12 AUGUST 2011

“Media Watch Dog on Fridays…is a sort of popular read in the Crikey office”

Crikey’s Andrew Crook on ABC 2 News Breakfast, 24 September 2010.

“Gerard Henderson is big enough to take care of himself, but that doesn’t stop us worrying about him from time to time. Lately it’s Hendo’s tendency to self-harm that has us losing sleep. For example, peruse the correspondence he’s published in his latest Media Watch Dog blog…..There’s a part of us that just wants to ask: “Hendo, are you OK?”

– James Jeffrey’s “Strewth!” column, The Australian, 8 November 2010.

“I realise this makes me practically retarded, but until five minutes ago I thought Nancy was Gerard Henderson’s wife, not his dog.”

– Byronbache via Twitter, Monday 7 February 2011

“Before going further can you write to confirm that these emails are private correspondence and not for publication”

– ABC News Radio’s Marius Benson, 11 March 2011. He did go further – see MWD Issue 86.

Media Watch Dog – “disgraceful”, “sick” – Professor Robert Manne, April Fool’s Day 2011.

“Go to the Sydney Institute Media Watch Dog website to marvel at [its] work” – Mark Latham The Spectator Australia 11 June 2011.

Stop Press: Donald McDonald’s ABC About Face &

Julian Morrow’s Mad Woman

● Nancy’s Five Paws Award: Heather Brooke on Julian Assange

● A Deborah Cameron Moment: With Stuart Littlemore QC

● Can You Bear It?  Jane Caro’s Tweet on Private Schools; Jane Caro’s First Class Kids; Sally Neighbour’s Unique Sources;

Nick (Not A Best Seller) Dyrenfurth’s Whinge; Tim Flannery’s Paranoia; Jenna Price – On Tweets and Sceptical Lodgers

● Historical Howlers of the Week Starring: Laura Tingle, Mark Latham & Tony Reeves

● Correspondence:  Still No Facts At UNSW and a Concerned Reader on Geoffrey Robertson’s Epping (Sydney) Accent



When Donald McDonald was ABC chairman from 1996 to 2006, he would not hear a word of criticism of the ABC.  Not one word.  So, not surprisingly, he became much loved by the ABC’s in-house left – who praised him for his morality, insight, fairness, brilliance and so on.  Mr McDonald was to declare that the ABC had to be balanced – since it was invariably criticised for lack of balance by both Labor and the Coalition when one or the other was in government.  For example, in an address to the National Press Club on 1 June 2005, Donald McDonald declared that the ABC had experienced “bipartisan animosity”. This overlooked the fact that the ABC was criticised for the same reason – that is, for criticising the government of the day from the left – and that this was a sign of imbalance.

Donald McDonald must have had a change of mind.  Today’s Spectator Australia contains an article by him titled “What’s ailing Aunty”. The former ABC chairman not only criticises aspects of ABC management but also expresses concern at the ABC’s lack of balance:

The best possible argument for public broadcasting is made when it is distinctive, of high quality and thoroughly representative of a wide range of views. Currently that is not uniformly the case; it can be.

Quite so.  What a pity, then, that Donald McDonald did not seem to realise that the public broadcaster was not representative of a wide range of views when he chaired the ABC’s board and was highly influential in the appointment of ABC managing directors.

It seems that, before penning his Spectator Australia piece, Donald McDonald experienced “A Deborah Cameron Moment” (see MWD passim) of a certain kind. According to the former ABC chairman:

The contrast between the excellent Jon Faine on Melbourne 774 in the mornings and his Sydney counterpart [Deborah Cameron] on 702 is too embarrassing to discuss any further.

Deborah Cameron was appointed to do the Mornings program on ABC 702 by Mark Scott. And who chaired the ABC when Mark Scott was appointed managing director?  Step forward Donald McDonald.


On The Drum last night the topic turned to Newsweek’s cover story – and photo – of Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann. She is a member of the US House of Representatives and a former member of the Minnesota State Senate.  Michele Bachmann is a qualified lawyer who has worked in the Internal Revenue Service and has a degree from the William and Mary School of Law.

