A WhatsApp group chat called ‘J.E.W.I.S.H Australian creatives and academics’ helped coordinate a campaign to pressure the ABC to fire journalist Antoinette Lattouf, leaked documents reveal, with at least one member claiming they received a response directly from ABC Chair Ita Buttrose.
Screenshots of the group chat, obtained by PEDESTRIAN.TV, show a coordinated letter campaign that encouraged the group’s 628 members to complain to Buttrose, ABC Managing Director David Anderson and Federal Communications Minister Michelle Rowland over the ABC’s hiring of Lattouf.
“The ABC assigned Antoinette Lattouff (sic) an advocacy ‘journalist’ (with an active anti-Israel social media presence despite ABC policies to the contrary) to host the ABC morning show in Sydney,” a message sent on December 19, 2023 from a person identified only as ‘MG‘ reads.
“In short, the ABC does what it wants and we foot the bill!”
In another message, MG added: “Something needs to be done.”
Group members were encouraged to contact Rowland, Anderson, the ABC Ombudsman and the Board to ask why Lattouf was hired for the hosting role.
“Antoinette is not impartial on the way in the Middle East and what are the consequences for her stating that ‘gas the Jews’ at the Sydney Opera House was a lie,” one message read, referring to social media posts by Lattouf that raised questions over a viral video from a pro-Palestine rally in Sydney on October 9. (A report published in Crikey by Lattouf and journalist Cam Wilson said no independent fact-checkers had been able to verify whether the chants actually happened.)
“Clause 4 of the ABC code of practice is to be impartial and employing Antoinette is in breach of this clause.”
On December 20, 2023, a person identified only as Talia asked for screenshots of Lattouf’s Instagram activity.
“Urgent call for any screenshots of Antoinette Latouff (sic) saying anything anti-Israel or antisemitic since Monday 18th,” the message read.
“Need evidence from her socials for why she is not an impartial journalist.”
That same day, on December 20, Lattouf was fired from her role.
At least one member of the ‘J.E.W.I.S.H Australian creatives and academics’ claims they received a response directly from Buttrose over Lattouf’s firing.
“I just got an email at 5.42 from Ita Buttrose in response to my letter to [sic] ABC that ‘Lattouf no longer works at the ABC’,” a message from one person, identified as Esther, reads. “I don’t know how much our emails affected the decision but I’m impressed with their power re her and Clem Fraud!”
PEDESTRIAN.TV understands the ABC Board is holding an emergency meeting on Tuesday morning, after union members employed by the ABC overwhelmingly passed a vote of no confidence in ABC managing director David Anderson on Monday. Staff have put ABC management on notice that further action will be taken if the current crisis is not addressed by January 29.
“Our leaders have consistently failed to protect our ABC’s independence or protect staff when they are attacked,” the motion passed by members of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) read. “They have consistently refused to work collaboratively with staff to uphold the standards that the Australian public need and expect of their ABC.”
Lattouf has filed a wrongful termination claim against the ABC, engaging Maurice Blackburn Lawyers. Last week, the ABC reportedly admitted to firing Lattouf for violating its social media policy, and that both her political opinions and her race (Lattouf has a Lebanese background) were “entirely irrelevant” to its decision.
However, on Monday, Lattouf’s lawyer Josh Bornstein said he was advised by the ABC that it is now claiming it did not terminate her employment, and that she is not entitled to make an unlawful termination application to the Fair Work Commission.
Bornstein described the backflip as “very strange”, and said he’d sought detailed explanation from the ABC.
“If the ABC pursues this jurisdictional challenge, it is likely that evidence will need to be called from senior management,” he said.
PEDESTRIAN.TV has reached out to the ABC for comment.