GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 296
20 November 2015
GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 296
The inaugural issue of “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” was published in April 1988 – over a year before the first edition of the ABC TV Media Watch program went to air. Since November 1997 “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” has been published as part of The Sydney Institute Quarterly. In 2009 Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog blog commenced publication.
- Stop Press: The Chaser’s Lavatory Humour; Radio National’s Leftist Love-In & A Verdict on The Verdict
- THE CHASER’S HUMOUR GOES DOWN THE TOILET IN A ROYAL FLUSH
Did anyone see The Chaser Boys (average age 401/2) starring in The Media Circus on ABC1 last night? The “Boys” in the program credits included such middle-aged gentlemen as Craig Reucassel, Andrew Hansen, Chas Licciardello and Julian Morrow. [When, oh when, will the Chaser team give a sheila a chance? – Ed.]
It seems that the Chaser Boys’ humour is regressing rapidly. Last night it was junior primary school of the pees-and-poos variety. Next week – possibly jokes of the kindergarten genre. And the week after – well it could be jokes-from-inside-the-womb.
The “highlight” of last night’s edition of The Media Circus (executive producers Julian Morrow and Martin Robertson) featured a segment on the Duchess of Cornwall whom The Boys called “Camilla”. Here’s how Master Reucassel introduced the piece following the claim that “She’s [i.e. the Duchess of Cornwall] never even used a toilet”.
Male Voice [accompanying image of man holding a lump of brown soil, resembling excrement, in a field]: Look what you’ve done Camilla. Look what you’ve done on the ground.
Mock Duchess of Cornwall voice [looking at brown soil]: Oh is that mine?
Male Voice: Yes, we have flushing machines for this now.
Mock Duchess of Cornwall (sniffing): Oh, it smells quite ghastly, doesn’t it? It felt much smaller when I passed it.
[That’s enough, Ed.]
So there you have it. The taxpayer funded public broadcaster is now funding The Chaser Boys as they regress to outside-lavatory humour – which makes the late Benny Hill’s outdoor romps look dignified. Oh yes, and The Media Circus’ skit was accompanied by canned laughter.
[Interesting. I understand that the audience at The Media Circus’ pre-records are urged to laugh loud and long. They are even told when to laugh – which seems to be a recognition that the comedy is bereft of spontaneous humour – Ed].
- RADIO NATIONAL LOVE-IN DEMONSTRATES AUNTY’S CONSERVATIVE FREE ZONE
What a wonderful – to use the trending cliché – CONVERSATION on Radio National this morning at 9 am. Apparently this was done so that David Marr’s prophecy that all journalists should be leftists could be fulfilled. Once again.
Life Matters’ Natasha Mitchell was the presenter of the program “Conversations with Curious Minds – Fran, Phillip and Robyn”. As the ABC’s blurb described the occasion:
Robyn Williams, Fran Kelly and Phillip Adams—three of our long serving broadcasters, who’ve all reached important milestones this year. Their total experience adds up to 75 years—that’s a lot of interviews. Richard Fidler from Conversations spoke with all three about their lives on and off air… “An Evening with Curious Minds”.
How frightfully Aunty. Why, even the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s event was broadcast at the taxpayer subsidised University of Technology, Sydney in oh-so-fashionable Ultimo, the home base of so many public sector employees, public service superannuated retirees, welfare recipients and the like.
The leftist Richard Fidler interviewed the leftist Phillip Adams plus the leftist Fran Kelly along with the leftist Robyn Williams about their taxpayer funded times at the ABC. There was not a conservative in the UTS room as Fran was nice to Phillip who was nice to Robyn who was nice to Richard who was nice to Fran. And so on. And so on. And so on.
The ABC cannot boast one conservative broadcaster of a prominent radio program in the last 75 years or months or weeks or even minutes. Yet the Kelly/Adams/Williams collective’s time at Aunty is not that far off a century.
Fran and Phillip and Robyn are great guys. But do they have curious minds? It’s hard to develop curiosity in an organisation like the ABC where everyone tends to agree with everyone else and a fine ideological time is had by all.
[Are you sure you want to publish this? If you do, Phillip Adams may not invite you back to his little wireless program for another 25 years – Ed]
For the record, here is a reminder of David Marr’s cal for the media to be a leftist closed shop. Not surprisingly the Marr Declaration was delivered at the UTS in Ultimo and broadcast on ABC Radio National, Big Ideas, on 26 September 2004.