The left-liberal Newsweek does not like Congresswoman Michele Bachmann because she is a conservative Republican who supports the Tea Party movement.  Hence the unflattering photo of her on Newsweek’s cover.  However, according to Julian Morrow, it is all okay.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Julian Morrow: …I would say that it would be a brave photographer and, indeed, I think it would take the assistance of Photoshop to try and make Michelle Bachmann not look mad.

Enough said.



Nancy was oh-so-impressed by journalist Heather Brooke’s profile on Julian Assange recently posted on Mail Online.

Formerly a fan, Heather Brooks depicts Assange as a narcissistic sexual predator who does not change his socks and who is inclined to rages.  As Heather Brooks puts it:

In a relatively short time, Assange has fallen out with collaborators, some of whom have been with him for years, and alienated his most vociferous supporters. Thanks to him, when WikiLeaks should be at its strongest it is now weaker than ever. No wonder one journalist who worked with him told me that Assange was “to use the technical term, a dangerous lunatic”.

Five Paws. [In view of this, it’s just as well that Robert Manne has stepped forward as Julia Assange’s new best friend. – Ed].


Nancy is becoming increasingly concerned that The Australian’s “Cut & Paste” section runs the best (or worst) of the Mornings With Deborah Cameron presenter on a daily basis – which makes life difficult for a weekly publication like MWD.

So today MWD’s Deborah Cameron moment occurred this morning – in order to thwart “Cut & Paste”.  Here’s how the “Green-Left-Daily” presenter introduced a pending interview with Stuart Littlemore QC, who has taken up the novel writing genre, this morning:

Stuart Littlemore QC will be my guest this morning. He has got a new book out and to me it raises questions about a new possible new genre in literary fiction – Lawyer Lit. You have to sort of let yourself go really once you start reading this book. But once you’re there it feels, very much like you’re walking through the courts. So Stuart Littlemore will be my guest after 10. You’ll know him, you’ll love him. Or you’ve all got an opinion about him, so stay tuned.

Believe it or not, not everyone loves the left-wing Stuart Littlemore – who in his book The Media and Me (ABC Books, 1996) admitted that when an ABC journalist in the late 1960s and early 1970s he had engaged in “assaulting the conservative values of post war Australia”, had regarded the Liberal Party as an enemy and had advocated “the election of a reformist Labor government”.

Alas, when 10 o’clock came around, it was all a bit of a disappointment.  Stuart Littlemore said that lawyer literature was as old as John Mortimer and went on to talk at some length about his favourite uncle. The highlights of the interview occurred when Mr Littlemore told Ms Cameron that journalists “look like plumbers”.

This was meant as a criticism – of both journalists and plumbers.  And Deborah Cameron responded with an artificial laugh. [What’s wrong with plumbers? – Ed].

Verily, A Deborah Cameron Moment.


▪ Jane Caro – All A Twitter Over Private Schools

On Q&A last Monday, Tony Jones was in the presenter’s chair – and the guests were Spectator Australia editor Tom Switzer, Gillard Government parliamentary secretary Mark Drefus, actor Noni Hazlehurst, Liberal Party MP Kelly O’Dwyer and former Hawke Government minister Graham Richardson.  It was the usual Q&A balance – two right-of-centre types, three left-of-centre types and a left-of-centre chairman.

Being completely deaf, Nancy watches Q&A for the tweets which are placed on the screen by one of the program’s producers.  During the discussion on Noni Hazlehurst’s reference to the book Go The Fuck To Sleep, Jane Caro (a former Q&A panellist who appears regularly on ABC 2’s The Drum program) sent out the following tweet:

Shut the f&@$k up and go back to private school #qanda

Jane Caro

Yesterday, Nancy’s co-owner sent the following email to Ms Caro – whose obsessive dislike of private schools is a matter of public record:

My question is this.  To whom on the Q&A panel was your message directed at?  Here’s hoping that you were not having a go at well-mannered Tony Jones, who learnt his good manners at the Newington private school in Sydney.

