Citizen Journalism

What’s happened to our ABC? The Juliar ‘typo’ and cases where ABC does say sorry…

In ABC, Astroturfing, John Faine Affair, Tony The Geek on January 29, 2013 at 9:32 PM

Update 2: The ABC’s Q and A gets in on the act.  Is this the new culture at the ABC? It seems recycling NewsLtd framing by the ABC happens every single day. This makes the ABC a Mini NewsLtd. Is this really what we expect from our unbiased, impartial National Broadcaster?


Update 1: The Jon Faine story is growing bigger and has its own dedicated blog post here with updates.



When you see bias at our ABC, you first blame yourself. Everyone is biased of course. It is in the eye of the beholder. Then you see more evidence of bias, but the ABC has enough goodwill to pass that test too. Eventually though, you can rationalise it all you want but it doesn’t add up any more.

It started innocently enough with a small typo in the Prime Minister’s name *Juliar* Gillard. It happens to me all the time when I type “Julia”. Well actually no, I have never had that problem. It is not in my Google quick search, my auto correct or in any of my automatic word associations or impulses to write the word JULIAR.

So who at the ABC has this particular problem with spelling the word “Julia”? Someone does.

The only other place where I have seen this particular spelling, is by grumpy white old men from News Limited and from mostly Liberal trolls on Twitter. It is the definite give-away word that trolls use. They pretend to be swinging voters, but they are in actual fact paid or unpaid LNP staffers and Menzies House trolls masquerading as average mums and dads. In other words they are Astroturfing.
Has one of these trolls inflitrated the ABC? Maybe the ABC is full of them? Who knows?
I will try and explore some of what can be gleaned about the ABC from the outside looking in. Here is how the event unfolded on social media yesterday.
  1. ABC captions PM “Juliar” Simple typo, Freudian slip or editorial comment…?
  2. ABC Corrections & Clarifications

    PM Victoria visit

    Posted 9 hours 18 minutes ago

    On 29 January in an ABC News Online story, a photo appeared with a misspelling of the Prime Minister’s name in the caption. The mistake was a typographical error and was corrected as soon as it was noticed.View the corrected image.

  3. ABC Editor’s note: the caption of this image has been changed to correct an error in the Prime Minister’s name.
  4. @lyndalcurtis Look how ABC has called PM @JuliaGillard JULIAR! DISGRACE!! @abcmarkscott should issue an apology to PM
  5. Wow. Senator Brandis will be asking some hard questions about this obvious case of ABC bias in estimates:… #juliargate
  6. .@abcmarkscott is a management failure. His editorial staff is out of control. Self-control shot to hell and rampant anti-PM bias.
  7. .@vogrady2132 @abcmarkscott Notice refers to spelling error. It was not an error, it was a deliberate slur & abuse of ABC resources.
  8. .@abcmarkscott @katescanlan Did ABC really label the PM “Juliar” on your website? What action has or will been taken as a result of this?
  9. @lyndalcurtis @btckr Please ask ABC MD .@abcmarkscott how ABC News can publish PM slur (Juliar) on ABC News website.
  10. Calling the PM “Juliar” on ABC? Seriously folks, that’s a tiny tip of a very big iceberg.
  11. Excellent that at least Mumbrella have commented, nice work! #Auspol RT: ABC’s Juliar slip – mUmBRELLA… via @mumbrella
  12. I hope behind the scenes someone from the PMs office is kicking @abcmarkscott‘s arse for the disgraceful Juliar web propaganda. #abcfail
  13. @lucillekeen Hey Lucille did you think that the ABC’s calling our Prime Minister Juliar on their Website in the headline was newsworthy?
  14. @abcnews Can you please explain to me why our PM was called “Juliar” on your site and what investigation is underway into it? Thank-you.
  15. @abcmarkscott @katescanlan @katetorney Do you have a comment and/or explanation on how the PM was labelled “Juliar” on the ABC website?
  16. Andrew Bolt trumps leftie suspicions of ABC timidity regarding Federal Libs: ‘Has the ABC turned on Gillard?’…
  17. how can ABC News publish PM slur (Juliar) on website. When will you apologize?
  18. A simple error, do we really need to apologise? “@MattDonovanAU1: @abcnews Can you please explain to me why our PM was called “Juliar” ..
  19. @sacurren @abcnews @geeksrulz ACMA should be notified if ABC don’t respond appropriately and apologise.
  20. @sacurren @richoconnor @MattDonovanAU1 @geeksrulz @abcnews I have made my complaint and have copies of the Google page Where it still exists
  21. i seem to remember that awhile back there was an ABC web link (URL) where juliar was also used & subsequently changed too Anyone?
  22. @abcmarkscott “Juliar”? This slur’s part of a growing trend of partisan & right-wing bias at the ABC; what are you going to do about it?
  23. .@ABCmarkscott You have been made aware of slur on PM in a caption. Will there be discipline and an apology?
  24. Here is the offending misprint by the ABC via @the_LoungeFly #juliar
  25. @Steph_Philbrick @trisd My name is Julia and I have never ever accidentally typed Juliar…spell check, anyone?? #auspol
  26. Dear Twitter, re my ABC/Juliar tweets, I am not alleging it was all an LNP conspiracy. I AM alleging that ABC standards have gone to hell.
  27. @abcmarkscott So how come our ABC makes a “Juliar” typo, but we never see a “Tony Arsehat” or “Phony Abbott” typo for example? Hmmm?
  28. There would be hell to pay if a newspaper published that Juliar headline. Have the ABC not even offered a blame-the-sub apology?
  29. @abcmarkscott your worker must use “Juliar” often, are they politically active? Have u said sorry 2 PM yet @craysal @people_skills @abcnews
  30. RT @ERN_Malleyscrub: @MWhalan @abcmarkscott Typo? What letters surround the final ” a” on keyboard ? It was deliberate and unprofessional .
  31. The letters Q, W, S, Z surround the letter A on a standard QWERTY keyboard.
  32. There never was an official ABC response to the requests above. There was no tweet, no official statement but only a standard Editor’s Note, a correction notice. No apology to the Prime Minister of Australia or to the ABC audience.We can be cynical and say it is all a conspiracy. If you get to choose between a stuff up and a conspiracy, go with the stuff up every single time. And the same rule should probably apply here.