The natural culture of journalism is a kind of vaguely soft left inquiry, sceptical of authority. I mean, that’s just the world out of which journalists come. If they don’t come out of this world, they really can’t be reporters. I mean, if you are not sceptical of authority – find another job. You know, just find another job. And that [journalism] is the kind of soft leftie kind of culture.
- MWD’S VERDICT ON THE VERDICT
Here’s MWD’s verdict on The Verdict. It is increasingly resembling a circus with Mark Latham (the Lair of Liverpool) now in contest with Jacquie Lambie (the Blusterer of Burnie).
The Rev Bill Crews made a confused appearance last night where his exaggerations included the following: “Nobody in the world listens to Cardinal Pell.” Really.
Then virtually all the panel weighed into Major-General Jim Molan who happened to point out, correctly, that the attack on the United States on 9/11 occurred sometime before the Coalition of the Willing’s invasion of Iraq. At this stage, The Verdict seemed to resemble an ABC leftist love-in where virtually everyone disagreed with the token foreign policy conservative.
Anyone new to the public debate could well have come to the verdict that the attack on Paris by the so-called Islamic State is all the fault of the French and the Americans and the Aussies. This kind of “debate” makes mainstream alienation look profound.
For next week’s panel, Hendo recommends the Lair of Liverpool plus the Blusterer of Burnie plus Jack the Ripper plus Mata Hari. Should be a great circus – especially since it can only come about following one or more séances.
ABC’s NEW BOARD APPOINTMENTS – YAWN
On Wednesday, the Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield announced the appointment of two new directors to the ABC Board. Namely, Dr Kirstin Ferguson (a Queensland based company director) and Ms Donny Walford (a South Australian based company director). As Senator Fifield pointed out in his media release announcing new appointments:
It is important that the ABC Board reflects both gender and geographic diversity and the addition of Dr Ferguson and Ms Walford will achieve these objectives.
The Government’s gender diversity targets are 40 per cent female, 40 per cent male and 20 per cent of either gender on Australian Government boards. With the appointment of Dr Ferguson and Ms Walford, the ABC Board will have a gender composition of four women (44.4 per cent) and five men (55.6 per cent) compared to three women (33.3 per cent) and six men (66.7 per cent) previously.
The geographic representation is now also better balanced, with new representatives from Queensland and South Australia joining representatives from New South Wales (four members), Victoria (one member), Tasmania (one member) and Western Australia (one member).
MWD congratulates Dr Ferguson (who has expertise in risk and compliance) and Ms Walford (who has expertise in strategy, finance and strategic marketing) on their appointment. However, neither person is likely to make any difference to how the ABC performs as a public broadcaster – beyond the important role of appointing the managing director to replace Mark Scott.
In a bid to make the taxpayer funded broadcaster more pluralistic, John Howard’s Coalition government, at various times, appointed Ron Brunton, Janet Albrechtsen and Keith Windschuttle to the ABC Board. It also appointed Donald McDonald and, later, Maurice Newman as ABC chairman. None of these appointments made any real difference to how the ABC operated – because the ABC Board does not run the ABC on a day-to-day basis. The only bad appointment was that of Donald McDonald who held the position for over a decade, since he did not acknowledge at the time that the ABC had any problems and was in need of reform.
The only person with the time and experience to run the ABC on a day-to-day basis is the ABC managing director, who is supposed to also undertake the duties of editor-in-chief.
When Mark Scott was appointed ABC managing director in 2006 he made it clear – in a speech to The Sydney Institute – that the ABC would become more pluralistic under his watch. In the event, nothing much happened. Nice Mr Scott was just too weak to control the various cliques which run the taxpayer funded broadcaster and ended up as an ineffectual commentator, tweeting away – seemingly every morning, every night and frequently during the day – about matters in the commercial and public media.
When Mr Scott became ABC managing director in 2006 – the ABC did not have one conservative presenter, or producer or editor for any of its prominent television or radio or online outlets. A decade later, the situation remains the same – the ABC still does not have even one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.
