Tim Blair


New Criterion



Monday, February 17, 2003
LOOKING FORWARD TO MEDIA WATCH'S EXPOSE of how Auntie's national TV news service came to invent an Indonesian foreign policy that suited the pacifist cause. But not in hope.

The ABC apology last night said: "We'd like to make it clear while some groups in Indonesia believe a war on Iraq would be a war on Islam, that's not the view of the Indonesian Government. The ABC apologises for not making that clear in the introduction to last night's story."

Thanks to today's Australian we know that the invention came from a news editor, not the Jakarta correspondent Jim Middleton. This was the obvious interpretation from the disconnect between the headline and the content of the story.

Auntie's apology was forced from her by a call to manager Balding from Prime Minister Howard. The apology - and no-one can remember a precedent - did not attempt to explain how and why Auntie's news editors come to be inventing major news that is supported neither by their journalist in the field nor plausibility.

If Unlce doesn't suggest that it's the Communards, overexcited by the sight of cities full of pacifists, going one step further in their use of the national broadcaster to further their own agenda, who will?

Later. Here is Media Watch's self-Charter. Check it against their performance tonight.

Journalists claim to report the facts without fear or favour - but just how fair and fearless are they when personal or corporate interests conflict with their responsibilities?

Media Watch turns the spotlight onto those who literally "make the news":