A Four Corners episode reportedly linking Scott Morrison to a far-right conspiracy group has become the latest flashpoint between the government and the ABC.
Scott Morrison has rejected “deeply offensive” reports linking him and his family to a far-right conspiracy cult.
The ABC has delayed a Four Corners episode by journalist Louise Milligan delving into alleged links between Mr Morrison and a man who promotes the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory, according to a report by Nine newspapers.
The QAnon cult alleges a cabal of satan-worshipping, elite pedophiles linked to the Democratic Party secretly run the world and attempted to undermine Donald Trump during his presidency.
Mr Morrison flatly rejected links to the conspiracy on Friday, describing allegations against him and his family as “poor form”.
“I find it deeply offensive that there would be any suggestion that I would have any involvement or support for such a dangerous organisation. I clearly do not,” he said.
“It is also disappointing that Four Corners in their inquiries would seek to cast this aspersion, not just against me but members of my own family. I just think that is really poor form.”
The episode, which was expected to run on Monday, was “upwardly referred” to ABC managing editor David Anderson.
In a note to staff on Friday, Mr Anderson said he had sent his “queries and concerns” to the Four Corners team, saying he wanted to satisfy himself further “on a number of claims made in the story”.
“Any suggestion that I ‘pulled’ or ‘blocked’ the program is simply not true. I reviewed the material and made an editorial decision it was not yet ready for broadcast, as any responsible editor-in-chief would,” he said.
Mr Anderson said he had sent “encouraging” feedback to the Four Corners team but would prefer they made the episode “as strong as possible”.
The Prime Minister’s comments come as the government ramps up its attacks on the public broadcaster and with Mr Anderson due to front senate estimates on Monday.
Mr Anderson was recalled to answer questions on Christian Porter’s discontinued defamation suit against the ABC over another report by Walkley-winner Milligan that revealed a senior cabinet minister had been accused of an historical rape.
The article was about Mr Porter but did not name him.
The ABC did not accept the article was an accusation of guilt but said it regretted some readers interpreted it as such.
The support level for QAnon was unclear, though Facebook “uncovered thousands of groups and pages, with millions of members and followers” linked to the cult, NBC News reported.
The group has also been linked to insurrectionists who stormed the US Capitol building in January.