GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 116

14 OCTOBER 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are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s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.

“Henderson…What a pompous, pretentious turd you are.”

– Mike Carlton, Saturday 13 August 2011 (after lunch)

Stop Press : ABC Asylum Seeker Howler

Can You Bear It? How to Dress for Q&A; Richard Denniss; Aunty’s Pregnancy Police; Malcolm Fraser and the Thirst of Melbourne; Anne Summers’ Anon Sources and Andrew Bolt

● Nancy’s Pick-of-the-Week: Rai Gaita Wins Gong for Literary Sludge

●  Many A Deborah Cameron Moment : She’s Back

Lachlan Harris’ Cliches – Like Rome, Not Built in a Day

● Documentation : Trevor Kennedy and David Salter re Rupert Murdoch

● Correspondence : Did Lee Rhiannon Graduate from Moscow’s Lenin School

STOP PRESS

ABC RADIO ERRS ON ASYLUM SEEKERS WHO ARRIVE BY AIR

Great political analysis by Mark Simkin and Deborah Cameron on ABC Radio 702 this morning.  Except for the facts.  Here’s what the two had to say about the Gillard Government’s decision to process asylum seekers on-shore – for the moment, at least:

Mark Simkin : …Anyone who wants to seek asylum in Australia is being told that you won’t be sent to Malaysia or to Nauru or somewhere like that. You’ll be able to potentially live in the community and work while your claim is being processed. And receive some tax payer dollars while you do so.

Deborah Cameron : Just as all of those who arrive by plane do.

Mark Simkin : Exactly….

Er. Not really.  This is a myth.  Currently all asylum seekers who arrive by boat are placed in detention.  The same is the case with asylum seekers who arrive by plane and claim asylum – along with plane arrivals who arrive without a valid visa or whose actions on arrival in Australia lead the authorities to believe that they may overstay their visas.

Deborah Cameron’s claim that “all asylum seekers who arrive by plane” are allowed to live in the community while their claims for asylum are processed is quite false.

CAN YOU BEAR IT?

▪ HOW TO DRESS UP FOR Q&A

What’s the best way to get into a Q&A audience at the ABC headquarters in Ultimo, Sydney? Well, ABC managing director Mark Scott is keen to have political balance in the audience.  And Ultimo is in the middle of inner-city sandal-wearing country.  It’s close to the University of Technology, Sydney and not far from Sydney University.  There is a hemp shop down the road and a vegan flea-market just up the road each weekend.  [Is this latter institution from where Nancy derives her fashionable fleas? – Ed].

Last week Q&A claimed that the audience  component was Coalition 46 per cent, Labor Party 30 per cent and Greens 14 per cent.  Finely balanced in tune with the current opinion polls, to be sure.  Except when it came to the applause.  The audience just loved the leftist Richard Flanagan and showed little affection for deputy Liberal Party leader Julie Bishop.

How come?  Well it’s a case of self-identification.  The ABC believes what their audiences tell them. So how best to get a seat in sandal-wearing country?

Here’s a tip.  If you want to get into the Q&A audience say you are a conservative Catholic who reckons that Tony Abbott should be pope – after serving a decade in The Lodge as prime minister.  Then send a photo of yourself dressed up like Little Lord Fauntleroy or wearing red braces or dressed in a waist coat replete with a gold pocket watch and a chain or carrying rosary beads as a fashion statement.  As for references, put down Margaret Thatcher, George W. Bush or the late Winston Churchill or Attila the Hun or Nancy.  It always works. Can you bear it?

▪ RICHARD DENNISS’ WISH FULFILLMENT

Here’s what Richard Denniss, head of the leftist Australia Institute, said on The Drum on Wednesday night. Declaring that Tony Abbott could not unwind the carbon tax if he becomes prime minister, Denniss declared:

Richard Denniss: …Even if there’s a 2013 election, the new Senate doesn’t take office until 2014. And you can’t use your double dissolution triggers until the new Senate arrives, you’re not going to have a double dissolution before 2015. The idea that we introduce a carbon price, scrap it in 2015 or 2016, even Greg Hunt says the direct action scheme is an interim measure and by 2020 the Liberals might support a carbon tax. It’s good politics, it’s good theatre. But we’re putting politics ahead of democracy and politics ahead of the economy here.

