GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 330
26 August 2016
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.
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. Between November 1997 and October 2015 “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” was published as part of The Sydney Institute Quarterly. In March 2009 Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog blog commenced publication.
- Stop Press: Matt Bai corrects Leigh Sales on Donald Trump
- Editorial: On Margaret Simons on Michelle Guthrie in The Monthly
- ABC’s Cardinal George Pell Obsession Updated & Contrasted Plus an Update of the Professor Richard Downing/Jim Spigelman Scoreboard
- Can You Bear It? Paul Bongiorno on Civility; Bonge Channels Adam Bandt on ABC Radio National
- Nancy’s Nostradamus Moment: Hugh White’s Very Latest Prediction of a US-China “War” Documented
- Correspondence: Brian Paige Steps Forward in Defence of Tony Jones & Tim Bowden Steps Forward in Defence of Tim Bowden on the Vietnam War
THANK YOU DERRYN HINCH
This endorsement was tweeted by Derryn Hinch at 7.15 pm last Friday – shortly after Media Watch Dog Issue 329 went out. As avid readers will be aware, last week’s MWD quoted The Human Mumble as declaring on Paul Murray Live that: “Five sixes are 36.”
As to what Derryn (‘5×6=36’) Hinch has ever done to Gerard Henderson – well, it’s what he did not do that caused the problem. On Sky News’ Hinch Live and Paul Murray Live in 2015 and early 2016, your man Hinch continually bagged and attempted to ridicule Hendo concerning his comments on Cardinal George Pell. However, Hinch did not have the intellectual courage to invite Hendo on to his program to state his case. Nevertheless lotsa thanks to Senator-elect Hinch, the Gutless Wonder, for this endorsement. Here’s hoping for more.
- MATT BAI CORRECTS LEIGH SALES’ TRUMP HOWLER
Just as well that Yahoo News political columnist Matt Bai was listening to interviewer
Leigh Sales on 7.30 last night. Let’s go to the transcript where Ms Sales made a reference to the much-hated-by-the-Western-intelligentsia Donald Trump.
Leigh Sales : When you look at some of the things that Trump has said or suggested, like, you know, that some gun-lover might need to assassinate Hillary Clinton, that –
Matt Bai : He didn’t quite say that.
Leigh Sales : He didn’t quite say that.
Matt Bai : But the implication was trouble.
Yeah, it was trouble. But just as well that Matt Bai was listening. Because, Donald Trump never said or suggested that some gun-lover might need to assassinate Hillary Clinton. Fortunately, for the ABC, the Yahoo News columnist was concentrating on Leigh Sales’ questions and corrected this particular howler.
MWD is no Donald Trump conservative. It’s just that MWD is a hyperbole-hater.
MARGARET SIMONS’ FLAWED PROFILE OF ABC MANAGING DIRECTOR MICHELLE GUTHRIE IN THE MONTHLY
The cover-story of The Monthly’s September 2016 issue is written by Margaret Simons – director of the pompously titled Centre for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne. It’s headed “Is Michelle Guthrie Tuned In To The ABC?”. The author’s thesis is made clear in the sub-heading which reads “The new managing director’s vision isn’t clear”. So why read on? But MWD did.
What’s remarkable about Dr Simons’ long article is that it is all but bereft of individuals who would talk on the record about the ABC’s new managing director and editor-in-chief. Ms Guthrie would not talk to The Monthly on or off the record. This could serve as a useful precedent to emulate for anyone approached by the ABC for an interview. If in doubt, leave the ABC out.
This is what the then Northern Territory Corrections Minister John Elferink should have done when approached by Four Corners’ reporter Caro Meldrum-Hanna to be interviewed for the program on juvenile detention in the Territory. Put simply, Ms Hanna promised Mr Elferink that he would get an opportunity to put to air a positive view about the reforms of the NT’s corrections system which he had implemented. The Four Corners’ promise was not honoured.
Even ABC 1 Media Watch presenter Paul Barry acknowledges that John Elferink was misled in this instance. As Mr Barry commented last Monday:
Anyone who has ever been an investigative journalist knows how hard – and how important – it is to get people to talk or permission to film. The temptation is always to make promises you won’t deliver or hint at support you know you won’t give. We think the Four Corners letter did just that.
Having received a “thanks, but no thanks” message from Michelle Guthrie, Margaret Simons had to rely on the following anonymous informants. Namely, “one insider”, a “board member”, “one former board member”, “one insider”, “one former board member”, “one senior staffer”, “those who would speak”, “a former boss”, “one”, “one observer”, “observers”, “one observer”, “one”, “one source”, “one observer”, “sources”, “one senator” and – wait for it – “one member of her executive”. Dr Simons (for a doctor she is) teaches journalism at the taxpayer subsidised University of Melbourne. It is not clear what her position on anonymous sources in profiles is.
