ABC managing director Mark Scott has again defended publishing the Indonesian spying story after Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull called the move an “error of judgement”.
Speaking to ABC News 24, Mr Scott also hit out at News Corporation for launching a “concentrated attack” on the ABC, accusing some sections of the media of being “obsessed” by the national broadcaster.
The spying scandal erupted last month when the ABC and The Guardian revealed that Australia had tapped the phones of Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and members of his inner circle.
The revelations sparked a diplomatic crisis between Indonesia and Australia, with the issue still not completely resolved.
Speaking to ABC News 24, Mr Scott says the spying claims are an important story and worthy of publication.
“If you look around the world, stories of this big leak of NSA material have been covered in newspapers, television stations, nearly 20 major media outlets have done it,” he said.
“Yes, it has caused short-term difficulty but we feel it was in the public interest.”
Turnbull says Guardian used ABC to ‘amplify’ publication
Mr Turnbull reportedly told a Liberal Party function on Friday that it was an “error of judgement” for the ABC to publish the story.
“They [The Guardian] were going to publish it and they just basically wanted a partner to help them amplify their publication,” Mr Turnbull said.
“It wasn’t as if this was a result of a year-long investigation by Sarah Ferguson and the team at Four Corners.”
But Mr Scott says it was a significant news story that deserved publication.
“I would say that every politician I meet has a view and a perspective on ABC stories or ABC programming,” he said.
“The Guardian Australia came to us on that original story. We independently reported it and we checked it out and went to our own sources around it.
“We’re an independent media organisation. Sometimes we publish stories that politicians won’t be happy about but we are an independent media organisation, that is the role we need to play.”