GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 117

21 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are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s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 : Q&A’s Sandal-Wearing Secret Revealed; Climate Institute’s $250,000 Government Grant; Susan Mitchell Still Ranting

● A Deborah Cameron Moment : In which Ms Cameron Calls For Quiet Government – Meaning Silent Opposition

● Historical Howlers of the  Week : Featuring Fran Kelly, David Marr, Steve Carroll on Collingwood, Robert Manne and The Age

● Nancy’s Pick-of-the-Week – Can you Bear It? : Fawn Again Kathy Lette & Geoff Robertson Do Buck Palace; Michael Gordon On Tony Abbott

● Nancy’s Five Paws Award : Chris Kenny Steps up on Mike Rann

● Correspondence: Crikey’s Andrew Crook Writes on Belly Dancers; Geoff Vass On How Fleetwood Mac Supported Rhiannon (Lee)

STOP PRESS

MWD Scoop : Sandal Wearing Conspiracy at Q&A

As regular MWD readers will be aware, Nancy’s co-owner has long had a fascination with the composition of Q&A audiences.  At the commencement of each program, TV audiences are advised of the political composition of the Q&A turnout.  This usually works out as something like this: Coalition 47 per cent; Labor 30 per cent; Greens 14 per cent; Others 9 per cent.  The problem is that the audience seems predominantly pro-Greens.

In MWD Issue 116, it was suggested that “balance” was achieved by a process of self-identification and that the best way for a leftist sandal-wearer to gain entry to Q&A was to pretend to be a supporter of Tony Abbott or Barnaby Joyce, wear shoes, etc.

MWD’s conspiracy theory was confirmed by the first question during last Monday’s program which was filmed in Darwin.  Let’s go to the transcript:

Barry Jonsberg : Thank you, Tony. Q&A originally instructed the audience tonight to turn up wearing closed shoes but then we were told that thongs were permitted. Should I be celebrating the concession to the Territory’s laidback lifestyle or should I worry that the rest of Australia thinks we’re bogans?

Tony Jones : Okay. Just briefly by way of explanation, it is true we’ve had health and safety standards that apply in other venues. Oddly enough, not in this one. So let’s see what the panel thinks….

So the truth is out. Q&A audiences would normally be replete with sandal-wearers.  However, this is disguised due to the fact that health and safety regulations in most States require that closed shoes are worn on the set.  Now we know. Thank you Mr Jonsberg. Thank you Mr Jones.

▪ News Not Heard On The ABC – Climate Institute’s $250,000 Grant

MWD Issue 116 revealed how, when Deborah Cameron was looking for some “facts” about the Gillard Government’s carbon tax during her ABC 702 Radio Program on 11 October, she called on John Connor to speak “the truth”.  Ms Cameron asked Mr Connor whether it was true that Australia was out in front of the rest of the world in introducing a carbon tax which will transition into an emissions trading scheme. The Mornings with Deborah Cameron presenter wanted a “that’s not true” response.

Mr Connor, who was introduced as chief executive of the Climate Institute, answered in the negative.  He spoke about New Zealand’s ETS and that of the European Union.  However, John Connor did not mention such competitors of Australia as Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, the United States and South Africa – none of which has a national carbon tax or an ETS.

MWD believes that John Connor should be heard on ABC and elsewhere.  However, the Climate Institute is an advocacy group.  It is not – as has been claimed on Radio National Breakfast and elsewhere –  “independent”.  In other words, John Connor’s contributions to the climate change debate are no more – and no less – “independent” than those of the Institute of Public Affairs executive director John Roskam.  It’s just that the former advocates a carbon tax and the latter opposes a carbon tax.

Yesterday one of MWD’s Melbourne readers forwarded information advising that the Climate Institute received a $250,000 grant from the Gillard Government on 29 June 2011 to undertake an “independent assessment of the effect of carbon pricing”.

Deborah Cameron – who advocates transparency in others – called on John Connor to separate fact from fiction in the carbon tax debate without mentioning that the organisation he leads has received a $250,000 grant from the Commonwealth Government.  [Surely such an oversight must be inconsistent with the ABC’s much proclaimed editorial standards – Ed].