It is unlikely that the present ABC board will appoint a managing director who has the ability and courage to do what Mark Scott promised but failed to do. [Is this a broken promise of the kind that ABC types were wont to carry on about when Tony Abbott was prime minister? – Ed]. In which case, the ABC is likely to remain a Conservative Free Zone into the conceivable future.
And now it’s time to update MWD’s very own Aunty Balance Clock – at 5 minutes past midnight, Nice Mr Scott Time:
THE AUNTY BALANCE CLOCK – AN UPDATE
This hugely popular segment is dedicated to holding ABC managing director and (so-called) editor-in-chief Mark Scott to account for his promise – made on 16 October 2006 – that, under his watch, there would be a “further diversity of voices” on the ABC.
▪ Number of weeks since Nice Mr Scott promised greater diversity on the ABC – Total: 474 weeks
▪ Number of conservative presenters/producers/paid regular commentators/editors on prominent ABC Radio/ABC TV/ABC Online outlets – Total: Absolutely Zip
When it comes to the issue of attempting to ensure some political balance at the ABC on Mr Scott’s watch, it’s already 5 minutes past midnight.
- LENORE TAYLOR’S TOTAL CONFUSION
What a stunning performance on the Insiders’ couch last Sunday by The Guardian Australia’s Lenore Taylor. [Is this the same Ms Taylor who bagged Nancy’s (male) co-owner’s performance on Insiders of recent memory? See MWD Issue 259 along with this issue’s “Endorsements” section – Ed]
Let’s go to the transcript where Lenore Taylor is discussing the (alleged) change in approach to national security following the end of Tony Abbott’s prime ministership and the birth of Malcolm Turnbull’s government:
Lenore Taylor: I think it’s interesting to look at what’s the same and what’s changed with Malcolm Turnbull taking the prime ministership. In terms of practical policy responses, nothing has really changed. The same terrorism laws have gone through the parliament that would have – our response in Syria is the same. The only thing that’s changed is really the tone of the debate. And I think that is reflecting what the security agencies say is the sensible thing to do. Which is: “Don’t suggest this isn’t a threat, that this isn’t a problem that it isn’t real, but talk in a way that builds the bridges…with the Islamic community”. And also in a way reassure the population that our national security agencies are doing the best possible job they are, because making people more afraid in a way, you know – anything that any leader says that makes people more afraid kind of does what the terrorists want. It makes us all scared.
So there you have it. According to Lenore Taylor, Malcolm Turnbull has changed only the tone of the national security debate in Australia. But, wait. After a brief rest “on the couch”, The Guardian Australia’s political editor returned to the topic:
Lenore Taylor: I think it’s interesting what he’s [Tony Abbott’s] doing because if you look at the words he’s saying, it’s not really different from Malcolm Turnbull. But it’s being interpreted as, you know, Tony Abbott being tougher – Tony Abbott going back to the way that he used to address this issue as prime minister. The thing is, though, he’s not actually proposing anything different in practical terms. We are doing –
Barrie Cassidy: [Interjecting] Not so far.
Lenore Taylor: Not so far. We’re taking the toughest action possible as part of the co-ordinated international efforts in Syria. Nobody, as far as I know, suggested that we do anything more than we’re doing now. And, in fact, the talks in Vienna are looking at the political solution and what the UN can do to try to ease this situation. So it seems to me much more useful in this debate, if someone’s got an idea about what we could practically do, then put it on the table. But to have a semantic debate about the tone of it is kind of not that useful.
So there you have it – according to The Thought of Lenore Taylor. The change of “tone” in the national security debate, following Malcolm Turnbull’s appointment as prime minister, was “sensible” and is supported by Australia’s intelligence agencies. However, it is “not that useful” to “have a semantic debate” about “the tone of the national security discussion”. So there you have it – or not. Can you bear it?
- FRAN KELLY’S SUNNI/SHIA CONFUSION
While on the topic of Insiders, the Insiders’ couch and all that stuff – consider the following comment made last Sunday by Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly, the presenter of the ABC Radio National Breakfast program – when discussion turned on the recent suicide/homicide bombing in Beirut, Lebanon.
Fran Kelly: That’s right, it’s happened in Beirut, Hezbollah and others have been engaged in attacks before, it’s not unknown. And when we see it in Paris, we’re not used to seeing it and we think “if it can happen there, it can happen here”. I think it’s that.
