Following the tabloid media frenzy over the appearance of one former Islamic extremist on the Q&A program last week, Northern Rivers Friends of the ABC have moved to defend the public broadcaster.
Attacks by the Murdoch media have been particularly vitriolic, with headlines including: ‘Terror Vision’, ‘ABC of Jihad’ and ‘Who’s side are you on?’
ABC’s managing director Mark Scott has come in for particular praise from Northern Rivers Friends’ president Jill Keogh following his eloquent speech addressing the ABC’s strident critics: the government, the tabloids and their cheerleaders.
‘Mark Scott has told the ABC’s detractors what we already knew, which is that the ABC is a top-notch media outlet of world quality, and it is utterly worth defending’ Ms Keogh said.
She said the comments made ‘by one Muslim man on Q&A were not deserving of the media beat-up and manufactured crisis that followed’.
Ms Keogh added that if a mistake had been made in relation to the Q&A program, ‘then Mark Scott has accepted responsibility and it is now time to move on’.
‘Australia is a robust democracy but it can remain that way only if we are enabled to hear and discuss assorted viewpoints.
‘We are fortunate to have a national broadcaster that is not controlled by the government. It is because the ABC is independent that the public knows that it can be trusted. That is why, in times of crisis, and especially in our own Northern Rivers area, people switch to the ABC,’ Ms Keogh said.
In paraphrasing Mr Scott she said that ‘the ABC excels in speaking truth to power, seeking to verify what we are asked to take on trust, uncovering truths and helping us to understand our nation better.
‘If the message has not sunk in to some commercial media outlets and government members, the ABC is independent, was set up to be independent, and the majority of Australians who value diversity and free speech want it to remain independent.
‘Mark Scott is right. The ABC is on Australia’s side,’ Ms Keogh said.