What a load of tripe.  Richard Denniss reckons it is putting politics ahead of democracy to respond to the wishes of a majority of electors.  Fancy that.  And his political calculations are simply incorrect.  If, say, a Coalition government won an election in August 2013 it could put legislation through both the House of Representatives and the Senate by the end of the year.  If the legislation is defeated, it could be re-submitted after three months.  A further defeat would set up a double dissolution trigger – which could be held by mid-2014.

And Richard Denniss reckons that double dissolution triggers do not apply until a new Senate is in place.  Can you bear it?

▪ THE RISE OF THE PREGNANCY POLICE

Deborah Cameron does carry on [That’s great for Nancy – Ed].  On Wednesday Ms Cameron was discussing women who become mothers at 40 years of age and older.

Deborah (“I can regulate more than you can regulate”) Cameron bagged 40 something mothers.  She even suggested that they would be “old, sick, possibly even dead” while their children were still young. [Does Ms  Cameron believe that, to be a mother, you have to belong to the Mothers’ Union? – Ed].

Gee whiz.  You would think that this inner-city-sandal-wearer-private-schools-denier-op-shop-shopper would have enough to do without telling women when they should get pregnant.  Nancy’s co-owner feels strongly about this – since his mother was over 40 when he was born and was neither old nor sick nor dead when he was still young. Can you bear it? [Er, not really. – Ed].

MALCOLM “THE PROPHET” FRASER PROVED WRONG – MELBOURNE DAMS FILL UP

Ever since he became a very public critic of the Liberal Party, former Liberal Party prime minister Malcolm Fraser has become something of a hero of “The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra”.  The Age these days gives plenty of space to Mr Fraser’s criticisms of the United States, the Liberal Party, Israel, the Liberal Party, economic reform, the Liberal Party and the border problem policies of both Labor and the Coalition.  These days Malcolm Fraser seems closest to the Greens.

However, at long last, MWD has been able to spot-the-difference between Mr Fraser and “The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra”. This is how The Age reported the consequence of the breaking of the drought on its front page on Thursday: “Now Our Rivers Are Overflowing – News”.

On Page 5 there was a story titled: “For delighted Eildon residents their cup runneth over”. The Age’s city editor Jason Dowling reported that Lake Eildon is expected to be full by the weekend.  As at April 2007, it was down to 5.3 per cent of capacity.  The over-flow from Lake Eildon could, in time, find its way to the lower lakes in South Australia.

And this is what Malcolm Fraser and Margaret Simons wrote about Melbourne’s water storage capacity in their book Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs which was published in 2010.

Government, Fraser says, should be tackling the challenges of water scarcity and land degradation with concentrated will.   Twenty-six years after the drought that helped push him out of power, Australia is again in the grip of “a terrible bloody dry”, probably made worse by climate change. Melbourne, the city that lies at our feet, is running out of water.

Can you bear it?

▪ DAMNED BELLY DANCERS AND BOLT’S PAST: ANNE SUMMERS’ ANONYMOUS SOURCES

MWD was instrumental in The Monthly establishing a Correspondence section.  See MWD passim.  However, a MWD long-standing campaign that The Monthly engage a fact-checker remains unresolved.

MWD was most impressed by some of the sources for Anne Summers’ essay in the current issue of The Monthly titled “The Bolt Factor: The Making of an Opportunist”.

Dr Summers’ sources for her essay included (i) “a colleague of Bolt’s”, (ii) “someone present”, (iii) “one colleague from The Age”, (iv) “a woman who lived with Bolt in the early 1980s”, (v) “a former journalist who has worked with Bolt”, (vi) “the woman who was once engaged to Bolt and who lived with him for the best part of six years” [What about the worst part? – Ed], (vii) “a friend of the belly-dancing Sophia Wilson” and (viii) “a Ten insider”.  For the record, Sophia Wilson is a nom-de-plume.

Anne Summers, whose autobiography is somewhat deficient on the subject of her personal life, got The Monthly to run a photo of the (alleged) Sophia Wilson doing her belly dance.  It was first published in the best-selling Palmerston and Northern Suburbs Herald. [I’m impressed – Ed].  Dr Summers also revealed that Richard Bolt, Andrew’s younger brother, does not agree with his older brother on greenhouse gas emissions. [Gosh.  Is this a dysfunctional family? – Ed].