Alas, Jane Caro did not reply. [Could she have learnt her manners at the University of New South Wales? See MWD Correspondence passim.  – Ed].  Ms Caro is a dyed-in-the-wool critic of non-government schools.  In her anger at someone or other on Monday – probably Tom Switzer, who had criticised Ms Hazlehurst’s bad language – Jane Caro overlooked the fact that the entire Q&A panel (on that night) went to non-government schools. Here’s the list:

Tom Switzer: St Aloysius College (Sydney)

Mark Dreyfus : Scotch College (Perth)

Noni Hazlehurst : St Leonard’s College, Brighton (Melbourne)

Kelly O’Dwyer : PLC Burwood (Melbourne)

Graham Richardson : Marist College Kogarah (Sydney)

Tony Jones : Newington College (Sydney).

So there was Jane Caro telling (presumably Tom Switzer) to shut up and go back to private school – apparently unaware that every member of the Q&A panel went to private schools. If the ABC producer who put the tweet to air had acted on Jane Caro’s advice – the entire panel would have been silenced and the show would have ended prematurely. Can you bear it? [Well, in this instance, maybe yes. – Ed].

Jane Caro’s Brilliant Off-Spring: As Told By Jane Caro

Jane Caro’s stunning tweet reminded MWD of one other occasion where she used an ABC platform to bag non-government schools. On 11 June 2011, Jane Caro took part in a panel discussion on The Drum.  During that part of the discussion which involved corporal punishment in schools, Jane Caro made the following observation:

It’s [corporal punishment] banned in public schools all across Australia. They’re obviously the best schools to send your children to – as I’ve done and it saved a lot of money and no one hit them. Worked well. And they got first-class honours at University, as well.

So, congratulations. Jane Caro’s children did well at school and GOT FIRST-CLASS HONOURS AT UNI.  Wow. It seems that the Caro offspring are as brilliant as Mark Latham’s ten year old son who is already discussing the art of column writing with his old man. (See MWD, Issue 105).  Can you bear it?

Sally Neighbour Gives “Anon” A Big Run in Chris Mitchell Profile

What an insightful piece by Sally Neighbour on The Australian’s editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell in the August 2011 issue of The Monthly.  Titled “The United States of Chris Mitchell: The Power of a Murdoch Man”, Sally Neighbour’s profile ran for about 8000 words and involved some 70 interviews.

MWD’s favourite sources included – in order of appearance – “a veteran Canberra- watcher”, “a News Limited insider”, “an angry cabinet minister”, “a reporter”, “one colleague”, “a former staffer”, “some reporters”, “a former workmate”, “someone who’s known him [Mitchell] for decades”, “one staffer”, “a journalist”, “a former Murdoch confidant”, “a reporter whose desk was near his [Mitchell’s] office”, “one parliamentarian who knows him [Mitchell]”, “a mutual acquaintance [of Chris Mitchell and Kevin Rudd]”, “a former close colleague”, “Mitchell’s supporters”, “a source close to the story”, “one of those present”, “a witness”, “a senior Australian government source”, “a colleague of Rudd’s”, “a Rudd supporter”, “a former government staffer”, “a minister who knows him [Mitchell]”, “one commentator”, “some in Canberra”, “a senior source in the government” and “some of his [Mitchell’s] staff”.

Worth a Walkley Award, surely.  Can you bear it?

Nick Dyrenfurth’s Complaint – Pity About The Sales

MWD Issue 101 reflected on the fact that academic Nick Dyrenfurth had written to The Weekend Australian (25-26 June 2011) complaining that Ross Fitzgerald had commented in a review that his laborious tome Heroes & Villains: The Rise and Fall of the Early Australian Labor Party was laborious.  Or something like that.

MWD was of the view that Dr D should have been content that someone – anyone – bothered to read his Ph.D. thesis in book covers.  Here are some vital statistics.  Heroes & Villains has 235 pages of text, 37 pages of footnotes, contains no bibliography and has sold – wait for it – 166 copies.  In other words, sales numbers are currently running at only 50 per cent of the book’s printed pages.  And Nick Dyrenfurth is complaining about a review.

