In her interview with the Russian ambassador to Australia, 7.30 Report 21 March 2023, https://iview.abc.net.au/video/NC2301H041S00, I think that Sarah Ferguson failed to give her audience adequate information about the nature of the International Criminal Court, and the fact that neither the US nor Russia are signatories.
“We note your concerns” is a response that ABC critics are familiar with. It seems to mean, “We’ve ignored your arguments but made a small mark on the negative side of the “balance” tally.
On Fri, Mar 9, 2018 at 9:33 PM, David Macilwain wrote:
As another writer and critic of the ABC’s unbalanced reporting of the war on Syria, Jeremy Salt has forwarded me your response to his complaint about Sophie McNeill’s recent report on Ghouta.
Jeremy shared his complaint with me at the time, and I endorse the points he made in their entirety, regarding both the true situation in Syria and Ghouta, and on the ABC’s consistent and seven-year long failure to present a balanced picture of the Syrian government’s war with foreign-backed Islamist terrorists.
Consequently I am bemused by the ABC’s response today. Taken at face value, it betrays an almost complete lack of understanding of the ‘geopolitics’ of the conflict, as well as the role that the ABC has played over the last seven years in helping to deceive and misinform the Australian public.
So serious is this failure, and that of all the other “Western mainstream” media organisations, that almost the whole of Western society, including leaders and commentators, NGOs and even the UN, have an idea about the war on Syria which is a total fabrication.
Put simply, – and I need to spell it out – the war ON Syria was started and fomented by the US and NATO governments in coordination with their local Middle Eastern allies – the Gulf Arab theocracies, Israel and Turkey. These countries and their intelligence agencies conspired to ship an arsenal of weapons into Syria, and jihadists from across the region, with the intention to destroy Syria’s secular government and replace it with a Western friendly puppet.
This criminal attack by “proxies” and mercenaries might not have succeeded in Syria, where there was little interest in removing the government, and certainly not by force. So the role played by some media networks, in particular Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, and the collusion of Western media agencies such as the Guardian and BBC – and by association the ABC – was critical to creating support for this lethal invasion amongst those in the West who had some say in what their governments were doing.
The propaganda from Arabic media, including Al Jazeera before it was kicked out of Syria, was also important in persuading some Syrians that their own government was attacking them. Many Syrians who fled the country continue to believe this, even as support for their government and army by the majority who remained is at record levels.
That is the background to the war on Syria, but there are two particularly important aspects of the subsequent misreporting of the war – as “Civil war” for instance, or as some sort of sectarian war against Sunnis – that need special mention. These two things have recently come together in the incredible propaganda campaign over the Syrian Army’s operation to liberate Eastern Ghouta from its terrorist besiegers.
This ugly propaganda partnership is between the White Helmets and their “Chemical Weapons”. And it was perfectly illustrated in the scenes we saw – over and over again – of White Helmets hosing down children they claimed to have been affected by Sarin gas in Khan Shaikoun last year. This supposed attack is now thoroughly debunked, due to a complete lack of credible evidence either of Syrian airforce bombing or of proven Sarin contamination. While the UN made such claims, it refused to send an investigative team to the area – under control of Al Nusra terrorist groups – or respond adequately to Russia’s detailed criticism and protestations at the UN.
In fact, the most cursory viewing of the Khan Shaikoun footage – filmed by the White Helmets’ photographers and transmitted to Western media by unknown and unverified “activists”, would lead an uninformed – or un-misinformed – viewer to ask questions about its credibility. They might ask – and have – how the “White Helmets volunteers” seem unaffected by the Sarin contamination of their victims.
But if they know a little more, or do some simple research on the symptoms of Sarin poisoning, they wouldn’t ask this question; victims of Sarin and other nerve agents do NOT gasp for breath, because they cannot breathe. They also turn blue from lack of oxygen, in contrast to the rosy faces of these poor children, supposedly dying from Sarin exposure.
The well-informed viewer would then conclude – as I have and Jeremy Salt has, and thousands of observers and commentators in “non-Western” and alternative media have done – that both the White Helmets and their Sarin, and “Chlorine” attacks are a FRAUD. A criminal fraud, which has led to the deaths of tens and hundreds of thousands of innocent Syrians and Syrian defence forces by being endlessly repeated and echoed in Western media.