Nancy reckons that Anne Summers just might get a Walkley for this effort.

NANCY’S PICK-OF-THE-WEEK

NEW FEATURE – THE BRIAN O’NOLAN GONG FOR LITERARY SLUDGE

INAUGURAL  WINNER – PROFESSOR RAIMOND GAITA

Nancy’s co-owner is a great fan of the Irish writer Brian O’Nolan – who wrote under the pseudonyms Flann O’Brien and Myles na Gopaleen.

Brian O’Nolan had a lot going for him.  For example, he liked a drink and disliked the pompous Irish politician Eamon de Valera.  O’Nolan wrote virtually all his work while employed in the Irish civil service – hence his anonymity.

Brian O’Nolan was born on 5 October 1911 and died on April Fool’s Day 1966.  To acknowledge the hundredth anniversary of his birth, MWD has established a new segment. O’Nolan was a strident critic of literary types who wrote incomprehensible prose.  In one of his columns in The Irish Times, he had this to say about Ezra Pound.

LITERARY CRITICISM

My grasp of what he wrote and meant

Was only five or six %

The rest was only words and sound –

My reference is to Ezra £

Brian O’Nolan’s ditty will introduce MWD’s new – and occasional – segment devoted to the incomprehensible writing of the very learned in our midst.

What’s Rai Gaita On About?

In the introduction to his latest book After Romulus (Text, 2011), Professor Raimond Gaita concedes that Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 of his tome are “difficult essays”.  Believe it or not, your man Rai advises his (apparently exclusively sheila) readers to read these chapters slowly – and often.  This is how he puts to the reader who – in oh-so-fashionable-language –  he refers to as “she”. Oh how twee.  Here we go:

They [Chapters 2 and 3] are, in parts, difficult essays. I ask the reader to read them slowly, but, if having done that they are still hard to fathom, to move on and to return to them later.  Different though the essays are, I hope that the reader will find in all of them the voice they heard in Romulus, My Father. If she does, then recognising in “Character and Its Limits” the same voice as in “An Unassuageable Longing” and in both the voice of the author of Romulus, My Father, she might find, when she returns to the difficult passages she had skipped, that they are not as foreign and therefore not as difficult as they had seemed on first reading.

Professor Raimond Gaita has spent all his working life on taxpayer funded tenure within the groves of the academy.  He seems to think that readers have the time to take in his incomprehensible prose slowly – and that, if they still cannot find meaning in this literary sludge, they should find time to return to the task on future occasions and try harder. And harder.

Since Nancy has lotsa time in her kennel – and she is a sheila and Professor Rai seems to believe that he only has female readers – Nancy has been busy reading and re-reading After Romulus.  Very, very slowly.  And very, very often. In fact, Nancy has now read Professor Rai’s latest tome 69 times – and her grasp of what he wrote or meant is still only five or six per cent.

Since Nancy  continues to have trouble understanding Professor Rai’s words and sound, she seeks help from MWD readers to de-construct  the first paragraph of Chapter 3, titled “Truth and Truthfulness in Narrative” in After Romulus. Here it is:

“You ask who he was? Let me answer in the time-honoured fashion and tell you a story.”  In those words Isak Dinesen, the nom de plume of Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa, expressed a conception of narrative identity.  She assumed, of course, that the question was not incorrigibly naive in its assumption that something would count as an answer when, in principle, nothing could.  That would hardly be worth saying were it not for the fact that many people wonder whether there is such thing as who someone really is.  If such scepticism were justified, then writing and reading biography would make no sense, or if it did, be so ironic as to be barely recognisable.  But because many people do process such scepticism, I’ll respond to it by reflecting on what I was doing when I tried to write Romulus, My Father truthfully.  Reflection on truth is essentially philosophical and is hard, but I’m afraid that there is nothing to be done about that.  Philosophy always needs to be read slowly and more than once.

Nancy invites MWD readers to read this sludge SLOWLY AND OFTEN and advise – by the close of business on Thursday – what the heck Professor Raimond Gaita is on about in this extract from After Romulus.  For example, what does the learned professor mean when he declares  it “a fact” that “many people wonder whether there is such a thing as who someone really is”?  Who are these “many people”?  Where can they be found?  What are they on?  And so on.