▪ Susan Mitchell’s Kennel Fear – As Told to Jon Faine

Due to the enormous response to MWD’s analysis of factual howlers in Susan Mitchell’s book Tony Abbott: A Man’s Man (Scribe 2011) in Issue 115, the matter will be addressed again next week. In the meantime, Dr Mitchell has been busy doing interviews – some of them quite stunning.  Here are some examples:

▪ On ABC Radio 891 in Adelaide, on Tuesday, Susan Mitchell declared that “Julia Gillard’s not within a whisker of becoming prime minister at this stage”.  In her book, Dr Mitchell demonstrated that she had no idea when Julia Gillard became prime minister.  Today she seems confused as to who the Prime Minister really is.

▪ Then in this ranting interview (see here) with Jon Faine on ABC Radio 774 in Melbourne yesterday, Dr Mitchell declared on two occasions that if Tony Abbott becomes Prime Minister she would end up “locked in a dog kennel somewhere”. [She could be a fine companion for Nancy – Ed].

Susan Mitchell has a doctorate in creative writing from somewhere or the other.

A DEBORAH CAMERON MOMENT – In Which The Mornings With Deborah Cameron Presenter Bags Tony Abbott (Once Again) And Calls For Quiet Government.

Last Monday, the AC Nielsen poll in the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that Tony Abbott’s Opposition was leading Labor by 57 per cent to 43 per cent on a two-party-preferred basis.

Yet, believe it or not [I believe it – Ed], Deborah Cameron interpreted the poll as indicating that the Coalition, not Labor, was in trouble and commented:

Deborah Cameron : When you think about the leadership in both parties, it must be bubbling along in the Liberal Party because Mr Abbott is finding it very hard to get a bounce in the polls, it’s sort of proof that you can’t scream your way into people’s affections – it would seem, from the recent polls….

Go on. She did. She asked her guests – former Labor MP Cheryl Kernot and former Liberal MP John Dowd – the following question.

Deborah Cameron : Now how do you think the Liberal Party are going to deal with the problem of Mr Abbott’s continuing, sort of – he just can’t get off. He’s finding it hard to convert success into popularity, personal popularity. So can you picture a Tony Abbott who’s not bellowing, and who can actually stop and talk, and listen, and think quietly? What we’d love is a bit of quiet, government.

When neither Ms Kernot nor Mr Dowd warmed to the idea, Ms Cameron tried again by asking: “Do you think quiet government is possible?”  Both answered – realistically – in the negative.

Verily, A Deborah Cameron Moment.

HISTORICAL HOWLERS OF THE WEEK 


▪ Fran Kelly On Britain’s Polish Plumbers


The ABC’s move to opinion journalism – which has been accentuated by The Drum, edited by Jonathan Green – has encouraged more and more ABC presenters and journalists to become commentators, even advocates.  Some – Insiders presenter Barrie Cassidy, for example – handle this role well, since they focus on analysis.  Others – Radio National Breakfast’s Fran Kelly, for example – get caught up in advocacy or barracking, and diminish their reputation as disinterested seekers after facts.

During her regular appearances on such ABC TV programs as Insiders and The Drum, Fran Kelly barracks as loudly as Andrew Bolt – albeit from a different political perspective.

On Insiders last Sunday, Ms Kelly was banging on about one of her favourite causes – asylum seekers – when she made this comparison between Australia and Western Europe. Let’s go to the audio tape:

Fran Kelly: Just as an aside. We are never going to get the [asylum seeker] numbers they have in Europe, we know that. In Europe they come onshore – and they live in the community and they work in the community.  And ask anyone in London – they welcome the Polish plumbers, they do.

This is hopelessly wrong.  The Polish plumbers who work in Britain are neither asylum seekers nor unlawful immigrants.  Poland, like Britain, is a member of the European Union and Poles have as much right to travel to, and work in, Britain as Brits have to travel to, and work in, Poland.

Moreover, Poland is a democratic state with an independent legal system.  It is ludicrous for Fran Kelly to suggest that Polish plumbers – or Polish butchers or bakers or candlestick makers – are fleeing oppression in Warsaw and seeking asylum in London. Ms Kelly should know this.

▪ David Marr’s Air/Sea Confusion

Earlier on Insiders last Sunday, David Marr implied that asylum seekers who are held in detention are there simply because they come to Australia by sea.  Let’s go to the tape:

David Marr : Here is something to consider. There are 6000 asylum seekers on bridging visas absolutely free in the community at the moment in Australia. And that figure is pretty constant over the years. They haven’t been detained; they haven’t been through any of those processes.

