Twirling towards freedom

Having fun with your ABCs

The ABC is expected to settle a defamation case with News Corp columnist Chris Kenny this week, following ABC Managing Director Mark Scott’s formal apology for controversial sketch that aired last September on The Chaser’s The Hamster Decides depicting Kenny having sex with a dog. 

Kenny has long been critical of the ABC, and just weeks ago wrote a column for The Australian comparing dealing with the national broadcaster to “wrangling a toddler.” 

“Tell your toddler to stop smearing yoghurt on the table and they will as often not look at you, squeal with delight and let out a mischievous giggle as they slap another handful onto the deck,” he wrote. 

I can only assume that The Chaser’s executive producer Julian Morrow had precisely this comparison in mind when he followed up Mark Scott’s formal apology for the dog-fucking incident by tweeting a photoshopped image of his boss behaving in kind with a hamster. 

The Herald Sun’s summary of events was provided in a neat acrostic poem: “Conceited, Hollow, Arrogant, Subsidised, Egotistical, Remorseless.”

It’s been an uncommonly fun news week, where Twitter has been a mess of people scrambling to be the first to make jokes about ham-fisted apologies and misplaced bottles of Grange. In a strange turn of events, the one note of seriousness came from Tony Abbott. The Prime Minister commented last month that, “Next time the ABC comes to the government looking for more money, this is the kind of thing that we would want to ask them questions about.”

Abbott asked plenty of questions of the ABC just a couple of months ago – whether the national broadcaster “self-regulates,” “instinctively takes everyone’s side but Australia’s,” and failed to display even “some basic affection for the home team.” For all the Prime Minister’s grandiose comments about his feelings on the matter, the claims of the ABC harbouring a leftist bias are hard to prove empirically.  

This week, Fairfax has revealed that an “efficiency dividend” of reduced government spending may apply to the ABC in the upcoming budget cuts. Fairfax reported that “some estimates indicating that a 2.25 per cent efficiency dividend, in its first year of application, would reduce the ABC's $1.03 billion budget by about $22.5million.”

Commenting on the Chaser sketch last month, Abbott said that “defending the indefensible” was not a good way for the ABC to spend taxpayer money. But isn't a broken election promise even less defensible than distasteful satire? While the public is distracted with bestiality jokes and acrostic poems, the Prime Minister may not need to explain the reasons behind the predicted backflip on his election eve promise: “No cuts to the ABC or SBS.”

If such distractions continue, the indefensible may not need any defending after all.


Michaela McGuire

Michaela McGuire is a journalist and the author of Last Bets: A True Story of Gambling, Morality and the Law and the Penguin Special A Story of Grief. Visit her blog, Twirling Towards Freedom.


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