ABC’s Media Watch hits Dick Smith with ad hominem attack

By Leith van Onselen

ABC Media Watch last night ran a segment deriding Dick Smith for claiming that The ABC is biased on the population (immigration) debate and is disinterested in airing dissenting views that running a mass immigration scheme more than twice as large as the historical average might actually be bad for the nation and living standards.

Below are some highlights from the segment via the transcript (watch full video above):

Completely biased. So how is that showing?

Well, according to Dick Smith, because the ABC hasn’t given enough attention to his recent million-dollar ad campaign, based on the Grim Reaper, questioning whether population growth is good for us…

Dick Smith’s a master of getting his message across and the fact that he was spending his own money helped bring him heaps of coverage on commercial TV…

Dick’s campaign was also well-covered by ABC Radio, including The World Today, ABC News, and Triple J Hack, which devoted thirteen minutes to the subject and had him on the program…

Nor is it true that the ABC has ignored his views on population growth.

In 2010 the ABC commissioned a documentary called “Dick Smith’s Population Puzzle”, which was followed by a Q&A special, hosted by Tony Jones to discuss his ideas.

However, that was years ago. So, when ABC TV’s The Drum last week got around to covering his latest campaign you’d think he would be thrilled.

Yet it only made him madder, because Dick wasn’t asked to appear on the program and claims it was ‘full of lies’…

Scared perhaps, or possibly – bored.

And while it might be fair to say the ABC could give more coverage to the dangers or benefits of population growth, we reckon that Dick gets more than his fair share of publicity from everyone.

But as for accusing the ABC of treason. Well, frankly Dick, that is ridiculous.

A few points:

  • The ABC has done a few television segments recently covering the population (immigration) issue, but all have been biased in favour of current mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ settings. Examples include bully boy Stan Grant, The Drum on two separate occasions (here and here), and Q&A (see here).
  • ABC Lateline’s recent special on housing affordability also refused to mention excessive population growth (immigration) as a factor, despite me talking about it extensively in an interview for the segment, which was left on the cutting room floor. The same happened to other participants in the Four Corners special.
  • MB’s own extensive ABC TV sources reveal that the bias is very real.
  • It has been less prevalent on other platforms, with ABC’s television arm by far the worst.
  • With regards to this Media Watch segment, Barry has abandoned the standards that he normally holds other journalists to. Barry made no attempt to deal with the relevant issues. He did not, for instance, attempt to argue that the amount of space that ABC TV news programs devote to Australia’s extraordinary rate of population growth (where we are growing at a rate that would be high even in the Third World) is in proportion with this issue’s importance. Much less did Barry offer evidence or statistics to show that the ABC gives fair or equal space to critics of these very high population growth rates or of the very high immigration rates that drive this growth.
  • Nor did Barry answer the points made by Ross Gittins, Bob Brown, Richard Denniss and Laura Tingle about the need for commentators to stop pretending that high immigration offers any clear net benefits for Australia.
  • Instead, Barry launched an ad hominem attack on Dick Smith, presenting him as an attention seeker. Obviously, Barry thought attack was the ABC’s best method of defence.
  • He claimed Dick was unreasonably aggrieved at not having his point of view represented on ABC’s program The Drum (where a group of population growth advocates was recently lined up to belittle Dick’s case, with some making misleading statements about him supporting Pauline Hanson). Yet, if they did not want Dick on their panel, why did they not ask Ross Gittins or Bob Carr or Tim Flannery or Judith Sloan or Richard Denniss or me? Why only pro-growth panellists?
  • The nearest Barry came to a defence of the ABC was in pointing out that back in 2010 (7 whole years ago) the ABC did run a documentary on population called (indeed) Dick Smith’s Population Puzzle followed by a debate on Q&A. However, he also failed to mention that the ABC stacked the Q&A panel with pro-growth lobbyists like Tony Shepherd, John Elliott and a pro-growth mayor – hardly allowing for a balanced debate.

