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Hey Guys and Gals, Don’t Worry About Your ABC

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is copping it from all parts of the political spectrum these days with regards “balance” as well as impartial reporting of news events, though much less the latter. But lately it’s been the left, the core constituency of the ABC that have been the loudest to decry the direction that the publicly funded news organisation is taking in relation to their approach to guest spots on the 6pm political panel show The DrumAll this has been happening while many on the right of the political spectrum still continue to amp up over what is still seen as a left wing bias of the entire news organisation.

The biggest complaint of recent months has been that the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), particularly through regular guests Tim Wilson, Chris Berg and James Paterson appears more than any other think-tank on the daily political commentary show.

It is a simple fact that the IPA has appeared more than any other think-tank that exists in the Australian political landscape. IPA guests have taken up  42% of the appearances of representatives of these organisations for the of the period between June 2011 and June 2012 according to an investigation by Andrew Kos for Independent Australia here

The investigation found that the next highest appearance rate for think-tanks was the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) at just under half the rate of the IPA (at 18%), followed by Per Capita with 16% of appearances and then the Centre for Policy Development responsible for 10% of the guest spots over the year examined.

So clearly the vast majority of think-tank appearances have been as a result of guests from the Institute of Public Affairs. An undeniable fact. But does this automatically translate into a right-wing bias on the part of our state-funded national broadcaster? Sorry, rhetorical question there. The answer is a clear ‘no’.

Sure the IPA and the other major right-wing policy body the CIS have dominated 60%, over half of thinky body spots on the show but to measure bias because of the higher appearance of one or two think-tanks over any other is a pretty ridiculous measure.

A much better way would be to measure based on political leanings of each individual guest, cumulative over each and every time that The Drum has aired.

Even without having done the raw numbers it is also an incontrovertible fact, that, like the IPA dominating the guest list, those that outwardly appear on the left of the political spectrum strongly outnumber those that identify with the right side of the political spectrum. You simply lose count of the times when two of the three panelists are of the left.

The very idea that you can have any form of political balance on a panel when a show, before it even starts has an uneven number of people as commentators, regardless of political affiliation is completely laughable.

The same goes for the other major free-to-air program in the realm of politics, Q&A and the Sunday program Insiders. With the formeryou have a regular panel of another uneven number, 5 guests where again people of the right side of politics are always strongly outnumbered. Sure, you’ll find your regular Q&A panel has a wider diversity of guests than The Drum, which usually leans toward those of the left that support Labor but there’s still not an overall balanced cross-section of views displayed due to the panel size and choices.

As for Insiders, again, like The Drum, you have 3 panelists, journalists from both Fairfax and News Ltd and the occasional freelance writer. Again too you have a political imbalance, always slanted to the left, partly because of the number of commentators on the show, partly because of the overwhelming number of writers who identify with the political ideology of the left.

So please, to my friends on the left, quit with the whingeing and whining about what you perceive as a right-wing political bias creeping into the political programs of your ABC. You have nothing to worry about, it’s still tilted nicely in your favour. You only need to start worrying if the number of guests representing your beliefs is tilted in the other direction. If balance is truly what you want, then call for an equal number of spots on each of the political shows. But I suspect that deep down you might just be complaining you don’t like what you’re hearing from a small number of people.

The fact that now everyone, left and right, are getting their knickers in a knot tends to indicate that maybe, just maybe, the ABC is heading toward less of a bias toward the left.

Turnbull Appearance on Q&A Again Launches the Twitter Derp

There’s just something about Malcolm Turnbull going on Q&A, pretty much anything publicly other than talking on broadband and communications that results in the unleashing of unmitigated derp from both sides of the political spectrum. Combine this with a predictable recipe of asylum seekers and marriage equality, with a bit of a healthy and thoughtful discussion on the arts and at least some of the chaos and stupidity was held back.

You see, the situation is quite strange when it comes to Malcolm Turnbull being a part of the public debate on a broader range of issues than his present shadow portfolio.

Pretty much everyone on the moderate left at times profess some kind of what they say and act like is undying love for Mr Turnbull when he isn’t so much in the spotlight, or more rightly when he might well be saying something that they tend to agree with, like on climate change, after last night somewhat on the arts and also to a large extent on marriage equality.

There are even people on the left who shout “Malcolm for PM” but would surely recoil from that belief were there a Liberal Party government in power, even with Turnbull at its head.

And so it goes that there was all of that fake, ‘soft’ love from the left for Malc0lm Turnbull that would surely diminish again among this demographic were he to return as leader.

Some too may profess a love for Malcolm Turnbull now but forget they used to decry his substantial wealth, self-made no less, undoubtedly much of it to do with people in this country seeming to despise entrepreneurialism and success and yes that tall poppy bashing syndrome definitely rings true.

There are those however, somewhere around the centre that would and do accept Malcolm Turnbull as a sensible and at least relatively balanced choice for leader of a Liberal Party that more and more lacks the ideology in its name. Turnbull is one of the few you’d consider to be a liberal in the modern Liberal Party or at the very least, someone with strong liberal tendencies.

Then you get started on what the right of the party, though more often the more right wing supporters of the Liberal Party think of the man and that’s where things start to get just a little misguided.

Those on the right of him decry him for sticking up for markets, for advocating that for the most part, the market is by far the best response to a range of things, notably climate change, though the electoral reality with this is that the idea of a market response has lost after having prevailed just years ago.

Then comes the socially progressive stance of the former Liberal Party leader, particularly on marriage equality, which closely behind his climate change stance attracts the most ire from Liberal Party supporters. He wants a conscience vote on the matter, said so some time ago, a conscience vote being a long-term stance of the party on controversial matters.

Mr Turnbull also over the weekend backed calls for a compromise of a nationally backed civil unions scheme which will be seen by many on the right of the party again as too far even though it is just a compromise position, though some on both the left and right will not see it that way.

The Twitter response last night mirrored the public thoughts on Turnbull with some soft backing and the next minute complete disavowal of all Turnbull believes in from the left and the occasional outright condemnation, simply because he’s a member of the “evil” Liberal Party.

Of course then, at the same time from the right was the complete disavowal of all he’s ever said even though the vast majority, if not all, is fully aligned with what the Liberal Party is supposed to stand for.

The reality of the situation is that Malcolm Turnbull on social issues lies somewhere around the political centre without being radically progressive but still being open to social progress that can’t be delivered by markets.

On economic issues Turnbull is clearly of the right so that clearly makes Turnbull centre-right overall which should at least in reality give comfort to the knocker’s on his own side of the spectrum but it does not.

Stay tuned for much of the same before, during and after the next installment of Q&A featuring Malcolm Turnbull, complete with predictable leadership comments masquerading as questions and the “you have him, no you take him” fight between right and left which is sure to spawn more of the most lovely derpiest derp.

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