The ABC Australia Pulls Catalyst Show On Cholesterol & Statins. So See It While You Still Can.

When I was alerted to this last week my reaction was “it’s a good thing.” It’s always a good thing when the government (no typo) censors something they don’t want you to see.

I make no meaningless distinctions between the State, Media, and Mega Business—particularly when it comes to the food and drug multinationals. One in the same, pretending to be different. Hell, there’s isn’t even investigative journalism, anymore. Whether right or wrong, deep investigative journalism into the affairs of State serves a good purpose. Witness that there are still some who see this. I give you Sheryl Attkisson and Michael Isikoff.

Here was the ABC’s press release concerning their own shame.

Today, the ABC’s independent Audience and Consumer Affairs Unit has released its findings regarding a controversial Catalyst program on statins and heart disease.

The detailed investigation was prompted by a number of complaints into two Catalyst programs, collectively titled Heart Of The Matter, aired in October last year. The report of the investigation is available here.

While acknowledging the importance of public health issues relating to the efficacy of heart disease treatment and the contrasting opinions of highly-qualified scientists, the A&CA has concluded that the second episode breaches ABC standards on impartiality.

Because of the interlocked nature of the two programs, both will be removed from the ABC website. Information will be added to the program website and the ABC Corrections page to advise of the steps that have been taken.

Ah, isn’t that sweet. Don’t let people decide for themselves. Protect your advertising revenue coming from big drug and food companies under the guise of “protecting the public from reporting that ‘breaches ABC standards on impartiality.'”

What an hlarious laf at pipsqueaks and clown whores for ad revenue. I’m talking to you, Mark Scott, whore.

But, in the end this is a good thing, because information can’t be contained. These programs and transcripts probably exist in a number of places, but are actually still on The Way Back Machine.

So here’s what I need you to do for planet earth today.

  1. Put on your hats of objectivity. Whether or not you agree with the message, realize that the shenanigans that gets a message banned that you disagree with is the same shenanigans that will get the message banned you agree with.
  2. Everyone gets to decide for themselves, and everyone has an opportunity to persuade or dissuade others. This is the nature of the Internet, of unfettered access to information anyone in the world who cares enough can upload or publish for everyone’s consideration.
  3. Watch the programs and/or read the transcripts while you still can.
  4. Get this message out, that I’ve just written, to as many folks as you can.
  5. Admonish anyone you have contact with, who has the tech and tools, to preserve these programs and transcripts, forever. The Way Back Machine is pretty cooperative in removing stuff at the request of originators, so get on it.

With any luck, far more people will end up seeing these programs now, as a result of the ABC’s shameful actions, than otherwise ever would have.

Update: I would be remiss to not shout out for Dr. Maryanne Demasi, the lovely peach who put this together. I can only imagine her disappointment at having it pulled. She’ll win in the end.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Nick Lo on May 21, 2014 at 14:28

    While noting that you say “I make no meaningless distinctions between the State, Media, and Mega Business”, aside from some arguably circuitous revenue, it’s not clear how directly the “advertising revenue coming from big drug and food companies” applies considering that “As opposed to many of its international counterparts such as the BBC, the ABC is funded entirely by the Australian government”:

    • Nick Lo on May 21, 2014 at 14:46

      Hit post before completing. I should mention that I find the argument for pulling BOTH shows weak. Particularly when the “breach” (can be read in p.46 of the 49 page report if anyone is seriously interested) was only found in the second show. I can only imagine this was for reasons of continuity since the first show does reference the second. Either way I’d suggest that avoiding litigation is a more credible reason than protecting ad revenue.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 21, 2014 at 19:34

      Corrections taken, Nick. I didn’t really bother to look into it, just went generic. Regardless the actual motivation, they were pressured by someone/thing with power and the ability to make things difficult on some way.

      Bad place for a journalism outlet to be.

    • Nick Lo on May 21, 2014 at 20:43

      That they were pressured was never really in doubt. As I mentioned, they were pressured even before going to air and it was actually something of a surprise that it got that far.