Can you bear it?

Tim Flannery: Self-Declared Victim

Did you hear the one about Tim Flannery who reckons he is a target for mass murder?

Asked by The Weekend Australian last Saturday to justify the purchase of waterfront land near Sydney despite his recent warning that “anyone with a coastal view from their bedroom window…is likely to lose their house to climate change”,  Dr Flannery became concerned that the location of his waterfront property might be revealed.

Tom Flannery told journalist Ean Higgins that, if people know where he lives, he could become the victim of Norway-style attacks by conservatives.

Can you bear it?

Jenna Price’s Q&A Tweets

Guess what UTS (University of Technology, Sydney) academic and Canberra Times columnist Jenna Price does when she is not writing about her sex life with “He Who Must Never Be Written About” – but invariably is (see MWD passim). The answer appears to be that she tweets.

Here is a list of the tweets which Ms Price posted on Monday night when Q&A was under way.

-The Opposition is positive about the Government’s shortcomings. #qanda

– Little late to the #qanda party tonight.


– Hi #qanda, could we please – please – have fewer politicians? These people are reading straight off scripts.

– What does this question mean? #qanda

@drpiotrowski Hazlehurst’s on #qanda because of Go the Fuck to Sleep. And please check your spelling.

– When do polls rise after a tax is announced? #qanda

@ethicalmartini i’m tweeting and watching. I can multitask #qanda

– Tony, you need to be interrupting Kelly a whole lot more. #qanda

– Who said there is no such thing as a young feminist? Go Lucy. #qanda

– Howard was criticised but we still called him Prime Minister or Mr Howard. #qanda

Nobody is going to put Kelly in the naughty corner. Which is a shame. #qanda

– Tony, your viewers insist that you moderate O’Dwyer. #qanda

– If there is a moral responsibility to unaccompanied minors, could someone please take that responsibility? #qanda

– Noni didn’t normalise bad language. My parents were using it before I was born. #qanda

– Why is #qanda full of stereotypes? Can we have a #qanda which has a panel with expertise and no PR?

– Mark, they are probablt putting you to bed these days. #qanda

– Were there any #utsjournalism students at #qanda tonight?

– @ Write in the active voice and file quickly RT @danconifer: How do you get two tweets shown on one #qanda @JennaPrice?

@drag0nista Drag dear, please do not sully your tweets with the word tool. I beg you. In other news, I had two tweets on #qanda

– People, just so you know, it’s Hazlehurst, not Hazelhurst. Please note. #qanda

Nancy noticed the Jenna Price tweet on the Q&A screen which went up during the discussion on the popularity of the Gillard Government – viz “when do polls rise after a tax is announced?”  Pretty profound stuff, don’t you think?  Can You Bear It?  With a bit of luck, “He Who Must Never Be Written About” will be home next Monday at 9.35 pm and Ms Price will be distracted.

▪ No Room For Climate Sceptics At Jenna’s Place

In her Canberra Times column on Wednesday, Jenna Price gave an insight into the way she lives in inner-city Sydney. She is certainly a generous soul – in so far as providing accommodation is concerned. However, MWD noticed that Ms Price gets somewhat judgmental when carbon dioxide emissions are concerned.  Here is how Jenna Price described her lifestyle in the Canberra Times on 9 August:

The rule in our house is that if anyone needs a meal or a bed, we say yes. It’s not a religion thing, just a purposeful act of kindness since my own family have benefitted from it over the years… Over the years, that’s meant strangers staying for varying amounts of time, from overnight to more than a year.  Yes, the year long stay was pretty tough since we didn’t know the exchange student when she arrived and hardly knew her much better when she left.