Piers Akerman: But these are people who arrive with identification.

David Marr : They arrive, yes, they arrive by air. And there are as many, at the moment, in immigration prison simply because they come by sea.

This is inaccurate. It is very difficult to arrive in Australia by air without a valid visa.  Anyone who does arrive without a valid visa – or whom authorities believe intends to overstay his/her visa time frame – is placed in detention.  This is true of those who arrive by air or by boat.

In other words, asylum seekers who arrive by plane are treated the same as asylum seekers who arrive by sea – that is, they are placed in detention until their claims are assessed. What complicates the issue is that virtually all asylum seekers arriving by sea turn up without identification papers. Whereas asylum seekers  arriving by air invariably have some form of identification – since without papers they could not board an aircraft. Most asylum seekers living in the community on bridging visas sought asylum after their visas expired or have been released from detention under certain conditions.

There is another point which David Marr overlooked on Insiders. Namely that all asylum seekers who come to Australia by air arrive safely.  On the other hand, four in every one hundred asylum seekers who attempt to reach Australia by boat die during the journey, usually by drowning.

David Marr should know this – since he has been previously advised about the facts.

Reviewer Gets The Colliewobbles

In The Age on Saturday 1 December 2011, Steven Carroll reviewed The Mightiest Magpies by Michael Roberts.  For those who do not follow Australian Rules football, this is a book about the Collingwood Football Club. This is what Mr Carroll had to say on the morning of the 2011 AFL grand final between Collingwood and Geelong concerning Collingwood’s history :

With the prospect today of back-to-back Collingwood premierships, this in-depth record of every club premiership is a timely publication… The record looks at the significance of the 1902 win (the authors claiming Collingwood’s tactics transformed the game) to the golden age of Jock McHale’s “machine” and Ray Gabelich’s legendary run in 1958.

Ray Gabelich was a Collingwood ruckman who played in the late 1950s and early 1960s. His “legendary run” occurred in the 1964 Grand Final against Melbourne (which Collingwood lost) – not in the 1958 Grand Final against Melbourne (which Collingwood won).  Mr Carroll’s howler demonstrates that some legends are more legendary than others.

Robert Manne’s Bad Memory – A Work In Progress

The Monthly’s website carries a Slow TV interview between The Monthly’s Nick Feik and The Monthly’s Robert Manne [How intellectually incestuous can you get? – Ed]. During the course of this soft interview about Robert Manne’s Quarterly Essay 43 titled “Bad News: Murdoch’s Australian and the Shaping of the Nation” – which is published by the publisher of The Monthly – Professor Manne banged on yet again about how The Australian once editorialised against the Greens.

Early on in the interview, Robert Manne declared that he was “shocked by an editorial comment where it was said that The Australian thought the Greens should be destroyed at the ballot box”.  Later in the same interview, the conversation went as follows:

Nick Feik : You noted before that it was famously written in an [Australian] editorial that the Greens should be destroyed at the ballot box. And, this was seen as an important statement at the time. But, haven’t newspapers always endorsed political parties – or not?

Robert Manne : Well, I’d, I cannot recall it being said that a party should be destroyed at the ballot box.

It seems that Professor Manne has forgotten The Age’s editorial “Dead party walking: the DLP struggles to its feet” which was printed on 14 December 2006. The Age greeted the news that the revived Democratic Labor Party – which had not been represented in any Australian parliament since 1974 – had won a seat in the Victorian Legislative Council in the following terms:

With a clanking of chains and creaking of old bones to the accompaniment of the doleful tolling of a bell, the spectre of the Democratic Labor Party has materialised into Victorian politics just like Marley’s ghost…. The DLP, founded on a platform of anti-Communism (remember those “red menace” television commercials, with darkening arrows descending on poor, innocent white Australia?) and middle-class Catholic values, when to be green meant Ireland and not the environment, is no longer relevant to or reflective of the society it once purported to represent –

So did Robert Manne carry on about The Age’s depiction of the DLP as no longer relevant – by which it meant that, at the next election, the DLP should be obliterated from the ballot box.  Not on your nelly.  Rather, today Professor Manne only remembers the fact that The Australian once bagged the Greens in an editorial.

