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Thursday, 05 May 2022 10:40

ABC unlikely to decide news presenter's fate before election is done Featured

ABC unlikely to decide news presenter's fate before election is done Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

The ABC appears unlikely to publicise any decision it makes about the future of news presenter Fauziah Ibrahim — who has disappeared from public view after she was outed for hosting public Twitter lists on her personal account of those she categorised as Labor Trolls and Lobotomised Shitheads — before the federal election is over.

Ibrahim has been absent from the weekend news programs on ABC News 24, a program she normally fronts along with Johanna Nicholson, on the last two weekends. Her place was taken by John Barron, a host of the program Planet America.

iTWire's inquiries to the ABC about the incident and what the corporation is planning to do have gone unanswered. iTWire was the first to report about Ibrahim's indiscretions, on 17 April.

There are indications, however, that no action will be taken against Ibrahim, apart from possibly a warning that any future indiscretions of a similar nature would be met with sterner action.

This can be inferred both from the ABC keeping silent on the issue and ensuring it does not earn headlines until the election is over, and also the appearance of other articles that seek to divert blame from Ibrahim.

One of these articles appeared in The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald on 1 May, with the writer, Karl Quinn, trying to portray criticism of Ibrahim's mistakes as part of a "social media onslaught targeting the ABC".

Quinn did not mention the fact that one of Ibrahim's lists was called Lobotomised Shitheads. He also omitted the fact that the ABC has laid down clear guidelines for the manner in which ABC employees should conduct themselves on their private Twitter accounts.

His tactic was to quote a number of "experts" to justify the claim that the ABC is attacked from both the left and the right – and a major part of his article did not deal with the Ibrahim issue at all.

Quinn mentioned numerous ABC personnel who have been criticised on Twitter, but failed to explain why the political editor of 7.30, Laura Tingle, a woman, has earned nothing but unstinting praise on Twitter for her reporting and analysis.

But then perhaps if he had gone down that path, Quinn would have had to examine the contributions of a number of ABC personnel whom he tried valiantly to champion – and that is unlikely to have served his purpose.

Surprisingly, a second article, that again tried to cast Ibrahim as some kind of victim, was published in the Daily Mail, a publication that is not exactly known for quality journalism, on 1 May.

The author, Brittany Chain, drew on a podcast from 2021 to highlight the claim that Ibrahim has had issues with her public appearances as her work is "taxing".

A third article, by Antoinette Lattouf, again in the two Nine Entertainment newspapers, attempted to deflect from Ibrahim's lists, claiming that criticism of Ibrahim was levelled more at her name, colour and religion, than her work. Lattouf's article appeared to be a cover for plugging a book that came out today (5 May). 

Spin can only last so long. At some point in the not-too-distant future, the ABC will have to make a public statement about Ibrahim. It is funded by taxpayer money and it cannot hide its reactions to indiscretions of this kind forever.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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