While this young woman lived with us, we had to contend with her Australian boyfriend’s parents (not happy), her school principal (puzzled but impressed by her independence) and her own children’s response  to the very adult way she lived her life.  We had to rewrite a few of our family guidelines that year…  I’m also still recovering from housing someone for a few days who seemed like a clever and nicely brought-up young woman. Listening to Radio National a couple of week ago, I discover she’s turned into a postergirl for climate scepticism…

So there you have it. Feel free to turn-up at, and bunk down in, the Price abode anytime you feel like it.  Stay a year if you choose.  Bring a boyfriend/girlfriend if you must.  But, whatever you do, don’t accept the Price generosity and then become a climate change sceptic.  That’s the ultimate betrayal.  When she’s not writing about herself in the Canberra Times and lecturing at UTS Journalism, Jenna Price is involved with the Global Environmental Initiative. Can you bear it?


▪ Laura Tingle Looks Back In Happiness At Free Tertiary Education

Laura Tingle, the Australian Financial Review’s political writer, wrote yesterday:

The federal government’s commitment to a national disability insurance scheme will come to be seen as the biggest Labor reform of its generation.  It will stand with Medicare and the introduction of free university education in the party’s history as a huge policy initiative.

Well, Labor did introduce Medibank during the Whitlam Government and, when Medibank was abolished by Malcolm Fraser’s Coalition Government, the Hawke Government introduced Medicare. This certainly was a policy initiative – which was left untouched by the Howard Government.

But what about La Tingle’s claim that universal and free university education – introduced by the Whitlam Labor government in the early 1970s – was both a “reform” and a “huge policy initiative”?  The fact is that the abolition of university fees flooded the campuses with well-off and middle-income Australians doing university study on the taxpayer – sometimes for second, third and fourth degrees.  Many were public servants looking for something useful to do.

Robert Menzies introduced the Commonwealth Government Scholarship Scheme in 1951 which provided for fees and a generous means-tested living allowance.  Gough Whitlam dropped Commonwealth scholarships and gave a free tertiary education handout to anyone who made it to university.

If Laura Tingle really believes that free university education was one of Labor’s huge policy initiatives, then she should answer this question.  Why did Bob Hawke’s Labor Government drop free university education and introduce HECS – the Higher Education Contribution Scheme?

The answer is that Bob Hawke and his ministers realised that it was inequitable for the taxes of the less-well-off – many of whom did not go to university – to be subsidising the tertiary education of the better off. Judged in this light, HECS was a huge policy initiative – and the Whitlam Government’s free tertiary education was a huge policy failure.

Mark Latham’s Separation-Of-Powers-Confusion

The (taxpayer supported) superannuated Mark Latham commenced his Epistle to the capitalist class in yesterday’s Australian Financial Review with a lecture about the doctrine of the separation of powers:

One of the underlying principles of our system of government is the separation of powers. Under this doctrine, the legislature, the executive and the judiciary operate independently  of each other. No single arm of the state is able to exercise absolute authority.  The separation of powers provides for checks and balances, guarding against institutionalised corruption.

This is half correct.  Under the Australian system of government, neither the legislature nor the executive nor the judiciary exercise absolute authority.  However, it is not true to assert that in Australia the legislature, executive and judiciary “operate independently of each other”.

Mark Latham should know this.  In 2004 he led the Labor Party to an election.  If Labor had won, Mark Latham would have become prime minister of Australia [Gee. That’s a scary thought. Ed].  As prime minister – and head of the executive arm of government – Mark Latham would have attended the House of Representatives as both Prime Minister and MP for Werriwa.

In other words, in the Australian system of government the executive and the legislature do not operate completely independently of each other.  Mark Latham’s description of the separation of powers applies to the United States – where the president is not a member of the legislature.  But not Australia.

At the end of his column, Mark Latham described Tony Abbott as a “clergyman by training”.  Tony Abbott graduated with a BEc and an LLB from the University of Sydney and obtained an MA from Oxford University.  It is true that he briefly studied for the priesthood at St Patrick’s Seminary in Manly.  But it is also true that his training included stints in journalism, as a political staffer and as executive director of Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy.

Mark Latham, on the other hand, has a BEc from the University of Sydney and then worked in local government and as a political staffer – before becoming a Federal Labor parliamentarian and achieving a parliamentary superannuation pension, fully indexed, per courtesy of the Australian taxpayer.  Mark Latham’s entire career has depended on political preferment. He had no training outside of the Labor Party.

