Q&A review not so painful after all

Censured, but not censored — It was the first time a minister had ever sent his departmental officers to review an editorial decision of an ABC staff member. Compared to the barrage of criticism from conservative voices over the past two weeks, in the end it was pretty painless.

Malcolm Turnbull sent his departmental officers into the ABC to review the June 22 episode of Q&A and as heavy-handed attacks on free speech go, it was a bit of a fizzer.

Compared to the immediate apology that upset diehard fans of the public broadcaster, the conservative backlash to CEO Mark Scott’s passionate defence of the station’s independence or the ABC board’s censure of executive producer Peter McEvoy and endorsement of that apology, it seems the Department of Communications review wasn’t so painful after all.

A summary released this afternoon points out the department was not asked for opinions or recommendations and gave Turnbull none:

“The role of the department has been to establish the relevant facts and provide these to the minister.”

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