Only two people spoke to Margaret Simons on-the-record. Namely former ABC board member Fiona Stanley and former ABC managing director Mark Scott. Nice Mr Scott spoke mainly about HIMSELF.
Dr Simons’ piece is remarkably vague. However, she appears to hold the view that Ms Guthrie is a danger to the ABC’s culture. Here’s how The Monthly piece concluded – wondering whether Ms Guthrie would come to regard the ABC as home of Australian stories, or the source of Australian stories. Whatever this might mean.
The home of Australian stories or the source? As Guthrie has said, failing to change is not an option. The ABC cannot remain as it has been. It must reach out, reach further and embrace the new media world.
The fear is that if Guthrie means what she says – if she intends to slash the bureaucracy, strain for 100% reach and partner even more widely with other platforms – that in ten or 20 years’ time it will be easy for a future government to gut the ABC. The ABC might have become less of a broadcasting organisation and more of a commissioning organisation. It might have lost institutional heft. It might be competing directly with commercial media on the same platforms but have lost the capacity to monitor its own news coverage and impose standards. It might have lost the distinctive public purpose that is its reason for being.
Will Michelle Guthrie come to have more patience for those long ABC stories? It is, as everyone around her acknowledges, too soon to tell.
Earlier in her piece, Margaret Simons quoted, yes, one senior staffer who said that there is a long history behind how things are done at the ABC – a lot of “very, very long ABC stories”. And tall, no doubt.
If Michelle Guthrie cannot be bothered listening to very, very long ABC stories and acting in accordance with the lore they proclaim – this could be a plus. We shall see.
As to the “highlights” of Margaret Simons’ piece in The Monthly, MWD chooses three.
▪ Dr Simons writes that “unlike the BBC, the ABC has never been funded by license fees from the public…”. Not so. Gough Whitlam’s Labor government abolished annual television and radio license fees in 1974. These fees had been used to fund the ABC. There are similar howlers in Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs which the late Malcolm Fraser co-wrote with Margaret Simons.
▪ Dr Simons refers dismissively to “men in suits” and “suited white males”. Morry Schwartz, publisher of The Monthly, is a white man who is known to wear suits. Dr Simons is a white woman who is known to wear sandals.
▪ Dr Simons maintains that the ABC is “riding high at the moment due to its investigations, including important work on youth detention in the Northern Territory and allegations against Cardinal George Pell”.
This is obviously a reference to 7.30’s hatchet job on Cardinal George Pell which ran for 30 minutes and featured untested allegations about George Pell going back four decades when he was a junior priest (not a bishop) in the Ballarat and Melbourne archdioceses. The ABC is the third government funded body to investigate Cardinal Pell – so far without any result. There is the Victoria Police. There is the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. And then there is the taxpayer funded public broadcaster (pace the ABC’s 7.30).
CONTRASTED WITH ABC COVERAGE OF ANGLICAN ARCHBISHOP ROGER HERFT & DENIAL RE FORMER ABC CHAIRMAN RICHARD DOWNING
While on the topic of George Pell, it is interesting to compare the ABC/Fairfax Media/The Project attack on Cardinal Pell compared with these media outlets’ handling of the Anglican Archbishop Roger Herft. In 1996, the then Archbishop of Melbourne George Pell set up the Melbourne Response within three months of taking up the position. According to the evidence before the Royal Commission, the Anglican Bishop of Newcastle, and subsequently Anglican Archbishop of Perth, Roger Herft failed to deal with instances of child abuse which were brought to his attention.
Sure, the issue was covered by Anne Connolly on 7.30 on 20 July and 21 July – but this had nothing of the impact of 7.30’s story on Cardinal Pell.
It is also noteworthy that the ABC journalists have still not reported the ABC’s own handling of the pedophilia issue. In the mid-1970s, when Catholic, Anglican and other clerics were sexually assaulting children, the ABC Radio’s Lateline program gave sympathetic coverage to pederasts. And ABC Chairman Professor Richard Downing, speaking in his official capacity as ABC chairman, called on Australians to “understand” the urges of pederasts and declared that “in general, men will sleep with young boys”. See MWD passim ad nauseam.
ABC chairman Jim Spigelman, ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie and ABC Board members have all refused to address the issue of the former ABC chairman’s handling of this issue four decades ago. This despite the fact that some of the victims who were interviewed for the Lateline program in 1975 would only be aged 50 today.
