So you may have heard a lot about this whole Zaky Mallah/Q&A ~scandal.~ If you're sensible, you've mostly ignored it. But because it just keeps dragging on, we thought we'd bring you up to speed. Let's climb in, shall we?
So it starts like this: Zaky Mallah, a "terrorist sympathiser," used a platform given to him by the ABC for all the wrong reasons.
Mallah, who has been convicted of threatening to kill ASIO agents, asked government MP Steve Ciobo whether new citizenship laws would have seen him booted out of Australia for a crime he was eventually acquitted of.
Ciobo responded by saying he'd be quite happy to see Mallah lose his citzenship. Honestly it was a bit of a race to the bottom.
Mallah said Ciobo had "justified to many Australian Muslims in the Australian community, tonight, to leave and go to Syria and fight for ISIL because of ministers like him." This caused.... a bit of a stir.
Q&A host Tony Jones apologised, ruled the comment "completely out of order" and quickly moved on. Things were heating up.
By the morning, word had spread that something interesting had happened on Q&A, and a scandal was born.
The government took the incident VERY seriously. The outrage went all the way to the prime minister, who asked the ABC "whose side are you on?"
Australia's media couldn't resist the scandal, dedicating a medium-sized forest's worth of trees to it.
The ABC kinda, sorta backed down. It admitted it was wrong to give Mallah a platform on live TV, but also hit out at the government on free speech grounds. Basically, this:
The government was not happy with this. They demanded a bigger response from the ABC. A government inquiry was commissioned.
Government MPs were still furious. Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull told Insiders host Barrie Cassidy that he had "lost the plot". The ABC was forced to increase security at its Sydney office.
This back-and-forth went on for DAYS.
Seriously, people could not help themselves. They had to talk about it.
Government MPs announced they were boycotting the show.
And eventually, Tony Abbott forbade his ministers from appearing altogether. You could tell Barnaby Joyce wasn't happy but he copped it on the chin.
This week, veteran journalist Ray Martin was asked by the ABC to save the day by investigating the program. He agreed, but then called the government boycott "silly." People did not take this well.
You may think this is where the story ends. But no, it's ongoing. We're now on to day 16 and the fight continues.
Turnbull is due to appear on the show next week. The ABC is still promoting him as a panellist, but he won't confirm if he'll actually show up. Meaning the ABC is kind of at his mercy.
And so, we venture on. Unsure where this epic saga may lead, but certain that the consequences will be felt for tens of days to come.
Rob Stott is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Rob Stott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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