A formal complaint against the ABC’s one-sided report of an Alice Springs crime crisis meeting has been filed with Australia’s media watchdog.
Liberal senator Sarah Henderson, who is a former ABC employee, filed a complaint about two reports the ABC filed about a crime meeting to the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
Senator Henderson called the report, on national broadcaster’s flagship current affairs show AM as well as a TV report as ‘monumentally distorted’, and slammed ABC management defending the reporting as ‘complete and utter rubbish’.
The audience at the town hall meeting was comprised of concerned families, business owners, Indigenous leaders, health and emergency services workers and police
The senator, who once worked as a consumer reporter on the ABC and once presented 7.30 in Victoria, described the broadcaster’s coverage as ‘rubbish reporting’.
But she said the the report highlighted a deeper issue with the taxpayer funded broadcaster, which is supposed to be free from bias under its charter.
‘The ABC’s senior management and spin doctors have defended this report,’ she said.
‘There should be a retraction, and an apology, and a review of journalism training standards.
‘I’m asking ACMA to investigate the ABC for a breach of its code of practice.’
Thousands of fed-up residents attended the Save Alice Springs meeting after intense media focus on the town’s battle with a crime crisis, amid threats by locals to sue the Northern Territory government for $1.5billion in compensation.
Senator Sarah Henderson, an ex-ABC journalist, is lodging a formal complaint of te ABC’s ‘white supremacy’ coverage of Alice Springs crisis meeting, describing it as ‘monumentally distorted’
The senator described ABC reporter Carly Williams’ (pictured) reports about the meeting’s ‘a disgusting display of white supremacy’ as ‘rubbish reporting’
The audience at the town hall meeting was comprised of concerned families, business owners, Indigenous leaders, health and emergency services workers and police.
But the ABC’s report of the meeting only broadcast interviews who were critical and claimed it was dominated by ‘white supremacists’.
ABC Indigenous Affairs correspondent Carly Williams’ live cross on TV of the meeting said many people had left the meeting early and that ‘a non-indigneous person’ had described the meeting as ‘a disgusting display of white supremacy’.
‘Another said that there was tension and anger in the room,’, she said.
She also interviewed several attendees, with one woman saying it was ‘a really disgusting show of white supremacy and really disappointing, it was scary to be in that room.’
Senator Henderson announced she’d filed her complaint to 2GB’s breakfast host Ben Fordham. Fordham said the ABC had run ‘fake news’ and ‘cherry-picked a few people’ from a meeting of hundreds.
‘Rather than tell the full story, the ABC offensively and inaccurately depicted the meeting as “clearly all around white supremacy”,’ the Senator wtote on Twitter.
‘ Not only has it refused to retract the story, apologise & investigate how it got to air, the ABC has arrogantly defended it. A very big ABC fail.’
Senator Henderson’s complaint came as a Sydney-based Indigenous professor compared the meeting in question to a Hollywood movie about race-hate murders by the KKK in the 1960s American south.
Nareen Young, a Professor for Indigenous Policy at the University of Technology, Sydney, claimed on ABC’s The Drum, comments from some concerned locals were ‘appalling’.
‘If you saw that room in Mississippi Burning, for example, Australians would say ‘how terrible, oh that’s terrible that happens there’,’ Professor Young, who is a close friend of Anthony Albanese, said.
‘The vitriol and racism and lack of regard and respect for those people on their land while those people were living off the bounty of it was appalling.’
The Indigenous activist, who is of Eora descent, also told the program that ‘how mob are treated on their own land, in their own town… is the impact of that land being stolen’.
Mississippi Burning is a brutal 1988 film about the FBI’s efforts to investigate the disappearance of civil rights workers while the Ku Klux Klan attacks the local black population.
The crisis meeting was held in response to footage taken by Alice Springs locals showing young men brandishing weapons such as machetes and axes, especially at night and children running wild, breaking into houses and spitting through pub fences.
After Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visited the town last week, the Northern Territory Government reinstituted partial alcohol restrictions banning alcohol takeaway sales on Mondays and Tuesdays, with sales limited between 3pm and 7pm on remaining days.
A snap review by the NT government also recommends alcohol bans in central Australian communities, including the town camps in Alice Springs.
The meeting was held in response to footage of young men brandishing machetes and axes, children running wild and youths robbing premises such as this local (above) trying to break into the Todd Tavern
Other locals offered different portrayals of the crisis meeting.
‘I am so proud to see the number of locals giving their time and support to help bring change,’ local business owner and lifelong resident Garth Thompson posted on Facebook after the event.
Senator Henderson has been a vocal critic of the ABC, last month slamming the broadcaster’s response to ACMA’s findings about its Four Corners program on the Fox News coverage of the 2022 Capitol siege.
An ACMA investigation found the two-part report about Fox by Sarah Ferguson in August last year ‘omitted relevant information in a way that materially misled the audience’.
It found the ABC breached accuracy and fair and honest dealing requirements of the ABC Code of Practice, ‘but did not breach impartiality’.
When the ABC rejected the findings and instead turned on ACMA, Senator Henderson said it had ‘improperly attacked the independent regulator demonstrating an untenable disregard for the need to comply with its own Code of Practice.
‘This … reeks of arrogance and self-entitlement, and is completely unacceptable’.
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