[By the way, perhaps the powers-that-be at the contemporary ABC might get the 7.30 team to find the men who were once victims of the pederasts sympathetically interviewed by Richard Neville on the ABC Radio Lateline program in 1975. Once found, the victims could receive counselling funded by the public broadcaster along with financial compensation. But, don’t hold your breath. – MWD Editor]
And now – for a Scoreboard update:
|NUMBER OF OCCASIONS ON WHICH ABC PRESENTERS HAVE CALLED ON PRESENT CHURCH, PUBLIC SERVICE AND BUSINESS LEADERS TO ACCEPT RESPONSBILITY FOR PAST CASES OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE OR NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF A CHURCH OR INSTITUTION IN WHICH THEY CURRENTLY HOLD A SENIOR POSITION – OR A BUSINESS WHICH THEY CURRENTLY MANAGE||NUMBER OF DAYS SINCE ABC CHAIRMAN JAMES SPIGLEMAN AC QC SAID THAT THE ABC HAD NO RESPONSIBILITY WHATSOEVER FOR THE FACT THAT HIS PREDECESSOR IN 1975 (RICHARD DOWNING) WROTE TO THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD AS ABC CHAIRMAN CALLING ON AUSTRALIANS TO “UNDERSTAND” THE URGES OF PEDERASTS.|
|FORMER ABC CHAIRMAN RICHARD DOWNING. PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARK STRIZIC IN 1968 –AS DEPICTED IN THE ONLINE EDITION OF AUSTRALIAN DICTIONARY OF BIOGRAPHY||CURRENT ABC CHAIRMAN JAMES SPIGELMAN - AS DEPICTED IN THE ABC’S 2014 ANNUAL REPORT|
- PAUL (“MONICA LEWINSKY IS UGLY”) BONGIORNO CALLS FOR CIVILITY (IN OTHERS)
Thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to this tweet which the left-wing journalist Paul Bongiorno put out on Monday.
Bonge was making a point about someone who sledged him on Twitter about something or other and whom he believed did so in a less than civil manner.
But this is the very same Paul Bongiorno – Channel 10’s contributing editor and regular commentator on ABC Radio National Breakfast – who tweeted on 22 April 2016 about an actor he believed was unsuitable to play the role of Monica Lewinsky in a TV series.
Your man Bonge’s tweet said that actress Bel Powley was “not ugly enough” to play the part of Monica Lewinsky. How civil was that? And now the one-time Catholic priest is lecturing-at-large about the blessing of “the conservative value of civility”. Can you bear it?
- BONGE’S LATEST RN BREAKFAST RANT CHANNELS ADAM BANDT – AND A SUGGESTION
While on the topic of one-time preacher Paul Bongiorno – did anyone hear his interview with Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly on RN Breakfast yesterday?
When Bonge worked exclusively for Channel 10, the Coalition regarded him as the most left-wing journalist in the Canberra Press Gallery among the commercial media – i.e. outside of the ABC and SBS. So it was no surprise that when Channel 10 dropped Meet the Press (which Bonge used to present) and moved Mr Bongiorno to the position of contributing editor – he was soon embraced by the ABC. Thus confirming that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster as a Conservative Fee Zone – with not one conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets.
It would seem that your man Bonge consumed broken glass for breakfast yesterday. How else to explain his leftist pulpit rant on RN Breakfast – which even had activist Ms Kelly attempting to tone down Bonge’s “This-I-Believe” declaration. Here’s how Bonge went about his (secular) sermon yesterday morning:
First up, Bonge previewed Scott Morrison’s speech, scheduled for later in the morning, on the economy and all that. Bonge was unimpressed by Mr Morrison’s claim that many Australians pay no net tax:
So, this is, in my humble opinion, you know, a sort of a loaded narrative and if we’re going to talk about “the taxed” and “the taxed not”, maybe we should start talking about the Top End, and how much tax people who can afford to pay a helluva lot more should be paying.
When discussion turned to the taxation of superannuation, Bonge declared:
So Scott Morrison may have to get down off his high horse and start talking to somebody if he wants to avoid all the pitfalls that he’s warning about in his speech this morning.
Then Bonge stridently opposed the Australian Federal Police investigations into the alleged leaking of documents from the NBN Co to Labor Party staff. When Ms Kelly suggested that the AFP may only have acted because the breach of confidentiality was severe, Bonge fired-up at the Prime Minister:
Yes, well the severe breach is the absolute embarrassment from Malcolm Turnbull and the government over the claims they were making about the NBN – how they would do it better, faster, quicker, cheaper, you name it. And these documents show that by their own yardsticks, by their own benchmarks, they were failing.
When Ms Kelly reminded listeners that the Prime Minister had rejected suggestions that the Coalition government was in any way involved in the Australian Federal Police’s decision to investigate the theft of documents from the NBN Company, Bonge was having none of this. This is how the discussion ended:
Fran Kelly: And just very briefly Paul, we’re out of time. But the Prime Minister does reject completely any suggestion that the police are sort of acting as the puppets of their political masters here.
Paul Bongiorno: Yes he said that yesterday. But Labor is convinced that someone in government made sure that the NBN called the police in.
Fran Kelly: Let’s see how this goes. Paul thank you very much.