How about that? Ms Kelly seemed unaware that the recent suicide/homicide attacks in Beirut and Paris were undertaken by the so-called Islamic State (IS) or Daesh. Daesh is an organisation of Sunni Islamists. Hezbollah, based in southern Lebanon, is an organisation of Shia Islamists. Hezbollah was not engaged in a suicide/homicide attack in Beirut at the hands of Daesh. Rather, Hezbollah was the target of an attack in the on-going Sunni/Shia religious/civil war. Can you bear it?
- SAMANTHA HAWLEY: A REPORTER/COMMENTATOR PACKAGE
Thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to ABC journalist Samantha Hawley doing a little editorial in her reporting. The topic was Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to Indonesia. The date was 12 November 2015 and the program was The World Today. It was one of those oh-so-lovely ABC occasions where an ABC presenter interviewed an ABC reporter. Here we go:
Eleanor Hall : Sam, this visit comes ahead of a large Australian trade delegation arriving in Jakarta next week. Is there a lot of enthusiasm in Jakarta about increasing economic ties with Australia?
Samantha Hawley: Well, there does seem to be. Next week there will four Australian ministers coming here including the Trade Minister, Andrew Robb, 250 business leaders, so a plane full of Australians wanting to get a bigger bite I guess of a huge economy to Australia’s north. I think the trade, bilateral trade at the moment sits at about $11 billion and I think both nations acknowledge that that really is just a drop in the ocean. It could be far, far greater than that.
But of course there has been some volatility particularly for the Australians in recent times. We saw Indonesia without warning and seemingly I think without reason, slash live cattle imports earlier this year by 80 per cent. That’s largely been restored now but it was a really troubling time for Australian cattle farmers so the trading relationship does come with some risk.
How about that? Putting aside her role as a reporter, Ms Hawley declared that Indonesia cancelled live cattle imports from Australia in 2015 “without reason”. As MWD’s avid reader commented, Ms Hawley must have missed the bit where all cattle exports were stopped overnight following an ABC1 Four Corners’ report on animal rights. And yet Samantha Hawley reckons that Indonesia acted “without reason”. Can you bear it?
OCCUPY ULTIMO – RESTORE LINDA MOTTRAM
Nancy’s (male) co-owner was devastated, just devastated, to learn this week that ABC Radio 702 will not feature Mornings presenter Linda Mottram in 2016.
This is dreadful news for Hendo who just loves Ms Mottram’s evident naivety and uses it for MWD’s massively popular “A Linda Mottram Moment” segment.
Next week’s issue will contain details of Nancy’s “Occupy Ultimo” demonstration along with some flash backs to “A Linda Mottram Moment” – just in case Nancy’s campaign
fails (as it did on a previous occasion).
ON THE POTENTIAL DEFAMATION TRAIL
FEATURING RADIO 2UE STUART BOCKING AS TOLD TO DERRYN (‘PROUDLY THE HUMAN HEADLINE’) HINCH
Last Friday Derryn Hinch stood in for Paul Murray as presenter of Sky News’ Paul Murray Live. Discussion turned on the testimony of former governor-general Peter Hollingworth to the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Dr Hollingworth (for a doctor he became) was quizzed about the time he was Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane when there was a sexual abuse at St Paul’s School.
Derryn Hinch’s comments on Peter Hollingworth led to the following spray from your man Bocking:
Stuart Bocking: But look how pompous some of these types are. I mean, you look at Peter Hollingworth, you look at a George Pell. Do they strike you – I know they’re men of the cloth over a long period – but do they strike you as the sort of person who would be prepared to provide the pastoral care that victims will need? Or were they simply determined to do whatever it takes to just get this out of the way. And that’s what happened – and we saw people were moved on to other parishes. This just went both within the Catholic Church, Anglican….
Stuart Bocking provided no evidence for his defamatory allegation. There is no evidence that George Pell ever attempted to cover up child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and consciously moved paedophile priests from one Catholic parish to another. [I wonder if anyone will tell m’learned friends? – Ed].
