“Faining Outrage” from ABC Management

Jon Faine, Radio Presenter ABC 774 Melbourne censored & censured.

Audio of the 2 Jon Faine interviews in question: Jon Faine Interview with Mike Smith and Mark Baker 23 November 2013


Update: ABC Mediawatch had a segment on the Jon Faine Story. You can find it here.

Since our ABC story went live on Tuesday, a new case of how ABC Management responds to the Political Right bullying has emerged. ABC Melbourne Radio Presenter Jon Faine has been reprimanded for interviews with former Sydney radio host Michael Smith and The Age editor-at-large Mark Baker on November 23 as they allegedly breached its code of practice.

Audience and consumer affairs investigations manager Denise Musto said:

”The argumentative style of the interviews by Mr Faine, combined with a pattern of strongly stated personal opinions that at times oversimplified the issues … was not in keeping with the ABC’s rigorous impartiality standards … Jon Faine has been reminded of his obligation to gather and present news … with due impartiality.”

Fairfax Story here

To his credit Chris Uhlmann put up a spirited defence of Jon Faine and these 2 interviews:

Consolidated text of @CUhlmann tweets on the adverse finding against Jon Faine

  • The ABC’s finding that Jon Faine is guilty of a “lapse in standards” in 2 interviews on the AWU slush fund is absurd. http://t.co/6pOOlvtd
  • Jon challenged two journalists to defend claims that the Prime Minister acted improperly in her former career as a lawyer.
  • Jon believes that, based on the publicly available evidence, the Prime Minister did no wrong. To date, the facts support that view.
  • The interviews, which so shamed the ABC’s correctness commissars, were robust exchanges between a broadcaster and two journalists.
  • Jon pressed them to lay out the key allegations and provide evidence to support their claims of wrongdoing. In short, he did his job. Well.
  • Jon is one of the jewels of local radio’s crown and I am proud that I was once his producer. I await a robust defence of him from management.
  • While on the topic. I also think it’s high time we fell in behind our peerless political commentator Barrie Cassidy.

Margo Kingston reports 31/1/2013: I understand that ABC management ordered its Canberra journos to pursue the AWU slush smear against Gillard over objections from them that there was no story, just a Murdoch sting. They were right. As was Faine.

Audio of the 2 Jon Faine interviews in question: Jon Faine Interview with Mike Smith and Mark Baker 23 November 2013

The Australian Media Section (paywall) reports that Jon Faine will fight the ABC ruling over on-air interview ‘lapse’

ABC broadcaster Jon Faine has rejected a management decision to apologise for a heated interview he conducted on-air with a protagonist in the Australian Workers Union slush fund…

Margo Kingston reports 1/2/2013:

FAINE NEWS: @MsMountebank reports that during ‘Wrap’ segment today Jon Faine said he wasn’t happy with the ABC decision against him and had asked for a review.
However, he said he had conflicting advice whether it was possible to get a review.

Faine also noted that within minutes of receiving the decision it was online at The Age, which did not ask him for comment. This was despite the fact that one of the people in the interview complained of was Age journalist Mark Baker.

Editors note: The Age needs to be asked if Faine’s allegation is true, and if so, to explain its poor form. I would also love to publish an interview with Mr. Faine in http://australiansforhonestpolitics.wordpress.com Any takers?

Crikey further reports that:

Jon Faine’s not sorry: ABC standards slap sparks internal debate
http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/02/01/jon-faines-not-sorry-abc-standards-slap-sparks-internal-debate/ (paywall)

Melbourne ABC radio host Jon Faine is in hot water for a “lapse of standards” in two interviews. Should the ABC have stood by him — or reprimanded him?
The Age’s editor-at-large Mark Baker says ABC broadcaster Jon Faine doesn’t owe him an apology for a feisty interview that the ABC’s complaints department has found to be biased and overly argumentative.
The ABC 774 Mornings host is ropeable the ABC has reprimanded him for

Here is an extract from Mike Smith blog where the ABC reply to a complaint from a Mike Smith reader appeared.