Yes. Thank you Paul. Bonge concluded his sermon by refuting Malcolm Turnbull’s statement that the AFP is acting in accordance with government instructions in this instance. You see, according to Bonge, the Labor Party is convinced that “someone in government” instructed that someone in the NBN Company to call in the police. So that settles the matter, apparently.
Well, you would expect an Opposition to make such an assertion with respect to a government. But Bonge has no evidence that “someone in government” instructed the AFP to do anything. His commentary on RN Breakfast increasingly resembles a (secular) rant. Can you bear it?
[Er, no. But I have a suggestion. Why not retire Bonge and replace him on RN Breakfast with Greens MP Adam Bandt? This would retain the green/left ethos domination of the RN Breakfast slot while making the ABC more transparent about the political views of its commentators. Just a thought. – Ed].
- NEW FEATURE: NANCY’S NOSTRADAMUS MOMENT – IN WHICH MEDIA PROPHECIES ARE IDENTIFIED
STEP FORWARD HUGH WHITE ON THE FORTHCOMING US-CHINA “WAR”
Nancy’s (male) co-owner was shocked, literally shocked, when he turned on Sky News last Tuesday. There was newsreader Susanne Latimore reporting that someone had forecast a war between the United States and China some time soon – in which Australia would be involved.
Scary stuff, indeed. So Hendo wound back the report to find out who had said precisely what. Then he realised that he had seen this particular horror movie before. For it was Professor Hugh White – of the Australian National University – making yet another prediction about a coming war between the US and China in which Australia might take sides. The occasion was an address to the National Press Club on Tuesday.
As avid readers will be aware, MWD holds the view that Dr White (for a doctor he is) believes that Australian foreign policy should be decided in Beijing. And that, in specifics, the basis of Australian foreign policy should be a two-step process. First, find out what the communist dictators in China want. Second, give it to them.
This is how Sky News online reported Professor High White’s National Press Club performance:
The modern-day rivalry between the US and China has a “whiff” of the lead up to the First World War and Australia can’t afford to sit on its hands in denial. That’s the blunt doomsday message of strategic expert Hugh White.
“The pattern of rivalry we’ve seen over the last few months or weeks is precisely what from a study of history you would expect to see in the lead-up to a major power conflict,” the Australian National University professor told the National Press Club on Tuesday. There is more than a whiff of 1914 about this situation.”
He argued that both sides believe the other one will back down. The golden era of China accepting the US as the primary power in Asia is over but war is not inevitable, Prof White said. He said Australia should dump the “diplomatic ambiguity” and take on an activist middle power role which included rallying a coalition of non-great powers in Asia.
The problem is that your man White has been predicting a conflict between the US and China for over a decade – as avid MWD readers will be aware.
In March 2005, Dr White raised the possibility of a “naval battle this year…between the US and Chinese navies”. It didn’t happen. In August 2012 he theorised about what would occur if “the US and Japan go to war with China”. It didn’t happen. In November 2014, the learned professor declared that the situation in the Pacific was a “little like what happened in 1914”. It wasn’t. And now Dr White is banging on again with the claim that the rivalry between the US and China has a “whiff” of the lead-up to the First World War. Namely, a massive military conflict.
A whiff – indeed. Could it be that Hugh White is intent on taking over the role now (alas) vacated by the late Bob Ellis – aka the False Prophet of Palm Beach? How many more times can your man White predict the outbreak of hostilities between the US and China and still get invited to address the National Press Club?
For the record, former Labor foreign minister – and now ANU chancellor – Gareth Evans spoke on the same platform as Hugh White last Tuesday. Mr Evans was significantly less alarmist about the prospect of a US-China war, maintaining that both nations are “joined at the wallet”. But both of the ANU’s best-and-brightest were of the view that Australia should allow China’s state-owned State Grid Corporation of China and the Hong Kong listed Cheung Kong Infrastructure to effectively control the New South Wales electricity company Ausgrid.
Could it be that the National Press Club in Canberra has decided to channel the ABC and put on “debates” where both speakers essentially agree with one another. Yawn.
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 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 – not even Ms Murphy herself (See MWD Issue 297).
- BRIAN PAIGE AND GERARD HENDERSON RE TONY JONES AND (ALLEGED) “CROATIAN CATHOLIC EXTREMIST” TERRORISTS IN AUSTRALIA
In MWD last week it was revealed that the document put forward by Tony Jones and the ABC to support his claim that there were “Croatian Catholic extremist” terrorists initiating “multiple bombings” in Australia in the 1970s did not in fact provide evidence to this effect. A certain Mr Brian Paige disagreed with MWD’s assessment but provided no proof of his own as the following correspondence demonstrates:
Brian Paige to Gerard Henderson – 21 August 2016
I generally agree with Gerard Henderson’s views but have to object to the MWD line on Croatian extremists.
