SYDNEY columnist Joe Hildebrand's comedic take on the coal seam gas issue on ABC2's Shitsville Express has had a very mixed reception in the Northern Rivers.
Hildebrand and his group of four aspiring politicians visited Lismore and the Nimbin MardiGrass during the episode, interviewing locals on two sides of the CSG debate and participating in a protester training day run by local activism author Aidan Ricketts.
Social media anticipation of the show was excited, but the mood turned against the show less than halfway through, with a barrage of negative commentary.
One Facebook post by Michael McDougall summed up the prevailing attitude: "Hard to believe they showed this 'Shit' on Aunty. It was so cynical, sad and one-sided. I'd give it 5 Sorbents."
Knitting Nanna Against Gas Anne Thompson, who was interviewed for the show didn't have high expectations so "wasn't quite so disappointed" as others.
"He's deliberately facetious, and one has to recognise that's his humour," Ms Thompson said.
But Mr Ricketts described the show as "condescending of the local community" and "a very manipulated portrayal".
"When he came to Lismore he was always on about how everyone was a hippie," Mr Ricketts said.
Mr Hildebrand sought signatures for a fake pro-nuclear power group he set up during MardiGrass and this received angry reactions from some of Nimbin's eccentric characters.
"He obviously came with his own preset definitions," Mr Ricketts said.
"He ignored farmers against CSG and he didn't touch local scientists who have researched the issue."
Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell said Hildebrand revealed a clear bias in favour of coal seam gas: "You wouldn't ever call it a piece of journalism," she said.
His coverage of CSG in Queensland has come under fire from Tara resident and anti-CSG campaigner Brian Monk, who was interviewed for the show.
"At the time I felt he was a puppet, just the way he was trying to provoke us," Mr Monk wrote on Facebook yesterday.
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