      If anyone is particularly interested the crux of the “breach” is:

      “Potential for harm
      Given the high level of trust audiences have in the ABC, the large numbers of Australians being prescribed statins and the dominant message of the program that the benefits of statins had been exaggerated, there was the potential that the program could influence viewers not to take their prescribed statins.

      The relevant editorial standards provides as follows:
      7.6 Where there is editorial justification for content which may lead to dangerous imitation or exacerbate serious threats to individual or public health, safety or welfare, take appropriate steps to mitigate those risks, particularly by taking care with how content is expressed or presented.”

      Plenty to argue about ideologically from that of course, but I do encourage anyone genuinely interested to read the report itself. The reasoning for the withdrawal of the programs is sadly much more pedestrian than a lot of the hyperbole I’ve read would suggest. Isn’t that often the case though; simple semantics used as a restraint.

    • Nick Lo on May 21, 2014 at 21:15

      Oh and Richard, you and your readers may be interested in Anthony Colpo’s articles on the topic of the ABC and Dr. Maryanne Demasi:

      Note I’m posting these purely for public interest and scrutiny rather than promotion. All opinions are Anthony’s own (and we know he has plenty 😉 ).

    • Richard Nikoley on May 22, 2014 at 07:14

      It’s ok Nick

      I’m friends with Anthony now. We exchange emails now and then, and he recently listened to a podcast I did where I mentioned him.

    • Nick Lo on May 22, 2014 at 13:08

      “I’m friends with Anthony now.” I knew this already. I think Anthony has mentioned you favourably on his blog as well? Either way, I was just posting these as a different/extended perspective.

  2. Charlie on May 21, 2014 at 14:55

    Archiving to my hard drive as I type…

  3. […] Via Richard Nikoley: […]

  4. Ash Simmonds on May 21, 2014 at 15:42

    I’ve put up a dedicated page which includes links to sane articles on it, the videos, a Cliff’s Notes of each episode, and the transcripts:


  5. Michael44 on May 21, 2014 at 17:57

    Hi Nick.

    Nick, the Australian Government pays drug companies many hundreds of millions of dollars a year in order to subsidise the cost of statin drugs to recipients. And yes, as you alluded to, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is funded by the Australian Government and not through advertising revenue, but we should and need to be asking questions regarding the pulling of these programs, as although the ABC is meant to be editorially independent, how sure can we really be?- especially when an incident such as this occurs.

    • Nick Lo on May 21, 2014 at 18:08

      Hi Michael, “we should and need to be asking questions regarding the pulling of these programs” no argument from me there as my reply to my first comment noted.

      What I was pointing out was that it cannot be to “protect your advertising revenue” when the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is government funded. Written as it does it weakens Richard’s point by suggesting that he did not research ABC funding.

      Of course, as I also said, there is “arguably circuitous revenue” from “big drug and food companies” but making such an allusion doesn’t strengthen the argument. The ABC did after all have some fortitude in initially broadcasting the show despite calls against doing so from the get-go.

    • gabkad on May 21, 2014 at 18:50

      Are you kidding? Big Pharma is hand in glove with drug plans for seniors. In Canada there’s some big deals going on with meds for osteoporosis and cholesterol. That’s why Health Canada prohibits the sale of Vitamin D3 to 1,000 IU doses and K2 to microgram doses. It also banned a longer list of supplements than you can wrap yourself around.

      Big Pharma controls the Health Ministry. This then acts through other government departments to prohibit the broadcasting of discussion worthy topics.

      I was listening recently to someone being interviewed on CBC about drug development. Big Pharma is not looking for new antibiotics because these are time limited applied medications. There’s no money to be made by developing a drug that the patient takes for 5 to 10 days. On the other hand statins and anti-depressants are longterm and that’s where the money is made.

    • Nick Lo on May 21, 2014 at 19:03

      gabkad, Am I kidding about the Australian Broadcasting Corporation being directly funded by government rather than ad revenue? I fail to see much humour in doing so, so, no.

      Aside from it being a rant against “Big Pharma”, which is fair enough, I also fail to see any specific connection between your comment and mine.

