The ABC hits back at The Australian, accuses them of undermining journalism


After The Australian launched an attack on two journalists, the ABC is fighting back.

The ABC have hit back at the Australian, after an editorial was published on June 8th, 2021, with the headline “Greatest enemy of truth is those who conspire to lie“.

This rivalry between News Corp and the ABC came to a head in the aftermath of defamation proceedings involving the public broadcaster, and former attorney-general, Christian Porter.

In the editorial by the Australian, they wrote about the ABC as “one of the most powerful institutions in Australia”, as both “the game and the gamekeeper”. 

Many at the ABC express their displeasure at being held to account by The Australian. Forget that their own Media Watch has a leery obsession with News Corporation, some less thoughtful ABC journalists, and their flacks, one-time reporters who seem to have forgotten where they came from, decry any form of scrutiny.

Two journalists in particular were identified by name,

“Many senior people at The Australian know well the work, the habits and the hubris of Sally Neighbour and Louise Milligan.”

The editorial concluded with:

To be good you often need to be brash, and brave. But to be really good, you need to be beyond reproach. Your loyalty to the truth must be without question. Fairness and balance is your currency. It has to be. Think of the opposite qualities to answer why. The subjects of good journalism, of important journalism, lie and dissemble. Good journalists do not. They rely on the truth. They yearn for it. But they understand the limits. In many respects the natural enemy of a journalist, aside from a public relations hack, or a political flack, is the defamation lawyer. The most dangerous enemy of the journalist is bad, lazy, deceitful journalism.

Many came to the defence of Louise Milligan, reporter for Four Corners, and Sally Neighbour, executive producer, including the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance:

Michael Rowland, host of ABC Breakfast, also defended Louise Milligan and Four Corners, saying the editorial “crossed SO many lines”.

And our very own Rob McKnight, also chimed in.

Now, the ABC has issued a statement, saying:

The Australian’s editorial on 8 June (“Greatest enemy of truth is those who conspire to lie”) made serious and unfounded allegations against two ABC journalists, Louise Milligan and Sally Neighbour, and the Four Corners team.

To see The Australian use its editorial space in such a way undermines the traditions of journalism it purports to stand for.

ABC Managing Director David Anderson stated his position clearly at Senate Estimates this week, when he said:

‘I have absolute faith and the utmost respect for the Four Corners team. They are an outstanding, award-winning team…I stand by the journalism of Four Corners. I always have. Still do. And I will continue to work with Four Corners on the excellent work that they do.’”

Louise Milligan has shared the statement on her Twitter, and Sally Neighbour has stated that she will not be pursuing any legal action.

Abbey Mikkelsen
Abbey Mikkelsen is a producer of the ANJ, ROB & ROBBO SHOW, having worked previously at STUDIO 10 as the Production Assistant. She is a writer and producer of the TV BLACKBOX podcast, and contributor to the TV Blackbox website. She is also the host & executive producer of the PLAYING IT BY EAR podcast. For all media enquiries, please contact Abbey via: [email protected]


  1. “the traditions of journalism”? … used to be “report the facts”, sadly not so much any more as the descent into “gotcha” journalism rules 4 Corners … becoming a bit like the late and unlamented Melbourne Truth really …

  2. I think some in ABC current affairs are simply blinded by their own righteousness. Not everyone shares their political view of individual rights, society and the world. If they continue to present programming that does not reflect a fair cross-section of Australian peoples’ thinking, the only people left watching will be their own metaphorical cheer squad.
    I think that ship has sailed. Exhibit A – Q & A last night.


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