If, having studied your man Rai’s words, MWD readers come to the conclusion that they agree with Rai that there is no such thing as who someone really is – then they should immediately apply for a tenured professorship at a taxpayer funded university and declare to the university concerned: “Professor Rai Sent Me” – and commence writing incomprehensible essays per courtesy of the taxpayer.

Send all entries to:

MANY A DEBORAH CAMERON MOMENT

Deb’s Back – Hooray – On Tony Abbott (Bad), Carbon Tax (Good), Tony Abbott (Bad Again) and Paddy v  Ivy

For over two weeks Nancy pined while the ABC’s Deborah Cameron was on what journalists call a “well earned break”. The rest of us take leave or holidays.  But journalists take well-earned breaks.

The good news is that the presenter of Mornings with Deborah Cameron on ABC Metropolitan Radio 702 in Sydney returned behind the taxpayer funded microphone on Monday. During her time on 702, the former Sydney Morning Herald journalist has turned her morning program into a kind of Green-Left-Daily editorial.  Ms Cameron’s radio style is similar to that of Alan Jones on Radio 2GB.  They both editorialise at will – albeit from different perspectives.  However, the taxpayer is not compelled to fund Alan Jones’ on-air advocacy.

So how did the ABC’s very own “Green-left-Daily” presenter go on her return to the taxpayer funded airways? Here’s how:

Monday 10 October

Deborah Cameron is back at work.  So it’s time to get stuck into Opposition leader Tony Abbott, who, apparently has declined to come on to her program. [Who can blame him? – Ed].

It’s just gone 9am and DC is in discussion about Canberra politics with Alison Carabine. Discussion soon turns to the Gillard Government’s legislation on off-shore processing for asylum seekers. The Prime Minister’s minority government needs the support of the Independents to get the legislation through the House of Representatives – namely the Australia Party’s Bob Katter and Western Australian National Party’s Tony Crook.  Mr Crook is not a member of the National Party in Canberra and does not attend National Party meetings.  Consequently, he is not a part of the Liberal Party-National Party Coalition, which is led by Tony Abbott.  Let’s go to the audio tape:

Deborah Cameron: …I understand that Mr Crook’s been the subject of a lot of diplomacy.

Alison Carabine: Oh there has been. Both sides of politics, the Government and the Opposition, have been in talks with Tony Crook about this particular issue, such is the importance of this particular bill.

Deborah Cameron: What would it mean for Tony Abbott if he can’t contain the – the will of a National Party independent?

Alison Carabine quickly reminded Deborah Cameron that Tony Crook was an Independent and that, consequently, Tony Abbott had no control over Tony Crook.  However, DC was none too happy with this response.  So she asked the same question to former Liberal MP Kerry Chikarovski and former Labor MP John Brown who appeared on the next segment.

Deborah Cameron:  I’m also interested in the fact that if, for example, this West Australian Nationals guy – Tony Crook – decides to vote with the Government and give them their tactical victory in the House of Representatives, then does that raise questions then about the authority of Tony Abbott to muster the forces that he needs to persuade his – to you know, to follow through with all of the things that he’s been talking about?

John Brown: I don’t think so. He’s a very independent fellow that Crook. He doesn’t vote with the Nationals, he’s got a very independent line. He’s likely to swing his vote another way the next day on another issue. So I don’t think that matters too much.

Kerry Chikarovski: Tony Crook has made it perfectly clear that he is an Independent National member of the Federal parliament. He is not bound by any Coalition policies as such, he does make his mind up on issues independently…

Alas, Deborah Cameron could not get any of her guests to agree with her proposition that if an Independent MP supported Julia Gillard this would somewhat discredit Tony Abbott.  Still, it was worth a try – or three.

Tuesday 11 October

The theme for the first hour of the program is “facts” and “evidence”.  Shortly before 9 am, DC decided to out the “untruths” of those who claim that “Australia is moving ahead of other countries” in introducing a carbon tax which transitions into an emissions trading scheme.  Let’s go to the audio tape:

Deborah Cameron : …This morning, let’s look at some more facts. The chief executive of the Climate Institute is John Connor. G’day John. John Connor. John Connor, how are you?