I do not doubt that Tony Jones, journalist at the ABC, uses his position to air and even push his own views, which appear often to be left wing. However, going to the length and bother that MWD did to repute his comment that Australia’s had experienced terrorist incidents in the past, appears to be based on the fact that Jones used the adjective “Catholic” as in “Croatian Catholic extremists.” So, it appears that MWD jumps to the defence of anything Catholic, regardless of the evidence.
In the long attempt to refute the existence of Croatian extremism, MWD does not point out that a number of Croatians were found by Australian police to be carrying out military training with weapons in Australia, in addition to the bombings and threats that occurred. Also, MWD does not point out that for many years Croatian social and soccer clubs in Australia (and in other countries) carried the name and portraits of the Croatian World War Two Leader/Fuhrer Ante Pavelic, whose murderous “Ustasha” regime committed genocide against Serbians, Jews and other non-Croatians in Croatia, Dalmatia and Bosnia during World War Two. The Croatian Ustasha organised the only extermination camps during the war, not planned, organised and conducted by Germans, Austrians and Italians.
Unfortunately, after the war, Ante Pavelic and many other Croatian war criminals were smuggled out of Yugoslavia by Croatian Catholic priests and a so-called Vatican Ratline network run out of the Vatican, which provided Pavelic et al with Vatican passports and passage to safe havens, including Australia. Funds looted from Ustasha victims were used for that purpose. Whilst Ante Pavelic was smuggled out to become Peron’s “security adviser” in Argentina and then later to Franco’s Spain, other Ustasha war criminals escaped justice by being smuggled out and given new identities in a string of Latin American and other countries. The Croatian Ustasha Fascists were anti-Communist and as such began to be viewed more favourably by other anti-Communists in the West during the Cold War, thus escaping justice and scrutiny.
Tito, the Communist leader of Yugoslavia was half-Croatian and half-Slovenian and not Serbian at all; in its attempt to refute Croatian Fascist extremism in Australia, MWD seems to imply that Tito’s Communist regime was somehow Serbian and trying to defame Croatian Fascist extremists. The Ustasha regime’s record speaks for itself.
Cardinal Stepinac, mentioned by MWD, was the Vicar General of the Croatian Ustasha Fascist regime during World War Two, when hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, Roma and anti-fascists were exterminated. After the war, Stepinac was tried and sentenced to a goal term as an Ustasha, Fascist and Nazi collaborator, but because that trial was in Communist Yugoslavia, Stepinac has been hailed in some Catholic circles as a martyr of Communism and has been beatified.
One has to ask Gerard Henderson and MWD, to recognise that Croatian Catholics, as Ustasha Fascists, carried our unspeakable genocidal crimes during World War Two, that some of these war criminals came to Australia and that they and their subsequent Croatian followers here engaged in extremism and still hold extremist Fascist beliefs. To be Catholic does not mean that we ignore or defend Croatian crimes and extremism.
It will be interesting to see if MWD is impartial enough to put this email on its blog and the Sydney Institute website.
Gerard Henderson to Brian Page – 26 August 2016
I refer to your email of 21 August 2016 concerning my comments in last Friday’s Media Watch Dog concerning the (alleged) “Croatian Catholic extremist” terrorists in Australia in the 1970s. The reference is to Tony Jones’ claim as Q&A presenter on 18 July 2016. To put the matter in context, this is the exchange between Tony Jones and Pauline Hanson which took place on Q&A :
Pauline Hanson: We have terrorism on the streets that we’ve never had before. We’ve had murders committed under the name of Islam, as we have the Lindt Cafe, Curtis Cheng [in Parramatta] and the two police officers in Melbourne, right? So this has happened. You have radicalisation –
Tony Jones: Can I just – I’m sure that – Pauline, I’m sure the fact-checkers will be on to this but when you say we’ve never had terrorism in this country before, that’s simply not the case.
Pauline Hanson: Not to –
Tony Jones: In the 1970s there were multiple bombings by Croatian Catholic extremists. This has happen in Australia before. It’s not the first time. We should at least get that straight.
In your email, you have gone off the topic and focused instead on Ante Pavelic (1869-1959), Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac (1898-1960) and the Ustasha regime during the Second World War. For the record, I have always held the view that Pavelic presided over a murderous anti-semitic regime between 1941 and 1945. Moreover, I have never denied that some members of the Catholic Church were involved in smuggling Ustasha members out of Croatia and into Latin America in the late 1940s and during the 1950s.
However, this has nothing to do with the (alleged) actions of “Croatian Catholic extremist” terrorists in Australia in the 1970s – a quarter of a century after the events to which you refer to in your email and pertaining to a different continent.