A Guardian-On-The-Yarra (Historical) Reflection

On a separate matter, it is interesting to note that, as recently as five years ago, The Guardian-on-the-Yarra called for the demise of the Democratic Labor Party on the basis that it was opposed to communism and (allegedly) exhibited “middle class Catholic values”.  The Age’s editorial team seemed unaware that many Age readers and advertisers are anti-communists and middle-class.  God forbid, some are even Catholic.

Apparently the British-born Andrew Jaspan, The Age’s editor in 2006, was wilfully ignorant of the fact that the DLP was no defender of a “white Australia”.  In fact, the DLP was the first parliamentary party to call for the dismantling of the White Australia Policy – quite a few years before the cause was advanced by the Coalition and Labor, or even by The Age.  How about that?

NANCY’S PICK-OF-THE-WEEK

CAN YOU BEAR IT?


▪ Kathy Lette and Geoffrey Robertson

On 17 April Kathy Lette commenced her article in The Sunday Age, tilted “Where there’s a Wills….” with the comment:

Mention “The Queen” and most Aussie kids presume you’re talking about Elton John.

Ms Lette, whom some refer to as Mrs Robertson, concluded her piece by arguing that “it’s time Australia had a Windsor-ectomy”. In other words, Kathy Lette’s message was that most young Australians do not know who Elizabeth II is – and, therefore, it’s time for Australia to have its own head of state and to cut all links with the Royal Family and the House of Windsor.

Then on 27 April 2011 Geoffrey Robertson QC, whom some refer to as Mr Lette, had an article published in The Canberra Times titled “Wedding bells provide a manifesto for British republicans”.  Mr Robertson’s article commenced:

The Royal wedding highlights the absurdity of the constitutional arrangements which require Britain to be reigned over by a White Anglo-German Protestant monarch. The real reason why its religious, racial and sex discrimination remains untouched is through fear that the royalist tapestry would unravel if a single thread were pulled. But if this were ever the case, what could republican ideology – which has scarcely advanced in Britain since the 1650s – offer in replacement? The bedrock of our constitution is the Act of Settlement of 1701, a blood-curdling anti-Catholic rant, which enshrines the genes and Protestant religious beliefs of Princess Sophia of Hanover in the succession to the throne.

Robertson went on to describe the Windsors as “this German family”. So what happened when – on the occasion of her 16th tour of Australia – the Queen invited some prominent Australians in Britain to attend a reception at Buckingham Palace and included Ms Lette and Mr Robertson on her guest list?

Why, Kathy Lette and Geoffrey Robertson accepted the invitation and joined the queue to meet Her Maj.  There was no reference to the need for Australia to have a “Windsor-ectomy”, or to the Windsors as “this German family”, when the Lette/Robertson item dressed up in their finest and headed off to the Palace to bow-and-scrape with their Aussie peers.  Can you bear it?  [Did Geoffrey QC take his Epping accent along to Buck Palace?  You know, the kind of accent that one needs in London’s upper-class high society on such occasions when one wants to disguise the fact that one was born in middle-class Epping, Sydney – Ed].

▪ Michael Gordon Fudges Tony Abbott’s Support

The AC Nielsen opinion poll, which was published in The Age last Monday on Page 1, had the Coalition leading Labor by 48 per cent to 30 per cent on the primary vote – and by 57 per cent to 43 per cent on the two-party preferred vote. So how did The Age’s Michael Gordon analyse the poll in  his “Analysis” piece? – which was published on Page 4.  Here’s how:

The latest snapshot of the mood of the electorate confirms what instinct tells us – voters are mightily unimpressed with the performance of both sides.

If the Coalition happens to defeat Labor by 57 per cent to 43 per cent at the next election, Tony Abbott would achieve the greatest victory in Australia’s political history.  Yet, according to Mr Gordon, the polls indicate that Australian voters are “mightily unimpressed” with both the Opposition and the Gillard Government.  It took Michael Gordon another six columns to acknowledge that “Labor would lose in a landslide if an election were held now”. How about that?

Michael Gordon also declared that Malcolm Turnbull leads Tony Abbott as preferred Opposition leader by 44 per cent to 28 per cent.  Readers had to consult the AC Nielsen poll to realise that – among Liberal/National Party voters – Abbott leads Turnbull by 42 per cent to 30 per cent.  Turnbull’s base of support is highest with Greens (66 per cent) and Labor (59 per cent) voters.