While on the topic of George Pell, let’s consider Australia’s most boring newspaper. Morry Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper – edited by Erik Jensen – goes to print on Thursdays and can be found in Melbourne and Sydney inner-city coffee shops on Saturdays. Being read by leftist sandal-wearers, weather and occupational health and safety concerns permitting. Per courtesy of such up-market advertisers (last week) as Aesop signature stores, the taxpayer subsidised Wheeler Centre, Mercedes-Benz, 166 Gertrude apartments (Fitzroy, of course), Laithwaite’s Wine People and – you’ve guessed it – Rolex.
Since there is rarely any news in The [Boring] Saturday Paper, Nancy’s (male) co-owner reads the Schultz/Jensen offering on Mondays. After lunch, of course. Last Monday the weekly-tabloid-for-Rolex-wearers arrived wrapped in its very own hoarding. Unravelled it read: “The Many Trials Of George Pell”. See below.
This was one of The Saturday Paper’s “Look mum no news” occasions. Mike Seccombe’s Page One lead, which spilled to cover the whole of Page Four, was also titled “The many trials of George Pell”. The header read as follows:
As Cardinal Pell prepares for another child sex abuse hearing, his “company man” style has made him enemies within the Vatican. Mike Seccombe reports.
Mike “Smirk” Seccombe was not born into the Catholic Church – nor has he converted to Catholicism. Moreover, Mr Seccombe has not demonstrated any expertise in theology or religious history. Seccombe’s piece was yet another Saturday Paper rant at Cardinal George Pell, who holds the position of Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy – the third highest ranking official in the Holy See.
“Smirk” Seccombe commenced his non-news Page One lead with what he described as “a coincidence”. Here it is:
The coincidence could hardly be more unfortunate, but it could not have been foreseen. Back in March, on the second anniversary of his pontificate, Pope Francis announced a year to be dedicated to the major theme of his papacy, mercy. The Year of Mercy, he announced, will begin on the day the church calls the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8.
“I am convinced,” Francis said, “that the whole church will find in this jubilee the joy needed to rediscover and make fruitful the mercy of God, with which all of us are called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time.”
Here in Australia, however, the year of mercy will start not with joy but with an inquisition. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will turn its focus back on the Catholic Church, with hearings in Melbourne starting on December 7. For the third time, Cardinal George Pell will be called into the witness box. Among the many descriptors that have been applied to Cardinal Pell, “merciful” does not feature prominently.
Not much of a coincidence, surely. So, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will re-commence its hearings in Melbourne on Monday 7 December 2015 – the day before the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Seccombe did not tell his readers [Perhaps he did not have any. – Ed] that Cardinal Pell will probably not commence giving evidence until around Thursday 10 December. Which just happens to be the Feast of the St Thomas of Farfa Abbey in the Catholic Calendar for 2015. [What a coincidence – Ed].
The only thing interesting in Seccombe’s turgid piece was the accompanying photo – which showed Pope Francis signing a cricket bat for Cardinal Pell. Great pic – pity about the verbal sludge that followed. Before analysing the words, it is worth considering “Smirk” Seccombe’s sources – for want of a better word. Here they are:
▪ Cardinal Pell’s “most trenchant critics”
▪ “one of those critics”.
▪ “Pell’s anonymous critics”
▪ “another of Pell’s Australian critics” – subsequently referred to as “he”
▪ “another well-placed Australian church source” and
▪ “some influential figures in the church”
Er, that’s it. On the evidence, Mr Seccombe did not speak to anyone who might be supportive of – or even neutral towards – George Pell. He only spoke to Pell’s critics – seemingly, over half a dozen in all. And not one had the courage to put his/her name to any of the quotes – despite the fact that Cardinal Pell has no particular authority within the archdioceses and dioceses of the Catholic Church in Australia.
This is useless journalism – which would never even get a Page One lead in the Green Left Weekly. Yet publisher Morry Schwartz and editor Erik Jensen reckon that Rolex watch wearers in inner-city Melbourne and Sydney should fork out $3.50 for this source-free “exposure”.
The only quotes used by “Smirk” Seccombe came from Francis Sullivan, the CEO of the Catholic Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council (from an interview with Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National Breakfast on 1 June 2015), former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd (from a recent speech) and the British lay Catholic activist Peter Saunders (from an interview with Channel 9’s 60 Minutes). All are critics, to a greater or lesser extent, of Cardinal Pell.
And what about Mike “Smirk” Seccombe’s thesis? Well, it did not amount to much – as the following analysis demonstrates.
