Monday, October 25, 2010

ABC opinion: Biased and cheap

The ABC frequently publishes screeds by everyone's favourite semi-literate Australian "journalist" Antony Loewenstein, his latest piece another poorly written and deeply muddled classic which starts off talking about Darfur and abruptly segues to events in Sri Lanka:
A Western journalist visits the Sudanese capital Khartoum to interview President Omar al-Bashir. The reporter, after calling him "controversial" due to his "bloody" record in fighting terrorism, gives the leader a platform to explain his views and tactics. The only other voice featured in the piece is a commentator who backs the government wholeheartedly. The fact that Bashir has been charged in 2010 by the International Criminal Court for genocide in Darfur is glossed over in the story.

This piece would be rightly called propaganda, the lack of enquiry revealing an inability to understand the reasons Bashir wanted to speak to a Westerner. Bashir is undoubtedly a legitimate person to interview but the skill is painting an entire picture of the people suffering under his rule, not least the minorities and those in Darfur.

Sadly, The Australian's Rowan Callick was easily seduced by the allure of an exclusive chat with Sri Lanka's Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and this week published a number of articles from his lightning visit. His trip was "not paid for by the Sri Lanka government or by anybody in any way associated with Sri Lanka", Callick told me but it appears he engaged with nobody other than officials while in the country.
The rest of Loewenstein's piece elaborates on the supposedly one-eyed nature of Callick's articles, with particular emphasis on the simultaneously "inaccurate" yet "excessive" understanding of terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna:
Gunaratna's understanding of Asia's Islamist threat has often be inaccurate and excessive and his use of unsourced and unproven intelligence leaves open the possibility of distortions. A number of terrorism experts told me that very few, if any, serious terrorism experts take his claims seriously.
Yeah right, as if Loewenstein has actually spoken with any of these unnamed "terrorism experts", or any relevant sources, for that matter. No matter, Loewenstein soldiers on, mixing metaphors in irrelevantly dragging Israel into the discussion:
Despite [The Australian] featuring stories over the last years about the Sri Lankan government's Israeli-style blitzkrieg on the Tamil population, this is utterly irrelevant to the impression this week's stories have falsely created in the public mind. Letters to The Australian in the last days show readers are outraged that 70 per cent of Tamil refugees granted protection are supposedly returning to Sri Lanka within a year of arriving here. Yet there is no documented evidence that this is true.
There is also no documented evidence supporting anything Loewenstein says, and unlike Callick he has interviewed no relevant sources, the intrepid Lefty's attack on Gunaratna continuing:
I asked Callick about his use of Gunaratna and the questions around his credibility. He responded that his "views are often interesting and well informed. That he has a close connection to governments does not necessarily undermine those elements."

It would be like solely using a former Israeli intelligence officer and expecting him to speak frankly and honestly about the role of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

His former association would cloud his view unavoidably.
As if Loewenstein's close association with the anti-government Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice doesn't "cloud his views unavoidably".

And finally, Loewenstein, frequent misuser of the term "by definition", drops this clanger:
Gunaratna told me via email that he had "no financial relationship whatsoever" with the Sri Lankan intelligence services or the Sri Lankan government. He railed against "disinformation produced by the LTTE front and sympathetic organisations overseas including in Australia". The implication was that any allegation of government-led war crimes by Tamils was suspect by definition despite the overwhelming eyewitness testimony of Sri Lanka forces firing on hospitals and civilian areas during the war.
Publishing such tripe from opinionated but uniformed sources like Loewenstein does nothing for the ABC's credibility.



Anonymous Dan Lewis said...

If you Google Rohan Gunaratna's resume each single line of it outweighs Loewenstein's entire career.

Still, it's nice to see Loewenstein is versatile and can exhibit cluelessness about more than just Israel.

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Antony Loewenstein has emerged as a propagandist for the terrorist group Tamil Tigers. The Australian government should investigate if the Tamil Tigers are paying him. Loewenstein is a member of SRI LANKA CAMPAIGN FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE a well known terrorist front
that is under investigation. The Tamil Tigers have co-opted rights activists, academics and retired government officials to join this front. The intention is not to give a fair interpretation but to distort the truth and attack the government that defeated one of the world's worst terrorist groups.

8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

staggering mumblebrained rubbish by lowestmean

quoted un named 'security experts'


who are they? the security guard at the bank? No they'd know more.

the carpark attendant? No probably a med student - they'd know more.

probably a parking attendant - although they'd know more about this subject than the lowest one

what an idiot. Unreferenced 'experts' quoted in a supposed factual piece

the contempt for his audience is palpable

10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and to add to that check this clanger in his piece

After one sentence he does EXACTLY what he criticizes someone else for. Someone incidentally that makes the Ant look like, well, a dumb ass loser.

"xxxxxxxxx's understanding of Asia's Islamist threat has often be inaccurate and excessive and his use of unsourced and unproven intelligence leaves open the possibility of distortions.

**A number of terrorism experts told me that very few, if any, serious terrorism experts take his claims seriously**"

Is this a joke?

10:53 PM  
Anonymous Dan Lewis said...

Loewenstein's form is nothing new. Becky and others have compiled a seemingly never-ending list of his errors, falsifications and complete dishonesty. Ditto taking side with terrorists, be they Islamist, or on this occasion Tamil Tigers.

When it comes to incompetence or malevolence, apparently it makes no difference whether it's his pet-hate, Israel, or any other topic to which he turns his amateurish pen.

What continues to appall me, is that he is still considered good enough for 'our ABC'. Are they really that desperate? Previously, such extremists and windbags were confined to park benches and meetings in Newtown cafes near the Centrelink office. Now they seem to have been handed an audience.

7:59 AM  
Blogger Minicapt said...

"... Loewenstein does nothing for the ABC's credibility."
No improvement what-so-ever? Surely he has lifted it, at least a little bit. Excessive verbiage?


12:33 PM  

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