ABC chief Ita Buttrose hasn’t endorsed Donald Trump in the US election

AAP FactCheck November 5, 2020

The Statement

A social media post claims that ABC chair Ita Buttrose backed President Donald Trump to win the 2020 US presidential election.

The Facebook post features an image of Ms Buttrose and includes the caption, “ABC First Ita Buttrose backs Donald Trump.”

It goes on to claim the ABC chair has “taken a public position that must be an ABC first: backing Donald Trump to win the American Presidential election.”

The post continues with text copied from a column in The Australian about Ms Buttrose’s comments on Channel 10’s Studio 10 morning show. The appearance featured a discussion about Mr Trump’s swipe at the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, after she called for Americans to vote.

At the time of writing, the October 27 post had been viewed more than 16,000 times and attracted more than 160 shares and 300 reactions.

A Facebook post
 A Facebook post falsely claims Ita Buttrose backed Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. 

The Analysis

While Ms Buttrose’s on-air comments backed the US president’s criticism of Markle, she didn’t extend her endorsement to Mr Trump as leader for the vote.

Ms Buttrose, who was announced as ABC chair in March 2019, previously worked as a journalist, editor and executive at several of Australia’s biggest news organisations, including a famous stint as founding editor of Cleo magazine under media mogul Kerry Packer.

She was also a founding member of the panel for Studio 10, which airs on weekday mornings. Since leaving the show in 2018, she has returned for a series of guest appearances.

In late September, Ms Buttrose took part in a discussion on the show about Prince Harry and wife Meghan calling for Americans to vote in the US election.

In a Time 100 video message, Markle described the 2020 poll as the most important election of people’s lifetimes, while Harry called on people to “reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity” – comments perceived by commentators as being anti-Trump.

The following day, Mr Trump responded with comments aimed at Markle. “I’m not a fan of hers,” he said, adding: “I wish a lot of luck to Harry, because he’s going to need it.”

According to The Australian’s Media Diary column on September 28, when asked on Studio 10 what she thought of Mr Trump’s comments, Ms Buttrose replied: “I think he probably said something that many people think.”

“As an Australian, if someone from Britain came here and told me I should be voting and I should be doing this and that, then I’d be telling him to butt out of our business,” she added, according to the column. Video of the segment is not publicly available.

The Australian article, which featured the segment, carries the tongue-in-cheek headline, “ABC first: Ita Buttrose backs Donald Trump”, while the lede reads: “Ita Buttrose has taken a public position that must be an ABC first: backing Donald Trump.”

However the Facebook post, which otherwise repeats much of the column verbatim, adds the words “to win the American presidential election” to the end of the sentence. Another Facebook post, from October 28, includes just the article’s headline and an image of Ms Buttrose without additional context.

Ms Buttrose told AAP FactCheck via an email from an ABC spokesman that “recent claims I support President Trump are simply not true”.

“I never said it. I have not stated any position on the US election as it is a matter for American voters,” she said.

“Of course I have my private views, and the outcome of this election will have far reaching ramifications for democracy in the US and for the rest of the world, particularly countries like Australia who have such strong trade links with the US.”

On November 2, The Australian’s Media Diary featured a follow-up report, headlined, “Ita: ‘I’m not a Trump barracker'”. It said Ms Buttrose contacted the column “after Twitter lit up last week with trolling” suggesting she favoured Mr Trump over Joe Biden – which she categorically denied.

Ita Buttrose
 ABC chair Ita Buttrose says the US election is a matter for American voters. 

The Verdict

ABC chair Ita Buttrose has not publicly backed US President Donald Trump to win the 2020 election. The Facebook post includes a headline and text taken from a column in The Australian, however the text has been amended to include a false endorsement.

Ms Buttrose’s comments in support of Mr Trump are taken from a TV appearance, in which she backed the president’s criticism of Meghan Markle after the Duchess of Sussex’s comments on the US election.

False – Content that has no basis in fact.

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