▪ Seccombe accused Cardinal Pell of a “dearth of compassion” with respect to handling claims for financial compensation made by victims of child clerical sexual abuse when he was Catholic Archbishop of Sydney. But The Saturday Paper’s Sydney correspondent conceded that “a lack of compassion is no crime”. Nothing here – so let’s move on.
▪ Seccombe then raised the issue of the rampant clerical child abuse which occurred in the Ballarat diocese when George Pell was a priest (but not bishop) during parts of the 1970s and 1980s:
In the upcoming hearings Pell is expected to face several days of grilling about more serious allegations going back decades: that he was aware of abuse occurring, actively sought to cover it up and by his actions facilitated its continuation. Those allegations were detailed in hearings of the commission six months ago.
“I think this is a very, very tight situation for … Cardinal [Pell],” said Francis Sullivan, CEO of the church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council, speaking to ABC Radio in June, at the end of two weeks of hearings in Ballarat where the claims were made. “The last two weeks in Ballarat … I was there … left most of us with more questions than answers,” he said.
Those questions go back several decades, to between 1973 and 1983, when Pell was an assistant priest in Ballarat East, and Ballarat was a hotbed of sexual abuse. They are of the “What did he know and when did he know it?” variety. What did he know of the actions of probably Australia’s most infamous paedophile priest, Gerald Ridsdale, with whom he shared accommodation in the early 1970s and whom he later accompanied to court? What was his involvement in decisions to move Ridsdale and other offenders from parish to parish in response to claims of abuse? What was his involvement in the alleged offering of inducements to victims to remain silent?
In this ramble, Seccombe neglected to make some important points.
First, when interviewed for 15 minutes on ABC News Breakfast on 1 June 2015, despite constant questioning by co-presenter Virginia Trioli, Mr Sullivan could not state precisely what he meant by saying that Cardinal Pell was in a “tight” situation with respect to the Vatican. Sullivan used the term “tight” on no fewer than five occasions in explanation. Seccombe accepts Sullivan’s claim that Cardinal Pell is in a tight situation – but he also does not attempt to explain what this may, or may not, signify. Or even if it is an accurate account of Cardinal Pell’s relationship with Pope Francis.
Second, there is no evidence in the material presented so far to the Royal Commission that George Pell – when a priest of the Ballarat diocese – was aware that known paedophile priests were moved from parish to parish by Bishop Ronald Mulkearns.
Third, George Pell was not the only priest in the Ballarat diocese to share a presbytery accommodation with convicted paedophile Gerald Ridsdale. Seccombe neglected to tell The Saturday Paper readers that Ridsdale also shared accommodation with Seccombe’s journalistic colleague and current Saturday Paper columnist Paul Bongiorno – who was also once a priest in the Ballarat diocese. Interviewed by Fran Kelly on RN Breakfast on 21 May 2015, Paul Bongiorno made the following point:
…I mean, I know Gerald Ridsdale. I lived in a presbytery with him in Warrnambool. I’ve had the victims approach me to appear for them in court cases. Let me tell you this Fran. I had no idea what he was up to. And when people look at me quizzically, I say: “Well look, let me tell you this. There are married men and women now who sleep with their husbands and wives who don’t know that their husband or wife is having an affair.”
Let me tell you that Ridsdale never came into the presbytery in Warrnambool and said: “Guess how many boys I’ve raped today?” They hide it. It was certainly hidden from me. And when it came out, after I’d left the priesthood, I was shocked and I was ashamed.
The clear implication in Seccombe’s Saturday Paper piece is that George Pell should have known that his occasional clerical house-mate Ridsdale was a paedophile. But Seccombe conveniently neglected to mention that Paul Bongiorno did not know at the time that his occasional clerical house-mate Ridsdale was a paedophile.
Fourth, George Pell accompanied Ridsdale to court in Melbourne in May 1993 – apparently at the wish of Archbishop Frank Little, the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne. Ridsdale had pleaded guilty to child sex offences and Bishop Pell (as he then was) had declined to give character evidence on Ridsdale’s behalf. George Pell merely walked with Ridsdale to court – an action which is not unusual behaviour by male and female members of the clergy. In fact, Salvation Army members are known to accompany both the accused and victims to court. MWD is aware of one “progressive” Australian Catholic priest who has accompanied a fellow priest to court in not dissimilar circumstances.
