millions of women on Mamamia.com.au as publisher Mia Freedman has been requesting ever since he became opposition leader and claimed to be misunderstood by women and interested in communicating with them. Pointedly, he has refused to be interviewed by this website despite a standing invitation.

How about the gay press? Not likely. They’re not cheering for the home team.

No, it seems Mr Abbott only likes to preach to the converted.

But perhaps the most infuriating aspect of Mr Abbott’s criticism of the ABC today is his belief that journalists should give the navy the “benefit of doubt” when it comes to claims of wrongdoing in regards to the mistreatment of asylum seekers (or “boats” as they were referred to in the last election).

Mr Abbott, the media is not about “the benefit of doubt”. It is about facts. It is about unveiling the truth. It is not about cheering a home team or showing affection to a particular side. Not for the ABC, the only non-commercial and I believe impartial and vital newsgathering service this country has, anyway.

The media you speak to, well that’s another story. They seem to cheer for you regardless. They don’t ask about pesky questions about abortion, gay marriage rights, stem cell research and climate change, issues the public has the right to know our Prime Minister’s views on.

Now, that’s what I call media bias.

Share if you agree with Wendy’s comments and think that the Government should allow our national broadcaster to maintain its editorial independence. 

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