In response to your email, I make the following points:
▪ It is true that in the 1960s and 1970s a number of anti-communist Croatians in Australia were found by police to be carrying out military training with weapons. However, the evidence indicates that this training was undertaken with respect to planned military/terrorist action in Yugoslavia against Tito’s communist dictatorship. It was not directed against Australia or Australians.
▪ The fact is that no Croatian Australian citizens or residents or Croatian tourists were charged with, or convicted of, bombings in Australia in the 1960s and 1970s. Yet, Tony Jones claimed that “Croatian Catholic extremist” terrorists were involved in “multiple bombings” in Australia at the time.
▪ It is true that in the 1960s and 1970s some Croatian Australians looked back in happiness at the fascist dictator Ante Pavelic and the murderous Utasha regime. It is also true that some Chinese Australians today look back in happiness at the communist dictator Mao Zedong and his murderous regime. However, there is no causal connection between supporting one-time murderers in another country and carrying out “multiple bombings” in your own country.
▪ Neither Tony Jones nor you have demonstrated that there were “Croatian Catholic extremist” terrorists initiating “multiple bombings” in Australia in the 1970s. When and where did such bombings occur? More specifically, who were these (alleged) bombers? – just the names will do.
▪ Neither Tony Jones nor you have demonstrated that any Croatians in Australia who wanted to take military action against Yugoslavia were “Catholic” or expressed any specific “Catholic” aims.
▪ Neither Tony Jones nor you appear to have read John Blaxland’s The Protest Years: The Official History of ASIO – 1963-1975 which documents that Australian security forces at the time believed that many attacks against Yugoslav property in Australia were undertaken by Yugoslav agents with a view to discrediting Croatians in Australia. Certainly neither you nor Tony Jones have addressed this issue.
▪ Neither Tony Jones nor you have acknowledged the fact that the document Mr Jones (eventually) cited in support of his assertion – titled “Incidents Within The Yugoslav Community, 1963-1973” – does not support his claim that “Croatian Catholic extremist” terrorists engaged in “multiple bombings” in Australia in the 1970s.
▪ Tony Jones acknowledges that the “Croatian Six” who were found guilty of conspiracy to commit terrorist acts in 1979 were not guilty and were, in fact, framed by the Yugoslav secret police operatives in Australia. Yet, Mr Jones refuses to accept that what he acknowledges took place with respect to Croatian Australians in the late 1970s could also have taken place throughout the 1960s and early 1970s.
Feel free to write to me again. However, you should be aware that I am interested I evidence and documented facts – not unsourced allegations or unrelated historical events.
* * * *
- TIM BOWDEN AND GERARD HENDERSON RE THE ABC & THE VIETNAM WAR
In last Saturday’s Weekend Australian, Gerard Henderson wrote a column titled “Australians Did Not Invade Vietnam or Die There In Vain” – on Australia’s Vietnam commitment with special focus on the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan. In passing, he referred to a piece on ABC News Breakfast where only left-wing critics of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam were interviewed. One of this trio was Tim Bowden – who wrote to Gerard Henderson on Monday. The correspondence is as below – except that a reference by Bowden to an incorrect name referred to in the column has been removed for clarity sake. This error has been attended to in both the print and online editions of The Australian. Now read on:
Tim Bowden to Gerard Henderson – 22 August 2016
I guess I should not have been surprised at your poison pen job on me in “The Inquirer” on Saturday. But as you have staked your reputation on getting facts right, let me point out some of your egregious errors:
٠ At no time did I say that I ‘[he] could not get all his reports from Vietnam run on the public broadcaster at the time’. God only know where you dreamed that one up from as I never had a report for News or Current Affairs blocked or censored (although others were not so fortunate). Only a short grab from me was used, after being asked by Jenya [Goloubeva] about censorship by the ABC of Vietnamese-based stories.
The example I went on to give, unfortunately not broadcast because of time constraints, was when Tony Ferguson (yes, a good Catholic boy) visited Phnom Penh in the second half of 1967, he happened to see Wilfrid [sic] Burchett walking down a street. He made himself known, and asked if Burchett would do an interview with him for ABC News. Burchett, who was persona non-grata with the Australian Government because he reported the Korean and Vietnamese wars from the Communist side, affably agreed.
Ferguson knew that he was both hated and admired because of this, but had extraordinary information. Ferguson also knew that Burchett, not in the first flower of his youth, had been in South Vietnam with the Viet Cong and hiding in their tunnel complexes while being straffed and bombed by Souith[sic] Vietnamese and American firepower. To get an interview with him for ABC television would be a great scoop, and arouse enormous interest in Australia. The next day he met with Burchett again, and was pleased with the result. Elated with his good fortune to get such a story, Ferguson cabled the ABC News in Sydney that the interview was on its way, with the usual flight and waybill details. All hell broke loose in ABC TV News.
