18 November 2014
After a viewer’s complaint, the ABC has made editorial changes to a report on its current affairs program, 7.30:
(Mr MacIlwain, the 7.30 viewer who lodged the complaint, has given me permission to publish the ABC Corporate Affairs response on this blog. I have highlighted the most significant paragraph in the ABC email response.)
Dear Mr Macilwain
Thank you for your email regarding the 7.30 story Tony Abbott promises to “shirtfront” Putin at G20 Summit.
Your concerns have been considered by Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit which is separate to and independent of program making areas within the ABC. We have considered your concerns, reviewed the report and assessed it against the ABC’s editorial standards for accuracy.
7.30 has acknowledged your concern and agrees it was inaccurate for the program to state as fact that flight MH17 was shot down by “Pro-Russian militia” and “Russian backed rebels”. The program understands the cause of that incident remains unresolved and is the subject of ongoing investigation.
The program has amended the online transcript of the report and posted an editor’s note alerting its audience to the error. The error has also been acknowledged on the Corporation’s online corrections and clarifications page.
The ABC Code of Practice is available online at the attached link;
Should you be dissatisfied with this response to your complaint, you may be able to pursue the matter with the Australian Communications and Media Authority http://www.acma.gov.au
Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. The ABC appreciates the opportunity to respond to your concerns.
Audience and Consumer Affairs
Note: editorial changes have been made to the 7.30 transcript only. The video of the 7.30 report is still on the website and maintains the original claims.
In the original transcript and in the video online still, Leigh Sales says,
..since the shooting down of Malaysian flight MH17 over Ukraine by pro-Russian militia ..
Subsequently, ABC reporter Sabra Lane says,
...after Malaysian flight MH17 was shot down by Russian-backed rebels over Ukraine …
In the amended transcript, Leigh Sales is quoted as saying,
Just three months since pro-Russian militia were accused of the shooting down of Malaysian flight 17 over Ukraine, Mr Putin has confirmed, to the dismay of many, that he will visit Australia for the G20 leaders’ meeting in November.
And Sabra Lane is quoted as saying,
Australia was under pressure to cancel President Putin’s invite after Malaysian flight MH17 was allegedly shot down by Russian-backed rebels* over Ukraine in July. 38 Australians were among the nearly 300 killed.
The Editor’s note at the end of the report:
*Editor’s note (10 November, 2014): The introduction to this story should have noted that pro-Russian militia were accused of shooting down MH17, but that this has not yet been formally confirmed.
(The editor of this blog has highlighted ‘yet’.)
Comments made by Mr Bill Shorten, the leader of the Opposition in Australia, on MH17 and President Putin’s visit
In the same ABC 7.30 report, Mr Shorten presents his views on President Putin’s then impending visit to Australia for the November G20 meeting in Brisbane
BILL SHORTEN: The Government is between a rock and a hard place. It’s an international conference, not a conference run by Australia, so if Putin has the arrogance to turn up, to visit a nation whose nationals died in this plane crash, he can, but I’m like most Australians; I wish that Putin would at least show enough conscience to be able to not come to Australia because he’s rubbing our faces in it.
Mr Shorten is most likely expressing the views of the majority of Australian people, whose opinions are inevitably formed by mainstream journalists and commentators. However, it is a concern that Mr Shorten does not lead with a more sober and studied approach to foreign affairs.
I sent the following email to Mr Shorten. I have yet to receive a response.
14 October 2014
Dear Mr Shorten,
I write to you out of concern for your stand on the visit by President Putin to Australia for the G20 meeting in Brisbane.
On the ABC yesterday, it was presented as a fact that Malaysian Airline flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine by pro-Russian militia.
Since the plane was shot down, there have been many claims about who was responsible, but no official investigation has attributed blame.
For example, ABC news reports have referred to surface-to-air missiles shooting down the plane despite this supposed ‘fact’ not being established by any official investigation. There is no suggestion in the report by the Dutch Safety Board that a missile shot down MH17. It draws no conclusion regarding what weapon was used, but it does highlight the following (p.25):
The pattern of damage observed in the forward fuselage and cockpit section of the aircraft was consistent with the damage that would be expected from a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside.
