Does anyone out there really think that Tasmanian Liberal senator Eric Abetz gives a tinker's cuss about the reporting of the ABC's Middle East correspondent Sophie McNeill?
Does anyone really think he knows or cares about the plight of that terribly, terribly misunderstood place, Israel?
Does anyone seriously think that he has a passion for honest reporting? That a mere one or two inappropriate (in his view) words are enough to keep him awake at night?
No, No & No I hear you chorus.
So why, then, did he have the ABC's managing director Mark Scott bailed up over this in Senate estimates?:
"In contention was McNeill's report of the death of a young Palestinian girl... described [by McNeill] as a 'friendly gifted student' who had 'allegedly' tried to stab members of the Israeli defence force so they shot her dead. Why, the senator wanted to know, is the ABC describing the attacker as 'friendly, gifted' etc. as though they are givens, while her attempt to stab the military personnel was only described as an 'allegation.'" (Eric Abetz's close-to extinction howl at the media: it doesn't get much more predictable than this, Richard Ackland, theguardian.com, 3/12/15)
Ackland goes on:
"Why do we say 'alleged' attacker when the Israeli defence forces say that is what she is? Why don't we take that at face value? The senator, who seems unfamiliar with basic reporting requirements, should know that the word 'alleged' is used in relation to a criminal offence, if the offence is one that has not been proven. Nor should a reporter be expected to take anything 'at face value,' especially not from a military or government source." (ibid)
Elementary, of course. But Ackland's only attempt to account for Abetz's tender concern for the image of the world's most caring (and sexy) army is this:
"Middle East correspondents say they have a particularly torrid time coping with complaints from the Israeli lobby back home. Scott told the Senate committee that he thought Abetz was receiving 'daily or weekly' commentary on McNeill's reports from 'some observers.'" (ibid)
Some observers?! How coy is that?!
As always, questions arise...
Why did Mark Scott use such a euphemism?
And why didn't Ackland expand on the identity of said 'observers'?
Why is everyone dancing around the fact that some among our handsomely remunerated parliamentary seat-warmers, for reasons best known to themselves, seem to have nothing better to do with their time than act as transmission belts for the Israel lobby?
Now I know that all sorts of stupid people do all sorts of crazy things, but really, why would anyone do that?