Andrew Bolt’s latest commentary on the ABC should be called out for what it is – unfair and inaccurate.
He claims in his Herald Sun column of June 14, 2020 – ABC MAKES UP ‘HISTORY’ TO DESTROY AUSTRALIA – that:
“The ABC tells an inflammatory falsehood in its war on Australia. How did this get published as “fact”?:
After a massacre, those Aboriginal people who were not killed were often enslaved.
The ABC has completely abandoned any pretence to objective reporting during their race riots. Now it’s also abandoned any pretence to telling the truth.”
Mr Bolt uses this phrase about the treatment of Aboriginal people in Australia – the hyperlink takes the reader to a post on the ABC website dated November 18, 2019 – as an example of an ‘inflammatory falsehood’ spread by the ABC and written in the context of the ABC’s coverage of the recent ‘race riots’.
Mr Bolt will no doubt argue that the first two sentences are intended as a general reference to what he describes as the ABCs ‘war on Australia’ and the second two sentences should not be read with reference to the first two, but as a separate allegation about the ABCs recent coverage.
While this may have been his intention, the juxtaposition of the sentences clearly allows the reader to believe that the statement ‘…Aboriginal people who were not killed were often enslaved’ is an EXAMPLE of how the ABC has ‘… abandoned any pretence to objective reporting’ in their coverage. [My italics]
It is also unclear to me how Mr Bolt arrives at the conclusion that the ‘race riots’ – presumably he’s referring to the ‘race riots’ in the United States – are actually the ABCs fault. He clearly describes the ‘race riots’ as ‘their race riots’ – ‘their’ can only refer to the subject of the sentence, in this case the ABC. I can only imagine he meant to say “… objective reporting during the U.S. race riots” but that’s not actually what he says here. At the very least he implies that the ABC in Australia is somehow has ownership of ‘race riots’ in another country.
In the name of full disclosure, I thought it important to point out that the link Mr Bolt uses takes the reader to a picture of a group of Aboriginal men who were prisoners in Western Australia at the time and are shown wearing neck rings and chained together.
As I said above, the post Mr Bolt directs the reader to is on the ABC website, dated November 18, 2019, with the full caption:
“After a massacre, those Aboriginal people who were not killed were often enslaved, similar to these men photographed near Wyndham, WA.”
There was a subsequent posting of the photo on April 25, 2020, with the abridged caption:
“After a massacre, those Aboriginal people who were not killed were often enslaved.”
The photo was also published well before any of the recent events and before it was posted on the ABC website; in 2015 here https://rarehistoricalphotos.com/australian-aborigines-chains-1902/ in The Sun in the UK in 2017 https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/4456954/aboriginal-slaves-australia-chains-united-nations/ and also on this website. http://www.nationalunitygovernment.org/content/prisoners-frontier-wars-blackbirding-chain-gangs
Mr Bolt could certainly make a case for raising doubts over the phrase ‘..were often enslaved’ – given the phrase was attached to a group of men who were prisoners at the time – but there would be little argument to say these men were being treated like slaves.
However, that’s a different argument to the way Mr Bolt uses this material. He uses this material to allege that the ABC and all the people who report for the ABC have “… completely abandoned any pretence to objective reporting” and alleges that those same people have “… abandoned any pretence to telling the truth.”
While Mr Bolt might argue he is criticising the ABC as an institution, by specifically identifying the ‘reporting’ of the ABC he is effectively accusing every ‘reporter’ at the ABC of “… abandoned any pretence to telling the truth.”
I’m pretty sure there’s another word for what he’s alleging.
Just one final point, if you were in any doubt about Mr Bolt’s attitude to the ABC.
In his column of June 15 headlined, “AFL PLAYERS KNEEL TO THE RACE RULES” Mr Bolt said:
“If you believed your eyes, every AFL player and umpire is so sure our police are killing Aborigines in jails that they couldn’t play last weekend before bending their knee in silence.
Same with NRL players at several games. All bent the knee “in support of the Black Lives Matter movement”, noted the ABC approvingly.” (My italics)
I’m just not sure how the ABC reporting the fact that AFL players had taken the knee “in support of the Black Lives Matter movement” – a FACT reported by many news outlets and noted on the actual coverage of the games – is evidence that the ABC were approving or otherwise.
Were they not supposed to report what actually happened at the games?
The irony of this is the fact that The Australian – a stable mate of Mr Bolt’s Herald Sun – thought the gesture newsworthy enough to lead their report of the Richmond vs. Collingwood game last Thursday.
AFL TEAMS TAKE A KNEE AS SEASON REBOOTS
The Australian devoted its first four paragraphs of this match review to the FACT that the players ‘took a knee’ so I hardly see how the ABC reporting A FACT is somehow ‘approving’ of that action.