Michael Gordon neglected to tell “Guardian-on-the-Yarra” readers in his “Analysis” piece that Turnbull’s status as preferred Coalition leader is due to the support he receives from Australians who intend to vote Greens or Labor – and have no intention whatsoever of voting for the Coalition. Can you bear it?

NANCY’S FIVE PAWS AWARD

CHRIS KENNY STEPS FORWARD – BUT NOT JULIA BAIRD OR FRAN KELLY OR RICHO

MWD’s most prestigious gong this week goes to Chris Kenny who fronted Sky News’ The Showdown on Tuesday and interviewed former South Australian premier Mike Rann.

In earlier interviews – with the likes of Julia Baird on Sunday Profile, Graham Richardson on Richo and Fran Kelly on Radio National Breakfast, Mike Rann was unchallenged when he described the development of the Olympic Dam Mine as one of the great achievements of his premiership.

Well, Olympic Dam is an important mine for South  Australia and Australia – since it will lead to exports of copper, gold, silver and uranium.  However, Olympic Dam was only developed because Mike Rann failed in his attempts to ban uranium mining in South Australia. In 1982 Rann wrote a paper titled Uranium : Play It Safe which was published by the South Australian Nuclear Hazard Committee. In this document, Rann argued that “the case against uranium is convincing”.

As far as MWD is concerned, Chris Kenny was the only journalist to point out to Mr Rann that he was able to bring Olympic Dam to fruition in 2011 because no one took any notice of his anti-uranium stance in 1982.

Chris Kenny – Five Paws.

CORRESPONDENCE – Gerard Henderson And Andrew Crook Concerning Mr Bolt, Miss Belly-Dancer And Other Trivia Of Interest To Crikey

Last week’s “Can You Bear It?” segment titled “Damned Belly Dancers And Bolt’s Past: Anne Summers’ Anonymous Sources” attracted enormous interest. So much so that it was the subject of reportage by Andrew Crook – Crikey’s mild-mannered reporter – who took exception to MWD’s criticism of Dr Summers’ profile in The Monthly on Andrew Bolt.

MWD was particularly interested in The Monthly’s decision to publicise a sepia coloured photograph of a belly-dancer which had appeared originally in the top-selling Palmerston and Northern Suburbs Herald. This, apparently, was a pic of Sophia Wilson (nee Sue Walshe).

Following Andrew Crook’s piece in last Tuesday’s Crikey, the following correspondence took place.

Gerard Henderson to Andrew Crook – 19 October 2011

Good morning Mr Crook

I was devastated – absolutely devastated – to read in Crikey yesterday your piece criticising the item in last Friday’s Media Watch Dog titled “Anne Summers’ Anonymous Sources”.  You described the MWD analysis of Anne Summers’ essay on Andrew Bolt in The Monthly as “mocking the existence of the ‘alleged’ Sophia Wilson”.

For the record, I never used the word “alleged” with respect to Ms Wilson in last Friday’s MWD.  You just made this up.  All I wrote was that the “Sophia Wilson” referred to in The Monthly essay was a nom-de-plume.  This is a factual statement.  But that’s just by-the-by and not unexpected in a publication which does not engage a fact-checker.  So don’t bother about this.

I am interested in the apparent double standard in your attitude to the use of anonymous sources.  As you will recall, on Friday 12 August 2011 you sent me an email which read : “Great item on Sally Neighbour”.

The reference was to the item titled “Sally Neighbour Gives ‘Anon’ A Big Run in Chris Mitchell Profile” which was published in MWD Issue 107. It read as follows:

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?

According to you, my criticism of Sally Neighbour’s use of anonymous sources in The Monthly amounted to a “great item”.

Last Friday (MWD 116), this is what I wrote about Anne Summers’ profile of Andrew Bolt:

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.

According to you, my criticism of Anne Summers’ use of anonymous sources in The Monthly amounted to an exercise in “mocking”.

As the saying goes: Please Explain.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Andrew Crook to Gerard Henderson – 19 October 2011

Hi Gerard,

“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.”

