The ABC depicted Racing NSW boss Peter V'landys as a "leader in animal reform" in an industry which didn't know about the slaughter of retired racehorses, says the broadcaster's barrister.
Mr V'landys claims he was defamed in the ABC's 7.30 program, but its lawyer Sandy Dawson SC said the show was "a call to arms" and didn't portray him as being dishonest or callous.
He was making final submissions in the Federal Court on Thursday at the defamation lawsuit brought by Mr V'landys over the October 2019 show, dubbed The Final Race.
It revealed covertly recorded footage of retired racehorses being killed in a Queensland abattoir.
Mr V'landys says the broadcaster acted with malice by not showing him the distressing footage before interviewing him.
He says the ABC failed to make clear he had no jurisdiction over Queensland and therefore caused his reputation as a regulator to be undermined and his reputation to be brought into public disrepute, ridicule and contempt.
But Mr Dawson submitted "the overwhelming impression created by the program is that the industry doesn't know what is really going on" as was depicted by the long-term surveillance operation.
It plainly conveyed how hard it was to reveal the seedy "underbelly" of the industry and at worst, might embarrass the regulators for the disparity in the information they had managed to collect.
No regulator wanted to be seen as being "asleep at the wheel"".
Journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna did not say Mr V'landys wasn't being frank or "is somehow glossing over something he knows to be occurring", Mr Dawson said.
Rather, she was portraying him as a "leader in animal reform in the country" and a committed regulator but "somehow this is still happening".
He also denied the malice claim, noting Mr V'landys testified that while he thought the ABC were "running an activist agenda" he didn't think the journalist and producer were "out to get me".
But his barrister Bruce McClintock SC said his client was being "kind and gallant" about the two women.
The program was an "extremely skilful and dishonest piece of journalism", the barrister said.
"It's structured in a way to put across a specific message - there has been a hideous failure in this industry, we name the guilty people or man - Peter V'landys.
"He is the only person with responsibility here who is shown at all in this."
This "piece of propaganda put out by the ABC" intended to, and did, raise the emotions of the viewer to a state of fury and anger, Mr McClintock said.
The viewer was invited to look for people to blame, but the only person presented was his client.
Ms Meldrum-Hanna clearly posed questions "with skepticism", putting Mr V'landys up as a liar, he said.
The ordinary viewer would think Mr V'landys was aware of the practices at the Queensland abattoir and/or had seen the secret footage.
"Once that is the case, the viewer will think Mr V'landys is callous and dishonest."
Justice Michael Wigney has reserved his decision.