Tony Reeves, Frank Hardy and Bob Menzies – Tops For Confusion

Last Sunday the Sun-Herald asked journalist Tony Reeves to list the books that changed him.  Number one on Tony Reeves’ list was Frank Hardy’s Power Without Glory, which was published in 1950.  This is what Reeves had to say about how Hardy’s tome changed him:

This was my introduction to crime writing albeit in fiction. I got to know Frank Hardy and was fascinated by the tales he told. While I enjoyed the very Australian sense of humour that flavoured most of his work, nothing else matched the dynamic Power without Glory. The fact that the Menzies government took criminal libel charges against Hardy ensured the book was in high demand.

What a load of tripe.  Robert Menzies’ Government had nothing to do with the decision of legal authorities to prosecute Frank Hardy for criminal libel in October 1950.  In 1950, Menzies was prime minister – and had no power over the Victorian legal system.  The decision to prosecute Hardy for criminal libel – following his baseless claim that the then 75 year old Mrs John Wren had a child out of wedlock – was made by prosecution authorities in the State of Victoria.

In October 1950 the Country Party’s John McDonald was premier of Victoria.  McDonald’s minority government was kept in office due to the support of the Labor Party.  So, in 1950 the Victorian Liberals were not in office.  The key legal adviser to John Wren and Ellen Wren was John (Jack) Galbally. At the time, Jack Galbally was a Labor member of the Victorian Legislative Council. Those who disliked Hardy the most were anti-communist members of the Labor Party.



Nearly three months after Nick Dyrenfurth and Tim Soutphommasane were asked to provide evidence for the assertions about Gerard Henderson in All That’s Left (New South, 2010) – the authors remain under the bed, so to speak.  And UNSW Press and the University of New South Wales itself still continue to express the view that they will not take responsibility to ensure the factual accuracy in claims made in publications of UNSW Press.  See MWD passim.

There has been widescale reader interest in this (continuing) saga.  So MWD is delighted to present the latest episode in the on-going drama. Here we go:

Kathy Bail to Gerard Henderson – 4 August 2011

Dear Gerard,

RE:  All That’s Left, edited by Tim Soutphommasane and Nick Dyrenfurth.

Following our phone conversation on July 29, there is no change in views previously expressed in correspondence from the authors and UNSW on this matter.




Chief Executive

UNSW Press

Gerard Henderson to Kathy Bail – 11 August 2011

Dear Kathy

I refer to your email of 4 August 2011 following our phone conversation during the afternoon of Friday 29 July 2011.

I note your advice that “there is no change in views previously expressed in correspondence from the authors and UNSW on this matter”.

I am genuinely surprised about your lack of professionalism concerning this matter.  I first drew your attention to the errors about me in UNSW Press’s All That’s Left, edited by Nick Dyrenfurth and Tim Soutphommasane, on 24 May 2011.  You did not contact me about this issue until 29 July 2011 – i.e. over nine weeks later.  However, Phillipa McGuinness did write to me, on behalf of UNSW Press, on 26 May 2011 – essentially saying that UNSW Press would not stand by comments made in UNSW Press publications.

When issues are raised with me about material published by The Sydney Institute, I answer them myself – and promptly.

During our phone conversation on 29 July 2011, you only seemed concerned about one issue.  As you will recall, on numerous occasions you asked me for an assurance that I would desist from raising the matter again with UNSW Vice-Chancellor Fred Hilmer or UNSW Deputy Vice-Chancellor Richard Henry.  As you know, I declined to give you any such promise.

When Fred Hilmer was chief executive of Fairfax Media, he regarded himself as ultimately responsible for material published in such papers as the Sydney Morning Herald. When you were editor of The Bulletin, you regarded yourself as ultimately responsible for material published in the magazine.  However, according to your email of 3 August 2011, neither Fred Hilmer nor you regard yourselves in any way responsible for material published by UNSW Press – which is part of the University of New South Wales.

