Sky News’ Chris Kenny fails to read fine print over Facebook’s IPA ‘censorship’ | The Weekly Beast

It was the lack of a disclaimer, not censorship, that caused an Institute of Public Affairs video to be removed. Plus: Geraldine Doogue leads rebellion against ABC move to Parramatta

Sky News host Chris Kenny blamed “cancel culture, big tech and the new authoritarianism of our age” when he condemned Facebook for removing an Institute of Public Affairs video this week.

Kenny’s fellow columnist at the Australian, Nick Cater, was also up in arms about the social media platform’s decision to take down the rightwing thinktank’s video. The video, featuring Northern Territory senator Jacinta Price saying we don’t need an Indigenous voice to parliament, was removed by Facebook; and then a video about the removal was also removed.

“It is incumbent on Federal MPs to oppose the voice on principle. There are no set of words, and no amount of good intentions that makes dividing Australians by race acceptable,” - @DanielWildIPA

— Institute of Public Affairs (@TheIPA) September 29, 2022

“In the cause of enshrining an Aboriginal voice in the Constitution, an Aboriginal woman with a democratic mandate is being denied a voice on Facebook,” the executive director of the Menzies Research Centre wrote in the Australian newspaper. “The voices of a fellow senator and a distinguished Aboriginal academic have also been cancelled.”

On Sky News, Kenny was outraged by the “censorship”.

“We in the western liberal democracies are allowing the political green left, bureaucracies, woke big business, public broadcasters and educational institutions to impose all of this groupthink on all of us, without dissent. It is illiberal, it is dumb, it is dangerous and we need to stand up against it.”

But the IPA warriors might have saved their outrage for another day if they had just read the fine print. It was not the content of their ad that was the problem.

Facebook’s rules require ads which have political content to carry a “disclaimer, disclosure and ad labelling”. From the Heart, the campaign for the voice to parliament, had an ad removed earlier for the same reason.

RN revolt

The ABC’s plan to move 300 staff to Parramatta by 2024 has already hit a roadblock.

Among the TV, radio and news staff selected to relocate from inner-city Ultimo to western Sydney was Radio National, a radio network which includes a number of veteran broadcasters who were more than a little opposed to the move after decades of working in inner-city Sydney.

Led by RN’s Geraldine Doogue, the staff campaigned hard against the move, arguing, among other things, that they needed to collaborate with colleagues at Ultimo.

Management caved and RN, which includes Phillip Adams, Robyn Williams and Norman Swan, is staying put.

The acting director of Entertainment & Specialist (E&S), Jennifer Collins, conceded plans had changed in an email which acknowledged the “extensive consultation” but none of the resignation threats that have punctuated talks.

“As a result of our conversations we are now considering a smaller allocation of space for E&S teams at Parramatta,” Collins said, adding that the only people to move will be “some of our education and digital arts teams” and a Triple J Hack producer.

As a compromise, some individuals will make special trips out west for festivals, cultural events or science week, Collins suggested.

“We will start to explore the kinds of content initiatives we would like to host at Parramatta.”

Hitting the panic button

The Australian and the Daily Telegraph have been campaigning this week against any suggestion that the stage-three tax cuts might be wound back. On Wednesday the national daily ran a front-page story headlined “Millions to pay cost of tax reversal”, which warned of the threat to “2.5 million middle-income Australians” if the cuts were abolished. The examples highlighted by its analysis were a wage earner on $120,000 a year, a wage earner on $160,000 a year and a couple earning $120,000 and $80,000. Middle income? As Richard Denniss pointed out in a column for Guardian Australia this week, the average earning of a fulltime worker in Australia is $92,000, and the median income last year was $62,868.

Then on Friday the Tele’s front page proclaimed “ALP tax backflip would hit aspirational Aussies”, saying “tradies, emergency service workers, senior teachers and nurses” would be affected if Jim Chalmers “backflips on stage three cuts”. You had to read down to the fifth paragraph to discover that no such proposal was on the table. “It is understood none of the options being canvassed by Labor behind the scenes would involve ‘cancelling’ any tax cut,” the Tele reported.

Toothless tiger

Nine’s A Current Affair breached a condition of its licence when it broadcast a private telephone conversation, the media watchdog has ruled.

ACA recorded a conversation in Queensland between an employee of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and a member of the public who had suffered an adverse reaction to a Covid-19 vaccination. By airing the conversation without the consent of the TGA employee, ACA breached Queensland privacy laws.

The show breached its broadcasting licence condition that it will not use its service to offend against a law of a state or territory.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority chair, Nerida O’Loughlin, who was reappointed for another two years by the Albanese government on Friday, said Nine “exceeded what was reasonable or necessary for keeping the public informed on matters of public health and safety,”.

“This is unacceptable, especially from such a high-profile program with experienced reporters,” she said.

So what is Nine’s penalty for this “unacceptable” breach? Nothing but a pledge to make staff aware of the rules.

The unreal Julia

The announcement on Thursday that the Sydney Theatre Company will stage a new one-woman play focusing on the life of Julia Gillard reminded Weekly Beast of the failed attempt to tell the Gillard story on TV which dates back to 2013.

Justine Clarke will star as Julia Gillard for Sydney Theatre Company.
Justine Clarke will star as Julia Gillard for Sydney Theatre Company. Photograph: Rene Vaile/Samual Cooper (NLA)

A TV version based on a book by Kerry-Anne Walsh, The Stalking of Julia Gillard, was never picked up by a broadcaster.

In 2015 producer Richard Keddie decried the reaction to his proposal for a telemovie.

“No Australian broadcaster wants to tell the story of Australia’s first female prime minister,” the producer of the Bob Hawke and John Curtin telemovies told TV Tonight. “All the broadcasters said ‘no way’ to the Julia film. I got told unequivocally I couldn’t even get Hawke or Curtin made these days.

“One broadcaster told me ‘Everyone hates Julia Gillard, nobody is remotely interested in her.’”

Maybe it always was a story best told in the theatre.

Tackling trolls

Fresh from a win against the Daily Mail, which was found to have defamed her by wrongly portraying her as mocking Polynesian names, Erin Molan will front a Sky News documentary this month.

Haters Online: Erin Molan Fights Back “investigates the sinister and toxic side of social media, and what can be done in the fight against online abuse to make our cyberspace safe”.

Molan makes the bold claim in a media release that her tireless activism to advocate for new laws to protect the safety of Australians online “resulted in new legislation, the ‘Online Safety Act’, in 2021”.

Molan did not mention that Sky’s own track record was not without blemish. The station was banned from uploading material to YouTube for seven days after advocating the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin as treatments for Covid-19 . Last year Sky also had more than 9,000 comments mostly celebrating and mocking the shooting of a Black Lives Matter activist below a news report of the shooting on their YouTube page. Both happened before Molan joined Sky News Australia.

Molan, who anchors her own program, Erin, on Sundays is a columnist for the Daily Telegraph and co-host of the Sydney 2DayFM breakfast radio show.

The Daily Mail is appealing the defamation decision, saying Justice Robert Bromwich erred on 13 points and the damages awarded to Molan were “manifestly excessive”.


Amanda Meade

The GuardianTramp

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