      As I said though, let’s not forget that the ABC did broadcast a contentious program despite attempts to prevent them doing so. Are Canadian broadcasters and others doing the same?

    • gabkad on May 21, 2014 at 19:22

      I got rid of my television years ago. Don’t even remember when. Sometimes I’ll watch CBC programmes on line. I listen to CBC radio instead.

      CBC is OURS. It’s not the government’s. Maybe our constitution is different in some ways from Australia’s.

  6. Andrew Austin on May 21, 2014 at 18:07

    It says more about drug companies and the establishment’s (probably the same people) ability to sway government as the ABC is a solely government funded organisation and gets no money from ads, as a previous comment pointed out. I watched both shows and thought it was well put together and quite impartial. Apparently a lot of people quit taking statins in response to it, good on ’em, it should be their choice. However, it threatened the revenues of some powerful people so it had to go. I’d love to know what went on behind closed doors to get the shows axed from the website. Interestingly, the ABC is going to do another show tonight on fat and how we’ve been steered towards diets that have resulted in the obesity that abounds today. Hope it’s as challenging as the cholestrol shows. Then again, it’ll get the axe as well if it is.

  7. Bret on May 21, 2014 at 20:46

    Network news is dying a loud and embarrassing death, like a diseased elephant. Nobody wants to watch it anymore, and that is because it is complete crap. It’s boring and uninteresting, and most importantly, there are vastly superior options on the web, most of them done by “uncredentialed” authors such as bloggers (the horror!).

    None of the networks ever ask whether government has grown too big or whether the unconstitutional, black market empowering, police militarizing, fourth amendment disregarding, nanny-statis war on drugs should be eliminated. The closest I ever see to that is on Stossel, which airs once a week at night on Fox — and he even has to keep the drug thing low-key, because of all those god damn conservative automatons that comprise Fox’s audience, who believe big government is okay, as long as it’s there to regulate people’s recreational activities.

    Those networks can roast in hell with the Republicans. Their journalistic “coverage” is nothing short of absolutely worthless.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 22, 2014 at 07:12

      Keep the righteous rants flying, Bret.

      Love it.

  8. marie on May 21, 2014 at 21:33

    Merci, mon cher.

    The absolutely blindingly glaring part is that ABC’s own investigative committee found ‘No breach” and upheld None of the complaints of bias for the first show, while they only found 1 breach upholding 1 of 12 complaints for the second show.
    It’s finally on pg.46 in the (exhaustive) 49-page report (gee, you’d think they’d wasted their time, huh? ) :

    So they pull not only the second show (bizarre enough) but the first one too.

    This is how they defend “editorial standards”.
    Their own standards which they themselves found overwhelmingly were not violated.


    Meh, plus ça change….

    • Ash Simmonds on May 21, 2014 at 21:41

      That’s kinda what bugs me most – fair enough in ep 2 they were going up against heavy hitters by demonising statins etc, but the first episode was purely anti-establishmentarianism information as to why the whole cholesterol/saturated fat = disease is bollocks.

      They demonstrated very well that there’s thus far and always will be zero evidence that indicates we should eat and live the way we are advised to. It’s only in the very last second that there’s any reference whatsoever to the drugging industry.

      TBH I don’t really give a crap about the drug side of things, I reckon ep 1 stands on it’s own – but if you or a significant other are on cholesterol lowering drugs you should really do your due diligence onto what the hell it is they’re actually doing, and why.

    • Nick Lo on May 21, 2014 at 21:47

      Ash, it’s been a few months (?) since I watched it but didn’t the first episode make reference to the second and thus removing one would break some kind of continuity? Even so, it’s a lame reason and does undermine the excuse that it was pulled for editorial standards. Frustrating.

    • Ash Simmonds on May 21, 2014 at 22:02

      Only in the promotional material is it mentioned that it’s 2 connected parts.

      Right at the end of the first part Demasi comes on camera and says “tune in next week drugs blah blah” – but remove that little 12 second promo and the episode is 100% standalone.

    • Nick Lo on May 21, 2014 at 22:27

      In that case I’m with you: Bollocks!

