ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie has published a letter to Quadrant magazine after its online editor Roger Franklin wrote a frankly bizarre article which said it would have been better if the Manchester bombing happened at ABC HQ instead.
Quadrant, a magazine of conservative thought, published The Manchester Bomber’s ABC Pals as a critique of the ABC’s coverage of terrorist attacks. For no reason other than being an extremely hateful dude, Franklin suggested that it “[would not] have represented the slightest reduction in humanity’s intelligence, decency, empathy or honesty” if the ABC’s Ultimo headquarters were bombed instead.
Life isn’t fair and death less so. Had there been a shred of justice, that blast would have detonated in an Ultimo TV studio. Unlike those young girls in Manchester, their lives snuffed out before they could begin, none of the panel’s likely casualties would have represented the slightest reduction in humanity’s intelligence, decency, empathy or honesty.
That paragraph has been amended, without correction or acknowledgement from Quadrant. The magazine’s editors claim that it was published “in draft form” and progressively updated, which is absolutely not how opinion pieces work anywhere. So that’s a pretty great excuse.
Guthrie’s response is good:
Quadrant promotes itself as “the leading general intellectual journal of ideas”. Those words ring hollow in the wake of last night’s vicious and offensive attack on the ABC, its staff and its program guests.
To take issue with our programming and our content is one thing. But to express the wish that, if there were any justice, the horrific terrorist bombing in Manchester would have taken place in the ABC’s Ultimo studio and killed those assembled there is a new low in Australian public debate.
Your subsequent attempt to make amends by changing some of the wording (without acknowledging or apologising for the original article) has done little to undo the damage. The article continues to state that if a blast occurred in one of our studios, none of the likely casualties “would have represented the slightest reduction in humanity’s intelligence, decency, empathy or honesty”.
Like many others, I am appalled at your willingness to turn an act of terrorism in the United Kingdom into a means of making a political point against those you disagree with.
One of the immediate results of this behaviour is that while our staff both here and in Manchester were working long hours to provide extensive coverage of this unfolding tragedy, we were also forced to reassure worried staff who had read your article and call in our own security experts to assess any possible impact flowing from your inflammatory words.
I ask that this response be posted prominently on the Quadrant website, and I also ask that the article, which continues to contain entirely inappropriate comments about possible bombings at the ABC, be removed and apologised for.
It is also believed that the piece has been turned over to the Australian Federal Police.
Eat shit, Roger.
Photo: Getty Images.