Fifth, Seccombe did not tell his readers that Pell has acknowledged that accompanying Ridsdale to court was an error of judgment – nor that Ridsdale was convicted of many more child sexual offences after his initial court appearance in Melbourne.
Sixth, there is no independent evidence that George Pell was involved in offering inducements to victims of clerical sexual abuse to remain silent.
Seventh, Seccombe did not tell his readers that – due to a decision of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council – none of Cardinal Pell’s critics at the Royal Commission had their evidence tested in cross examination. In other words, allegations were made about the Cardinal at the Royal Commission with respect to which he had no occasion to respond. According to media reports, the Cardinal’s barrister will cross examine some witnesses at the December 2015 hearings of the Royal Commission.
After all this innuendo, Mike “Smirk” Seccombe conceded that “even Pell’s most trenchant critics suspect the outcome [of the Royal Commission] will be, as one put it, ‘He said, she said’”. In other words, Seccombe conceded that, so far, no compelling evidence has been led against Cardinal Pell concerning his time in Ballarat. Seccombe also neglected to mention that the Cardinal has not been interviewed by Victoria Police concerning the events in Ballarat diocese of some three decades ago.
The rest of Seccombe’s piss-poor rant turned on trivial matters.
▪ Seccombe supported Kevin Rudd’s comment that Cardinal Pell is a “radical climate change sceptic”. Who cares? Cardinal Pell is as qualified to talk about climate change as Pope Francis or Al Gore or Kevin Rudd or Cate Blanchett or, indeed, Mike Seccombe. None has any scientific qualifications.
Ironically, the secularist Seccombe reckons that Cardinal Pell should support Pope Francis on climate change and all that. Seccombe seems unaware that – in his encyclical LaudatoSi’ – Pope Francis urged the faithful to avoid “the use of paper”. Mike “Smirk” Seccombe wants Cardinal Pell to follow all of Pope Francis’ teachings on climate – but “Smirk” keeps writing for the print edition of The [Boring] Saturday Paper. [Perhaps you should have saved this item for your oh-so-popular “Can You Bear It?” segment – Ed]
Even Seccombe had to concede that Cardinal Pell is doing quite a good job in cleaning up the Holy See’s finances and that much of the criticism of him from within the Vatican concerning his current position is motived by resentment of his overdue reforms.
The Saturday Paper’s Page Four, which is (incoherently) titled “Pell has no fury like a diocesan scorned”, concludes with some of the Cardinal’s (anonymous) critics saying that he has passed his use-by date. How about that. As the saying goes – “Well, they would, wouldn’t they?” And this junk was considered worthy of a Page One lead in The Saturday Paper.
This overwhelmingly popular segment of Media Watch Dog usually works like this. Someone or other thinks it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Nancy’s (male) co-owner about something or other. And Hendo, being a courteous and well-brought up kind of guy, replies. Then, hey presto, the correspondence is published in MWD – much to the delight of its tens of millions of readers.
There are occasions, however, when Nancy’s (male) co-owner decides to write a polite note to someone or other – who, in turn, believes that a reply is in order. Publication in MWD invariably follows. There are, alas, some occasions where Hendo sends a polite missive but does not receive the courtesy of a reply. Nevertheless, publication of this one-sided correspondence still takes place. For the record and in the public interest, of course.
As MWD readers are aware, The Guardian Australia’s deputy editor Katharine Murphy put out the following tweet on 6 June 2014 at 4.33 pm – when that issue of MWD was “hot off the press”. Here is Ms Murphy’s tweet: “Without in any way wanting to breach anyone’s human rights or free speech – why do people write emails to Gerard Henderson?” It’s a very good question. Thankfully, not everyone follows Katharine Murphy’s wise counsel.
AVID READER PICKS “JOHN LAWS STYLE DELIBERATE MISTAKE”
Due to enormous popular demand MWD’s “Correspondence” section returns this week. It’s brief since Hendo had a busy week and no time to engage in protracted email-writing.
Mr Loveday (of somewhere or other) came to the rescue picking perhaps the most important “deliberate mistake” in last week’s rushed issue. [Is any issue not rushed? – Ed]. Here we go:
L.B. Loveday to Gerard Henderson – 16 November 2015
Refusing to identify myself as a twit I don’t tweet, but the screen shots I have seen previously have the displayed date coinciding with the date the writer claims the twit sent the tweet.