Dick Smith is right to be angry at The ABC. Its television arm, at least, has never provided adequate or balanced coverage of Australia’s population debate and the sneering that greets every attempt to point this out is a dead giveaway of group think.

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    • I usually think media watch is great for being critical of media, but to move onto Dick himself shows that blatant identity politics agenda at play here. Dick is not a media source.

      I wish greenies would wake up and revolt against the ponzi.

  1. The rootless cosmopolitans would have loved that segment.
    They asked their friends and none of them agree with Dick Smith.
    That makes him a ‘free fire zone’

    • i’m terrified this kind of thing will lead to civil war. i know so many people like this – and I remember when I was this kind of person. I don’t know if you find this also, but I simply cannot hang out with these people any more. and i used to be very close to so many like this. lol.. there was a time in my early 20’s, when i wanted to be some kind of technocrat.

      it is a religious conviction, there is no other way to be able to comprehend it properly. they simply do not get, that while most of their social justice agenda has legitimate roots, it simply does not work for people outside the cognitive elite. rapid genetic/memetic change is very good if you have the luck (iq, parents, social strata whatevs) to benefit from it. if you don’t, you are well screwed.

      i don’t know how to explain this to these people anymore. the damage to the fabric of society is catastrophic, and when prog delusions finally give way to reality, the damage to non-elite people will be … i honestly can’t think of a word that would describe the social pain that will happen.

      • Describing it as a religious conviction is probably a fair call – a lot of the rabid lefties are generally self-described “proud atheists”, who have merely found themselves another religion which, like most religions, brooks no disagreement, and leaves no room for itself to be errant in any way. It would also explain the sheer venom with which any opposing views are greeted – you’re not merely someone with a different point of view, you’re a heretic.

      • +1 T
        … and touché Mr Walker for the reference to “new religion”. How do you know it is such? It’s impossible to have a reasoned debate with these people. Their minds have been made up and they know they are right.

        At least some us have cheered for both sides at one time or another so have a reasonable idea by now.

        The ‘elites’ indeed ..

      • That is why I came up with the term “Neo-Methodists”. It is the same narrow minded sanctimonious bully mentality that used to be found in fringe religions.

  2. reusachtigeMEMBER

    The ABC are a wing of the Australian Communist Party. If that means more renters for my massively booming property portfolio then I’m all for Aussie communism! Extra human capital always equals more vibe!!

  3. “we reckon that Dick gets more than his fair share of publicity from everyone.”

    Is Media Watch saying that we should get our news from other television stations?

    The CEO of BMW Australia said “the price of the Mercedes A class is too low”. Wow. So we should buy it instead of a BMW?

    Why can I not buy the Population Puzzle documentary of 2010? Bloody easy source of revenue – sell the bloody documentary!

    Maybe Tony Abbott is correct in cutting the ABC budget if the ABC will not realise cost-free sources of revenue like selling “old” documentaries and TV shows.

  4. Paul Barry – 250k a year to do a ten minute television show once a week about how above board the Australian Bolshevik Commission are.

      • Ok, but if you want to have any kind of political sway, you should be held to the same standards, otherwise it’s just a double standard.

        I see lots of harping on about immigration but not much in the way of new ideas. MB should aim higher!

      • Coming from a guy that has never purchased a subscription and is as biased as they come in favour of mass immigration.

        And yes, I hold dual citizenship (an Aussie and Irish passport). So what? I am not running for office. What’s your point Mr scattergun?

      • Bullshit – Kipron! You got pulled up on your initial “throw away” line, and now you changed your story.

      • I stand by what I said, Ino. MB should be held to the same standards as ABC, especially since they’re now spruiking a political party.

        While we’re at it, can we get some disclosures about whether any of the MB editors hold foreign citizenship?

        Didn’t think so, but then perhaps we shouldn’t be expected to hold MB to the same standards as the ABC. Because it’s just a blog. Ok then..

      • Rubbish. Should the Guardian be held to the same standard? They make money (lol) from subscribers. This is our national broadster.

