The ABC-hating right-wing organisation the Institute of Public Affairs calls itself a “think tank,” but little actual thought has gone into some of its recent work.
As part of its ongoing campaign to privatise the ABC — an argument it made in a wildly unsuccessful book — the IPA, of which Rupert Murdoch his a great supporter, made a major recent stumble in the pages of The Australian.
Media reporter Sophie Elsworth trumpeted new IPA “research” which showed the ABC was in the grip of “group think” that was hostile to News Limited and its owner.
A story titled: “ABC discusses News Corp and Murdoch 1700 times in just 30 days” was clearly set up as a rebuttal to a story earlier published by The Guardian, which showed News Limited mastheads had attacked the ABC 45 times over two days in response to Four Corners episodes about the Murdoch-owned Fox News channel in the United States.
The Australian reported that the public broadcaster had mentioned “News Corp” or “Murdoch” more than 56 times a day or 1,700 times in 30 days, based on media monitoring data analysed by the IPA.
But that “analysis” was profoundly flawed.
In a sometimes hilarious response, the ABC asked for a correction, which has not been forthcoming.
In part, the ABC statement said:
There were nowhere near 1700 unique relevant mentions of “News Corp” or “Murdoch” on ABC platforms during the 30 days. In fact, the real number was probably less than 10% of that figure.
It found that mentions of anything named “Murdoch” were also included, as well as reports on News Ltd share prices.
The statement concluded:
In fact The Australian has even included traffic reports as multiple instances of the ABC “discussing Murdoch”.
The Australian’s story is false, misleading and frankly ridiculous. The ABC has sought a correction from The Australian.
And drivers should be careful of traffic conditions in Murdoch St, Cremorne, and Murdoch Road, South Morang.
Dodgy polling is fertile ground for the IPA, whose members seem to be more interested in supporting their ideological predispositions than conducting anything approaching scientific research.