The ABC Skilfully Avoids Saying the S-word

Everyone watching the classic Seinfeld episode “The Contest” knows exactly what the subject of the titular contest is, without the word ever actually being said. In fact, the verbal evasions of the cast are half the joke. The ABC is the biggest, costliest, blackest joke of the Australian media, especially as it manages to do an entire report on the collapse of Venezuela without ever once mentioning the s-word.

In a lengthy online report complementing her television and radio reporting for the ABC from Venezuela this month, Zoe Daniel failed to mention socialism or socialist policies. In fact, she referred to Chavez not as a socialist leader but as a “charismatic, populist President”.

You could also say the same of Donald Trump or Jair Bolsonaro, but there the similarities would end. There are and have been lots of charismatic, populist leaders, good and bad. Surely there must be something else distinctive about Chavez which contributed to the mess his country is in, now?

Just like anyone viewing Seinfeld, other news services running the piece managed to cotton on to what Zoe Daniel and her bosses at the ABC had avoided mentioning.

War News Updates, a news aggregator covering conflict zones…felt obliged to note the ABC’s oversight:

“WNU Editor: The authors of the above report do not mention the word ‘socialism’ in their report, nor how the policies of nationalisation and government confiscation completely destroyed what was once (one of) Latin America’s top economies. Instead the focus on why people are starving in Venezuela is on sanctions, corruption, etc … in short, the usual excuses while ignoring the real reason why everything has collapsed.”

Elsewhere, the Institute of Public Affairs’ self-styled “free market jihadi”, Matthew Lesh, jumped on Twitter pointing out the missing factor and decrying the piece as “disgraceful” and “biased” misreporting. Daniel snapped back that she had referenced Chavez as socialist in other pieces filed that week.

I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it all right, as Basil Fawlty might say.

Interestingly, the ABC seems to have reacted to the criticism. Among almost 2500 words, it altered one sentence with the addition of a solitary but important word.

The original article posted on June 12 said: “Charismatic, populist President Hugo Chavez was adored by the poor for his community support programs, free health care and education and generally subsidised living.”

It was “updated” early the next morning (the day after Lesh’s tweet) to the following: “Charismatic, populist President Hugo Chavez was adored by the poor for his socialist policies: community support programs, free health care and education and generally subsidised living.”

theaustralian


The “correction” says even more about the ABC’s bias than the original omission did.

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