The ABC’s Media Watch has backed Sky News host Peta Credlin after the conservative commentator accused Facebook of censorship.
Credlin blasted the social media platform last week after her on-camera editorial about the true length of the Uluru Statement from the Heart was labelled ‘false information’ and blocked from the site.
Media Watch host Paul Barry called Credlin ‘News Corp’s political warrior’ but conceded Facebook may have overstepped the mark in its criticism of her claim that the document was longer than the commonly touted single page.
‘Given there is some point to what Credlin is saying we think a ‘disputed’ label would be more appropriate,’ Barry said on Monday night’s Media Watch episode.
However, Barry did not fully back Credlin’s claim that the Uluru Statement was 26 pages long rather than the one page containing 440 words.
It comes as questions are raised over how fact checkers used by Facebook are funded, with Sky News revealing a secret commercial agreement between the social media giant’s parent company Meta and RMIT University’s ‘Fact Lab’.
ABC Media Watch presenter Paul Barry (pictured) has surprising backed Sky News host Peta Credlin who claims Facebook is censoring her
Facebook said Credlin’s Uluru Statement claim was ‘checked by independent fact-checkers’ and diverted users away from the video to the RMIT fact check.
‘The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a one-page document, as confirmed by its authors,’ the fact check said.
‘Papers released under FOI contain the statement, but also include 25 pages of minutes of meetings held with Indigenous communities, which are not part of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.’
Despite calling the claim ‘disputed’, Barry essentially agreed with the fact check.
‘The Uluru Statement is expressed on one page but there are many more pages of notes and background, which it must be said the Australian public are not voting on where matters like a treaty and reparations are raised,’ he said.
A Credlin editorial posted by Sky News was blocked on Facebook with those wishing to see the video first sent to a ‘fact check’ by RMIT university
The Uluru Statement’s full documentation, released under Freedom of Information (FOI) by prime ministerial advisory body, the National Indigenous Australians Agency, has 126 pages.
It records meetings leading up to the First Nations National Constitutional Convention in 2017, but the last section, labelled Document 14, sets out the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
It then continues with 25 pages describing historical and contemporary injustices to Indigenous people and sets out a ‘road map’ as to how these would be made right.
The section outlines the purpose of the Voice and other bodies which could be be established such as a potential ‘truth commission’.
It also calls for the establishment of a Makarrata (Treaty) Commission to oversee a national treaty to be made between the Voice to Parliament and parliament itself, with regional treaties between First Nation groups and governments to follow.
Credlin (pictured with husband Brian Loughnane) insists the full Uluru Statement of the Heart is 26 pages rather than the 440 words commonly cited
‘Any Voice to Parliament should be designed so that it could support and promote a treaty-making process,’ the full document states.
Authors of the Uluru Statement, including Noel Pearson, Pat Anderson and Megan Davis, have rejected claims it consists of more than the single-page document.
This is despite Professor Davis saying on two previous occasions the full Statement was ‘lengthy … around 18 to 20 pages’.
Credlin’s claims have led to a bitter clash with fellow Sky News host Chris Kenny.
Kenny, a strong advocate of the Voice, said claims the Statement contained steps towards a treaty between Indigenous and non Indigenous Australians as well as calls for more ‘truth’ telling about colonisation ‘were nonsense’.
‘Credlin’s claim hinges on the fact that in some public service Word document or some filing, they’ve put another bunch of pages in the same batch of documents with the Uluru Statement,’ Kenny said.
A road map from the 26-page document Credlin says is the full Uluru Statement of the Heart
However, Credlin replied that government FOI lawyers had twice confirmed to the person who made the FOI request that the 26-page addendum ‘was the full Uluru Statement of the Heart’.
RMIT Fact Lab said it got a different response with the NIAA stating ‘the Uluru Statement from the Heart is a one-page document’.
Responding to a query from Media Watch, Meta said the RMIT Fact Lab was ‘independent’, which Barry accepted.
However, Sky News has disputed how ‘arm’s length’ the fact check unit is from Meta as it uncovered what it called a ‘disturbing foreign-financed attempt to block political debate and news coverage around the Voice’.
Sky News reported on Wednesday that Meta signed a secret commercial contract with RMIT, which channels around $740,000 a year from an Irish subsidiary to the Melbourne-based university for ‘fact checking’.
Credlin’s fellow Sky News host Chris Kenny rejects her claim that the Uluru Statement contains more than one page of text
An example of tweets made by RMIT Fact Lab boss Russell Skelton supporting the Voice to Parliament as Sky News claimed he was critical of ‘conservative viewpoints’
Reporter Jack Houghton accused the US tech giant of allowing RMIT to block journalism ‘despite the platform knowing it was a breach of the rules Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg established to distance himself from fact checking responsibilities’.
‘An audit of RMIT Voice fact checks showed the 17 Voice checks between May 3 and June 23 this year were all targeting anti-Voice opinions or views,’ he said.
He claimed the RMIT Fact Lab boss Russell Skelton’ was ‘unashamedly partisan on social media, and has published dozens of tweets criticising conservative viewpoints’.
Mr Skelton’s timeline on X, formerly known as Twitter, does include several posts supporting the Voice, including one on April 21 highlighting an ABC article where the Solicitor-General is quoted saying it would be an ‘enhancement’ to the Constitution.
On April 6, Mr Skelton posted and SBS article titled ‘Noel Pearson takes aim at Peter Dutton opposition to Labor’s Voice proposal’.
On April 11, Mr Skelton reposted tweets by Labor MPs Kate Charney and Bridget Archer both praising Liberal MP Juilan Leesor for resigning from the Shadow Cabinet because he supports the Voice.
Mr Skelton is married to high-profile presenter ABC Melbourne radio morning presenter Virginia Trioli who was once in charge of the national broadcaster’s own fact checking operation.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced on Wednesday he would reveal the date of the referendum to decide whether to establish a Voice to Parliament next week. It is widely expected to be held on October 14.
To pass the referendum needs a majority of Yes votes overall and also to approved in a majority of states.