AC

Gerard Henderson to Andrew Crook – 19 October 2011

Andrew

Now you are referring to another reference to my MWD piece last Friday – which read as follows:

Anne Summers, whose autobiography is somewhat deficit on the subject of her personal life, got The Monthly to run a photo of the (alleged) Sophia Wilson doing her belly dance.

My point here was that there was no evidence that this was the belly dancer in question – since the caption merely read: “She’ll be back: Next Time” (see attached).  I mean, this could have been an unattributed photo of, say, the Mata Hari or even Isadora Duncan or perhaps Crikey editor Sophie Black at a Star of Sea Year 10 school pantomime (I understand that belly dancing was quite the rage down Gardenvale way in the not too distant past).

When you have time, I would still like to hear your case why reference to Dr Summers’ anonymous sources involves “mocking” while reference to Ms Neighbour’s anonymous sources contributes to “a great item”.

Over to you.

By the way, I just loved the fact that Crikey yesterday gave pride to place to your piece which revealed that the lady in question “once belly-danced” for Malcolm Schmidtke “on his birthday”.  Gosh.

Keep morale high.

Gerard

Andrew Crook to Gerard Henderson – 19 October 2011

Hi Gerard

I assumed you were referring to the “alleged” existence of Sophia Wilson rather than the alleged photo of Sophia Wilson. Even if I accept your explanation, it is still clear you used the word alleged “with respect to” Wilson — Summers and The Monthly clearly alleged that it was Wilson in the photo.

On the mocking/great thing, I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive! However, in Summers’ case, as I proved yesterday, Sophia Wilson is actually a real person — Sue Walshe — who was once engaged to Andrew Bolt.

Cheerio

Andrew

P.S. Sophie says that it was actually Star of the Sea, but that she couldn’t recall any underage belly dancing in the mid-1990s.

Gerard Henderson to Andrew Crook – 19 October 2011

Andrew

Interesting. You do not believe that there is any contradiction in your praise for my mocking of Sally Neighbour’s anonymous sources and your criticism for my mocking of Anne Summers’ anonymous sources.  By the way, I just love your use of the exclamation mark to make a point!!!!

“Star of Sea” [sic] was a typo – or perhaps what John Laws liked to term a “deliberate mistake”.

I am a fan of Star of the Sea graduates – from Dr Germaine Greer to Sophie Black – and know the name of the institution.  As to Ms Black’s assurance there was no underage belly dancing at Gardenvale in the mid 1990s – well, I sometimes wonder about her memory.  She seems to recall that Mark Latham was a political figure of such intellectual weight that he deserves a slot in Crikey from time to time – between such important issues as Sophia Wilson’s real name and accounts of Andrew Bolt’s past engagements.

In any event, I just loved yesterday’s Crikey.  I was particularly impressed by the fact that:

▪ when Sue Walshe was not available to discuss whether she was once engaged to Andrew Bolt a quarter of a century ago, her husband Gavin Youl stepped forward and provided a quote for Crikey.

▪ former Age editor Mike Smith said that Mr Bolt and Ms Walshe were once “pretty thick”.

▪ Margaret Simons declared that there was “no doubt that Sue and Andrew were in a relationship”.  This is the same Margaret Simons who declared in the book she co-authored with Malcolm Fraser that there was no doubt that Mr Fraser won four elections.

▪ Ms Walshe allegedly belly-danced at one of Malcolm Schmidtke’s birthday parties – apparently during the previous century.

It’s great to note that Eric Beecher and the Crikey team are on to the REALLY BIG STORIES.

Keep up the good work.

Gerard (co-owner of Nancy who once belly-flopped at an end-of-the-year party at the Yagoona Lost Dogs’ Home).

Andrew Crook to Gerard Henderson – 19 October 2011

Hi Gerard,

Think of it this way. It could perhaps be suggested — as you did — that Sally Neighbour’s and Anne Summers’ sources were not as convincing as they otherwise might have been because they were anonymous. The point of yesterday’s article was to demonstrate that one of Anne Summers’ anonymous sources actually exists and was once engaged to Andrew Bolt, a fact that Andrew has denied. Until yesterday the text of Walshe’s statutory declaration had not been published. Of course, even with those facts on the table, it may still be partially amusing to list Summers’ anonymous sources, despite the central allegation being somewhat diminished.