Michael Bociurkiw, a Canadian in the first team of OSCE monitors sent to investigate the wreckage and the site, said in a CBC news video interview that damage to the cockpit ‘looks like machine gun fire’, not a missile.
The official report (p.25) states that “Puncture holes ..suggested that small objects entered from above cockpit floor”. This would not be inconsistent with conclusions drawn by a Russian Union of Engineers report which contends that MH17 was attacked by a fighter jet.
An unidentified combat aircraft (presumably a Su-25 or MiG -29), which was a tier below, on a collision course, in the cloud layer, sharply gained altitude and suddenly appeared out of the clouds in front of the civilian aircraft and opened fire on the cockpit, firing from a 30 mm caliber cannon or smaller. The pilot of a fighter jet can do this while in “free hunting” mode (using onboard radar) or with the help of navigational guidance using airspace situation data from ground-based radar.
As a result of multiple hits from shells there was damage to the cockpit, which suddenly depressurized, resulting in instant death for the crew due to mechanical influences and decompression. The attack was sudden and lasted a fraction of a second; in such circumstances the crew could not sound any alarm as the flight had been proceeding in regular mode and no attack was expected.
In an article in New Straits Times Online, Dr Chandra Muzaffar, a Malaysian scholar and the president of the International Movement for a Just World, poses the question in regards to the downing of MH17, “Who stands to gain from the incident?”
Dr Chandra writes,
The public should be wary of fabricated “evidence” …. after what we have witnessed in the last so many years. Have we forgotten the monstrous lies and massive distortions that accompanied the reckless allegation that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) which led eventually to the invasion of that country in 2003 and the death of more than a million people? Iraq continues to bleed to this day. What about the Gulf of Tonkin episode of 1964 which again was a fabrication that paved the way for wanton United States aggression against Vietnam that resulted in the death of more than three million Vietnamese?
The story of the downed plane with 298 dead people is no longer news, and the investigation as to who shot it down? Don’t hold your breath. Last week Dutch viewers of a TV news program were informed about something that had been doing the rounds on internet samizdat: the countries participating in the MH17 investigation have signed a nondisclosure agreement. Any of the participants (which include Kiev) has the right to veto publication of the results without explanation. The truth about the cause of the horrifying fate of the 298 appears to have been already settled by propaganda. That means that although there has been no shred of evidence that the official story of the ‘rebels’ shooting down the plane with Russian involvement, it remains a justification for sanctions against Russia.
Mr Shorten, on ABC 7.30 last night, you declared
The Government is between a rock and a hard place. It’s an international conference, not a conference run by Australia, so if Putin has the arrogance to turn up, to visit a nation whose nationals died in this plane crash, he can, but I’m like most Australians; I wish that Putin would at least show enough conscience to be able to not come to Australia because he’s rubbing our faces in it.
The G20 is an ‘international conference’ as you state. However, it should be noted all the BRICS countries will be represented at it, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Argentina and Indonesia will also attend; they are countries which perhaps are more naturally aligned with BRICS than the ‘international community’ led by the United States. (In fact, President Cristina Kirchner from Argentina was a special guest at the 6th BRICS summit this year.) No doubt, the leaders of these countries will be paying close attention to the stand Australian political leaders take on President Putin’s visit and the welcome he receives in Brisbane.
We are entering a period in history when there are strong pushes from particular countries to establish a unipolar world so the United States can remain the dominant economic and military power. If it is necessary to fabricate, lie, wage wars, and to take belligerent stands against the leaders and peoples of particular countries simply to maintain the predominance of the United States, then a unipolar world cannot surely be in the long-term interests of Australia or other countries. Supporting unconscionable actions deemed necessary to ensure this century belongs to America will not only compromise our values and beliefs but will risk our becoming isolated from important partners, not to mention the risks of a major world conflict.
To survive the 21st century, the world needs a stable multipolar world. As the host of the G20, Australia has the opportunity to have a voice on the world stage and display a leadership which will be highly regarded and hold us in good stead in coming years if it reflects a deep and courageous integrity as well as a vision for the people of the world as a whole.
PO Box 47