Even though these media organisations may not be intending to mislead, and may – like their audiences – genuinely believe that the White Helmets are a volunteer rescue organisation and that the Syrian government is killing its own people with chemical weapons – these media must hold some responsibility for the atrocious situation we now find ourselves in.
It will be a hard road back to truth and responsibility for the ABC and SBS, and their foreign media partners, but it is not too late to turn around and face reality. The consequences of not doing so are becoming increasingly severe.
Finally I would just like to address several points and claims that you made in your response to Jeremy Salt’s complaint.
You say that:
“As we have noted in our previous correspondence to you, the ABC has presented vast and comprehensive coverage of events in Syria. This coverage has included a broad and diverse range of perspectives over time, as required by the editorial policies.”
This beggars belief. “Vast and comprehensive coverage” that failed to inform your audience about the 10,000 strong “Army of Conquest” that was created by Saudi Arabia and Turkey in March 2015, and invaded Idlib province at a time when the Syrian army and its allies were finally making great progress to liberate the area from the clutch of insurgent groups. Now three years later, and countless thousands of deaths later, the Syrian army has driven the insurgents back to Idlib, with assistance from Russia.
“Comprehensive coverage” that somehow failed to tell your audience about the billion dollar Oil export business being run by Islamic State, in collusion with the US, Israel and Turkey, which was brought to an end by Russian bombs and cruise missiles? And that also failed to note how huge convoys of IS fighters and weapons had crossed the desert to reach and attack Palmyra without being stopped or attacked by US coalition forces?
A “diverse range of perspectives over time” that completely failed, over a very long time, to present the “perspective” of Syria’s legitimately elected government or that of the majority of its people? Their perspective on the foreign backed head-choppers of Al Nusra and Ahrar Al Sham, Jaish al Islam and Islamic State, is quite simple – they are all terrorists killing innocent Syrians, and if Western governments won’t cooperate in the joint operations with Russia, Iran and Hezbollah to drive them out and kill them, then they have no right to level any accusations against the Syrian government and its partners for acting in whatever way they see fit to defend their sovereign territory.
I’m afraid that the ABC’s response to this criticism is quite inadequate, and evidently a parody of truth. Citing two recent reports where there was mention of terrorist attacks on Damascus only highlights the absence of such a perspective from normal coverage. The titles of both reports focused on the usual half-truths about attacks on ‘rebel-held’ Ghouta by the Syrian army, misleading readers away from the reality – that the Syrian Army’s actions are a defensive response to the terrorists indiscriminate shelling of residential areas of Damascus.
It should also be borne in mind that Ms McNeill was not actually in Eastern Ghouta, so her sources are suspect. There is no credible information available on the number of children suffering or killed in Ghouta, and what information does reach us is mostly misinformation, from the White Helmets and their “anti-government” partners. When you have seen one fake “child rescued from the rubble” by these men you have seen them all, and should ask why it is that these bombed suburbs seem to have no inhabitants other than White Helmets “volunteers” and young children?
In consideration of my own criticism, which must also constitute a formal complaint, I would ask that you refer to my recent article posted on John Menadue’s blog “Pearls and Irritations”, which questions our alliance with America over the war on Syria, as well as the role and nature of the White Helmets.
I look forward to your considered response,
Sandy Creek, Victoria
"Before becoming an academic I was for many years a journalist, with the Herald and Age in Melbourne, with UPI and AP in London and with the 'daily star' in Beirut. Thus I have a reasonable idea of what journalistic standards should be, and again, in publishing Sophie O'Neill's report, 'bombed, starved, trapped: this could be the worst place on Earth to be a child', the ABC has again violated them." (Dr Jeremy Salt). Dr Salt is the author of The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands, University of California Press, 2008) See also https://www.candobetter.net/taxonomy/term/7778.
[Candobetter.net Editor Comment: We have introduced capitals in several instances where they were not included in the original comment, which was made via an online comment form.]