John Connor: Good. Very well. Yourself?

Deborah Cameron : Good, thank you. Now, John, the idea that Australia is out in front of the rest of the world – it’s just interesting to reflect on some facts here. Who else actually already has carbon schemes operating?

How about that?  DC decides that the only way to address the “facts” about what is termed action on climate change is to invite the chief executive of the Climate Institute, John Connor, on to her program.  DC failed to mention that the Climate Institute is an advocacy group and that Mr Connor – who has degrees in arts and law – is employed to support a carbon tax or an ETS.  In any event, this was the answer to DC’s question:

John Connor : Well, look, there are over 30 countries with emissions trading schemes in operation, including New Zealand, just next door, of course. Most of Europe. We’re also seeing countries like South Korea, Japan and China actually, having a look at an emissions trading scheme. I was just there [China] a couple of weeks ago and there were some Australian delegates there who were looking at how they’re going to put in some pilot schemes as well. So by no means are we the only ones doing this.

John Connor ignored the fact that Australia’s competitors do not have a national carbon tax or ETS.  The list includes Canada, the United States, Brazil, Russia, South Africa and Indonesia.  Most nations with an ETS are located in Western Europe and have economies which are quite different to Australia’s.  Moreover, neither China nor Japan nor South Korea have introduced a carbon tax or an ETS – they are merely talking about doing so sometime in the future.

Wednesday 12 October

It’s time for DC to have another go at Tony Abbott. This time the pitch does not turn on the Opposition’s inability to tell  an Independent MP what to do but, rather, on Tony Abbott as an (alleged) instigator of violence  Let’s go to the audio tape – where DC talks nonsense to Alison Carabine – and Ms Carabine talks sense in reply.

Deborah Cameron: Yesterday though there was one of the [Labor] House of Representatives members said that she had received some kind of threat from a constituent whom she named in parliament. And you wonder whether or not Mr Abbott’s florid language, using words like “pledge in blood” and so on, does raise again this question of whether there’s a pandering to extremism here with some of this very florid language. Now, what do you think, Alison?

Alison Carabine: I don’t think so, I don’t think Tony Abbott is pandering to extremism and I don’t think that you can really associate Tony Abbott with a death threat that was mentioned yesterday in the lower house…

Thursday, 12 October

It’s all about climate change this morning on the ABC’s very own taxpayer funded Green-Left-Daily program.  DC calls for listeners to phone in.  Some do. Compare and contrast how Deborah Cameron handles the well-off professional named Paddy (who supports a carbon tax) with the war-widow Ivy (who opposes a carbon tax).  Here we go:

Deborah Cameron : And, I’d love to hear what you think about the carbon tax decision yesterday.  1300 222 702 is the number here. Paddy, good morning.

Paddy : Oh, good morning. How are you?

Deborah Cameron : Good thanks, Paddy. Where do you stand on this?

Paddy :  Oh, look, I’m a supporter of a price on carbon. And, considering this is the only option that’s up at the moment, I’m a supporter of this option as well. I just wanted to say, I work in the IT and telecommunications industry. And, for the last ten years I’ve been, you know, trying to sell the products that I sell, I know that when I talk to a senior executive in a company, if I can talk about lowering carbon footprint, it resonates, it’s a very real story that business is very, very interested in…. People who are pushing against a price on carbon, they’re not in sync with the rest of society, in my opinion.

Deborah Cameron : Thank you very, very much Paddy, and that’s the most wonderful way to begin the discussion.

Then, not long after, a call came into from Ivy :

Deborah Cameron : Ivy. Good morning to you.

Ivy: Good morning.

Deborah Cameron : Tell me your story, Ivy. Where do you sit in this?

Ivy : I’m a war widow –

Deborah Cameron : Yes.

Ivy : I’m on a pension. And I heard the Prime Minister say that the pensioners would be better off by $210 a year. Well, that’s only $4 a week.

Deborah Cameron : And?

Ivy : Well, $4 a week, I mean, we don’t get much pension now, but $4 extra a week is not going to cover much.

Deborah Cameron : All right, thank you very much for your comments, Ivy.

