The ABC is always whinging about the funding cuts it has had to suffer, with the Federal Government having cut the public broadcaster’s annual handout by a sizeable amount.
But the corporation makes its case weaker by splurging out on cosmetic exercises to keep its big names happy, with a case in point being Sarah Ferguson’s Four Corners program on the riot in the US capital on January 6.
Had Ferguson’s effort offered some context about the incident, instead of bring a straight news program, it would have made some sense. But what is the point in having an Australian reporter file a 45-minute piece about an incident that occurred nearly a month prior?
Audiences in Australia have been enduring a surfeit of coverage about the riot, with there being no shortage of news clips from US broadcasters being shown on the ABC, the other public broadcaster SBS, and also the three Australian commercial channels.
Add to this the fact that the ABC already has three staff reporters in the US. The corporation’s news channel has a weekly program devoted to the US called Planet America so there is no dearth of coverage of the country.
Ferguson and her husband, Tony Jones, went to the US on January 15 along with a production crew. The ABC must have spent a decent sum on their upkeep and travel. So how can the corporation justify its grumbling about funding cuts when it seemingly has plenty of cash to indulge Ferguson and let her make vanity broadcasts?
Last month, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, a taxpayer-funded entity, made several people redundant, due to a cut in funding by the Federal Government. Among them was Emma Alberici, a presenter who has been lionised a great deal as someone with great talents, but is actually a mediocre hack who lacks ability.
What marked Alberici out is the fact that she had the glorious title of chief economics correspondent at the ABC, but was never seen on any TV show giving her opinion about anything to do with economics. Over the last two years, China and the US have been engaged in an almighty stoush; Australia, as a country that considers the US as its main ally and has China as its major trading partner, has naturally been of interest too.
In the first three weeks of June last year, the ABC’s Sarah Ferguson presented a three-part saga on the channel’s Four Corners program, which the ABC claimed was the “story of the century”.
It was a rehashing of all the claims against US President Donald Trump, which the American TV stations had gone over with a fine-toothed comb but which Ferguson seemed convinced still had something hidden for her to uncover.
Over the weekend, the Australian federal election ended in a manner that was the exact opposite of that expected by the public if one were to go by the opinion polls – Newspoll and Ipsos – that ran in the major media outlets. Both predicted a win for Labor. The result, as you are well aware, could not have been more different.
But surprisingly there were some people who were aware that the polling was not correct and kept mum about it. [Watch this video from 11:29].
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is a government-funded news organisation that is quite wrapped up in itself. It has radio, online and television news services and a lot of what it broadcasts is about the ABC itself.
TV outlets tend to promote their wares during breaks between programs; the ABC goes one better and treats many of its own programs as being worthy of being news items.
Over the last three weeks, viewers of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Four Corners program have been treated to what is the ultimate waste of time: a recapping of all that has gone on in the United States during the investigation into alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign in the 2016 presidential campaign.
There was nothing new in the nearly three hours of programming on what is the ABC’s prime investigative program. It only served as a vanity outlet for Sarah Ferguson, rated as one of the network’s better reporters, but after this, and her unnecessary Hillary Clinton interview, she appears to be someone who is interested only in big-noting herself.
Exactly why Ferguson and a crew spent what must be between four to six weeks in the US, London and Moscow to put to air material that has been beaten to death by the US and other Western media is a mystery. Had Ferguson managed to unearth one nugget of information that has gone unnoticed so far, one would not be inclined to complain. Continue reading “Recycling Trump: Old news passed off as investigative reporting”
The year that ends today was remarkable for one thing on the media front that has gone largely unnoticed: the fall from grace of one of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s brightest stars who has long been a standard-setter at the country’s national broadcaster.
Sarah Ferguson was the journalist’s journalist, seemingly a woman of fierce integrity, and one who pandered to neither left nor right. When she sat in for Leigh Sales, the host of 7.30, the main current affairs programme, for six months while Sales was on a maternity leave break, the programme seemed to come to life as she attacked politicians with vigour and fearlessness.
Two failed bids for the presidency notwithstanding, it looks very much like Hillary Clinton is intent on making a bid to be the Democrat candidate for president in 2020.
That is possibly the only reason why she continues to scour the world for opportunities to gain publicity, instead of accepting that she was beaten fair and square in the 2016 elections and retiring from public life.
Dean Jones is one of those many former Australian cricketers who now earns big bucks as a commentator on the sport. Like many others, he has little of import to say, but takes up 700 or 800 words to do so.
Jones was sacked by Ten Sports in 2006 for making a racist comment about South Africa’s Hashim Amla. But he has slowly crept back, with the Melbourne newspaper The Age helping in his rehabilitation by giving him a weekly column.
I KID you not. This was a serious question put to David Kilcullen, a so-called counter-insurgency expert, by Emma Alberici, one of the most glorious examples of incompetence at the Australian national broadcaster.
Now Alberici, one would assume, has some idea about the size of the Middle East. One would also assume that she is aware that in no conflict has air power, no matter how awesome, been able to drive an enemy out of a battle zone.
How did she ask such a dumb question?
Despite her stupidity, this is the woman chosen to front one of the ABC’s national programmes twice or thrice a week. She draws a salary of around $190,000 per annum and sits there, tilting her head from side to side, and asking stupid questions. And this is not the first time I have had occasion to point this out.
The discussion revolved around the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – which now calls itself Islamic State – a militant group which has made rapid gains in taking over towns and cities in Iraq, and some parts of Syria. It is also fighting in the south of Lebanon. The US has launched air strikes on the group to protect minority sects which are being terrorised and fleeing their residences.
The choice of Kilcullen to discuss matters relating to militancy is questionable. According to a genuine expert, Kilcullen was one of those, who along with John Nagl and other counter-insurgency “experts”, devised a strategy in Afghanistan that aimed to unite Afghans by trying to Westernise them via popular elections, installing womenâ€™s rights, dismantling tribalism, introducing secularism and establishing NGO-backed bars and whorehouses in Kabul. When the West finally leaves that war-torn country later this year, the Taliban will be back within another six months.
But let’s leave that alone; maybe the choice of Kilcullen was made by someone else. However, no matter who chooses the guest to be interviewed, it is the presenter’s choice to do some preparation and not end up looking stupid. Alberici is a master of the art of putting her foot in her mouth.
A week ago, a young man named Steve Cannane presented Lateline. He had as his guest Martin Chulov, the Middle East correspondent for the Guardian. Chulov is an old hand in the Mideast and very sound on the subject. Cannane did not put a foot wrong; he had prepared well and asked intelligent questions. The whole interview was gripping and highly informative stuff.
And then we have Alberici. Why, oh why, can the ABC not find a better presenter? In the past, the likes of Maxine McKew and Virginia Trioli were excellent presenters on the same programme; Tony Jones does an adequate job on other nights of the week now.
What is the hold that Alberici has on the ABC top brass? She was a miserable failure at hosting a programme called Business Breakfast which gave many people indigestion. For that, she has been made the presenter of what is arguably the ABC’s second-most important news and current affairs programme after 7.30. At the ABC, it would appear, nothing succeeds like failure.