ABC: presumption of bias

Biased unless proven otherwise

It has now reached the stage with the ABC that there must be a presumption of bias, towards Labor and climate alarmism. And, as in its legal analogue, where there is a presumption, that presumption must be rebutted on each and every occasion. That is the position from we have to view the ABC today. So when we read an alarmist article on climate change, we presume bias unless it can be rebutted. When we read an article critical of the Opposition, we must again presume bias, unless it can be rebutted. Unfortunately, since that rebuttal is almost never there, this means that our nationally funded broadcaster has ceased to be a serious media organisation, and is now nothing but a cheap shill for Labor and environmental pressure groups.

So it is no surprise that the ABC is still quite happy to use the derogative term “denier” in an article on climate sceptics published this morning (five times, no less). The story relates to a paper by John McLean, Chris DeFreitas and Bob Carter, originally published in July 2009 in Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR), challenging the theory of human-induced global warming. This is a peer reviewed journal, and the article was accepted for publication at that time, following the peer review process. In January 2010, a critical response was prepared by a team of consensus scientists, which was also published in JGR. The original authors put together a response to those criticisms, which … JGR refused to publish. Understandably, the original authors were furious not to have the right to respond to criticisms of a previously published paper. They have subsequently published on SPPI a paper claiming censorship:

“The practice of editorial rejection of the authors’ response to criticism is unprecedented in our experience. It is surprising because it amounts to the editorial usurping of the right of authors to defend their paper and deprives readers from hearing all sides of a scientific discussion before they make up their own minds on an issue. It is declaring that the journal editor – or the reviewers to whom he defers – will decide if authors can defend papers that have already been positively reviewed and been published by that same journal. Such an attitude is the antithesis of productive scientific discussion.”

You can read the full SPPI paper here. This is how ABC’s reporting of this story begins:

The latest debate on climate science to emerge centres on a paper that suggests humans played no role in the recent warming trend and that El Nino activity is mostly to blame.

But a group of climate scientists say that is false, misleading and that the data has been manipulated by climate deniers. [Well, they should know. Alarmist climate scientists are experts in manipulation of data – Ed]

Central to the paper, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research last July, was that the southern oscillation index, which is a measure of El Nino activity, was the most likely influence on global temperatures changing.

The senior author of the report, IT analyst [just thrown in to remind you he’s not a climate scientist – Ed] John Mclean, says man has had little impact on global warming.

The major force seems to be probably the southern oscillation, though you’ve also got to think that maybe that is just an indicator of something else. Whatever’s driving the southern oscillation therefore drives temperature,” he said. (source)

They give McLean a quote of just 83 words to explain the paper’s position. They then proceed to give Kevin Trenberth (of Climategate fame), a quote of 237 words, nearly three times as much, criticising it (did I mention anything about bias earlier?), and in total there are 369 words critical of the paper compared to just 164 words explaining it. You can read all that in the source article if you wish.

The ABC article then deals with the censorship claim, but fails to identify the key point, that this was a response to a criticism of an originally peer-reviewed, and published, article in JGR. To not give authors the opportunity to respond to criticism sure sounds like censorship to me.

Presumption of bias? Tick. Rebuttal? None.


  1. Giving credence to Trenberth’s claims of denial are ludicrous given McLean et al’s acceptance of the fact the climate changes, always has and will continue to do so. Is Trenberth just upset that someone disagrees with his alarmist views? Pity the ABC didn’t ask him about about his statement:
    “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.” that appeared in emails allegedly leaked from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

  2. Interesting that john faine, that truly awful failed lawyer, on abc melb radio mornings would not entertain any debate at all re climate change prior to xmas saying such things as ‘the science is in’ and ‘no debate necessary, the issue is closed’ etc etc. since his return this year he has been much more amenable to the subject, even summarising both sides of the debate at times. a directive from management i wonder???

  3. “and is now nothing but a cheap shill for Labor..”
    A shill? Definitely not much doubt about that. But for the best of intentions, of course.
    But cheap? I don’t think so. They suck (at least) $680M out of the public purse each and every year to support their sheltered workshop in producing this sort of second-rate garbage.
    As a recent non-watcher of the ABC, can I get my 8c back please?

  4. Veronica says:

    Yeah, I remember the ABC giving prominence to views that there were no WMDs in Iraq, that Bush’s invasion would lead to a massive stuff-up, that there were no children thrown overboard, that treating refugee kids with calculated cruelty was a bit uncivilised, that maybe Howard wasn’t always strictly truthful, etc., etc.

    Bias, bias, bias all the way. Just because what they say is true, and most people know it’s true is no excuse. It shouldn’t be allowed, and with taxpayers’ money too. And isn’t it just the same with climate change? Just because the sceptical scientists are in a small minority, why shouldn’t their views be treated as unquestionably correct?

    • @ Veronica: I think you’ve overdosed on sarcasm. As if the ABC is a beacon of impartiality? My aching sides, I think not.

  5. Andrew Barnham says:

    Tim Lambert is a computer science lecturer. I wonder if ABC continually draw this fact to the readers attention whenever he is mentioned in the context of Climate Change.

    Google “ABC tim lambert” and see for yourself.

  6. Let me see if I can understand the point that Veronica is trying to make.

    If there is a perceived stuff-up on the part of the “conservative right” (i.e. Bush, Howard), then there are no lengths the ABC won’t go to to investgate it in minute detail – as per the examples cited.

    However, if the stuff-up or initiative is by the “liberal left” – let’s say, for example:
    – Rudd’s stuff-up of his border protection policy changes
    – Garrett’s stuff-up of the home insulation scheme, green loans scheme, solar rebate scheme
    – Gillard’s stuff-up of the IR changes and Education Revolution rorts (as yet unquantified)
    – Conroy’s stuff-up of the NBN business case, TV licence fee rebates, -plus- his attempts to introduce internet censorship which would make the Chinese proud
    – Wong’s stuff-up of the water allocation buybacks
    – the gross scientific fraud exposed by the Climategate scandal

    … and what do we get from our fearless champions at the ABC?

    Deafening silence. Nothing to see here – keep moving along.

    Bias? What bias?


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