All is not lost at Aunty. Here we acknowledge four of the brave who’ve defied gender-identity dogma in large ways or small. 

1) Media Watch

On 26 June 2023, Media Watch ran a segment entitled ‘Transgender TERF War’, about the sacking of Julie Szego from The Age. Not only did the presenter Paul Barry – unlike other ABC journos like Sarah Ferguson and Dan Bourchier – give a reasonable description of the Melbourne Let Women Speak rally, he ended the segment with a declaration that is as pertinent to current journalistic practice at the ABC as it is to The Age:

Clearly, covering transgender issues is difficult territory. But denying women a voice or spiking stories that will cause a fuss is surely not the answer. In a debate where both sides accuse the other of extremism, it’s the media’s duty to be an honest broker, treat both sides with respect, and not be scared into silence.

Within days the call was out for Media Watch to recant, apologise, ‘correct’ itself, promise to amend etc. The call was sponsored by the Trans Justice Project, and signed by the who’s-who of gender-identity ideology in Australia: AusPATH, Amnesty International, Transcend Australia, Queer Unionists in Tertiary Education, Equality Tasmania, etc. Producer Tim Latham, however, publicly stood by the segment

Julie Szego has pointed out that making formal complaints about critical coverage of gender-identity issues in the non-Murdoch media is a 

frequent tactic of the trans lobby, aimed at keeping the progressive media on message. By contrast, it isn’t too exercised about Sky News and the Murdoch empire running “anti-trans” stories; in fact, such coverage helps them deter principled critics of the transactivist agenda who fear playing into the hands of “the Right”.

Critical coverage on the taxpayer-funded ABC is particularly vulnerable to this tactic. The ABC Ombudsperson responded to 29 complaints about ‘Transgender TERF War’.  The Ombo’s response was generally favourable to Media Watch, though a ‘clarification’ got issued by both the program and the Ombo about a statement made by one contributor. We appreciate that the Media Watch team would’ve had to spend a fair amount of time responding to the accusations made against the program. The process is the punishment. So good on them for taking it on!

Paul Barry himself has been on something of a journey re: gender-identity ideology. There are some ABC journos who take the clause in the ABC Charter about taking account of ‘the broadcasting services provided by the commercial … sectors of the Australian broadcasting system’ as meaning they should hate anything and anybody the Murdoch media loves, and vice versa. Barry, it seems to us, was once one of those: an enthusiastic member of the Michelle Telfer fan club, who welcomed (and exaggerated) the Press Council’s findings against The Australian journo Bernard Lane for his reportage of the Melbourne Children’s Hospital gender clinic. Things changed for him last year, after ACON Exposed’s revelation of the propagation within the ABC of gender-identity ideology through the ABC’s membership of the ACON program AWEI. His segment on the relationship between the ABC and AWEI also got him a lot of flak, both inside and outside the ABC. We admire him for standing firm, it can’t be easy. 

2) The Pick

On 10 June 2023, Geraldine Doogue finished the segment ‘The Pick’ on her RN program Saturday Extra – after her guests had given their recommendations about what to watch, read, or listen to – by saying: ‘And I would say The Witch Trials of JK Rowling too. I’m listening too. Which is a fantastic series I’ve just started listening to, about, really, the dramas around JK Rowling. Very nicely produced from the US, and really thought-provoking.’ That mightn’t look like much, but when a UK TV host called Davina McCall posted an 11-word favourable review of the same pod series on Twitter, all hell broke loose: there was a hostile article about her in Pink News; India Willoughby called her a terf and said he was going to boycott a program where she’s on the judges’ panel; and somebody called Liam claimed she’d ripped his heart out and ‘shat on the mangled remains’. As far as we know, Doogue hasn’t prompted wails of disappointment from the Trans Justice Project or a boycott by Riley Dennis. Nor has she been attacked in The Star Observer. But the risk that would happen was there, and Doogue must’ve known that, and slipped in her comment anyway. 

Doogue, too, has been on something of a journey re: gender-identity ideology. She was among the first to break the ABC’s tacit ban on covering the issue at all, but to begin with the only opposition she saw was from Christians, ignoring the rest of us. Then earlier this year she interviewed Hannah Barnes at length about her book Time To Think, about the Tavistock Gender Clinic scandal in the UK; but ruined it all by referring listeners to the absolute strongholds of gender-identity ideology in Australia if they wanted to learn more. We’re glad she didn’t do anything like that this time. 

3) Greer and Wenham

On 27 June 2023, David Wenham had Germaine Greer as his guest on The ABC Of … The program included that magnificent snippet of her on Q&A in 2016: 

Wenham then went on to have a respectful discussion with Greer about her current position on the issue of gender-identity ideology. 

Again, it mightn’t look like much, but in the context of the ABC it was brave of Wenham not to be ‘scared into silence’, and sure worth a posy. 

4) Utopia

On 28 June 2023, an episode of Utopia had an unsympathetic character be the one who states her pronouns at a team meeting. 

We don’t underestimate the guts it takes to make even a little dig like this on the ABC. Any one of them is likely to ignite a storm that the taxpayer-funded ABC can’t easily dismiss or ignore. As we’ve already mentioned, Aunty gets more than its fair share of gender-identity zealots’ attention. And then there’s the role of the ABC’s own internal gender-identity police. As revealed by ACON Exposed, the ABC’s Pride Network has been known to provide ‘guidance’ to colleagues on pieces of content the latter are working on, and to ‘reach out’ to at least one colleague to ‘guide them’ on a piece of content that ‘needed correcting’. These, we have every reason to believe, would be the same sort of fanatics as Julie Szego describes as operating inside The Age:

… what journalist Bernard Lane has described as the “self-appointed queer (and allied) caucus” — a feature of many a contemporary newsroom. As to how many journalists sit on it at The Age, I’ve heard conflicting accounts. Less than a handful of zealots. Everyone aged under 30. Half the newsroom, when putsch comes to shove

The ABC isn’t by any means a supportive environment for journos/content creators who seek to be truthful, fair, and commonsensical on the gender-identity issue. So Media Watch, Geraldine Doogue, David Wenham, and Utopia: to a greater or lesser degree, we salute you. 

But but but –– Abigail Shrier has recently commented on the belated appearance of pieces in what she calls ‘Liberal and Left publications’ that, for example, defend JK Rowling, or admit the risks of gender medicine. ‘These pieces’, she says, 

do not represent the start of genuine debate at publications that all but refused it, and they ought not to be misinterpreted as such. They are a pawn sacrifice, offered with an eye toward winning a larger war … When enough heat gathers in the kitchen, even the New York Times must crack open a window … They tie off a limb when they must. Cut loose from the more embarrassing losses, air token dissent, and return to fight another day. Consolidate their wins. Concede the absolute minimum, and only after it is so obvious that they are propounding a lie, that it would be ruinous to stay the course. This is a tactical pivot, not retreat, and it does not signify a new era of real debate on these issues in mainstream media or elite institutions.

Is this what’s happening at the ABC? One sign: On Gruen on 19 July, Wil Anderson launched into a curious little ramble about Todd Sampson’s candid backstage views on various ABC programs, including: 

Just a joke? Or is Media Watch being positioned as a pawn sacrifice that lets the rest of the ABC carry on its promotion of gender-identity ideology in peace?