Words by: Smoko Henderson
ABC’s popular “Fact Check” initiative will cease to exist in July under provisions made in the Turnbull government’s 16/17 budget. This constitutes yet another consecutive year that the ABC’s wallet has been targeted by the Liberal party, whose representatives and ministers have also consistently attacked ABC on air in recent years for the horrible breach of journalist ethics that is reporting on humanitarian issues, and holding governments accountable.
The ABC Fact Check unit is really, really small compared to the rest of the ABC’s entire operation, but this means nothing in the face of budgeting, of course. And only budgeting. Nope, no other agendas here.
“Fact Check” couldn’t be further from a left wing propaganda outlet. Existing to hold politicians public statements up to a magnifying glass, the claims made by politicians on all spectrums are scrutinised by Fact Check – Liberal, Labor and Greens ministers all make the investigator’s lists. Right now, leaders from all three parties are on the front page (with all of them being declared inaccurate or wrong).
All fact-checking is done very well, with objectivity, and a strict reliance on authoritative sources. So, essentially, good journalism.
And, as often happens with good journalism in countries with controversial leaders, it is being suppressed. Of course, it’s not suppression by arrest or assault, it’s suppression by elimination of wealth. History teaches us that time and time again, the best way to silence an enemy is to take their money away. The US places economic sanctions on countries it seeks to dominate, aid and surplus are withdrawn in the name of negotiation in instances all across the world between various governments. The decision to specifically remove one particular “Fact Check” unit from the ABC’s operation has no beneficial economic motive, it isn’t based in calculation or in the good name of the Australian dollar – it is being removed so as to eliminate its ongoing publication.
This isn’t paranoia – it’s common sense.
To suggest that the removal of a keen investigative unit has no ulterior motive, even when authorised by the very people who have the most to gain from its removal, is absolutely foolish. Obviously no one is going to come out and say “we banned Fact Check because they made us look stupid,” but to assume that this consideration did not factor into the budget is to be willfully ignorant about the way government works and has worked for thousands of years in all of its awful, awful forms.
So if you’re going to vote for Liberal – like, if you really, really must – please make sure you actually believe in what they’re doing, and don’t just vote for them because of their favourite go-to line: “Labor can’t handle the economy.” When Fact Check goes, we’re going to have less power as citizens in determining the severity of bullshit, which, thanks to Fact Check, we know is usually pretty severe.