Australian broadcaster’s chairman quits over politics claims

In this Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, photo, Australian Broadcasting Corp. staff hold placards outside their offices in Sydney, Australia. The chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corp. resigned on Thursday over allegations that he pressured the independent national broadcaster to fire two political journalists because the government disliked them. (Joel Carrett/AAP Image via AP) (Associated Press)

CANBERRA, Australia — The chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corp. resigned on Thursday over allegations that he pressured the independent national broadcaster to fire two political journalists because the ruling conservative government disliked them.

The scandal has damaged the credibility of both the governing coalition and the ABC, which is government-funded but is required by law to operate independently of party politics. The ABC is many Australians’ most trusted news source.

ABC chairman Justin Milne announced on Monday that ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie, who is also the broadcaster’s editor-in-chief, had been fired halfway through her five-year contract because the board did not like her leadership style.

Media reports have since alleged that Milne, who is responsible for maintaining ABC independence, had unsuccessfully pressured Guthrie to fire political editor Andrew Probyn and chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici to prevent potential cuts in government funding.

Milne, who was appointed by the conservative government last year and is a friend of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, said he had quit for the good the corporation.

“It’s clearly not a good thing for everybody to be trying to do their job with this kind of fire storm going on, so I wanted to provide a release valve,” Milne told the ABC in a…

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