Faine hits back at ABC ruling

Staff Writer

In January, the ABC apologised for a "lapse in standards" following complaints about 774 presenter Jon Faine and interviews he conducted with former 2UE presenter Michael Smith and The Age's Mark Baker in November.

The interview discussed AWU slush fund allegations.

At the time, the ABC responded saying :-

"We have assessed the interviews against the ABC's editorial requirement for impartiality, specifically standard 4.1 of the ABC Code of Practice which states: 'Gather and present news and information with due impartiality', the broadcaster's corporate affairs representative has written to the complainant, which has been published on Smith's website (see here).

"Audience and Consumer Affairs have concluded that the interviews were not conducted in keeping with ABC impartiality requirements. The argumentative style of the interviews by Mr Faine, combined with a pattern of strongly stated personal opinions that at times oversimplified the issues at hand, was not in keeping with the ABC's rigorous impartiality standards for current affairs content.

"ABC Radio apologise for this lapse in standards. This matter has been brought to the attention of ABC Radio management and Jon Faine has been reminded of his obligation to gather and present news and information content with due impartiality."

The Australian have sourced the document that Faine submitted to ABC management in response to the ruling.

Faine says it is wrong to say he breached standard 4.1 as he was "at no time 'gathering' or 'presenting' either 'news' or 'information'."

He says he was testing "two other journalists' opinions, assertions and claims and seeing if they have any substance."

"I am doing so in extremis. It is not a typical situation, and it requires anything but the normal techniques used in broadcasting."

"Yes, it is aggressive in its style, but my submission is it is entirely warranted in the context in which it happens."

Faine also said certain newspapers were reporting that the ABC "was wilfully blind and ignoring the biggest story in Australian politics."

"We are not discussing ordinary current affairs coverage here. We are scrutinising claims made about the honesty and integrity and moral compass of the nation's leader. Her ethics were under scrutiny. Her critics were unconstrained in the wildest claims made. It absolutely was time for someone — anyone — to tackle Smith (and Baker to a lesser degree) and see if he could sustain his claims under pressure and whether or not they had any foundation in fact."

He says "the complaints ought to be dismissed."

An ABC spokesman said: "Due process was followed and democracy remains well served."

Read more in The Australian here

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