      • Oh, come off it Kipron… So now, that’s how you shut down debate about dual citizenship? Ask if you have it and “no, you can’t talk about it until you renounce it”… You really are going for that logical-fallacies Bingo sheet today, aren’t you!

        However – I do have to award you 10/10 points for trolling style! Love how you changed the subject, and the smooth insertion of the tu-quoque fallacy there… Bravo! You did earn your keep for the day. Now if we don’t see you for the rest of today – have a great day! Go home and feel good about what you’ve done!

      • Haha nice straw man. Last I checked there was no rule about foreign citizenship for internet blog sites. There is for politicians. Some might be getting in through SAP, but until that day comes fair game.

        However unlike guardian and other media outlets, trolls are allowed to roam free here because, the folks like to hunt and rip their arguments to shreds.

  5. The ABC loves to condition the viewer on what to think through ‘discourse’ that it loves to present and dress up as a debate or even discussion.

  6. The media are playing into his hands. They are giving him hours of free publicity while making themselves look foolish and out-of-touch.

  7. Nah, I don’t buy it. I don’t believe the ABC is particularly biased against this issue. (They might be irritated by Dick, that’s a different matter). I think the ABC just don’t yet see the importance of this issue yet. That means more education work for you MB. Don’t let your frustration spill over into unreasonable claims of ABC bias. Otherwise you’ll find yourself classed with the other nut jobs.

    • Not even 9am and my blood pressure is rising. ‘No Winston, 2 + 2 doesn’t equal four, there’s no bias here, Winston’

      • Well you need to chill out bit. There’s plenty of hot heads who love to throw about accusations of ABC bias when their particular issue du jour doesn’t get the coverage they want. This issue is too important to allow MB to be classed as an anti-ABC hothead.

    • The Traveling Wilbur

      Mine’s fine. My right knee’s been stiffening up in the cold more regularly recently though.

      • I find that for your knee stiffening up, you need more knee rising and flexing exercises… Have you kneed a pollie in the groin today?

    • Interesting perspective Beesem. My take is that it’s more laziness and groupthink than anything else.

      Diversity = good. Immigration = diversity. Therefore immigration = good.

      Racists = anti-immigration. Therefore opposition to immigration = racist.

      It’s high school level reasoning that they haven’t progressed beyond. Embarrassing, really. But I also think DS was very naive in how he approached this and has made things much harder than he needed to. Given public attitudes this should have been a slam dunk, but he’s opened himself up to this line of thoughtless ridicule.

      • So do we dismiss that anti-immigration could also be driven by hysteria, xenophobia and and plain racism and that excess immigration could be just a Trojan horse for the hansonites and their ilk?

  8. All this negative press about Dick Smith’s stand on population growth by the ABC could work in Dick’s favour. With almost 80% of the population supporting Dick’s argument, the now, “plain to see”, bias by the academic, politically correct elitists at the ABC could backfire and lift his Sustainable Party out of obscurity and into a mainstream political alternative.

    • Most main streeters probably aren’t inclined to watch ABC
      And are suss on it (thanks Alan and Ray)
      So this just adds to their suspicions.
      They’re all gonna pile in on it.
      So maybe you’re right

    • “With almost 80% of the population supporting Dick’s argument…”

      I would take that with a pinch of salt. A spoon full of salt actually.
      IMO most of those 82%-ers are connecting immigration debate to the traffic congestion and overall daily problems – nothing more. When in their bubbled thoughts immigration cut becomes connected to negative capital gains (from which it is inseparable), that support will vanish (give or take).

      Anecdotally I confirmed this – just this weekend.

      • “… daily problems – nothing more”

        You don’t mean overcrowded and insufficient trains, trams, schools and hospitals, pollution, environmental degradation, third-rate inflammable skyscrapers, heritage and open space destruction and so on, do you?

        “When in their bubbled thoughts immigration cut becomes connected to negative capital gains (from which it is inseparable), that support will vanish”

        Now that part I do agree with.

