JEWISH leaders are encouraged by reports that ABC journalist Tom Joyner is under investigation by the national broadcaster after claiming Hamas beheading Israeli babies was “bullshit”.
Questioned in a Senate Estimates hearing on Tuesday, ABC managing director David Anderson said, “We’re certainly looking into it, investigating it. I am sorry that happened and I am sorry that event occurred and that was then distressing to other people as well; it shouldn’t have happened.
“He was at the time doing what journalists were doing and that was trying to verify what sources could back up what claims are being made at the time. He knows he’s distressed people by using that language. We will be investigating, as it was on social media and it was reported.”
Anderson said the correspondent has “rotated out of Israel and is taking a break … I believe returning to his normal base which is Istanbul”.
Joyner made the remark in an international journalists’ WhatsApp group a few days after the October 7 Hamas terror attacks. He later apologised for the offensive wording itself but maintained “we still have not seen clear evidence” of the beheadings.
Israel later confirmed that the babies had been burned and decapitated during the Hamas onslaught on Kibbutz Kfar Aza – and photographic evidence was shown to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Responding to a letter of complaint by Jeremy Leibler in which the Zionist Federation of Australia president described Joyner’s comment as “appalling”, the ABC’s news director Justin Stevens said the journalist’s remark “was not on social media, published, publicly available, or intended to be shared or reported”. Moreover, Joyner had “recognised the language of his comment was inappropriate and apologised”.
Commenting this week after Anderson’s questioning in Senate Estimates, Leibler told The AJN, “We welcome Mr Anderson apologising to the Senate over Tom Joyner’s offensive comments and news that his conduct will be investigated and that he won’t be reporting from Israel any longer. Through his own actions, Mr Joyner’s credibility as an objective reporter has been irrefutably tarnished.”
Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Peter Wertheim stated, “When will the message penetrate the ABC’s smug self-righteous facade that there is something fundamentally rotten in its culture, especially when it comes to Jews and Israel.
“It is time to stop looking at these incidents as unfortunate one-off aberrations that can be attributed to human error … The errors are always in the same direction, and the Australian taxpayer is the poor muggins that pays for it.”
Stating his organisation welcomed an investigation, Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said, “The ABC has a credibility problem which is not going to go away as long as such scandals continue to recur without effective action in response taken by its management.
“This is about sending a clear signal that reports and reporters must conduct their activity without bias.”