Most Australians regarded Burchett as a traitor, a view held by the Controller of News, Keith Fraser, who promptly ordered that when the film came in it was to be immediately exposed to the light, not processed and trashed. A shameful episode, and not only in my view. Ferguson, when he found out about it, was furious, but could do nothing of course. I did tell this story in my interview (not mentioning Fraser’s name), but as I said, there was no room for this in the final edit.
٠ As to your gybe about me being “another manifestation of anti-Catholic sectarianism per favour of the taxpayer funded broadcaster” – hogwash. What I said was true. The News hierarchy at that time consisted of old newspaper men, most of them Catholics who took the view that Australia’s participation in the Vietnam was similar to the Second World War where censorship of anything seen to shed light on the enemy’s motives was absolutely de rigeur. That was certainly Keith Fraser’s view about the Vietnam war, and he was not alone. This was well known at the time inside the ABC.
The Vietnam War was not threatening our country, we were there to assist the Americans fight Communism, and opinions were certainly divided in Australia on the wisdom of this. The Burchett interview was a legitimate news story and should not have been kyboshed in the way that it was. I am no bigot Gerard, and that was a cheap shot to allege that I am.
Gerard Henderson to Tim Bowden – 26 August 2016
I refer to your email of last Monday concerning my column in The Weekend Australian last Saturday titled “Australians Did Not Invade Vietnam Or Die There In Vain”. How frightfully interesting to hear from you again. I trust that life is kind to you at Pacific Palms.
In response to your note, I make the following comments:
▪ You seem to be part of that large contingent of journalists who like to criticise others but get oh-so-sensitive when someone criticises you. In this respect, your assertion that my column in The Weekend Australian’s “Inquirer” section last Saturday was a “poison pen job” on you is nonsense.
This is what I wrote about you (corrected to cover the error re the producer’s name which I acknowledged in my brief email to you on Wednesday):
On ABC’s News Breakfast on Thursday, Jenya Goloubeva produced a piece on media coverage of the war. She interviewed three journalists — London-based leftist John Pilger, Tim Bowden and cameraman David Brill — who reported on Vietnam in the late 1960s and early 70s. All three agreed with each other in opposing the war and focusing on the civilian deaths and injuries. And all overlooked the fact there are dreadful civilian casualties in all conflicts, particularly during World War II, which most commentators, apart from pacifists, regard as a just war.
The star performer in the Goloubeva package was Bowden. He complained that he could not get all his reports from Vietnam run on the public broadcaster at the time and provided the following explanation: “At that stage the (ABC) news executives were mostly old newspaper men, a lot of Catholics, and they saw the war as a holy crusade.” This is yet another manifestation of anti-Catholic sectarianism, per courtesy of the taxpayer-funded public broadcaster.
As Peter Edwards documents in his official history Crises and Commitments (Allen & Unwin, 1992), the decision to send Australian combat forces to South Vietnam was made by [Robert] Menzies and deputy prime minister Jack McEwen. Neither was a Catholic.
In 1965, the key opponent of Australia’s Vietnam commitment was Labor Party leader Arthur Calwell. Calwell was a practising Catholic. In Australia and the Vietnam War (NewSouth, 2014), Edwards names commentators Denis Warner, Peter Samuel, Geoffrey Fairbairn and Owen Harries as making the best case for Australia’s support of South Vietnam. None of them was a Catholic. Contrary to Bowden’s assertion, few, if any, supporters of Australia’s Vietnam commitment regarded it as a “holy crusade” — whatever that might mean.
The fact is that you did imply to News Breakfast that you could not get all your reports from Vietnam run on the public broadcaster at the time. Why else bang on about the censorship of ABC “news executives” whom you claim saw the Vietnam War as a “holy crusade”.
In your email you do say that the news hierarchy at the ABC was into what you term “censorship”. If ABC News executives were into censorship of Vietnam War stories – then it stands to reason that at least some of your reports were censored. Certainly you did not claim on News Breakfast that you escaped what you implied was all-rewarding censorship.
▪ As to the Wilfred Burchett story, I have little alternative but to accept the accuracy of your recall of what took place at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster half a century ago – even though it is not supported by evidence.
I can understand why, apparently, Keith Fraser did not treat Tony Ferguson’s interview with Wilfred Burchett as what you term “a legitimate news story”. As was known in 1967 – and as Robert Manne, among others, has documented in recent years – Burchett was a Communist Party operative who was financed, at various times, by the communist dictatorships in Eastern Europe and Asia, including the regimes based in Moscow, East Berlin, Hanoi, Beijing, Phnom Penh and Pyongyang.
In any event, my criticism of the News Breakfast piece was that only critics of Australia’s Vietnam commitment were heard – namely, John Pilger, David Brill and yourself. In many reports of the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, the ABC has refused to recognise that many Australian civilians, including some journalists, supported Australia’s Vietnam commitment.