So there you have it.  The well off Paddy, who supports a carbon tax, was declared by Deborah Cameron to be wonderful.  And the pensioner Ivy, who opposes a carbon tax, was treated with disdain. Ivy’s position was perceived to be so ill-informed that her comments were discussed in the follow-up “Spin Doctors” segment.  There Deborah Cameron agreed with Tim Allterton who agreed with Adam Kilgour who agreed with Deborah Cameron that the carbon tax was a you-beaut idea and that Ivy was ill-informed.

Verily. This week there was many A Deborah Cameron Moment.

A LACHIE HARRIS EXPERIENCE

More Harris Clichés Than A Dog Has Fleas – And Other Clichés

Good news.  The return of Deborah Cameron to the airwaves on Monday was accompanied by Lachlan Harris’ resumption of his Sunday Telegraph column.  See MWD Issue 110.  It seems that young Mr Harris has been on leave of late.  His contribution to gender balance in MWD is much appreciated.

In any event, Lachlan (“know what I mean?”) Harris was in top form at the weekend. Nancy counted a total of seven clichés in a mere 720 words.  Here they are:

▪ “The Republican Party has amassed a field of potential presidential candidates who are much more suited to a remake of the Beverly Hillbillies than they are a White House bid.” [What was wrong with the original Beverly Hillbillies? – Ed].

▪ On election night 2010 “the great unwashed tossed the Liberals from office”.

▪ “One kiss does not a summer make.”

▪ “A healthy economy no longer brings home the political bacon.”

▪ “We are tops of the economic pops.”

▪ “The days of good economic news, meaning free beer and skittles for the government, are over.”

▪ “When it comes to the principle that good economic news is good for the government, the  Australian experience suggests all bets are off.”

To which Nancy responds – in Lachie Harris style:

The Beverley Hillbillies were great.  Unwashed.  They were seldom kissed in Summer but were occasionally porked close to Autumn.  The Beverley Hillbillies were top of the pops.  So they got lotsa free beer and skittles until all bets were off.

[Lachie should have mentioned that Rome wasn’t built in a day. – Ed].

DOCUMENTATIONTREVOR KENNEDY AND DAVID SALTER ON RUPERT MURDOCH

MWD publishes the exchange between Trevor Kennedy and former ABC TV Media Watch executive producer David Salter.  Mr Kennedy’s follow-up letter to the Sydney Morning Herald, in reply to Salter, was not published. Apparently the Herald does not publish exchanges of correspondence.

The exchange gives an idea of the political position of David Salter, who produced the ABC TV Media Watch for around a decade when the program was presented by leftist barrister Stuart Littlemore.  From his abode in leafy Hunters Hill, David Salter continues to write letters to The Australian despite his exhibiting a serious case of Murdochphobia.

Trevor Kennedy to The Sydney Morning Herald – 16 September 2011

While it is hugely fashionable for journalists to attack Rupert Murdoch these days (“Huge cache of documents, emails found in hacking case”, September 15), some of them should pause and reflect just how much the bloke has done for journalism.

While there is no doubt there are serious questions to answer about some of News Corporation’s British activities, in Australia, at least, there is plenty on the plus side. He rescued the Daily Mirror, which was sold to him on the basis that it would sink his ambitions, and prosecuted – to the advantage of journalists – a wonderful afternoon newspaper war.

But the greatest boon to Australian journalism was his bold and courageous establishment, against all the odds, of The Australian. Back in the 1960s, when The Australian was born, the then media establishment, particularly the morning newspapers, were half asleep, bathing in the “rivers of gold” delivered by the classified advertising bonanza they then enjoyed. They were regarded as invincible to challenge.

The launch of the Oz changed that forever. The challenge to belt the Oz out of existence, first in Canberra, where it began, and then across the nation, created more opportunities for journalists and more competition in the Australian newspaper scene than we could have dreamt possible.

As a young journalist I was a beneficiary of those newspaper boom times and for that I will be forever grateful.

Trevor Kennedy

Kirribilli

David Salter to The Sydney Morning Herald – 17-18 September 2011

Like so many local apologists for Rupert Murdoch (“Murdoch’s vision rewarded many”, September 16), Trevor Kennedy reminds us of the creation of The Australian back in the 1960s as if this somehow exculpates News Corporation from its numerous and manifest transgressions since.