It cannot be found on any other site, not even the ABC site itself:

Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2013 
Subject: RE: Email to the ABC of 25 November 2012 

Dear …..

Thank you for your email regarding Jon Faine’s interviews about the AWU slush fund allegations with Mark Baker, Editor-at-Large at The Age, and Michael Smith, former 2UE talkback host, on 23 November 2012.  Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in responding. 

In accordance with the ABC’s complaint handling procedures your concerns have been reviewed by Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit which is separate to and independent from ABC program areas. The role of Audience and Consumer Affairs is to investigate complaints alleging that ABC content has breached the ABC’s editorial standards.  We have assessed the interviews against the ABC’s editorial requirement for impartiality, specifically standard 4.1 of the ABC Code of Practice which states: “Gather and present news and information with due impartiality”. 

Audience and Consumer Affairs have concluded that the interviews were not conducted in keeping with ABC impartiality requirements.    The argumentative style of the interviews by Mr Faine, combined with a pattern of strongly stated personal opinions that at times oversimplified the issues at hand, was not in keeping with the ABC’s rigorous impartiality standards for current affairs content.   

ABC Radio apologise for this lapse in standards. This matter has been brought to the attention of ABC Radio management and Jon Faine has been reminded of his obligation to gather and present news and information content with due impartiality.  A summary of this finding will be published on the ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs website at:  http://about.abc.net.au/talk-to-the-abc/feedback-and-enquiries/upheld-complaints/ 

Thank you for providing the ABC with an opportunity to respond to your concerns.  For your reference, the ABC Code of practice is available online at:  http://about.abc.net.au/how-the-abc-is-run/what-guides-us/our-editorial-policies/ 

Should you  be dissatisfied with this response, you may be able to pursue your concerns with the Australian Communications and Media Authority, http://www.acma.gov.au

Source: http://www.michaelsmithnews.com/2013/01/an-apology-from-the-abc-over-jon-faines-interview-with-me.html

Here is the only reference by the ABC that we could find. Hat tip to former ABC broadcaster Peter Clarke @MediaActive


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  1. Its a pithy Mr Uhlman doesn’t put his outrage re Faine into practice when he is interviewing Labor Ministers. Quite frankly he is a hypocrite. One rule for his pals in the LNP and one of bloody minded arrogance when interviewing someone from the Govt

  2. We need whistleblowers from within the ABC (either current or former) to come forward, anonymously if need be, and reveal what they know about how the ABC reached its current state.

  3. In the ABC’s complaints handling procedures (http://about.abc.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/ComplaintsHandlingPRC.pdf) it appears that the Audience and Consumer Affairs unit has much power.

    Question: Who keeps an eye on the impartiality of that unit?

  4. Reblogged this on iheariseeilearn.

  5. Reblogged this on lmrh5.

  6. The ABC has already compromised itself with the level of biased pro-Coalition reportage in its media. As the last piece of ‘free’ MSM in Oz fairness and non-bias should be paramount.

  7. Note this tweet by #TheirABC Q&A


  8. Comment from Poll Bludger blog

    Gorgeous Dunny
    Posted Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 4:23 pm



    Just listened to the Faine interviews of Smith and Baker. Can be referred to here.


    I had a look at some of the follow-up. As far as can be traced, the only complaint was from a subscriber to Smith’s blog. Baker has replied to Crikey that he had no problem with Faine’s interview.

    Smith’s blog-followers would be pure wing-nut. The ABC takes a complaint from one such and brings wrath down on Faine? And after some months of carelessly batting away regular complaints from PB[ers Poll Bludger, blog with high percentage of progressive commenters] and other interested?

    It doesn’t make any sense unless the ABC has been captured by the uglies on the Right. No wonder their reporters are getting upset.

    End Quote.

  9. sulphurcrested says

    “….not in keeping with the ABC’s rigorous impartiality standards for current affairs content….”

    The ABC is white anted by Howards appointees, impartiality my a*se.