Malcolm Turnbull, Nick Ross and the sad story of a broken ABC

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The final shreds of the ABC's reputation have just fluttered away in the wind, writes managing editor David Donovan.

Ho hum. Yesterday, I got back to work after a rare week off and now, I have to say, I am feeling a trifle depressed.

Not depressed because of work, which I love, but because, while I was away, the final nails in the coffin of the ABC's credibility were hammered in. Or at least, that's the way it seems to me.

I love the public broadcaster – like everyone who comes from the bush does – so the gutting and ripping into the heart of this invaluable Australian institution really does break my own.

First, we had supposed political reporter Sabra Lane on ABC 7.30 speaking to unlamented former Prime Minister Tony Abbott for seven minutes about his private art collection and passionate love for Winston Churchill. Seven – bloody – minutes. Seven minutes, when they could have been taking about something that actually mattered. I mean, if Abbott was still PM, or even a frontbencher, the topic may – just may! – have had some slight, tiny little, miniscule scintilla of relevance or value — but he ain't! And surely never will be again. So why, ABC, why!?

Dear, oh dear, oh dear.

And then, late last week, we saw former ABC Technology editor Nick Ross quit the public broadcaster, whereafter he promptly went onto Twitter and Reddit to explain that he had been censored by ABC management to prevent him from fairly reporting on the NBN. That he had been gagged for years from explaining to the public the simple fact – well understood by anyone with a modem – that, as communications minister and then as prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull has destroyed the NBN with his retrograde, coppercentric (or should we say coprophile?) policies.

The clincher for me came when Nick Ross mentioned that ABC management had told

'... some ABC journos not to chase up the initial Peter Slipper story.'

We wondered at the time why the ABC had provided such poor coverage after the Rares' judgement in 2012. Presenter Steve Cannane famously said on The Drum that it was because everyone at the ABC was on holidays at the time, but I think we now know the truth.

It is also notable that, although the ABC turned up and filmed the Ashbygate book launch in Caloundra in December, it did not make any ABC TV news bulletin, though it did appear in broadcasts by numerous other media outlets.

(Of course, don't mention any concerns about the NBN or Ashbygate around onanistic undergraduate clickbait "journalists" — they will just call you "broken".)

The truth is that the ABC has become cowed into being L-NP apologists because they are so deathly worried about having their funding cut further and losing their jobs. At least, that is the script ABC management have been allegedly repeatedly telling its reporters in an apparent effort to swing the public broadcaster to the right (or, as the ABC calls it, to "seek balance").

It is a weak argument, because the Liberal Party will always work to undermine the ABC on behalf of the IPA, Rupert Murdoch and its other corporate media sponsors, irrespective of how conservative the ABC may deign to become.

The ABC could be drier than the Gobi Desert and more ;reactionary than the Spectator, but it wouldn't make a jot of difference, because the Coalition would still be looking to cut the ABC's funding and close it down.

It's the ideology, stupid!

And, far more important in their minds, best practice for the Liberal Party's big business bum chums.

Nevertheless, this flimsy argument has worked throughout much of the broadcaster, as we can see by such things as court-certified racist Andrew Bolt being employed to do a documentary on Indigenous Recognition.

What the ...

And now that Turnbull has appointed a former News Corp lawyer to replace former Liberal Party staffer Mark Scott to head the organisation, one can only see this trend continuing and – heaven forbid! – becoming even worse.

Dark days for the ABC.

The next step, of course, will be for former Goldman Sachs banker Malcolm Turnbull to sell off the public broadcaster to his fat cat friends. We can't afford it, he will say. It will be run far more efficiently by private enterprise, will be his predictable, specious mantra.

Rupert Murdoch must be licking his lizard-like lips in anticipation. (Which is, to be fair, better than thinking about what he might be doing with Jerry Hall.)

It is no substitute for the ABC, of course, but this does mean that proudly independent Independent Australia's unvarnished coverage of the Australian political scene will be needed more than ever in this Federal election year. So, I guess no more holidays for me for a while.

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