What Mr Kennedy fails to mention are the scores of newspapers and other media enterprises Murdoch has closed down around the world to protect or enhance his market dominance. For every journalist employed at The Australian, at least 10 have lost their jobs elsewhere.

David Salter

Hunters Hill

Trevor Kennedy to The Sydney Morning Herald – 18 September 2011 [not published]

It is absurd for David Salter to argue that Rupert Murdoch has cost journalism jobs rather than him having created them (“Murdoch empire from another stance”, September 17-18).

His unsupported, unsubstantiated, assertions of massive media closures at Murdoch’s whim is untrue. Apart from the recent closure of the News of the World and the passing of the afternoon newspaper genre I am unaware of serious closures and unenlightened by my critic.

I am aware, though, of things like his bringing The Sun, The Times, The New York Post and other media properties back from the brink of extinction. Mr Salter clearly regards the establishment of a fourth US TV network, again against all the odds, as meaningless.

His characterisation of me as an apologist for Mr Murdoch is unintelligent and insulting. I was simply pointing out some facts—things of which Mr Salter seems bereft .

Trevor Kennedy

* * * *

UNANSWERED CORRESPONDENCE

IS SENATOR RHIANNON A GRADUATE OF MOSCOW’S LENIN SCHOOL –THE ALMA MATER OF COMRADE HONECKER AND COMRADE GOMULKA?

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon told Meet the Press on 3 July 2011 that she has “always been frank” about her work and that she is “quite proud” of her “history”.

As MWD readers will know, Nancy’s co-owner has been busy tracking Senator Rhiannon’s past political work – and that of her parents – for over a year.   For recent references see MWD Issues 111, 112 and 114.

On 28 September 2011, Gerard Henderson wrote to Lee Rhiannon asking her to answer a dozen questions about her political past. On 30 September 2011, the Greens Senator replied – indicating that she would not answer the questions.

An avid MWD reader recently advised that he had gone on the Socialist Party of Australia’s delegation to the Soviet Union in 1977 – it was led by Lee Rhiannon under her (then) married name of Lee O’Gorman.  The MWD reader advised that, during her trip to the Soviet Union, Lee O’Gorman (as she then was) undertook a course of study at the Lenin School in Moscow.  The Lenin School was set up in 1926 to train communists from outside the Soviet Union.  It was part of the Third International or Comintern.

Readers of Who’s Who in Australia are aware that Lee Rhiannon has a BSc (Hons) from the University of New South Wales.  On 6 October 2011 Gerard Henderson wrote to the Greens’ Senator asking whether she also attended and/or graduated from the Lenin School.

Gerard Henderson to Lee Rhiannon – 6 October 2011

Subject: Some queries re your 1977 trip to the Soviet Union

Dear Senator Rhiannon

I understand from our previous correspondence that you do not want to discuss your political past – in particular your time in the Socialist Party of Australia and like-minded pro-Moscow communist movements.  However, I thought that I should give you an opportunity to respond to the claim which is set out below.

A reader of my Media Watch Dog blog, who was a member of the Socialist Party of Australia delegation which travelled to the Soviet Union in 1977, has contacted me.  He advises that the SPA delegation, soon after arrival in Moscow, split into two parts.

According to my source, a tour delegation (of which he was a member) travelled in the Soviet Union to such areas as Ukraine and Azerbaijan and then to Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.  My source claims that there was also a study delegation (of which you and your husband Paddy O’Gorman were members) which remained in Moscow for a six month course at the Lenin School.

I give you the opportunity to answer the following questions:

1. Did you attend a study course in Moscow in 1977 which lasted for around six months at the Lenin School?

2. If so – what did members of this course study, who were the other students, who taught the courses and who paid for your accommodation?

I am sure there will be some interest if a contemporary Greens Senator in Australia studied at the Lenin School during the time that Leonid Brezhnev ruled the Soviet Union.  Especially since graduates of the Lenin School included such Stalinist operatives as Wladysaw Gomulka from Poland and Erich Honecker from East Germany.

If you decline to answer this letter I will understand.  But, as previously indicated, I want to give you the opportunity to answer the questions listed above.

Yours sincerely

Gerard Henderson

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MWD will publish any response received from Lee Rhiannon.

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Until next time.