Trad’s Track Record
Many participants and observers of politics have concerns about how matters are portrayed in the media.
Some will maintain sections of the media report in a manner that favours the political left whilst others will say they favour the political right. (You could just as easily substitute ‘progressive’ and ‘conservative’ in the previous sentence.)
Personally I think the varying viewpoints are a healthy and necessary aspect of having a free press. However, sometimes what is not reported is just as telling as the political slant a particular story is given.
In recent times I have had personal experience that I’d like to share with you. It illustrates how what we are not told can be just as important as what we are. It concerns a man named Keysar Trad.
Mr Trad represents a group called the Australian Islamic Friendship Association and is the ‘go to’ guy for all matters Islamic by much of the press and as such, he regularly features in the media.
He purports to be a bridge builder between the Muslim community and the rest of Australia. By his own admission his organisation has only twelve members, yet that supposedly merits him being labelled a ‘spokesman for the Muslim community’.
However, Mr Trad has an interesting history. He has been found by a court to be a ‘dangerous’ individual whom holds anti-Semitic views. He has been a translator for a jihadist publication and excused hateful comments by Australia’s then grand mufti. I could go on but for the full picture I suggest you read a speech I gave in the Senate about Mr Trad on 17 June 2014.
Given his history and track record, one can reasonably ask, why is Mr Trad portrayed by the media as the benevolent face of the Muslim community in Australia?
It’s a question I have posed on many occasions to the media outlets that feature Mr Trad as a ‘spokesman’. None of these letters have been published nor responded to – with one exception; that being from Mr John Laws.
On one hand it is perfectly understandable that media outlets don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them but it is very poor form to hold an individual out to be something they are clearly not.
However more concerning to me was the decision by the ABC to delete factual comments about Mr Trad from a recent pre-recorded television interview – ostensibly in the interests of ‘time’.
I was asked by the presenter what the Muslim community could do to better engage with the rest of the population. My response was to stop having people like Mr Trad speak on their behalf because he is discredited and ‘dangerous’. I then ran through the court judgment against him.
All of that was cut from the interview. Perhaps it really was because of ‘time’ issues but I personally suspect it was more about protecting Mr Trad’s chequered history.
It’s not the first time we have seen the reluctance of sections of the media to report on significant matters. Julia Gillard’s union slush fund is another case in point or the steadfast refusal to present a balanced ‘climate change’ case.
The media has a huge role in shaping public opinion. We need a diversity of voices representing different perspectives on important matters. However, it is just as important that we are accurately presented with the full picture, not just some idealised representation of truth.
That is truly the first responsibility of the free press.