    What is much more concerning though is this ABC culture where this stuff up has come from.It has happened before and will happen again. It seems the ABC has only been able to manage to express weasel words about typos. Of course this was not a typo. This was an unprofessional Freudian slip by someone at the ABC. 

    It would be nice if the ABC could be honest and transparent and tell us exactly what happened, what was done about it and issue an apology to the Prime Minister of Australia.

    Is that too much too ask? An unreasonable request? So what does it take to get an apology from the ABC?

.@abcmarkscott Who in your news room put the word ‘coward’ above the pic of @JuliaGillard in your online story?
  • Was there an apology for the Prime Minister of Australia for this caption? I did not find one. There may have been one.

     In a similar vein to the Juliar “typo” is the “Gillard Fluff” error.
    The full story is here: Gillard Fluff – Don’t worry, just an internal ABC joke

    There are more case studies to explore.
  • The Australian vs ABC Lateline

  • It seems The Australian has no trouble getting an apology for an ABC error.
  • Scott Morrison / Andrew Bolt/ News Limited vs Stephen Long

Another person who was able to get an immediate apology was Scott Morrison.

Stephen Long said on The Drum:
I think that it is a cynical manipulation of an underlying prejudice in the Australian community and that it has very little policy merit. It is fraught with problems and it is really awful actually and I think Scott Morrison in particular as a spokesman in this area has just pushed way beyond acceptability in a way that he is willing to pander and manipulate that level of prejudice in what is essentially a racist manner. He is my local member in the electorate for Cronulla, the scene of the Cronulla riots …

Andrew Bolt:  Why isn’t Long more upset when boat people drown?
Long has a spooky ability to see into the heart of the Coalition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, and detect an evil impulse that – fortuitously – relieves him of any need to actually discuss the merit of Morrison’s argument that weak border laws are encouraging crooks, fake refugees, massive cost blowouts and hundreds of deaths at sea.

An ABC spokeswoman said Mr Morrison had made a formal complaint to ABC managing director Mark Scott, which was passed on to the audience and consumer affairs team as was normal practice. The decision to air an apology was taken by news management.

Steve Cannane said Mr Long’s comments were “clearly inappropriate”.
“While it is appropriate for ABC journalists to provide comment and analysis backed by demonstrable evidence, the remarks in question went beyond that, and were an expression of opinion,” “These opinions were not supported by evidence and were inappropriately expressed. “News management is discussing the matter directly with the reporter concerned.”

Of course I do not watch all shows on the ABC but I have not seen Stephen Long on The Drum or on his once regular Lateline spot. Has he been sent to the gulag in Whyalla for LNP re-education? While there, he might run into ABC’s Foreign Correspondent Eric Campbell.

