Media Watch investigating ABC and Fairfax over ANU claims

Death threat?

UPDATE 2 (15 May 2012): Media Watch don’t touch the story – perhaps next week.

UPDATE: As Marc reports in the comments, the ABC appears utterly oblivious to any of this, still parroting the same line:

“They include an email describing a physical threat to use a gun against an academic because the conference participant reportedly disagreed with the climate change research.” (source)

This is turning into the story that keeps on giving. After yesterday’s revelation that the one possible “threat” was actually an innocent discussion about culling kangaroos, now Legal Affairs editor Chris Merritt writes in The Weekend Australian:

Media Watch eyes climate scientist death threat claims

AFTER triggering a global news event with reports about death threats against climate scientists, the ABC and Fairfax Media are under investigation by Media Watch after a central plank supporting their reports was found to be non-existent.

Before the flaws in their reports were revealed, their versions of the truth had been picked up by Britain’s The Guardian and the scientific journal Nature.

The critical error in their reports, which has been revealed by The Australian, is that emails held by the Australian National University that were supposed to outline death threats against climate scientists have been independently assessed as containing no death threats.

Those emails were made public on Tuesday after a long Freedom of Information campaign by blogger Simon Turnill.

But when ABC radio chose to report on the affair yesterday, it did not reveal that the ABC had reported on June 5 last year that ANU climate scientists “have been targeted by death threats”.

Others who gave credence to the “death threats” story were Lateline presenter Tony Jones, who asked Chief Scientist Ian Chubb on June 22 last year whether he was worried that scientists were receiving death threats.

“Oh, absolutely,” Professor Chubb replied. “I mean, I think it’s appalling.”

Media Watch executive producer Lin Buckfield said yesterday one of her program’s researchers was examining reports on the affair that had been carried by The Australian, ABC news, Lateline and The Canberra Times. “If through our inquiries we decide that an item is warranted, we will proceed accordingly,” she said.

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UPDATE: Cut & Paste (humorous editorial section) focusses on the same story here:

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The report goes on to claim that the Canberra Times‘ reporting of the threats at ANU was “in tatters”, as were the associated reports by the ABC. It also correctly states that the ABC,

“focused on the abuse – not the fact that they provide documentary evidence that the ABC produced flawed reports that have not been corrected.”

The full article is here.


  1. David Davidovics says:

    Nicely done, Simon. Funny what a little persistence can accomplish.

  2. Meanwhile ABC still at it:

    According to ABC the emails “include
    an email describing a physical threat to use a gun against an academic
    because the conference participant reportedly disagreed with the
    climate change research.”

    It will be interesting to see how climate alarmist Holmes deals with this one.

  3. Garry Nosworthy says:

    It was certainly a great effort by Simon in getting through the FOI obstacle course to a final result and a well deserved embarrassment of the ANU and it’s scientists BUT does anyone really think the lefty Media Watch is going to give their ABC colleagues a hard time. Come on, it will be a superficial slap on the wrist just for show, after all who pays Jonathan Holmes salary? Media Watch is really part of the problem.

  4. This is worse than mere incorrect reporting; it is fraudulent and deceptive by the ANU, the ABC, and other media. It would be interesting to know precisely who is responsible for this, but I suppose an investigation would be out of the question!

    Well done Simon in exposing this sham! I do hope Media Watch expose these people for what they are: [snip]!

  5. Streetcred says:

    I want their ‘heads on spikes’ ! ABC, ANU, CT, et al. 🙂

    Well, at least prominent full page newspaper corrections and apologies, and ABC to produce a 30-min documentary detailing their deceit and corrections.

    • The Loaded Dog says:

      Head’s on spikes?

      Hang on….is that a death threat???

      I’m confused…

  6. Rick Bradford says:

    This excellent expose shows how Left/Greenies turn to “victim” mode as quickly as a baby turns to its bottle.

    Once they have painted themselves as “victims”, they can call out anyone who disagrees with them as “oppressors” — it’s a standard part of their immature psychological universe.

  7. “the ABC appears utterly oblivious to any of this, still parroting the same line:”

    This seems a weak way to describe what your national broadcaster is doing here.

    They admit to now having read the same emails, that we all can now read too, and *still* described:

    “an email describing a physical threat to use a gun against an academic ”

    It is a lie. There is no such email. No debate. If they try to debate then they are saying we having lying eyes too. I don’t know what powers or scope the media watch body has but I assume it must have to consider this straight lie too and whether it reflects on some ongoing state of lying mind of the broadcaster?

    [REPLY – It certainly appears that way. I am not going to prejudge anything. I will see where this all leads us]

  8. Lars P. says:

    Thank you Simon for going all the effort to clear this out!

    After reading all the emails I am surprised, in reality “it is worth then we thought”, I could not find in the emails any credible threads.
    The story about the shooting license which is so nicely debunked and shows to what extend do these people invent reality.

  9. Hi Simon,

    Good job!

    I was the other sceptic who left on the first day – the “stressed” one. You might have seen my comments at Catallaxy, Bishop Hill and Andrew Bolt on this. In case you haven’t this is what I said:

    “I was the first sceptic referred to in the updates – the one that was “stressed”. That is a correct description. What I was stressed about was the incredibly manipulative way in which the so-called “forum” was conducted.

    For example, Messrs Steffen and his team delivered presentations on various aspects of climate change. We were not allowed to ask questions, or to challenge the multifarious false statements made. Instead, we broke out into groups, with the idea that a group could ask a question. Of course, each group was dominated by “warmists”, and the lone sceptic in each group was a) abused, b) derided, c) not listened to.

    The result was that Steffen and co were presented with soft questions that were based largely on ill-informed views, convenient to the organisers.

    It is true that I was feeling stressed. But the reason was because while this was billed as an open-ranging discussion, in fact it was a tightly choreographed, manipulative discussion designed to capture an outcome favourable to the warmists. In no way was it a fair discussion.

    All this soon became clear to me, and it was evident to me that it was fruitless and pointless to stay. I explained my issue to the organiser, and then left.

    I met John Coochey at the forum. He is a knowledgeable and capable person, and I trust his account of the events relating to his gun license.”

    In fact, one of the aspects that I was annoyed about was that the forum had been billed as a “Citizen’s Jury” which implied that there would be opportunity for the “jury” to hear both sides, to cross-examine witnesses etc. Instead it was a tightly choreographed, controlled presentation of weak arguments from one side, with no opportunity (effectively) to ask questions.

    [REPLY – Many thanks. I have included this comment, and that by John Coochey in a new post]

  10. Does anyone really believe that the Media Watch team will find that an item is “warranted”?

  11. Crowbar says:

    Well done Simon!!
    What intrigues me is what motivated somebody high up in ANU to fabricate the seriousness of the emails. I wonder whether one of the many PR types on the alarmist side went fishing for anybody in academia who had any evidence of death threats against climate scientists, and ANU was willing to corrupt itself for The Cause.
    How would one word an FOI request to test this?

  12. I’m lovin it – keep up the good work or I’ll … stop breathing!

  13. Richard Abbott says:

    Hmm, will be interesting viewing…. one wonders if Media Watch was dragged kicking and screaming into reporting this con and secondly if Jonathan Holmes presents the piece with his mouth full of marbles?

    • Richard Abbott says:

      Hmm again…looks like another week will pass before Simon’s whistle blowing will then silently slip off the table into a climate change no go trash bin…


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