ABC program: news
Response required: Yes
Date of program: 11-Feb-2018
Contact type: Complaint
Subject: ABC misreporting
Comments: Before becoming an academic I was for many years a journalist, with the 'Herald' and 'Age' in Melbourne, with UPI and AP in London and with the 'daily star' in Beirut. Thus I have a reasonable idea of what journalistic standards should be, and again, in publishing Sophie O'Neill's report, 'bombed, starved, trapped: this could be the worst place on Earth to be a child', the ABC has again violated them. I have written before about Ms O'Neill's 'reporting', specifically in connection with the 'Australian story' report from Madaya, a town held by one of the most vicious takfiri groups in the Syrian war, Ahrar al sham, responsible for many massacres, a fact she did not mention. Now she has done it again. Of course, the situation in eastern Ghouta is shocking, if no more shocking than any other part of Syria that has come under attack from these takfiri groups in the past seven years. As for being the 'worst' place on earth for children, other candidates would be Yemen, bombed by Saudi Arabia with the support of the U.S, or Gaza, starved and strangled by Israel. but let this slide for the moment. The reason for the misery in Eastern Ghouta is that the district has been infiltrated by takfiri groups you should have no hesitation in describing as terrorist. Fighting under the umbrella of Jaysh al Islam (the Army of Islam), they include Hayat al tahrir al sham (Free men of Syria) formerly Jabhat al nusra (Front of Victory), Al Qaida in Syria, which has been designated by the U.S. as a terrorist group; Ahrar al sham (Free men of Syria); and Faylaq al sham (Army corps of Syria). All of these groups have a long record of massacre behind them and all are committed to the same basic ideology as the Islamic state, which is to destroy the secular government in Damascus and replace it with a hardline Islamic regime that would extirpate all Shia and Alawi and would extinguish the civil rights Syrian women currently enjoy. Sophie O'Neill merely describes these groups as 'opposition' fighters, hiding a truth which your readers are surely entitled to know.
The Syrian government is doing what any government would be doing, which is trying to drive these people of Eastern Ghouta. O'Neill did not mention that these takfiris are constantly sending mortar shells into the heart of Damascus, killing many civilians, including children. She mentions being sent photos, which suggests to me that she is regarded as a useful propaganda conduit by the agents of these groups.
I note that you illustrated your article with a photo of the 'White Helmets' in action. This group is embedded with the takfiris, operates in no area that is not under their control and has been thoroughly exposed as a propaganda arm of the foreign governments that have orchestrated the war on Syria. Please, the ABC has a reputation to maintain, does it not? You are degrading it by publishing material like this. Your readers might swallow it because they don't know any better. Is this good enough for you?
Network - ABC Online
RecipientName - Audience & Consumer Affairs
Referrer - Complaint
ABC Response to Dr Jeremy Salt's complaint
From: ABC Corporate_Affairs11
Date: 9 March 2018 at 08:47
Subject: RE: abc misreporting
Dear Mr Salt,
Thank you for your email regarding the ABC News Digital story Syria’s Eastern Ghouta could be the worst place on Earth to be a child right now.
In accordance with the ABC's complaints handling procedures, your correspondence has been referred to Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit separate to and independent of the content making areas of the ABC. Our role is to review and, where appropriate, investigate complaints alleging that ABC content has breached the ABC's editorial policies. The ABC's editorial policies can be found here: https://edpols.abc.net.au/.
Your comments and personal views have been noted, including your views on what should have been included in the piece and your personal views about the White Helmets. As we have noted in our previous correspondence to you, the ABC has presented vast and comprehensive coverage of events in Syria. This coverage has included a broad and diverse range of perspectives over time, as required by the editorial policies. This particular piece focused on the experiences of people, particularly children, currently in Eastern Ghouta.
The ABC has previously covered the make-up of the insurgents in Syria including the association of some to Al-Qaeda (including http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-08/syria-idlib-air-strikes-described-as-a-war-against-civilians/9408578). The ABC has covered insurgents attacking Damascus with civilian casualties (including http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-20/more-than-70-killed-in-rebel-held-ghouta-amid-un-warning/9463658).
