David McBride versus Four Corners

Apr 6, 2024
Sydney, Australia. 24th May 2023. Relatives of Julian Assange attended the Free Julian Assange! rally at Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park before a march through the centre of Sydney. The rally coincides with what was to be Joe Biden's first trip to Australia since his election to attend the Quad summit in Sydney on Wednesday. However, President Biden cancelled his arrangements before Prime Minister Albanese announced the cancellation of the entire event. Pictured: Major David McBride military whistleblower speaks at the rally. Image Alamy /Richard Milnes/Alamy Live News

On Easter Saturday, a friend and I drove down to Mullumbimby to hear Afghan war crimes whistleblower David McBride speaking at the Mullumbimby RSL. The previous Monday, I had watched the Four Corners program about David McBride, called Rules of Engagement. My friend hadn’t seen it, so we listened to it on the iPhone as we drove along. There was one heavily ironic moment in Rules of Engagement when ABC journalist Dan Oates says he hates it when journalists make themselves the centre of the story.

If only his Four Corners colleagues had listened!!!

Unfortunately, the story line of Rules of Engagement carefully avoided such vitally important issues as who bears the responsibility for Australian war crimes in Afghanistan, the controversial National Security Act, and the important role whistleblowers and journalists play in a democracy, to concentrate instead on a petty squabble between Four Corners reporter Dan Oates and whistleblower David McBride, concerning the making of the award-winning 2016 Four Corners episode, The Afghan Files.

Rules of Engagement covered the events of David McBride’s trial in November 2023, a trial I wrote two articles about for Pearls and Irritations, so I found the contrast between what the Four Corners program included and what my reportage covered illuminating.

My first P&I article was called, Who Do You Serve, and covered the colourful protest outside the ACT Supreme Court in Canberra before McBride’s trial began. The MC for the rally was the former SBS news anchor, Mary Kostakidis, and the list of speakers supporting McBride featured an impressive array of whistle blowers: Troy Stolz, the Clubs NSW whistleblower; Jeff Morris, the Commonwealth Bank whistleblower; Bernard Collaery, the former ACT Attorney-General who was prosecuted under the National Security Act for defending the ASIS whistleblower, known as Witness K; former senator Rex Patrick; and Julian Assange’s father, John Shipton.

My story was filled with grabs from these whistleblowers about their support of McBride, the failure of Australia’s whistleblower laws, and the increasing level of legal protection given to the National Security state. Four Corners ignored all of this, except for a two five-second grabs of Troy Stolz and Jeff Morris. I saw the duo arrive in Canberra with the Four Corners crew and I saw them filmed speaking in support of McBride at a concert in Glebe Park on Sunday, and again outside the ACT Supreme Court on Monday. Subsequently, Four Corners decided to use almost none of this footage of the whistleblowers. The assembled whistle blowers gave enormous support for McBride, which I reported, and which Four Corners chose to ignore.


You may also be interested to read John Jiggens other article on the plight of David McBride:

David McBride and the Afghan files trial

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