The ABC has admitted it manipulated footage from a naval event to make it appear like the Governor-General and other dignitaries were watching a sexually explicit performance, after the dance group publicly accused the broadcaster of being “creepy and exploitative”.
The performance from 101 Doll Squadron at the commissioning of HMAS Supply on Wednesday shocked the nation, thanks mainly to the footage aired by ABC, showing dancers ‘twerking’ before cutting to the crowd.
The dance troupe on Thursday took aim at the ABC for its “creepy” filming and editing, saying they were made to feel exploited and unsafe.
They accused the film crew of sexualising the performers for “their own gratification”.
They said their performance was filmed from angles the audience couldn’t see, and the editing made it deliberately look like they were performing to guests who, in actuality, hadn’t yet arrived.
“The 101 Doll Squadron members have been under personal attack on all media platforms since the weekend and we now feel unsafe. The media which purports to support women have been the most virulent,” the group said in a statement to media.
“We are very disappointed at the ABC’s deceptive editing of their video piece…These are the images appearing in the media and the ABC have a lot to answer for in making us feel threatened and exploited.”
The national broadcaster quickly followed the statement on Thursday, issuing a clarification.
“ABC News published a video attached to a story concerning a dance performance at a commissioning ceremony for the HMAS Supply in Sydney. The video included vision of the Governor-General and Chief of Navy. The ABC has since confirmed both men arrived minutes after the dance performance finished. The video has been updated to reflect this.”
The ABC also issued a statement, in which it apologised to the Governor-General and Chief of Navy – but not the 101 Dolls Squadron.
“The video should not have been edited in that way and the ABC apologises to the governor-general and the chief of navy, and to viewers, for this error,” the statement said.
Governor-General David Hurley said the ABC’s behaviour was “disappointing”, as his office confirmed he and Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Michael Noonan arrived after the performance.
“The presentation of the video to suggest otherwise was disappointing,” a statement from the Governor-General said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the ABC should be reflecting on its actions.
“…it is clear much of the reporting that we have seen of that matter that has been provided to Australians, in this case by the ABC, was wrong, was false and was misleading,” Mr Morrison said at a press conference in Perth on Thursday.
“I think that is very disappointing.”