I have yet to hear from Fred Hilmer on this issue.  But Richard Henry and Phillipa McGuinness – and now you – have advised that the only way to resolve the issue is for me to approach the co-editors, who happen to be the co-authors of the introductory chapter which contains the false (and undocumented) allegations about me.  Yet Richard Henry and Phillipa McGuinness – and you – all know that Nick Dyrenfurth and Tim Soutphommasane initially refused to acknowledge my correspondence and then, in an abusive email, denied that they had ever made the claims about me in the first place.  Apparently, according to UNSW and UNSW Press, this is good enough.

During our phone conversation, you supported the initial response of the co-editors to ignore my correspondence – since you suspected that I would have published any reply in my Media Watch Dog blog.  Quite so.  But what would be wrong with that?

You seem to believe that it is quite reasonable for Nick Dyrenfurth and Tim Soutphommasane to make undocumented claims about me in print – in a book published by UNSW Press.  However, on behalf of UNSW and UNSW Press, you believe that it would be quite unreasonable for me to publish a response from them in print.  This is an unpleasant double standard.

During our phone conversation, you advised that All That’s Left would not be reprinted.  This is not surprising.  According to Nielsen Bookscan, All That’s Left sold 969 copies up to the end of July 2011.  But the point is that All That’s Left will remain on library shelves and may be taught in tertiary courses.

I do not understand why you are staking UNSW Press’ reputation as a publisher which is committed to printing quality non-fiction, by lacking the courage to insist that UNSW Press authors provide evidence in support of their claims.  All I am asking is that Fred Hilmer should insist on the same standards at UNSW Press as he once insisted on at Fairfax Media – and that you should apply the same standards at UNSW Press as you once applied at The Bulletin. It’s not an unreasonable request.

As I said to you during our phone conversation, this matter can be resolved within hours.  Either Nick Dyrenfurth and Tim Soutphommasane should provide evidence of where, say, I ever wrote or said that the contemporary Labor Party was “socialist”. Or they should withdraw the (undocumented) assertion – in print.  It’s as simple as that.  It’s called professionalism – and supporting claims with evidence.

I do not expect that you will answer this since a non-response seems to be regarded as “best practice” out Kensington way.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

cc:      Richard Henry

Phillipa McGuinness

Nick Dyrenfurth

Tim Soutphommasane



Andrew Schofield to Gerard Henderson – 5 August 2011

Dear Gerard Henderson,

I write with reference to Issue 104 of your Media Watch Dog, in which you:

(a) criticise Geoffrey Robertson for mocking James Murdoch’s accent; and

(b) mock Robertson’s accent.

Thank you for providing such a perfect example of the hypocrisy you are keen to highlight in others.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Schofield

Gerard Henderson to Andrew Schofield – 10 August 2011

Dear Andrew Schofield

I refer to your email of last Friday. It’s great to learn that you read Media Watch Dog.  Truly great.  It makes my early Friday risings worth it, to be sure.

As to Geoffrey Robertson QC, I’m certain he is capable of looking after himself.

On accents, Mr Robertson was born and brought up in Sydney.  As I understand it, James Murdoch was born in Britain, studied in the United States and spent some time in Australia.   In view of this, it is hardly surprising that he has an unusual accent. Mr Robertson, who is based in London, should understand this.

If Geoffrey Robertson feels fit to make fun of Mr Murdoch’s unusual accent, then

it’s only reasonable that others might question Geoffrey Robertson’s apparent upper-crust English accent – quite remarkable for a son of one of Sydney’s (then) outer suburbs.

You may think my comment as an example of hypocrisy.  Nevertheless, I will continue to refer to Geoffrey Robertson’s “Epping accent” – which I define as a kind of accent one is wont to acquire in Notting Hill (London) when one wants to disguise the fact that one was of humble birth in humble Epping (Sydney).  It’s called pretension.
As I recall, even Phillip Adams and Richard Ackland mocked Geoffrey Robertson’s accent on Late Night Live on 18 July 2011.  Perhaps you may see fit to write them a letter, also.

Yours sincerely

Gerard Henderson

* * * *

Until next time.