  • Greg Sheridan / Andrew Bolt / News Limited vs Eric Campbell

  • Eric Cambpbell is from the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent show. He stopped tweeting after 1,203 tweets on 14th October 2012
  • His troubles seem to have started with Greg Sheridan. See Eric’s letter below where he tells Sheridan to put up or shut up.

Eric Campbell’s email challenge to Greg Sheridan
  • It took Andrew Bolt’s anti free speech and politically correct attack on Eric Campbell to claim another easy ABC journo scalp.

    Eric Campbell last tweet was a bit cryptic:
    ericcampbellfcp Eric Campbell
The News Ltd fight-back has begun. To prevent any sideways attacks on my program, I am ceasing to tweet. My decision entirely. It’s been fun 10/14/2012

The ABC apologises for a time-reference error on Friday’s Lateline interview with Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare.
EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: Last Friday, during our interview with Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare about the asylum seeker rescue operation, I confused Australian time with Coordinated Universal Time.
I apologise for the error which underpinned a number of questions.

These days it seems like a rather harmless tweet, especially if you have ever interacted with LNP staffers or Menzies House trolls on the infamous #auspol hashtag.

And of course Mr Pyne has his own form when it comes to insulting people and the ABC did not apologise or stop free speech on this Lateline show.

  • Pyne: Julia Gillard will be stalked like a “weak wildebeest” or “eaten out like a fly-blown sheep”.

Pyne says he is adamant the article didn’t bother him. ‘Not in the least bit,’ he says. ‘I don’t take these things personally . . . I assumed it was a spoof . . . there’s no point getting too fussed about it’.”
In a statement, a spokesman said Pyne, the Liberal MP for the South Australian seat of Sturt, hadn’t threatened to sue at the time the article was published, and noted that the ABC had taken the piece down, of it’s volition. Yet Pyne’s lawyers have sent two letters to the ABC about the piece.

  • Chris Uhlmann vs the Prime Minister of Australia



  • Paul Keating:

    I was appalled at Chris Uhlmann’s management of the interview with the Prime Minister on Wednesday evening.
    The political anchor of the national broadcaster’s principal current affairs program should respect his appointment by establishing the right balance in interviews – between inquiry, engagement and sense of occasion.
    On Wednesday night, Uhlmann displayed none of these.

    His technique is to have the pap set question to hand.  And as the interviewee responds, he speaks over the top of them to demonstrate an aggressive credential.  This is broadly to conceal the fact that he is unable to follow an answer in a discursive way – to grow the conversation in a manner that is both informative and elucidatory.

    The whole tone is invariably accusatory – a tabloid device for putting the interviewee on the back foot; notwithstanding the worth or conscientiousness of their responses.

    Uhlmann had all those wares on show Wednesday night.
    He was interviewing the Prime Minister, but by his manner it could have been a junior state minister.  There was no respect for the Prime Minister’s position in our national life.  His repeated interruptions of her were as impertinent as they were off point.
    Despite the fact that the budget had returned to surplus with the lowest level of Commonwealth outlays since the late 1980s, he could find no point in the Government’s discretionary changes other than to suggest to the Prime Minister that the budget was nothing other than a series of broken promises.  The lower aggregate of spending in the cause of national resilience didn’t even rate a remote point of acknowledgment from him.
    My criticism of Uhlmann is not that of bias, but of competence.  His apologists say he is learning on the job.  But what is the route to accomplishment when the technique is formulaic – limited to loaded set questions invariably posed in an accusatory tone?

    Paul Keating was the prime minister of Australia from 1991 to 1996.

  • Editor’s Note

    Paul Keating’s attack on Chris Uhlmann’s interview of a fellow Labor Prime Minister demonstrates an understandable tribal loyalty.  Keating sent it unsolicited to The Drum and we published it because this site has a culture of open and robust debate. But it cannot pass without comment. It is a personal and unreasonable assault on one of this country’s best political journalists and interviewers. Uhlmann’s interview with the Prime Minister canvassed the decisions made by her government to achieve a forecast budget surplus. He asked questions in the public mind – questions about savings made by breaking or shifting previous promises on business tax cuts, defence and foreign aid. He asked reasonably whether broken promises reflect on the credibility of the government and on its forecast. When the theme of credibility is infused into the very being of the current parliament, it’s a fair enough line of inquiry. Later parts of the interview were about cash bonuses, the carbon price and Julia Gillard’s judgement about Craig Thomson and Peter Slipper. These are matters that go to the heart of Julia Gillard’s prime ministership. I’ve just re-watched the interview. Chris’s tone throughout was respectful but probing, the appropriate tone for a political interviewer doing what political interviewers have always done – acting devil’s advocate for a public seeking to better understand its leaders. I’ve been around long enough to remember Prime Ministers and their acolytes levelling similar charges of impertinence against ABC political anchors, from Richard Carleton to Kerry O’Brien. Chris Uhlmann, widely respected in Canberra and amongst his colleagues  as a decent, intelligent and no-nonsense journalist, continues a fine tradition.