▪ Your comfort zone only seems to extend to those who agree with you. That’s why you regard considered criticism of your views as a “poison pen job”. How strange that, even in relaxing Pacific Palms, you associate reasonable criticism with personal attack.
▪ It is nonsense to suggest that there was a Catholic position on the Vietnam War. As I pointed out in my column, Arthur Calwell, the leading opponent of Australia’s Vietnam commitment in the mid-1960s, was a Catholic. The editors of The Catholic Worker in Melbourne also opposed Australia’s participation in the Vietnam conflict.
Even your mocking reference to Tony Ferguson as “a good Catholic boy” supports my point. According to you, Ferguson initiated the Burchett interview which did not go to air on ABC TV News. I do not know whether Keith Fraser – who (allegedly) censored the Ferguson story – was a Catholic. But since, according to you, Ferguson was a Catholic – there was not much of a Catholic conspiracy here. It is not a “cheap shot” to draw attention to your apparent obsession with Catholics and Catholicism.
Keep morale high.
* * * *
Until next time.
If Gerard Henderson is on #insiders tomorrow I’m going to start drinking at 9.01 am
– @annalise108 via Twitter, 30 Jul 2016, 6:30 PM
“[Gerard Henderson is a] whining rodent”
– Bruce Haigh, former diplomat and regular ABC panelist
“[Gerard Henderson is a] cretinous turd”
– Rohan Connolly via Twitter – 12 July 2016
“It’s always nice to be mentioned in your pedantic, predictable and self-absorbed Friday web rant”
– Stephen Mayne, via email, Bastille Day, 2016
My oh my. Poor, blithering Gerard “Gollum” Henderson will be incandescent with rage after that Media Watch. The silly prick.
Mike Carlton via Twitter, 15 Feb 2016, 9:44 PM
Gerard: You are hopeless…
– David Marr, 12 February 2016
ABC is a weakened and flawed institution for sure but it is a vital balance to ranting prejudices of Gerard Henderson’s boss@rupertmurdoch
Quentin Dempster via Twitter, 10 Jan 2016,
Poor mad Gerard is obsessed. I expect he had an unhappy childhood, always the last to be chosen…
Mike Carlton via Twitter, 25 Oct 2015, 3:27 AM
Sometimes I think of Gerard Henderson like a Japanese holdout, lost in the jungles of Borneo, still fighting the war 20 years after it ended
– Erik Jensen,via Twitter, 16 Oct 2015, 4:50 PM
Gérard Henderson brain missing. Small reward
– Phillip Adams, via Twitter, 10 Oct 2015, 11:16 AM
I’ve been shot at by the Viet Cong. I once met Gerard Henderson. I can take any shit thrown at me…
Mike Carlton via Twitter, 9:22 PM – 9 Sep 2015
Gerard. You are an idiot #insiders
Bevan Shields via Twitter, 9:46 AM, 23 August 2015
“[Gerard Henderson is a] professional filing cabinet”
– Leftist scribbler Jeff Sparrow, Crikey, 13 August 2015
Leaving the house to avoid listening to GHenderson on @774melbourne
– Jonathan Green via Twitter, 31 July 2015
“gerard henderson trending on twitter, omg [looks out window, where the sun is eclipsed and the sky blood-red] oh yeah that makes sense”
– Adam Brereton via Twitter, 31 July 2015
Gerard Henderson on @891adelaide right now & I find myself shouting at my radio. What a morning”
– Louise Pascale via Twitter, 31 July 2015
“oh hell why is Gerard Henderson trending? Has boredom become the new black.”
– MNihilon via Twitter, 31 July 2015
Told I made the late Gerard Henderson’s little blog today. Read it. What a rancorous, nauseating, humourless little turd he is.
– Mike Carlton via Twitter during Gin & Tonic Time on 12 June 2015.
“On Sunday before Insiders…I was giving you a rich and full account of what a weird shit I think you are…”
– David Marr to Gerard Henderson, 1 June 2015
To #swf2015 this morning. Sunlit harbour, fabulous crowds radiating civility. And no Gerard Henderson ! It doesn’t get any better.
– Mike Carlton, via Twitter, 1:48 PM – 21 May 2015
Gerard Henderson’s friday self-harm update is here
– Adam Brereton, via Twitter, May 15, 2015
[Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog is] batshit mad.
– Guy Rundle in Crikey, 14 May 2015:
I’m in the sort of mood that if I saw Gerard Henderson in the street I’d hit him with his own umbrella
– Ben Pobjie, via Twitter, 8 May 2015
It’s a glorious day when Gerard Henderson has a go at you
– Adam Gartrell, via Twitter, 8 May 2015
Meeting of Gerard Henderson Appreciation Society tonight Sydney Opera House phone booth
– Phillip Adams, via Twitter, 28 April 2015, 1.36 pm (after lunch).
“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