ABC Bias

ABC Bias: no reporting on skeptical science; only alarmist articles published

Anthony Cox

A recent post by a commentator at Catallaxy illustrates the systemic bias, against their own charter, of the ABC on the important topic of climate change. The poster had sent an FOI request to the ABC
FOI Request
FOI Contact Officer, Corporate Affairs, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Written FOI request and ‘sufficient information’
This written request is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act.
The document I seek is a list of links to articles related to “global warming”, “climate-change”, “CO2” and “coral bleaching” that represent the sceptical view of those respective debates – as presented by the ABC on all its platforms.
I have listened, viewed and searched for years and I’ve not found any sceptical articles on the ABC’s platforms. There are plenty of articles that represent the alarmist view of these debates, but no sceptical ones. (Sceptical and alarmist for the purpose of this application are defined below.)
I will be satisfied with a list of the last twelve months sceptical articles – unless there are none in the last twelve months. In that event I will be satisfied with a list of the last ten years of sceptical articles.
Your search is likely to be more effective than mine. If after a reasonable amount of searching you can find no ABC articles representing sceptical views that have been published in the last ten years then please just say so.
Form of the document/s
I have no way of knowing the form of the document/s. It could be one or more schedules or database search runs or program lists or staff instructions or minutes of meetings or emails between staff – only you could reasonably know.
It could even be emails between members of the ABC Corporate Affairs unit and others in relation to my non-FOI request for such a list two weeks ago. That would be a good place to start – check and see if anyone did work up a list but just hasn’t been given the nod to send it to me yet.
Definition of Sceptical and Alarmist for the purpose of this application
Articles on “global-warming”, “climate-change”, “CO2”, and “coral bleaching” can be sorted into Sceptical or Alarmist views by comparing their message themes with these general definitions;
Global warming – Sceptical view
The present gentle global warming is natural and similar to the Minoan Warm Period, the Roman Warm Period and the Medieval Warm Period (about 3000,2000 and 1000 years ago respectively). This warming is entirely beneficial to all life on Earth.
Global warming – Alarmist view
The present alarming global warming is unnatural and in no way similar to the Minoan, Roman or Medieval Warm Periods. This warming represents a serious threat to all life on Earth at some point in the future.
Climate change – Sceptical view
The climate has always changed and is changing now. Changes are primarily driven by solar cycles, orbital variations, planetary albedo, ocean currents and the laws of thermodynamics.
Climate change – Alarmist view
The climate has changed naturally in the past but it is changing now in a way it shouldn’t be. These changes are directly attributable to humanity’s use of fossil fuels.
CO2 – Sceptical view
The planet was nearing a low-CO2 extinction event and humanity’s use of fossil fuels returns much-needed sequestered carbon dioxide to the biosphere and is generally beneficial. The benefits of carbon dioxide far outweigh any negatives put forward by its detractors. The additional warming effect of humanity’s CO2 emissions is largely insignificant.
CO2 – Alarmist view
The planet has a natural CO2 steady-state that is far lower than present levels and the human contribution to raising them is highly damaging. The costs of carbon dioxide far outweigh any positives put forward by its supporters. The additional warming effects of humanity’s CO2 emissions are highly likely to result in catastrophic consequences for the climate.
Coral bleaching – Sceptical view
Coral bleaching is caused by a range of natural cycles working separately or together in a way not yet fully understood by the science community. Reef ecosystems in general are quite poorly understood by the science community. Bleaching appears to have no connection to humans mining or burning coal. Ocean temperatures are not significantly influenced by atmospheric CO2 levels. Great Barrier Reef coral ecosystems generally appear to be in robust good health.
Coral bleaching – Alarmist view
Coral bleaching is caused by humans and is well understood by the science community. Reef ecosystems in general are very well understood by the science community. Bleaching is caused by humans mining and burning coal and releasing other CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The oceans are warming up due to increasing atmospheric CO2 levels and that is harmful to coral. Great Barrier Reef coral ecosystems generally appear to be in catastrophically-declining health.
Signature and address
Their ABC’s official response dated 15/05/2017
I refer to your request for access to documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) in your email of 20 April 2017. Specifically, you have sought access to the following:
“A document with a list of links to articles related to ‘global warming’, ‘climate change’, ‘CO2’ and ‘coral bleaching’ that represent the sceptical view of those respective debates—as presented by the ABC on all its platforms from 21 April 2016 to 20 April 2017.
If there are no articles from the last 12 months, [you] will be satisfied with a list of the last 10 years of sceptical articles.”
I note that in our acknowledgement letter to you on 4 May 2017, we stated that for the purposes of FOI we would assume that by “articles” you were not only referring to written pieces, but to broadcast news and current affairs content on ABC television, radio and online services.
I am authorised by the Managing Director under section 23 of the FOI Act to make decisions in respect of requests made under that Act. Following is my decision in relation to your request.
Locating and identifying documents
I have taken reasonable steps to identify and locate all relevant documents. My search for these documents involved contacting the following relevant people, who in turn consulted with relevant managers and staff within their respective teams:
• Director News
• Manager Editorial Policies, News.
I requested that searches be conducted of all hard and soft copy records for documents which fall within the scope of your request. As a result of those searches, no documents were identified.
Under section 24A of the FOI Act, the ABC may refuse a request for access if all reasonable steps have been taken to find a document and the ABC is satisfied that the document does not exist. In the present case, I consider that all reasonable steps have been taken to locate relevant documents. I am further satisfied that the requested documents do not exist and therefore access to them is refused pursuant to section 24A of the FOI Act.
If you are dissatisfied with this decision you can apply for Internal or Information Commissioner (IC) Review. You do not have to apply for Internal Review before seeking IC Review. Information about your review rights is attached.
Yours sincerely
Their ABC’s code of practice
4. Impartiality and diversity of perspectives
4.1 Gather and present news and information with due impartiality.
4.2 Present a diversity of perspectives so that, over time, no significant strand of thought or belief within the community is knowingly excluded or disproportionately represented.
4.3 Do not state or imply that any perspective is the editorial opinion of the ABC. The ABC takes no editorial stance other than its commitment to fundamental democratic principles including the rule of law, freedom of speech and religion, parliamentary democracy and equality of opportunity.
4.4 Do not misrepresent any perspective.
4.5 Do not unduly favour one perspective over another.
If Their ABC were meeting those standards we would be seeing articles representing views from both sides of the climate debate. But we don’t. We only ever see alarmist articles.
Those people who only take news from the ABC may well be unaware that a “diversity of perspectives” even exists in the climate debate.
The purpose of this exercise was mainly to trigger cognitive dissonance amongst all the worker-luvvies who now know for a certainty deep in the backs of their minds that they are not meeting their own corporate standards. They may never acknowledge their bias publicly, but that seed of self-doubt is planted.
Secondary reasons included forming the basis of a Ministerial missive requesting Senators Fifield and Nash sell Their ABC – which has been submitted. It included this para….
“It is time the ABC sank or swam on its own merits. Please sell it. Right now. Yes, the left will scream. But they can put their money where their mouths are and buy it. That way they’ll at least be its legitimate owners rather than the occupying force they are today. That way I and other conservatives won’t be funding the left’s propaganda machine.”
There’ll also be a formal complaint about the breach of the code of practice to the luvvies at ACMA – when I get to it.
This not a goal-oriented mission, it’s more a system-oriented activity in line with Dilbert creator Scott Adams’ philosophies. That way there’s no disappointments when the luvvies pretend they have done nothing wrong.


  1. This has been going on for too long.
    We'll contact Senator Mitch Fifield, Minister for Communications


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