Within the context of a piece focused on the ongoing challenges facing children in Eastern Ghouta, Audience and Consumer Affairs is satisfied with the level of detail provided. Furthermore, we note that the piece contributes to the ongoing diversity of perspectives shown across the ABC.
Having reviewed the piece, and with consideration for the additional information provided by ABC News, Audience and Consumer Affairs are satisfied the piece kept with the ABC’s editorial standards.
Nevertheless, your comments and views have been noted by our unit and ABC News.
Audience and Consumer Affairs
As producer of the segment this morning about the current campaign to liberate Eastern Ghouta from its terrorist besiegers, I would like to offer this alternative perspective on what is actually happening in Syria. I understand only too well that all Western governments, NGOs and UN organisations, including Amnesty International, speak with one voice, but they still present the situation in Damascus and its suburbs in completely misleading and false terms.
While these voices talk of a “humanitarian disaster”, and make many claims regarding deaths of children and attacks on “hospitals” and “Syrian civil defence”, their sources are not in any way trustworthy.
The armed groups who have occupied Damascus eastern suburbs since 2012, holding the local population under siege, are the very same groups who staged the so-called Sarin attack in Ghouta in 2013, distributing videos of kidnapped children they had themselves gassed through the sympathetic media networks supporting the Syrian insurgency.
Regardless of whether we believe this in the West, or dismiss it as propaganda from “Assad apologists” or “Kremlin Stooges”, the fact remains that the vast majority of Syrian citizens know it to be the case, along with most Russians, Iranians and Lebanese. Their media do not present videos produced by the “White Helmets” as credible evidence of crimes by the Syrian Army, but as evidence of the criminals behind the White Helmets organisation in Westminster and Washington.
And while our media and leaders just dismiss Russian opinion and expertise as invalid, and portray Russia’s role at the UN as criminal, it is only the media who actually believe this. There would not be an intelligence agency in the US/UK/French/Israeli/Saudi network who does NOT know the truth of what their countries are trying to do to Syria, which makes their crime in fomenting and sponsoring the war on Syria truly the crime of the century.
People close to Syria and Russia, including myself, have been trying to bring the truth to the attention of the media here for the last seven years, as it was apparent within weeks of the so-called uprising that it was not genuine and not supported by Syrians.
There are now many commentators and journalists presenting the truth in alternative internet sites in the West, and in public broadcasters in the ‘non-West’ such as on RT, Al Mayadeen, Press TV and Xinhua.net, and at some point the Western mainstream is going to have to come to terms with this.
But things don’t look good. Many people fear that a “World War” is imminent, because of the US and Israeli attacks on Syria, and the NATO moves in Ukraine. Given the US recent talk of using tactical nuclear strikes against conventional attacks, such a conflict will rapidly become an inferno.
We have reached a crisis point, but it will not be solved by UN meetings calling for ceasefires, or Amnesty calling out the alleged war crimes of America’s enemies. What must be called out is OUR OWN direct sponsorship of terrorist organisations in Iraq and Syria, including IS, to achieve our global strategic objectives.
These objectives have absolutely nothing to do with “democracy and freedom” or “responsibility to protect”, as the war on Syria so amply demonstrates. This war would have been finished in 2013 had the West’s media organisations done their job, and exposed the sponsors of the Sarin attack – Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the US.
It is these countries, including all their partners – Australia, UK, France, Qatar, UAE, who hold responsibility for the half million deaths in Syria, and the swath of destruction across the region, NOT the Syrian government, nor its allies, Hezbollah, Russia and Iran and Iraq.
Veteran correspondent Robert Fisk is one journalist who has learnt the lesson that the mainstream needs to learn, and wrote this particularly accurate article about the campaign on Ghouta yesterday.
I would like to think that all at the ABC read this and think about it, as they – and probably quite innocently – shield the real criminals from the public’s view. Fisk used to regularly get interviews – with Fran Kelly amongst many others – on the ABC, perhaps until he started showing sympathy towards the Syrian army. It is urgent that his view is now shared with your audience again, along with that of many other investigative journalists and commentators who write in the alternative press, and are frequently interviewed on its programs.
I hope you can bring this to the attention of your colleagues, and senior staff.
I welcome your response.
Sandy Creek, Victoria, 3695