    • marie on May 21, 2014 at 22:27

      Nick Lo, like Ash says, they are connected but first does not Depend on second. Not at all.

    • marie on May 21, 2014 at 22:36

      Ash, yeah, exactly.
      The blatant nature of this ‘censorship’ got me at first too and I emailed Richard.

      However, it’s so blatant that in fact one of your little birdies tells me there’s a bit more going on here.

      Note that the same news company pulling both shows did it’s own investigation into the complaints of bias or of unsupported claims and then published it.

      End result : they’ve done more good with that investigative report than done bad by pulling the shows (since archived, stand good chance of going viral now).

      This is because the report actually exonerated completely the first show and overwhelmingly the second one.

      I gotta love “them” Aussies 😉

      Yours is the country after all where a ‘national’ symphony, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, played (and sang along) with the completely anti-authoritarian, hubristic, profane and hilarious Minchin :
      (some people may find this offensive – disclaimer!)

    • LeonRover on May 22, 2014 at 00:43

      Gave me my 1st MOFO belly laff of 22 Mai.

      Ha, ha, ha, hee, hee, hee.
      (little brown jug , don’t Ah luv thee.)

      (& the post-modern ironic “claimer”)

      A la reflection:
      Tim Minchined the Pope; will Sydney Orch let him Minchon Rolf Harris in a re-issue ?


    • marie on May 22, 2014 at 01:21

      Alors! My work here is done.
      (post post-modern irony, bien sur)

      Though, to answer your question: Sure they would, keeping it all in the family 🙂

    • LeonRover on May 22, 2014 at 02:03

      My 2nd MOFO belly laff of 22 Mai.

  9. dr j on May 21, 2014 at 22:03

    Its simpler- Maryanne’s boss Norman Swan MD cracked the sh*ts. Its a medico club versus the new turks.
    If Maryanne asked me to take a statin just for her – I just might, just for her .

  10. dr j on May 21, 2014 at 22:11

    IMHO, the mistake Maryanne made was not to have Dr Malcolm Kendrick an (almost Scottish like Norman Swan) medico, do the interview, rather than discuss the matter off air.

    I recommend that one reads Malcolm’s post on the subject

    • Ash Simmonds on May 21, 2014 at 22:25

      He mentioned why:

      “Maryanne only had a budget to travel to west coast US, so no european docs.”

      Maybe even some Skype or something maybe…

      But yeah one of the things when the backlash began it was 99% ad hominem about the “experts” involved in the show, digging up whatever dirt (literally, in one case) they could without ever really talking about the actual show.

    • dr j on May 21, 2014 at 22:46

      with 20/20 hindsight, I would have had one episode and only interviewee. That would be Malcolm and then stand outside Oxford and repeat the emails like a producer friend of mine from 60 minutes would do.
      Anyway, the controversy will help , but sadly not for Maryanne’s career for a while at least.

  11. Gemma on May 21, 2014 at 23:16

    Dr Malcolm Kendrick’s post on it, worth reading till the end, as it contains an interesting (leaked) email chain:

  12. Michael44 on May 22, 2014 at 20:49

    Ah yes Dr J, Dr Norman Swan. He has been doing his show The Health Report on the ABC for years. You would think he would be just a tiny bit suspicious regarding the “scientific”data pertaining to statins. I mean, after all the shows he’s done where evidence of drug harm along with unethical relationships between pharmaceutical companies and medical doctors have been presented to him, he still chooses to toe the party line. I no longer can take him seriously as him being a searcher for the truth.

  13. moreorless on May 24, 2014 at 01:11

    It was pulled because at times the footage was hopelessly bias and inaccurate . Saturated fat doesn’t raise cholesterol? seriously. Oxidised cholesterol is only harmful and the large phenotype is neutral. Even a low carb blogger like Attai will tear these arguments apart.

  14. Michael44 on May 24, 2014 at 22:18

    Hi moreorless.

    What about the overall message of the programs though? I haven’t seen them, but if they are raising serious doubts about the lipid hypothesis, then that it is a good thing. The proponents of the lipid hypothesis have had it very easy for many many years, and it’s about time they were questioned within the mainstream media.

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