    Bruce Belsham
    Head ABC Current Affairs

    Conveniently the ABC decided to take this action: Comments for this story are closed. No new comments can be added. 

  • And there you have it. We started with an Editor’s Note and we finished with an Editor’s Note. It seems these are reserved for complaints from one side of politics only. The other side get their complaints acted on as soon as they are made, even before any formal complaint is lodged.

    Former Prime Minister Paul Keating gets accused by the ABC person, who has a vested interest himself, of being partisan. Keating had the gumption to complain about an appalling interview and appalling journalism at the National Broadcaster.

    Regardless of the merit of the case, it seems significant that there was a somewhat different response to a former Prime Minister by the ABC then that given to Scott Morrison and Christopher Pyne. There is also a different treatment to the alleged “offending” ABC staff. (Not calling for ABC management staff crackdown)

    Not only do the “offending” items get removed but also the “offending” journos get removed. This is especially true when they have offended the sensibilities of the golden trifecta of a LNP Politician, A. Bolt and News Limited.
    Of course there may be other examples and more details to the cases outlined above, but it seems that there is a definite pattern and a culture at the ABC. It appears that the ABC is so petrified by right wing critcism, that they overcompensate for them even though they are mostly very predictable attacks.
    This in turn gives News Limited and the LNP the power to scare the ABC into not only acting on their complaints, but also somewhat sheepishly follow the News Limited agenda setting and framing of issues.
    It makes sense that if the ABC follows this path, there is less opportunity for them to cop the full artillery of the formidable Murdoch press, Big Mining, Big Tobacco, Big Denial and Big Lobby.
    I have not even mentioned the IPA.
  • Holy shit. I’m not a member of the “Their ABC” brigade, but seriously, “Juliar” on screen?! What a joke our national broadcaster has become.
  • Mark Scott’s advice to ABC journalists: “Provide insight and analysis where you can and when you can’t, don’t. You shouldn’t be delving into the realm of personal opinion.” 

     Does the ABC even know what is news, insight and analysis and what is opinion any more? Has the ABC gone to hell? Where does the buck stop?
  1. All I can do is shake my head. How the mighty ABC has fallen. Bloodied and bowed by the conservatives. Eaten out from within.

  2. I will believe the ABC is not bias against Labor when it captions a photo of Tony Abbott with his name spelled Tony Rabbott and then corrects it.

  3. The Liberal National Party should now call itself The Illiberal National Party. It’s more than appropriate due to its political philosophy of the past twenty years.

  4. Incredible archive Geek. So sad, how the bully Lib-Murdoch papers partnership renders the ABC timid. In retrospect, I think that timidity is why The Drum reneged on its agreement to run my Abbott slush fund piece. It faces current (News Limited) and future (Abbott government) ball-crushing enemies.

  5. PS: IMO the ABC would do better to hold its nerve and fearlessly fulfil its charter for reasons I set out at

  6. I believe the ABC is following FOX in America. They do the same, interrrupt and do not let interviewee answer the questions. Margo check this out. ABC is now the FOX in Australia. Maybe not going to get rid of ABC at all, but keeping as FOX of Australia. It is cheap as public are paying for ABC. Or maybe Murdoch is assisting as well.

  7. […] our ABC story went live on Tuesday, a new case of how ABC Management responds to the Political Right bullying has […]

  8. The right wing wreckers and greedy power brokers take everything that is good in a society and trash it. They are a threat to everyone and everything good, that countless people have striven and worked for.
    They are third rate thugs and fascist trash.

  9. That’s a truly damning collection of examples, and well put together.

    I’d like to re-blog this with attribution (and link) on the Conscience Vote, please. Drop me a line to let me know if that’s okay.

  10. […] Geek asks, quite rightly, ‘What Happened to our ABC?’ That’s something I’d like to know, and I suspect I’m not alone in […]

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