As anyone who worked at The Age at the time would attest, Andrew and Sue Walshe were in a serious relationship. It was common, uncontroversial knowledge on the newsroom floor. The problem as I saw it was that some commentators appeared to be casting doubt on Walshe’s existence or veracity due to Summers’ use of a pseudonym. As you and The New York Times both know, anonymous sources are both the bane and the lifeblood of journalism. Never preferable but mostly unavoidable.

Nice of you to refer to the contributions from Margaret Simons, Mike Smith and Malcolm Schmidtke. On the tangential stuff relating to Sophie and Margaret you’d really have to take it up with them.

Cheers,

Andrew

[That’s enough – Ed].

* * * * *

CORRESPONDENCE – Geoff Vass And Gerard Henderson Re Lee Rhiannon & Fleetwood Mac; Jack Lang & John Lennon; Sarah Hanson-Young & Elton John

MWD Issue 116 featured Gerard Henderson’s letter to Senator Lee Rhiannon asking whether, during her visit to the Soviet Union in 1976, she did a course of study at the Lenin School in Moscow.  From the 1920s on, the Lenin School was a training school for international communists of a Stalinist disposition.

Alas, the NSW Greens Senator has still not responded to this correspondence.  Here’s (still) hoping.

Among the enormous amount of correspondence received on this issue, Nancy was particularly impressed by a letter from George Vass who thought that MWD was too tough on Senator Rhiannon. Or did he?  You be the judge.

Geoff Vass to Gerard Henderson – 17 October 2011

Dear Gerard

Why are you making fun of that nice Rhiannon Lee lady? Anybody who’s good enough to have a Fleetwood Mac song written about her, is good enough for me.

After all, all this stuff you’re talking about – Russian training courses and whatnot – happened when she was very young. I mean, Sarah Hanson-Young is about the same age now and does anybody think *she* has any clue? Of course not. So there you go.

And it’s not like it was funded by the public purse. Well, not our public purse anyway.

If you keep banging on about whatsername Lee, she’s going to have to go onto Australian Story and cry. And nobody wants that.

Yours etc

Geoff Vass

Gerard Henderson to Geoff Vass – 19 October 2011

Dear Geoff

Thank you for your note of last Friday – chastising me for “making fun of that nice lady Rhiannon Lee [sic]”.  You maintain the Greens senator deserves special respect since Fleetwood Mac once wrote a song about her. You could be right.  Maybe I should have paid greater attention to the fact that Senator Rhiannon appears to have two tertiary qualifications.  Namely a B.Sc (Hons) from UNSW and a Diploma in Stalinism from the Lenin School in Moscow.

The question is:  Do Australian politicians deserve special consideration because of their apparent occasional association with the rock music industry?

Take, for example, radical NSW Labor premier Jack Lang – who wanted Australia to renege on its debt obligations at the time of the Great Depression.  Mr Lang had many followers and the catch-cry of the time was: “Lang Is Greater Than Lennon”. Interesting – don’t you think?

I accept that a degree of crystal ball gazing is involved here.

Fleetwood Mac wrote about Rhiannon in 1976 – when she went under her married name “O’Gorman”.  Still, Fleetwood Mac got it right when they predicted that our Lee would spend a couple of dollars and become Rhiannon.  Perhaps Fleetwood Mac obtained this insight because they are alleged to have visited the Soviet Union in 1978, just after our Lee had left her mark. Certainly Fleetwood Mac used to drink vodka with the Russian comrades at the Soviet Embassy in Washington. Know what I mean?

Also, the supporters of Jack Lang declared that their hero was greater than Lennon some four decades before the song “Imagine” was written and around the time that the Lang Government was attempting to rob banks in New South Wales of their cash reserves.  The evidence suggests that when John Lennon wrote: “Imagine no possessions/I wonder if you can” he had in mind the NSW banks after the Lang raid.

It can’t be long before, say, Elton John writes a song about your hero Sarah Hanson-Young.  As to the Senator appearing on Australian Story, we cannot say we were not warned.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Geoff Vass to Gerard Henderson – 19 October 2011

You’re too late, Sir Elton has already put pen to paper:

Sarah Hanson-Young

You asked some questions

You said you wrote yourself

Which Mr Asher scrawled

Yours etc

Geoff Vass

[That’s certainly enough – Ed].

* * * *

Until next time.