The head of the ABC has condemned a “vicious and offensive” online journal article suggesting the Manchester bombing should have taken place at the national broadcaster’s Sydney headquarters.
An article published on Tuesday night by Quadrant digital editor Roger Franklin said, “had there been a shred of justice, that blast would have detonated in an Ultimo TV studio”.
“This morning, mere hours after (Q&A host Tony) Jones’ guests pocketed their ABC taxi vouchers and repaired to hotel rooms paid for with taxpayer dollars processed through the Sydney Writers Festival, mere children were torn to pieces on the other side of the world,” he wrote.
“Unlike those young girls in Manchester, their lives snuffed out before they could begin, none of the panel’s likely casualties would have represented the slightest reduction in humanity’s intelligence, decency, empathy or honesty.”
After a severe backlash on social media to Franklin’s article, the wording was changed to “what if that blast has detonated in an Ultimo TV studio?”.
The rest of the article remained intact until it was removed from the website earlier today.
ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie wrote to Quadrant this morning asking for the article to be removed and demanding an apology.
“Quadrant promotes itself as ‘the leading general intellectual journal of ideas’,” Ms Guthrie wrote.
“Those words ring hollow in the wake of last night’s vicious and offensive attack on the ABC, its staff and its program guests.”
She dismissed the article’s editorial changes, saying it had “done little to undo the damage”.
“I am appalled at your willingness to turn an act of terrorism in the United Kingdom into a means of making a political point against those you disagree with,” Ms Guthrie wrote.
She said the ABC was forced to reassure worried staff, “working long hours to provide extensive coverage of this unfolding [Manchester] tragedy”.
The ABC has called in security experts to assess any possible impact flowing from the “inflammatory words”, Ms Guthrie said.
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said the article was a “new low” in Australian public debate, labelling the comments “sick and unhinged”.
The Australian Federal Police have also been notified of the article.
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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