GERARD HENDERSON TO JONATHAN GREEN – 8 MARCH 2012
Thanks for acknowledging my note.
You are paid a good salary (by the taxpayer) to edit The Drum and The Drum Online.
You should be able to check the facts yourself, from publicly available material, without seeking guidance from Robert Manne – whose memory is not the best these days and who seems too lazy to check his missives before forwarding them to you.
The entire exchange is well worth reading. If all Henderson asserts is true, Bundoora Bob's article was wrong on the facts, grossly wrong, and Henderson has been slimed as a result.
Is the ABC prepared to publish a retraction or apology? Not your nelly! Bruce Belsham, Green's boss, attempts to explain why the national broadcaster does not live by the "quality journalism" standards so often advocated by the likes of Jonathan Holmes.
This is just a quick note as Jonathan Green’s manager with responsibility for The Drum. I’ve had a look at your comments about the Robert Manne piece and reviewed further investigation by The Drum staff. To my mind the points you raise as factual errors are in fact strongly contested with disputed evidence. Some issues, such as defining your criticism of Bosch are matters of interpretation. I’m therefore uncomfortable with any alterations or editor’s note which adjudicates the contest. This was after all an opinion piece in a clearly signposted opinion section of the ABC site. To my mind the appropriate course is to offer you a right of reply which the Drum will undertake to publish and in which you can make your points. I look forward to reading it if you choose to submit something.
I take your point about fact checking in opinion pieces. It’s something we do and take seriously, but you will also appreciate that on an opinion site the dividing line between comment and fact is blurred to say the least.
Just so all of us who are obliged to support the ABC can be clear on this, Belsham's idea of his organisation's responsibility to do right by truth amounts to this, "the dividing line between comment and fact is blurred to say the least."
That would be bad news at the best of times, a senior ABC journalist insisting his people can publish anything they wish so long as inaccuracies are able to be spun as "comment". But it gets worse.
If this tweet from ABC Managing Director Mark Scott doesn't chill you, then it is probable you also believe Marieke Hardy's constant presence on the ABC is due solely to talent.
"Two major appointments .... Bruce Belsham - head of Current Affairs"
Just to repeat, a man who regards facts as entirely subjective is now supervising Four Corners, 7.30, and Lateline.
Read the whole thing. And remember, when an Abbott government takes charge, it cannot be allowed to make John Howard's mistake and set about reforming the ABC with little more than good intentions, a bit of whining and a few limp slaps.
UPDATE: For some reason, and it may be no more than a technical glitch, the 747 reader comments at the foot of Bundoora Bob's article have gone walkabout. For those interested -- the idle, the curious, and, perhaps, libel lawyers looking for a brief -- they still exist in the cached version.
UPDATE II: This is the element of Bundoora Bob's article which Henderson says is false:
...we know that Henderson was funded generously by Larry Adler's FAI Insurance. When the National Companies and Securities Commission conducted a raid on its offices, Henderson used his column in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age to launch a vitriolic attack on its chairman, Henry Bosch.
There is no "opinion" there. They are assertions, nothing more nor less.
And Belsham has now been installed atop the ABC's Current Affairs unit!