The ABC has breached the ABC Code of Practice after ABC Political Editor Andrew Probyn editorialised that former PM Tony Abbott was ” the most destructive politician of his generation.”
In October Probyn was reporting on a climate change speech by Tony Abbott, to the Global Warming Policy Foundation think tank.
“Tony Abbott, already the most destructive politician of his generation, now intends on waging war on what he calls ‘environmental theology,'” he said.
While media watchdog the Australian Communications and Media Authority gave most of the report the all-clear, it found the editorialising was a breach of the ABC Code of Practice. The ACMA investigation, following a complaint, found the statement was judgemental, not in language considered as analysis.
ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said, “The impartiality provisions in the ABC’s own code require it to demonstrate balance and fair treatment when presenting news, and avoid conveying a prejudgement.
“This is only the second breach by the ABC of its impartiality rules since 2011. While this demonstrates strong compliance with these important provisions of the code, the ABC did not get it right on this occasion.”
In responding to the complaint, ABC referred to the Macquarie dictionary for a definition of ‘destructive’ as “’….tending to overthrow, disprove, or discredit’. It is the case that Mr Abbott over his long political career has succeeded in overthrowing his political and ideological opponents, and in his speech to the GWPF he sought to discredit or disprove the consensus on climate science. In the highly competitive context of federal politics, ‘destructive’ is not necessarily a pejorative descriptor,” it suggested.
ABC has since advised ACMA that ABC News will incorporate the finding into its editorial compliance training programs.