      • “You don’t mean overcrowded and insufficient trains, trams, schools and hospitals, pollution, environmental degradation, third-rate inflammable skyscrapers, heritage and open space destruction and so on, do you”

        Yep those… tiny little daily problems…

  9. Don’t worry too much. The ABC is dead man walking, its audience is old, its boring and manages to capture only 10-12% of the national audience. Dick is preaching to dinosaurs, set in their ways, convinced of their intellectual superiority, oblivious of pending extinction.

    He needs to get on Seven and Nine. Renovate a room on The Block or cook up a storm on Masterchef. Dick needs the go where the viewers are.

    ABC is irrelevant in the 21st century. Put $2billion back into the kitty.

      • He’d need better PR to crack social media of y’s, millenials, iGen, most would not be interested anyway being the generation that only knows the world the way it is with regard to population and immigration. This is their world.

        He needs the boomers and x’ers. They watch TV in big numbers and have a memory of the olden days.

      • Not at all, their world is “save the planet at all costs so I can see a different part of it for a week or two every six months” – they can easily be shown immigration intake at these numbers is damaging that.

      • You don’t know many do you. I can asssure you “save the planet at all costs” is a meme not a mantra.

      • And I can assure you “high immigration is my reality so meh” is your meme and absolutely not reality, but, go on, tell me about how millies don’t really have a crush on Gaya 😂😂

      • You’re a boomer so have memory of the olden days, some look back nostalgically, others happy to see those times gone. You’re a sweet nostalgic.

        Re Gaia, y’s have some affection but no obsession, millenials and iGen, almost none: the world is in their hands, literally. Thank you Apple and Samsung.

      • Ys are millies what are you talking?

        I don’t suppose you’d have anything to back up what you just said re Gaia, because any of us can say anything we want. I know I look old for my age, but I’m only 18…

      • Mig the Boomer!

        Very good ! You have an excellent dermatological regime

        Must be all those North Yarra bank mudpacks.

        Hmm – that sounds like a business opportunity!

    • ABC is irrelevant in the 21st century. Put $2billion back into the kitty.

      Must really give your employer the irrits that it’s still the most trusted source of news and current affairs.

      • Top five shows last night:

        1 THE BLOCK 1,316,000
        2 NINE NEWS 6:30 1,073,000
        3 SEVEN NEWS 1,034,000
        4 SEVEN NEWS / TODAY TONIGHT 1,000,000
        5 NINE NEWS 990,000

      • So Dick Smith should be on the news? Guess what…

        Man look at those numbers, population explosion isn’t doing anything for the media – and “news” is again their highest ratings.

      • “lol if today tonight is in that list it proves it. tv i watched by ppl averaging around 60.”
        Is that age or IQ?

  10. Yep, the ABC is right. An Order of Australia recipient and Australian of the Year is a racist.

    The price we collectively pay for a “progressive” big Australia is falling living standards, corruption, congestion, pollution, black market economy, crime, infrastructure strain and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    Don’t like it? Dick Smith is a racist and so are you.

  11. Further recent evidence of the ABC’s biased approach to immigration…

    (1) Q&A’s “special” on Bill Shorten, broadcast 21.8.2017. Seventy minutes of hand picked questions from a hand picked studio audience and the moderator, Tony Jones. Number of questions even vaguely connected to immigration policy? ZERO.

    (2) ABC Radio National’s Sunday Extra hosted by Tom Switzer, broadcast 9.7.2017. “Why Don’t We Have a Population Policy?”
    Whilst on topic the only interview guest was “demographer” Dr. Liz Allen. All questions and answers were framed from the “bigger is better” side of the debate, with little coverage of the negatives of rapid population growth via mass immigration. No other people were interviewed.

  12. The ABC should only ever carry news that is credible. Therefore it should not report skeptics of big Australia in equal measure to proponents given there are very few of the former.

    How long until Dick Schmick is correlated /labeled as a nazi?

    • “The ABC should only ever carry news that is credible.” lol if they stopped covering #Cancerra they’d definitely get cut.

    • The Traveling Wilbur

      Dunno. Has Dick been buying ranches in Brazil again? Or has someone caught him caught him grooming his moustache in the mirror?