However, the tweets you claim the twit “Mike Carlton sent out on the morning of 12 November 2015” are dated 10 November not 12 November. I trust you were not the one with a hangover.
Gerard Henderson to L.B. Loveday – 20 November 2015
Many thanks for your email of Friday the 13th November. Well done, you picked the “John Law’s Style” deliberate mistake.
You are correct on a number of accounts. The reference to Mike Carlton should have referred to hangover time on 10 November 2015 – not hangover time on 12 November 2015.
Moreover, while it’s not correct to say that Media Watch Dog is constructed during hangover time, it is true that it comes out after lunch.
Keep Morale High
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Until next time.
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“Gerard’s condescension levels high on #insiders this morning”
– Lenore Taylor, via Twitter, 22 February 2015
“Gerard Henderson and David Marr are on #Insiders this week. Like a political Felix and Oscar.”
– Mark Scott via Twitter 19 February 2015 at 1.10 pm
“I once called Gerard Henderson `a complete f%^wit’. I deeply regret that. I was being much too harsh on f%^wits.”
– Malcolm Farr via Twitter 14 February 2015 at 10:14 am
“Oh Gerard. You total clown.”
– Jonathan (“Proudly the ABC’s Sneerer-in-Chief”) Green on Twitter, Friday 3 October 2014, 4.31 pm [Mr Green must be an obsessive avid reader to respond so soon. – Ed]
“Good morning. All the gooder for being attacked (for thousandth time) by silly Gerard in the Oz”
– Phillip Adams via Twitter, 27 September 2014
“What troubles me most is that he [Gerard Henderson] shows such low journalistic standards, yet he is politically quite influential. He is often on Insiders. It’s hard to see why: he comes across as a crank.”
– Kate Durham as told to Crikey, 16 September 2014
“The unhinged but well spoken Gerard Henderson….”
– Bob Ellis, Table Talk blog, 10 August 2014
“Gerard Henderson and Nancy are awful human beings.”
– Alexander White, Twitter, 25 July 2014
“This is my regularly scheduled “Oh Gerard” tweet for every time he appears on #insiders”
– Josh Taylor, senior journalist for ZDNet, Twitter, 20 July 2014
“…that fu-kwitted Gerard “Gollum” Henderson….”
– Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton, via Twitter, 12 July 2014
“[Gerard Henderson is a] silly prick”
– Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton – tweeted Saturday 27 June 2014 at 4.15 pm, i.e. after lunch
“If Gerard Henderson had run Beria’s public relations Stalin’s death would have been hidden for a year and Nikita [Khrushchev] and co would have been shot”
– Laurie Ferguson via Twitter – 22 June 2014 [By-line: Mr Ferguson is a member of the House of Representatives who speaks in riddles.]
“[Gerard Henderson] is the Eeyore of Australian public life”
– Mike Seccombe in The [Boring] Saturday Paper – 21 June 2014
“Without in any way wanting to breach anyone’s human rights or free speech – why do people write emails to Gerard Henderson?”
– Katharine Murphy, Twitter, Friday 6 June 2014
“[Gerard Henderson is] an unhinged prick”
– Mike Carlton, Twitter, Thursday 12 June 2014
“There’s no sense that Gerard Henderson has any literary credentials at all.”
– Anonymous comment quoted, highlighted and presumably endorsed by Jason (“I’m a left-leaning luvvie”) Steger, The Age, 31 May 2014
On boyfriend’s insistence, watching the notorious Gerard Henderson/@Kate_McClymont Lateline segment. GH: What an odd, angry gnome of a man.
– Benjamin Law, via Twitter, Thursday 17 Apr 2014, 11:21 pm
Can’t believe I just spent my Thursday evening with a video recap of Gerard Henderson. I’m a f-cking moron.
– Benjamin Law, via Twitter, Thursday 17 Apr 2014, 11:23 pm
“[Gerard Henderson is an] unhinged crank”
– Mike Carlton, via Twitter, Saturday 29 March 2014, 4.34 pm
Complete stranger comes up to me: that Gerard Henderson’s a xxxxxx.
– Jonathan Green via Twitter, 8 February 2014